How to Deal With Nerves Before a Tennis Tournament

tennis ball in net
I thought I was nervous when one of my tennis tournaments was just around the corner. I would have terrible stomach aches before any match. Now I’m experiencing even worse feelings: my daughters’ tournament coming up…

Let me go back 3 years ago when I was invited by one of my relatives to assist at his son’s tennis matches. My relative was a pack of nerves. He would comment on his son’s decision-making, stand up or sit down every five minutes, clap… he even got into an argument with the father of his son’s opponent.
I thought, “Why can’t he just relax and watch the match?”

I then committed to the idea that I would never act the way this particular parent did.
But despite that, I almost lost it at my daughters’ first tournament…
I felt the need to get up and give them instructions, tell them where to position themselves, and remind them to keep the score (well, they kind of needed that in their first tournament because they were very nervous too). Controlling myself was hard.

Now, after many tournaments that my daughters have played, and with another one just around the corner, I feel the butterflies in my stomach already. I am in a constant state of nerves and can’t sleep at night very well… I am stressed.

And I think to myself:
“Why do I have to feel like this? What is all the stress for? What is the worst that can happen: lose a match, not get a trophy? So what???”

I need to constantly remind myself to forget about being too competitive and not expect so much from my daughters.
I need to know that these tennis tournaments are just opportunities for them to meet and play against different players.
During the previous tournament, they had a blast when some of the boys asked them to play doubles with them. It was so much fun! You could see on their faces how much they enjoyed making new friends while playing this beautiful sport…

I also need to stop expecting them to win the tournaments (even though they have been getting very close to doing so quite a few times).

The expectations I put on myself are the ones that prevent me from enjoying watching my kids play and compete.

I am terrible to not realize what a splendid chance they have to play a sport that is so respected, to meet quality people and stay healthy while other kids watch TV or get involved in the many un-productive activities that our young population is now exposed to.

So I say to myself: “Cosmin, be happy and enjoy these moments, these days and years that are unique!”
Winning or losing is relative – the experience and how it makes us feel is what matters.

Have fun playing and competing in tennis! 🙂

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.

Serving With Confidence in Tennis

preparing to serve in tennis
I’ve always found that my tennis serve delivery depends on my mental attitude. 

As I prepare to hit the second serve, thoughts of “I’m going to hit it into the net”, “My opponent will attack me” or “I’m going to miss” often distract and impede me from hitting it with confidence. 

It took me years of playing and analyzing to realize that what was happening on the court was the result of what was going on in my mind.

You see, when we get ready for the first serve, most of the time there’s just the excitement of hitting the ball hard or placing it strategically. But when the second serve is about to be delivered that’s when the nerves take over. It is then when you must be in control of what happens in your mind.

One must understand that the serve is very sensitive to negative thinking: your racquet becomes heavy, the hand is tense, the whole body gets shaky…

To avoid these feelings when you are about to serve (second serves in particular) practice these:

1. Think positive thoughts (“I know I can”, “I have confidence”, “I can do this”).

2. Visualize positive outcomes (ball going over the net and inside the desired service box).

3. Have a ritual (bounce the ball a certain number of times, etc.)

4. Relax your body (exhale slowly).

5. Take your time… Position your feet, adjust the grip and hold the racquet in the most comfortable way. Take one more look toward your opponent’s position and the service box that you are about to send the ball to.

“If you believe you can, you might. If you know you can, you will.” ― Steve Maraboli

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.