The famous sports psychologist, Dr. Allen Fox, gave a seminar and book signing for the tennis players of mcc on November 30, 2011 from 6-8pm in the Galaxy Room. This event had great attendance with almost 40 people coming out to hear what Dr. Fox had to say about handling your emotions on the tennis court. Dr. Fox signed copies of his latest book, Tennis: Winning the Mental Match.
Dr. Fox raised three primary concerns tennis players have from the mental side of tennis: choking, anger, and tanking.
Anger turns out to be the easiest one to control. A player must tell himself before he starts that nothing that happens on that court will make him angry, and he will usually succeed in controlling that emotion.
Choking is virtually incurable, but accepting that everyone, even the best players on earth, choke, makes it easier to accept in yourself. Accepting that you are not a bad person because you choked will make you less likely to do so in the future, but will certainly not eliminate this common and persistent problem. Also, realize that just because you choked once, does not mean that you will choke every time. There will be more opportunities if you keep trying to win.
Finally, tanking, or giving up, is difficult to control. Tanking relieves stress by taking you mentally out of the match, but a cost-benefit analysis reveals that rationally this is an unhealthy choice. Once you realize that the benefits of trying outweigh the momentary relief of stress, the player may make the choice to “gut it out.”
Many more insights came from this talk and from reading Dr. Fox’s excellent book. If you would like a copy, Gene has several copies left for sale at the tennis desk for $20 each. They make great gifts to the tennis players in your life this holiday season!