Emotions. We have to deal with them all the time. Everything is positive or negative. Big role plays our perception because positive thing for one person can be a negative one for the other. Tennis is full of emotions. Winning a point can produce explosion of positive reactions but losing an important point can be the reason why tennis racquet is flying over the court. Let’s focus on the second example. Is it helpful to throw a racquet?
Tennis coaches have different opinions. Some say that throwing a racquet is a great way to let negative feelings go away so they accept it. Other coaches say that it depends on the player’s personality so if one is an explosive type it is nothing wrong to throw a racquet now and then. There is also a big group of coaches (me included) who believe that players shouldn’t throw the racquet both from the performance and human being perspective.
To answer the question of this post we have to firstly understand the reasons why players throw the racquet. It happens because they have so much anger inside that they can’t keep it anymore. There is so much negativity that player needs some outlet for these emotions. And here racquet comes to help. So now we know that throwing action is just the last part of this process. It is important to focus on the previous stages to not only avoid breaking racquets but also to play much better tennis. If you take care of dealing with anger at the beginning it will never get to the level that you feel like the bomb that is going to explode. As I said before accumulating negative emotions leads to bad behaviors so by not letting anger get enourmous we are going to deal with throwing problem once and forever. It is all about awareness and consistent internal work with our emotions. If we lost the point it is important to accept it, learn the lesson and move to the next point with positive mindset. If we don’t do this there is a big chance that we approach the next point with negative attitude what can result in the next lost point. And here we have a snowball effect. Few more points and racquet is on the ground. Remember stop anger accumulation at early stages!
List of actions to deal with anger (and avoid throwing a racquet):
- After each point accept what has happened and focus on the next point
- Approach next point with positive mindset
- When negative words come in stop it immediately
- Use breathing and visualization techniques to stay relaxed and positive
- Be aware of what is going on in your head
- Work on these steps during practice sessions to make it work during tournaments
So now you know how to work on your internal dialogue to avoid throwing racquet. It is also important to understand that throwing racquet is the peak of the iceberg. There is much more involved in this process at the previous stages than it is visible. Keep in mind that when you accumulate more and more anger inside your game is hurt. You are playing worse than your potential is so it is not worthy to be negative and to make your racquet fly. And don’t forget that you can also get point penalty at the most deciding moment of tournament’s final!
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website http://tennisisland.us. Marcin has been working with USTA, top 100 ITF and WTA/ATP players. He is a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines and he was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA.