Whether you are trying to calm your nerves down or tame your temper, incorporating mental skills can make all the difference.

In my sports psychology practice I see players at every age, skill level and gender.Many of them suffer from “excess arousal and tension”. Whether it is too much fear, anger or frustration, “excess emotion” hinders performance and hinders motivation. In more serious situations, it contributes to negative feelings about self or diminished self- worth. Learning how to regulate your emotions is a key skill you must master to play at your best in competitive situations.

Because my practice is located in Boca Raton, Florida I tend to see a lot of high performance young tennis players due to the large number of tennis academies located in South Florida. I teach my clients three types of relaxation approaches, deep breathing, muscle relaxation training and guided imagery.

These skills are first learned off court, practiced at home and gradually incorporated into match play. Practicing a full relaxation on a regular basis tends to lower stress levels and reduce overreacting to stressful situations. Practicing abbreviated relaxation exercises prior to and during the match (between points and changeovers) can take the edge off anxiety or anger.

For details on how to learn these relaxation skills you can see my publications, Manage Your Stress and the CD-ROM mental conditioning program, TennisMind. Both are available on the products page of www.mentalskillstennis.com.

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