Anger is an extremely powerful emotion that can be very difficult to control, especially in younger and less experienced players. If you allow your anger to get the better of you it’s highly likely that your chances of success will drop dramatically. Anger is typically a result of disappointment during a match as a player believes things are not going their way or they are not performing to the best of their ability. Once a player allows their anger to show they will find it much harder to continue to play their normal game and focus on the match.
Below we’ve highlighted a few top tips to help players of all levels control their anger to ensure they are playing to the best of their ability.
Remain focused on your game plan
One of the best things to do to combat anger is to simply do nothing and return to the ‘present’ to continue with your game plan. This is often very difficult for less experienced players as their emotions can get the better of them. They will often be reliving the bad point for several points afterward which could be enough to lose the match. However, by re-focusing on your game, you will begin to block out these negative emotions. Routines are the cornerstones of adjusting your behavior. Anger will only impede a players performance, meaning they are more likely to miss shots and drop points, something which can lead to further anger and frustration.
If you don’t take your mind away from your anger or frustration it will only get worse. By putting all of your focus on the next point or the game plan you laid out before the match you will push any negative emotions out of your head. This, in turn, will help to reduce the feeling of anger which will allow you to return to playing your normal game.
Control your breathing
While this may sound a relatively straight forward and basic technique it is something that can often be overlooked by many athletes. Negative emotions such as anger or frustrations can be a result of nervousness which is causing you to rush your game. In these scenarios, the best option is to try to take your time and slow the game down in order to make sure you are focusing on each shot.
Taking a few moments between shots to focus on your breathing helps to make sure players are fully focused on winning the next point and helps to block out any negative emotions. Learning simple breathing techniques allows a player to remove any obstacles that are getting in the way and push any anger or negative thoughts out of your head.
Prepare for pressure
Preparation is the best way to learn how to deal with certain scenarios and situations that will appear during a tennis match. Having previously experienced a situation before you will start to learn the best ways to cope with what is happening in order to help improve your overall game. As previously mentioned, anger is often a result of nervousness that comes from playing in high-pressure situations. Players who are more experienced in high-pressure situations will likely feel less nervous during these vital moments throughout the match.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to recreate such a high-pressure environment on the training court as ultimately there isn’t as much on the line. However, by trying to ramp up the pressure as much as possible players will begin to get a feeling for how they would react when the pressure increased. Players who are prepared and experience for the pressure that comes with crucial moments of a match will find it easier to control their anger during these stage allowing them to play to the best of their ability.
Champions experience failure
Unfortunately, no one is perfect and losing is an inevitable part of the sport. Responding to losses is something that we have covered in depth on the blog in order to help players learn how to bounce back. When a player drops easy points they will start to become frustrated which in turn will lead to anger. It’s these scenarios where a game is often won or lost as the best players will be able to control their emotions when the game isn’t going their way and stick to their game plan.
When learning to control your emotions and anger it’s important to remember that even the best players will lose a match or drop points they should have won. It’s nearly impossible to play a perfect game and win every shot. Being able to understand that failure is inevitable allows a player to control their anger as they will be less likely to become frustrated when dropping points or losing sets.
Channel and utilize your anger
Anger can be an extremely powerful energy source, however, it is extremely unsustainable over prolonged periods of time. This energy can be used in order to help achieve short term success but it cannot be kept up throughout a whole match. For example, if a player is 40-0 up in a game but lets there game slip and their opponent pulls it back to 40-30 they will begin to get frustrated and angry. In this situation, they can use the energy from their anger in their next serve in order to try and improve their chance of winning the point. However, this is a risky tactic as it can be very draining on the body and if it is used too often it will ultimately decrease the players chance of success.