I've just finished a great little tennis book on my Kindle that I want to tell you about. It's called Tennis: Winning the Mental Match and is written by Allen Fox. Here is the blurb so you get what it's about:
THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT THE MENTAL ASPECTS OF TENNIS:
Tennis is more difficult mentally than most other sports. It feels more important than it is; it has a diabolical scoring system; drawn-out competitive matches are highly stressful; and losing can be very painful. During competition emotions get out of hand, fears and nerves are hard to control, and confidence comes and goes. This book attacks these and other issues faced by players of all levels. Dr. Allen Fox’s solutions are logical and straightforward, and most importantly, they have been tested on court and they work.
I really think this book can help a lot of players to think about how they act and think on court and try to use the tough mental side of tennis to their advantage instead of the opposite. One of the strongest examples in this book is how to treat both success and failure equally and in tennis this is obviously something that goes on around every point. I'm personally prone to beat myself up massively when I make a mistake and then hardly celebrate my good shots at all. Dr Fox (cool name) suggests to handle these situations much like Roger Federer does, by keeping a calm and collected expression after almost every point.
Okay, Roger also gets a bit hot-headed at times and you'll see the occasional clenched fist and Hewitt-like “Come on!”, but mostly he plays it rather cool. Even Nadal has massively dialed down on his jumping bicep-showing celebrations, which he did way too much at a young age. If you take guys like Edberg and Sampras, you could hardly tell the result of a point, game or set by looking at their faces.
There is also some really good advice in Tennis: Winning the Mental Match around how to perceive yourself and your own skills on the tennis court. I particularly like the chapter dealing with players seeing themselves as much better than they are, meaning that they think “I should beat this guy easily” and then, when they lose, they kick themselves hard or make a great number of excuses for how they were off on that day, how something else was on their mind, how their back was hurting, or something else that somehow took the pressure off of their own ego and downplayed their opponent's victory.
I've done this myself and I've also had it happen to me countless times. Tennis is such a frustrating sport to lose in that you start behaving in strange ways to avoid the stress of it. After reading Tennis: Winning the Mental Match I've made the decision to avoid that kind of “loser” behaviour at all costs. If the opponent wins, he deserved it. If I win, I deserved it and I won't let excuses diminish the enjoyment of that.
After all, it's just a sport. A beautiful sport, but just a sport.
And I think that's really the beauty of Tennis: Winning the Mental Match – the book treats tennis as a truly beautiful and sacred thing and teaches you how to get the most out of it, without having to go to the gym, without having to resort to pointless excuses, without having to put yourself down.
Recommended to players of all levels.
What other books about tennis you really recommend. So far, high my on list is Brad Gilbert’s Winning Ugly.
Winning Ugly is a classic! I like Agassi’s autobiography “Open”, but that’s not really going to help your tennis. “Tennis: Winning the Mental Match” by Allen Fox is also recommended. It really illustrates how much of a mental sport tennis is and gives you good advice on how to improve that part of your game.
Cheers / Jonas