Six Magic Tennis Mantras

As well as being a personal trainer in London, I’m a keen tennis player, and over the years I’ve been a keen student of several tennis coaches in London. Here are six tennis mantras which helped me on court, and should help you too.

Prep, Step, Hit

An effective mantra should be short and punchy. Prep is for preparation, the importance of a good set-up both in your footwork and your racket preparation. This will ensure that you’re in the best position you can achieve in the time available before you hit the oncoming ball. Step is to remind you to step into the ball, so that you’re transferring your weight into the shot. This will help produce a more powerful shot. Hit is obviously the next part in the sequence, which should be decisive and purposeful.

Attack, attack, attack!

This mantra reminds you that tennis is a game of controlled aggression. It’s way too easy to fall into a rut of making passive strokes and letting your opponent dictate each point. Attack not only with your racket, but also with your feet, which means getting into the best position to hit an aggressive shot. Your aim should be to move forward and finish the point with you positioned inside the service line whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Breathe deep, relax and enjoy

I bet you can relate to the feeling of frustration when a game of tennis is not going your way. You tighten up, you over-hit or hit too cautiously, you get angry with yourself, you stop enjoying the game. Deep breathing will help you overcome the feeling of tension. Physically relaxing your body will conserve your energy over a long match and ensure you hit with a more flowing and powerful stroke. Above all, remember to enjoy your tennis, even when you’re losing. Life is short, enjoy the fact you’re outside in the fresh air playing the sport you love, don’t beat yourself up mentally if you’re not playing your best all of the time.

Spin keeps it in

If your shots keep going into the net or going long or wide, you probably need more topspin on your groundstrokes. The beauty of topspin is that it solves several problems at the same time. Your ball passes higher over the net, the topspin brings it down to land inside the baseline and sidelines, and you can hit hard with the confidence that the ball will not go out. There are plenty of great online tennis coaches on YouTube with videos on how to achieve topspin, so get learning.

Always be Aiming

All your shots should have purpose. Get into the habit of deciding how high over the net you intend your shot to go, and where on the opponent’s side of the court you intend your ball to land. The more specific your aim, the more likely you will achieve what you intend. If your intentions are vague, your whole game will be vague and ineffective.

Total Engagement

I stole this mantra not from a tennis coach but from a member of the Polish Special Forces, in one of those documentaries where people compete to see if they’re up to special forces challenges. “Total engagement!” he kept barking at the contestants. To succeed at tennis you need to be hyper-alert, because everything happens so fast. Anything less than total engagement and you’ll make mistakes and miss opportunities.

(Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London, an online nutrition coach, and keen tennis player.)