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Tennis Warrior
February 2016 Article

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Mental Toughness Versus Emotional Weakness in Tennis

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Tom Veneziano

The Mental Toughness Sphere or the Emotional Sphere. In which Sphere do you reside during most of your matches? Can you recognize whether you are controlled by your emotions or controlled by your mind? Do you know what to do if you become mired in the Emotional Sphere?
A major part of learning how to win is becoming aware of when your emotions take control and what to do about it. You must bring yourself back under the power of the Mental Toughness Sphere. But how? First, understand the differences between the two spheres of thinking:
The Emotional Sphere is characterized by subjectivity (taking your mistakes personally), over-thinking (paralysis by analysis), and dwelling on past failures.
The Mental Toughness Sphere is characterized by objectivity (not taking mistakes personally), correct thinking using a relaxed mental attitude, and playing in the here and now.
You know you are in the Emotional Sphere when negatives, mistakes, and failures become more paramount in your mind than the next shot. You must quickly recognize this and switch back into the Mental Toughness Sphere. How? Simple! Apply the Refocus Technique. After you make a mistake, repeat to yourself, "The next shot is more important than the last mistake, the next shot is more important than the last mistake." Do not serve or return serve until you have cleared your mind of the last mistake. You must refocus and move on. Immediately!
The Refocus Technique is the recovery technique that brings you back into the Mental Toughness Sphere. Although this is a simple technique and sounds easy, it is amazing how many players cannot forget their mistakes and move on. Instead, they become entangled in the Emotional Sphere.
Listen to some of the answers players give me when I tell them to use the Refocus Technique. Each answer is followed by my response. I warn you though, I do not pull any punches. Read on at your own risk.
Player: "But I missed such an easy shot!" My response: "I did not say forget your mistakes and move on only for difficult shots! The Refocus Technique is for ALL mistakes."
Player: "I practiced for months and I still make the same mistakes." My response: "Practice more. Forget your mistakes and move on!"
Player: "I cannot win if I keep making these mistakes." My response: "Says who? You! Have you ever heard of mental toughness? Forget your mistakes, get back in the Mental Toughness Sphere, and move on...now!"
How is that for being blunt? The point I am trying to make is that the thought process of forgetting the mistake is more important than the mistake itself. As the great professional golfer Gary Player stated, "We create success or failure on the course primarily by our thoughts."
Let me graphically demonstrate how this works. When you make a mistake on the court and do not forget it, that mistake festers in your mind. If the mistake festers too long it will begin seeping toward your emotions. Once the mistake hits your emotions, it is quickly blown out of proportion. Then this larger-than-life mistake shoots back toward your mind, where it now takes on a whole new meaning. The failure completely clouds your mind. From this point on, everything you think is filtered through this oppressive cloud of negativity.
You are now firmly focused on the problem and steeped in the Emotional Sphere. Your mind is influenced by your emotions instead of your emotions being influenced by your mind!
Your only hope to remove this cloud of negativity and restore mental order is the Refocus Technique: The next shot is more important than the last mistake. You will then be back under the power of the Mental Toughness Sphere. The home of Champions!

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This column is copyrighted by Tom Veneziano, all rights reserved.

Tom is a tennis pro teaching at the Piney Point Racquet Club in Houston, Texas. Tom has taught thousands of players to think like a pro with his Tennis Warrior System.


In Tom Veneziano's book "The Truth about Winning!", tennis players learn in a step-by-step fashion the thinking the pros have mastered to win! Tom takes you Step-by-step from basic mental toughness to advanced mental toughness. All skill levels can learn from this unique book from beginner to professional. No need to change your strokes just your thinking.

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