The Importance of the Mental Component
Tennis is an individual sport, and like every individual sport, it involves a great mental component, everyone who has played tennis can tell you the important role of the mind in this game, if you ask players and coaches they can tell you that 50,60,70 or even 80% of the game is mental, and it is obviously impossible to calculate a percentage of it, but the truth is that it is extremely important. To understand the role of the mind in the game, we always put the same example; and it is that if anyone who knows about tennis sees the 300 ATP Player in the world rallying against the 50 ATP Player, and they do not know who is who they would not be able to tell you who is better. The higher the level the more similar the players are physically and technically and the mental part is what makes the difference. That is why, in order to become a professional tennis player, in most cases, the mental aspect is the key component.
The brain is another extremely complex muscle that requires training
The problem is that even though players and coaches know about it, they do not work it the same way that they work physically, tactically, or technically. Sometimes, it is the product of the training system established, and for others because it is simply because they do not know how to work or do not understand it. The truth is that there is still a lack of practice in the mental game, and the mental component requires everyday practice and training, it does not work to have a session of one hour with a psychologist every month, it takes everyday practice, the same way physical conditioning or technical work requires.
We consider sports psychologists extremely important and useful but as mentioned before, it is a daily work with the player and not just a one-to-one session every once a while, that might help the player to understand himself better, but it is necessary to practice and exercise the mental game during practice and matches on a daily bases. The brain is another muscle that requires training and constancy to improve it, in the same way, you do pull-ups to strengthen your arms you need to do mental training to strengthen your mind.
It takes daily work and constancy to work the mental game
There are many different mental aspects affecting the game such as concentration, pressure management, relaxation, learning to deal with your own thoughts(negative or positive), excuses, the capacity to suffer, motivation, discipline…etc. And all these elements require daily practice and specificity.
That is why, first of all, we need to make players understand the importance of it, so they can get helped, it is impossible to help and work with a player who does not want to get help. Therefore, eliminating the skepticism about it and working it on the court daily is the first step to helping players improve their mental game. It also requires coaches to educate themselves or find professionals who can work with the players in this aspect. Nowadays, we see more academies including sports psychologists on their rosters and it can be great if the sports psychologist helps the coaches and train them to work with the players the mental aspect, otherwise, is difficult that a single sports psychologist for an entire academy has a big impact on the players. The goal of every player and coach should always be to let the mind of the player allow them to give his full potential because it is the only limitation an individual has to give his 100%.