Coach CornerPsychologyAny advice on how to improve mental approach to games?
fabian264 asked 4 weeks ago

Hi Tom and dan
i am a player but also a junior coach.
I have a 13 yo girl that I think has good potential and but her mind is holding her back.
she worries too much about winning and her match play breaks down because of it.
she forces the winning shots too much and gets frustrated very easily after losing a few points.
she puts too much pressure on herself and the shots are tight because of it.
I know she needs to focus on putting the ball on the table but most importantly her mental approach to matches I think is wrong.
She cannot come back from a bad start because of her mind. She hates losing.
also she drops her level too much (gets frustrated easily) after losing a set or losing a match.
Same happens during training sessions.
I know she compares herself too much with the other kids and she is desperate to get better.
I know she will improve her level by just slowing down and focusing on consistency.
what tips can you give me to improve her mental approach to matches? I mean I have talked to her about this a lot but very little improvement.
should I redesign the training sessions in some way where she deals with this problem more? Any ideas? Maybe more video recording and pointing out the mental approach to matches?
I really think this is her biggest barrier for improvement at the moment (mental approach)
I will be waiting for your feedback
cheers
fabian

1 Answers
TomTom Academy Coach answered 4 weeks ago

Hey Fabian,

This is a great question and something I’ve come across many time throughout my coaching career and it’s always a challenge. The biggest area that often holds back players who are talented and have ability is the mental sod eof the game which is very underrated and extremely important.

Firstly you’re doing the right thing here by looking for ways to change and improve to help her, that’s so important.

Definitely the video recording that you mentioned is a great way of showing what caused mistakes and also that slowing down and looking for more consistency will help. Sometimes the player needs to see it for themselves and not just be told it.

I think you cam also do drills with her the work on the fundamentals like drives, topspin’s, pushes and open ups and give her a number goal, so for example you have to get 20 in a row and if you miss you start again from zero. This will add a match type pressure and give her a focus of consistency. Of course too much of this can get boring so try to mix this in with some more fun drills or matches as well if possible.

It’s also good to set short, medium and long term goals with the players and sit down with them to decide these goals and the areas they need to work on to improve and reach them. In this situation you can put the emphasis on having a strong mind and trying to be solid and hard to beat.

Lastly another drill for you which keeps things fun for the player too is simply free play doing 2 serves each however, she has to put the first 5 balls on the table before she can attempt to win the point. This way it keeps her focus on consistency buy then still has the match and free play elements which are important too.

I hope this is helpful for now and anything else or other questions please let us know.

Cheers, Tom

fabian264
replied 4 weeks ago

thanks tom,
i will try those drills with her next session, i might just do thse drills on the junior squad sessions as well, and see how that works, also the goals we are meant to have that session for settng goals for next year and looking at the torunament calendar in victoria, australia.
thanks for the tips, i’ll get back to you after implementing some of this.

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