Mental Skills: Goals and Motivation

Mental skills are essential and must be integrated into the players training schedule.  It should be viewed in much the same light as fitness training, tactical or video analysis.

Over the next few weeks we will look at specific mental skills.

The first topic we’ll dive into is Goals & Motivation.

Goals and Motivation

Plan for success

You should set mental goals that are challenging yet realistic

Identify the steps that need to be taken to ultimately possess outstanding mental skills

Set goals for every practice and match

  • Fill a simple goal-setting card for every practice session and every match
  • After the practice or match, record if the goals were achieved and review (with your coach) potential reasons why or why not.


  • List the mental skills that are most important for successful tennis performance
  • Rate your proficiency in each of the mental skills listed. Attribute a score out of ten to each skill with ten being outstanding, five average and one poor.
  • What are the three mental components of your game to improve?

Make a success poster

  • Create a poster of exactly how you want to play, what you want to achieve, and how you want to look
  • Go through tennis magazines to find pictures of your favorite tennis players that reflect just that.
  • You can add reinforcing messages that your coach constantly tells you and good quotes to keep you focused
  • When complete, it should be displayed in a prominent place so that you see exactly what you want to achieve each and every day.


  • Compile 4 or 5 of your favorite songs that stimulate confidence and enjoyment or stir emotion similar to those they experience when playing your best tennis. Listen to them several times a week – on your way home, to tennis, in the car. Visualise outstanding tennis whilst listening to your music. The goal is to trigger your ideal performance state whenever you listen to it or play one of the songs.


  • Keep a daily log of your practice, training, match, physical condition …etc. It will help you maintain motivation and focus.

Personal motivation

  • Write down 3 reasons why you play tennis
  • Provide an insight into the type and timing of the words and images they conjure up to motivate yourself

Here are some other topics that relate to mental skills:



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