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Tennis is a Battle of the Minds Too

Sports Psychology Commentary – John F Murray, PhD – December 26, 2013 – While all sports have a huge mental component, this is especially true in the mental warfare that goes on in a highly competitive tennis match.

I traveled all over the world coaching tennis in my 20s, and since opening my practice in 1999, I’ve been privileged to work with many hundreds of tennis players and coaches as a sports psychologist. The best argument for the need for mental training was already made by me in the late 1980s and this is indeed the strongest reason I went back to graduate school to become a sports psychologist – I saw how valuable and important the mind was to tennis success!

Tennis have been very good to me. After a career coaching the game, I had the first sports psychology column on the internet in 1995 when the internet was brand spanking new – on Later I would write for many other tennis publications including Tennis Magazine, Tennis Week, ACE, Tennis USTA and many more. The truth is that each one of these publications, and every player I have ever coached or trained mentally, has a vast need for improvement that relates to how well they manage thoughts and feelings, and has less to do with their stroke technique, footwork or power.

I would later write the book “Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game” and I was pleased that it was published in three languages and is still selling today. While traveling to Australia in working with a player at the Aussie Open several years back, I even saw this book being offered in an obscure bookstore on a lonely street in Adelaide, not far from Tasmania, home of the Tasmanian Devil! The power of the press!

Anyway, I think you know already that I am very excited about the work I am lucky to do. I help people maximize their chances for success and well being by training them to use their most valuable assets, their minds. What could be more rewarding work? I still cannot think of a better job.

If you are a tennis player and you are not reading all you can on the mental game, or better yet working with a sports psychologist, then you are simply not training yourself fully. I was the sports psychologist this year at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Florida, and in asking the students about how important the mental game was to success, they and the coaches told me on average that it is 80% of the game! Wow, I become more convinced that what players gain in training their brains is essential.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the world of sports psychology

Badri Narayanan speaks candidly about Sports Psychology

“I am Badri Narayanan, a Tennis coach/PM in Daybreak, Utah. During coaching, while my prime focus was on stroke analysis, technique and footwork/fitness etc, I was very much intrigued by the importance of mental toughness/sports pyschology etc. Quite often when students ask me “players in the tour say you either have confidence or you don’t, attitude is intrinsic etc.” and sometimes they got depressed because they thought that mental toughness was something intrinsic and not built through constant mental work.

Read the full article




Winners emphasize the mental game

Commentary from Dr. John F Murray, sports psychologist – As a contributing editor to Florida Tennis magazine for over 10 years, you’ve heard from me countless times about the mental game and mental training for top junior tennis players hoping to earn a college scholarship, or perhaps ATP or WTA Tour success. What about players who have already made it? Does the mental game still matter for them? Let’s glance back at the men’s side of the 2010 Ericsson Open from quarterfinals to Andy Roddick’s impressive win and listen closely as the pros describe their mental keys to their success.

Read the full article from his sports psychology website.


Smart Tennis, Winning the mental game

Dr. John F. Murray has an extensive background in playing and coaching tennis, writing and lecturing on sport psychology and tennis, and providing psychological services. A graduate of Loyola University (New Orleans), Murray is certified by both the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) and the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR). He taught tennis in Munich, Germany, before joining the Peter Burwash organization and teaching in Europe, Hawaii, North America, and the Middle East.

Get the full scoop on his sports psychology website.