Tennishead magazine brings you the very best tennis articles, interviews with the great players, tennis gear and racket reviews, tennis coaching tips plus much more

Ask Tennishead: Getting mentally tough


Originally published on: 26/02/10 16:34

The patient

John, Channel Islands, UK

The symptoms

“I rate myself as a player but when the going gets tough I crumble like a soggy digestive biscuit. Help.”

The Doctor says…

Dont you just hate it when dunked biscuits dissolve in tea? Hobnobs are the worst. Pathetic they are. Sorry, got a bit sidetracked there. Dont worry John. Help is at hand.

Serious players must develop a routine in their preparation for matches, so they can improve their consistency of performance and fulfill their potential more often.

I will begin with answering the most common statement made by players, parents and often coaches. If only I/they had more confidence and was mentally tougher I/they would be so much better!

The implication is that confidence, belief and mental toughness are types of magic, an illusive gift only the lucky few possess. Absolute rubbish! Granted, some are more adept at learning how to succeed at a young age, but it is not beyond anyone to learn how to be tough.

A player would never enter a tournament without hitting a ball for three weeks but he would quite easily go into a tournament without doing any mental practice for months, yet wonder why his mind is weak.

Your game gets good with practice; your body gets fit and strong with training and your mind gets sharp and strong with – you guessed it not by luck or chance, but with practice.

Have a look at this in-depth guide to developing mental toughness written by the Tennishead coaching guru David Sammel on his website

Do you need help?

Don’t panic – book an appointment now! Get in touch with your symptoms and keep an eye on the On Court channel for the solution.


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.