Tennis is one of the most competitive of sports, played by millions around the world and one of the toughest sports both physically and mentally. Tennis places huge stress on a player’s body.
When the body is under stress for long periods, the player’s hormonal balance can be thrown out. This imbalance can affect the player’s game in many negative ways. Hormonal imbalances can cause fatigue, slower recovery, lack of mental clarity, tennis injuries, poor decision-making, inflammation, aches and pains – all of which reduce tennis performance considerably.
We often see players who manage physical stress quite well. Many players have recovery strategies which may include massage, physiotherapy, nutritional intake and supplements. However, we rarely see players who manage mental and emotional stress levels effectively. Most players don’t realise that mental stress has exactly the same effect on the body as physical stress. If mental stress isn’t effectively managed, you will have problems in the long term.
While there are many approaches we use to help reduce mental and emotional stress, one of the simplest, easiest and quickest techniques is meditation.
Meditation is misunderstood. You don’t have to go to an ashram in India or sit atop a mountain in Nepal to meditate. Mediation can be done anywhere and you can start with as little as three minutes a day.
Meditation is the art of mental control. It helps elicit a relaxation response, which calms and relaxes the nervous system to help balance the ‘fight or flight’ stress response. Meditation is proven to help reduce mental and emotional stress and can quite literally transform your tennis and your life. Meditation really is the ‘three-minute secret’ to improving your performance and winning more matches.
Basic Breath Count Meditation
Find a quiet place to sit comfortably with a straight back and hands rested in your lap. Simply draw your attention to your breath and count while you inhale slowly …1…2…3…4… pause, then exhale slowly while counting 1…2…3…4. Repeat for three minutes. If you find your focus shifting away from your breathing, gently bring it back to counting your breaths.
Nathan and Giselle Martin, of Tennis Fitness, have been in the health and fitness industry for 20 years. They travelled on the WTA Tour for numerous years and also worked at the Sanchez Casal Tennis Academy in Barcelona, Spain. They’ve worked with Sam Stosur, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Jennifer Capriati, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Monica Seles and Martina Navratilova. The Sydney-based pair now work with Casey Dellacqua and Lleyton Hewitt. For further information and for previous month’s articles, visit tennisfitness.com.
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