How To Deal With Anxiety On A Tennis Court
Anxiety and stress are common among pressure situations. Not only with local players or juniors, but also with the best tennis players in the world!
Top players are not immune to the enormity of a final and what stresses it brings. These stresses include increased fatigue, trouble breathing, reduced concentration; to name a few.
What they have done however is develop coping mechanisms for moments like them, which is perhaps why they are among the top players in the world.
How Djokovic Deals With Anxiety
Novak Djokovic is one of the all time greats of our sport; playing at levels which no one can stop and breaking records with plenty of time left in his career.
Djokovic in recent times has turned to Meditation. A new way of preparing for his matches, Djokovic holds Meditation to high value stating “I lose fear, I lose anxiety, I lose stress. That’s what you’re looking for.”
Meditation is not for everyone and should be up to the individual on how to prepare for their matches. In saying that, Meditation has its benefits for players embracing the approach to matches.
Click here to watch where Djokovic adopted his new approach and his benefits to it.
Coping With Anxiety; What To Do?
As mentioned earlier in the article, the top players are not immune to anxiety; they have developed coping mechanisms to deal with pressure situations. Here are some ways to get the most out of our game in pressure situations.
1. Deal With Stress In Training
How you train will reflect how you play in a match. You need to train in stressful situations to deal with stress in a real match. Dealing with stress and pressure doesn’t happen overnight, it must be worked on consistently (frankly every practice session).
Breathing deeply and exhaling fully has shown to decrease stress and stimulate the nervous system. It can be known to some that controlling your breath means controlling the situation around you. You can do this between each point, between each game, before you serve, before a match etc. Make sure you take your time while doing this.
If you’re nervous before a match, breathing will get your heart rate down and reduce cortisol in your brain. Running may make it worse so be careful!
Routines are there to keep you present in the moment. Routines allow a state of calm and focus on the tennis court, and also an increased potential of playing at a high level. Speak with your coach to help develop a routine (include breathing!). Routines should be obvious; I’m sure everyone knows what Rafael Nadal’s routine is!
4. Have Fun
Enjoy the moment and have fun with it. Not everyone gets to experience a high level of play; be sure to make the most of it! Ash Barty is a big advocate of having fun in sport. We all started this sport because we had fun, remember that.
A great quote by Billie Jean King – “Pressure Is A Privilege.” Everyone experiences pressure. The top players have found ways to manage their stress from all their experiences, as well as their team helping them along the way.