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Tennis and Sports Psychology: Overcoming Performance Anxiety 

performance psychology

What is Performance Anxiety & Sport Psychology?

Performance anxiety is a psychological experience of self-doubt and intense worry in an athlete. Due to these mixed emotions, the athlete may not be able to perform to his/her best capabilities when it matters the most.

So the athletes may be left disheartened thus, questioning their abilities. This has a significantly adverse impact on their confidence and overall performance.

Here are certain tips that helps in avoiding performance anxiety and performance enhancement from overpowering you in critical situations like competitions and matches. So, let's get started!

Tips to Overcome Performance Anxiety for Peak Performance

1. Prepare Your Mental Health in Advance

Being well-prepared helps to increase your confidence because you know that you are ready for the challenge ahead. You can be prepared thoroughly only when you pay close attention to your tennis skills and the feedback you receive from your coaches.

Another way to be well prepared is to learn from the experience of previous tennis champions by seeing their videos and comparing them with yours. In the end, it is only when you put effort into your game skills to fine-tune them that you can conquer the feelings of doubt in moments of pressure.  

2. Create a Pre-Performance Fitness Routine with the Help of Your Sport Psychologists

A pre-performance routine before your tennis competition includes different rituals that provide a signal to your brain that the time to perform has finally come. This routine will calm your nerves, increase your concentration levels and improve your well-being.

There are different types of activities you can include in your pre-performance routine like music, breathing exercises meditation- all of which we will review below.

athletic psychologist

3. Listen to Music for Relaxation and Recovery

You can say goodbye to anxiety before your big tennis match by putting on your earbuds and listening to calming tunes. Music has a calming effect on both athletes and non-athletes as it reduces their stress and anxiety levels. 

However, studies don't match based on what kind of music can make a difference when it comes to performance anxiety. Some studies show that the calming effects of both relaxing or non- music are similar. On the other hand, other studies disagree on this fact.

4. Implement Visualization for Wellness and Motivation

Visualizing yourself succeeding in your tennis match in high-pressure situations is a good method to relax your mind. This method can activate the mirror neurons in your brain thus, relaxing the amygdala’s response to stress.

It will also help to enhance your muscle memory. Besides being a powerful technique of sports psychology, you need to learn this technique effectively to practice it correctly.

5. Practice Breathing Patterns and Exercises

Taking series of deep breaths before your tennis tournament or competition is essential to help. Good reading exercises will help to clear any fog in your mind by reducing physical tension. When you practice breathing exercises, blood in your body gets oxygenated which changes the acidic nature of your blood into alkaline nature.

6. Practice Meditation

Different types of studies show how meditation can help decrease performance anxiety in sports. Here is a method of how you can meditate to avoid any anxiety during your tennis tournaments.

There are different methods through which you can meditate. Let's have a look at one method. First of all, try grabbing any nearby object like a sock or any random thing. Then focus all your attention on that particular object like the sock.

Dissect it and examine its different properties like texture, colour, etc. But the aim here is to keep your entire attention and concentration levels on the sock and not let your mind wander away. This approach can help reset your focus and concentration levels because you are only thinking about the sock.

7. Be Positive 

Positive self-talk is very essential when you find yourself spiraling emotionally before that important tournament. Instead of letting fear run you wild, make sure to be positive and remind yourself that you have prepared enough to succeed.

In case you make any mistakes on the court, make sure to regain your composure and focus on what is immediately next.

8. Take Yourself Lightly

A single competition of tennis cannot define your personality. This competition is just a test where you may either pass or fail. In case of a failure, it is very essential to learn from it. So make sure to remind yourself that tennis is simply what you do and it doesn't define who you are.

Take the competition lightly and ask yourself what is the worst that can happen in this game so that you are prepared for the future.

9. Seek Professional Help if Needed

Performance anxiety can have a severe negative impact on your mental health. If you have tried all the above tips and still cannot deal with this anxiety then it may be time to consider professional support.

There are different situations when seeking professional support is a must. Let's have a look at these situations:

  •  If you have panic attacks with symptoms like chest pain and muscle weakness.

  •  If you have negative thoughts like getting injured so you do not have to participate in the tennis competition.

  •  If there are sudden changes in mood and your heartbeat is very high even in states of rest.

Different therapists provide specialized support in sports psychology so you can deal with performance anxiety. the best part about therapy is that it is confidential so there is no need for you to inform your teammates or coaches about it.

tennis psychology


Thus, these are the different tips you can follow to overcome performance anxiety before your tennis tournaments. Being well prepared and following certain pre-performance rituals like listening to music, practicing breathing patterns and meditating can ensure better performance to the best of your potential.

Good Luck!


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