What Can A Tennis Player Control

Playing any sports can throw up unforeseen events that are not under your direct control. They can seriously affect the game you are playing and change your mindset.

Most events in any sport are not under your control, control is defined as 100% controllable factor, similar to switching a light on or off. Transferring this to tennis a player cannot possibly control events like umpire calls, net cords, line shots, wind, rain, noise etc.

What Happens If A Player Wants To Control Outside Factors

Because these elements cannot be directly controlled by a player, he becomes anxious and tense. The player wants to win but at the same time is uncertain whether he can, the desire of something that you really want but can’t achieve can cause a great deal of tension.

This state can cause what is commonly called choking , this means that the tension and negative thinking are influencing a player so much, that they are unable to breathe properly (choking) and their body is tense.

Play becomes restricted, and some players are only able to push the ball over and unable to play good shots. Even when they apply more power their body does not listen and they inevitably miss.

This choking is not something to be ashamed of, it has happened to most players. It is a normal survival response of our brain programmed inside you. Players eventually get accustomed to these situations ald also learn to play effectively even whilst they are choking.

What Can A Player Control

If you cannot control outside influences that can affect your mind and play, what can you control?

Players can directly control effort and attitude. Tactical plans that you use and awareness that they cannot control the exact execution of any plan. Simply said, a player can decide the way he plays a serve to his opponent’s backhand, but not be sure if he will actually deliver the shot correctly.

So in reality a player needs to focus on the process and not the end result. He can decide to play topspin cross court shots, but not whether he will hit the balls in court. The player can only give his best and not if he wins.

How To Perfect Control

As with any improvement practise will make a difference, when playing socially or competition tennis with your club bring in the element of thought control.

  • Firstly, establish what you can, cannot control and the reasons why.
  • Categorise the elements of a tennis match, beginning with the day’s preparation, the actual match and then afterwards. For instance a player can control how much water he will drink the day before, how much he warms up before the game.
  • Realise that the elements that you cannot control, accept these and move on.

Remember if you get agitated or nervous you will waste energy, instead of using it for something that you can control – like visualising success and tactical patterns, you can take care of proper nutrition that will give enough energy and the correct fluid reserves.


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