Is feeling negative on court just a part of who you are?
It's natural to assume that if you have feelings of low confidence, anxiety, or anger that you can't do anything about it. Many players feel that these negative emotions are simply an inherent part of their makeup. Despite players' desire to feel differently, they often come to believe that their negativity on the court is part of them and something that must be endured.
In the world of cognitive psychology, this is called emotional reasoning. We label ourselves based on our emotions. But actually this labeling is a fallacy, one that can have a huge negative impact on your tennis. The fact is this: Just because you feel a certain way, doesn't necessarily mean that this feeling is based on reality. Or, that these feelings have to be permanent.
Often, for example, low confidence, anger or anxiety, are actually the consequence of negative thinking. Negative thinking, which is frequently an unconscious process, is what leads to negative feelings. And negative thinking is something you can develop control over--something you can reverse. So it's possible that you could completely reverse the way you feel on the court during your matches. Does that prospect sound enticing?
A player I worked with played incredibly well in practice but lost all confidence in tournaments. Literally, she was two different players. The problem had been going on for three or four years when we met. She felt there was nothing that could help her, because the feelings of insecurity were so overwhelming in matches.
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Jeff Greenwald, M.A., MFT is a nationally recognized sport psychology consultant. Jeff has worked as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association and trains numerous players around the world on the mental game. As a player in the men's 35 and over age division he attained an ITF #1 world ranking, as well as the #1 ranking in men's singles and doubles in the United States.