nodot nodot
Mental Equipment
March 1998 Article

Contact John Murray

Mental Equipment Archive

Get John F. Murray's book The Mental Performance Index at Amazon.com

Get John F. Murray's book Smart Tennis at Amazon.com

Tennis Server

Do You Want To Be A Better Tennis Player?

Then Sign Up For A Free Subscription to the Tennis Server INTERACTIVE
E-mail Newsletter!

Tom Veneziano You will join 13,000 other subscribers in receiving news of updates to the Tennis Server along with monthly tennis tips from tennis pro Tom Veneziano.
Best of all, it is free!

Tennis Features Icon TENNIS FEATURES:

TENNIS ANYONE? - USPTA Pro John Mills' quick player tip.
TENNIS WARRIOR - Tom Veneziano's Tennis Warrior archive.
TURBO TENNIS - Ron Waite turbocharges your tennis game with tennis tips, strategic considerations, training and practice regimens, and mental mindsets and exercises.
WILD CARDS - Each month a guest column by a new writer.
BETWEEN THE LINES - Ray Bowers takes an analytical and sometimes controversial look at the ATP/WTA professional tour.
PRO TENNIS SHOWCASE - Tennis match reports and photography from around the world.
TENNIS SET - Jani Macari Pallis, Ph.D. looks at tennis science, engineering and technology.
MORTAL TENNIS - Greg Moran's tennis archive on how regular humans can play better tennis.
MENTAL EQUIPMENT - Explore the mental side of the game with Dr. John Murray.
HARDSCRABBLE SCRAMBLE - USPTA pro Mike Whittington's player tip archive.

Tennis Community Icon TENNIS COMMUNITY:

Tennis Book, DVD, and Video Index
Tennis Server Match Reports
Editor's Letter
Become a Tennis Server Sponsor

Explore The Tennis Net Icon EXPLORE THE TENNIS NET:

Tennis News and Live Tennis Scores
Tennis Links on the Web
Mental Equipment By Dr. John Murray


Green Dot
Tennis Warehouse Logo
Green Dot

Performance Above Winning

Dr. John Murray Photo
Dr. John Murray

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a special place where every player won every match? In this tennis fantasyland, scores would be meaningless since every player would be crowned champion. If this is what you seek, keep on snoozing. When you wake up and smell the coffee again, you'll remember that every player loses except the tournament winner. Without a risk of losing, however, your dream would probably be so boring it would keep you asleep! The challenge and uncertainty in sport provides much of the thrill and an obsession with winning only hastens defeat.

Recall from the May 1996 article, The Art of Goal Setting, that task-involved athletes display high intrinsic motivation, produce maximal effort, and persist longer across a variety of performance situations. Players emphasizing performance goals (e.g., higher percentage of first serves) over outcome goals (e. g., winning) retain more attention for the immediate task at hand. Getting wrapped up in thoughts about outcome only leads to distraction, anxiety, and pressure.

What you really want is to be sincerely fascinated with the many dimensions of performance. Staying excited about performance keeps you firmly in the present and guards against the loss of self-confidence that could occur when the next Patrick Rafter or Martina Hingis strolls into town.

Take a few seconds to recall the best performance of your life. You may not remember the details well because you were so completely absorbed in the moment. Expending energy dwelling on past mistakes or possible outcomes would have only spoiled this peak experience. Your focus on performance that day was admirable and winning took care of itself. This is where you want to be every match.

One way to remain focused on performance is to set short-term goals. These should include daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Start by investing in a small notebook which should be used to keep track of goals, achievements and comments. A rule of thumb is to set goals that you can achieve about 55% of the time. If you are reaching your goals more than 65% of the time set greater challenges. If you achieve your goals less than 45% of the time set them easier.

Make sure that your performance goals are specific, challenging, and realistic. Here are some examples of viable performance goals in tennis:

  1. Increase your net approaches by 10 each set.
  2. Increase your first service percentage from 55% to 70%.
  3. Replace every on-court negative self-statement with a positive comment.
  4. Lob the ball at least 50% of the time when in serious trouble.
  5. Reduce your unforced errors by 5 per set.

Remember to set mental as well as physical performance goals. It might also help to review the February 1996 article, Increasing Self-Awareness since self-knowledge is the key to setting intelligent goals. As you notice improvements in performance, don't be surprised if your opponents begin losing a little more often. Don't win too often or it might get a little boring! See you next month...

Green DotGreen DotGreen Dot

Mental Equipment Archive

If you have not already signed up to receive our free e-mail newsletter Tennis Server INTERACTIVE, you can sign up here. You will receive notification each month of changes at the Tennis Server and news of new columns posted on our site.

This column is copyrighted by Dr. John Murray, all rights reserved.

Dr. John F. Murray is currently a licensed clinical psychologist and sport psychologist in Florida. In addition, he is a tennis professional (having taught tennis internationally in North America, Hawaii, Europe, Middle East), formerly certified with both USPTA and USPTR. He has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and masters degrees both in Clinical Psychology and Exercise & Sport Sciences from the University of Florida. He maintains a personal web site at http://www.johnfmurray.com/.

Questions and comments about these columns can be directed to John by using this form.


Web tennisserver.com
nodot nodot
The Tennis Server
Ticket Exchange

Your Source for tickets to professional tennis & golf events.
Nitto ATP Finals Tickets
Australian Open Tickets
BNP Paribas Open Tickets
Miami Open Tickets
US Men's Clay Court Championships Tickets
Wimbledon Tickets
Rogers Cup Tickets
Western & Southern Open Tickets
Laver Cup Boston Tickets


Popular Tennis books:
Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis-Lessons from a Master by Brad Gilbert, Steve Jamison
The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance by Jeff Greenwald
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
Most Recent Articles:
October 2020 Tennis Anyone: Not Too Old! by John Mills.
Tennis Warrior: What Makes Your Game Fluctuate? by Tom Veneziano.
September 2020 Tennis Anyone: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone by John Mills.
Tennis Warrior: The Other Side of Failure by Tom Veneziano.




"Tennis Server" is a registered trademark and "Tennis Server INTERACTIVE" is a trademark of Tennis Server. All original material and graphics on the Tennis Server are copyrighted 1994 - by Tennis Server and its sponsors and contributors. Please do not reproduce without permission.


Tennis Server
Cliff Kurtzman
791 Price Street #144
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Phone: (281) 480-6300
Online Contact Form
How to support Tennis Server as a Sponsor/Advertiser
Tennis Server Privacy Policy