There is a big myth going around in Tennis and it really upsets me every time I hear it.
Possibly the biggest tennis myth that I hear over and over in tennis circles is that Tennis is 90% mental!
For the average tennis player nothing could be further from the truth and in this blog post I want to explain to you guys why that is the case and what the consequences are!
Where It Comes From
Now I can’t be 100% certain with this but my guess is that it comes from people listening to professional tennis players and commentators on TV talk about the fact that it was all mental out there. Oftentimes when there is a close match on TV the commentator will talk a lot about how the match was decided on the mental side only.
Additionally the players when interviewed often talk about the fact that for them the mental part plays a huge role in getting better. And you know what ? That is 100% true!
For a professional player the game oftentimes becomes 90% mental because they often completely stop working on their technique and then the mental side becomes the area that they focus on!
What people don’t understand is that these players already have great technique and great footwork so what’s left to focus on for them is the mental aspect of the game.
The situation for recreational players is usually quite different. For most recreational players bad technique is the number 1 thing holding them back!
What This Means For You
You need to stop listening to this nonsense and evaluate your technique. You can only improve your strokes if you consciously focus on them. In fact there is a 4 stage learning process that you have to go through when learning a skill like a tennis stroke. Let’s have a quick look at this process:
The 4 Stages Of Learning
Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence
In this stage you have a bad forehand for example but you don’t even know that you have a bad forehand because you don’t know what a good forehand looks like yet and you have not compared yourself enough to other players.
Usually beginners are in this stage and they can actually have a lot of fun playing this way since there is no pressure
Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence
Once you have played for a while though you will realize that your forehand is bad because you start comparing yourself to others and you start looking at good forehands on TV etc.
At this point people usually make the decision to start working on that bad forehand. Unfortunately way too many players remain in this stage because of many factors like bad information/advice or a lack of structured practice. If you stay in this phase for too long you can end up really frustrated and develop a strong belief that your forehand is no good!
Stage 3: Conscious Competence
After you worked on your forehand you will then hopefully get to this stage where you can hit a good forehand for the first time but only if you really focus on what you are doing. Reaching this stage is what motivates people to continue working on the shot!
If on the other hand you never reach this stage where you can at least hit a good forehand under controlled circumstances then you will get frustrated and probably stop working on the shot.
Stage 4: Unconscious Competence
Now this is where everybody wants to be. In this stage you can hit a great forehand without even thinking about it. You could get up in the middle of the night and that forehand is just there.
This is a great feeling but what most people forget is that the players that have this feeling usually worked really hard for it for a long period of time!
There are a few exceptions of course with super talented players that sort of just picked up a great forehand by accident. This is extremely rare though.
Since you are reading this post I assume that you are not a super talent and things don’t just come natural to you. So forget about these nonsense comments from commentators that the game is 90% mental and get to work on your weak strokes!
If you focus in on your strokes with the right information and drills and work in a disciplined manner then eventually you can have turn that weak forehand into a strong forehand for good and enjoy the state of unconscious incompetence!