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Mental Tennis Training and Goal Setting

Dec 30, 2020
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We have long been goal-orientated; growth mindset driven people. We believe without a target and a positive mindset, it can be very challenging to move forward without feeling like you are going around in circles or even worse, not moving anywhere at all!

We love the new year and the opportunities it brings us to evaluate the year gone by and the chance to set goals and try to crush them in the year ahead! We both spend a few weeks gathering our thoughts before spending 1 dedicated day together, to go over the year that has passed and then collectively set goals for the year ahead. We love it, it is so powerful and motivating!

What I want to share with you, is how important mental tennis training is and how having goals can help you have better mental clarity and confidence in what you are doing. I also want to share some tennis tips on setting yourself up with some goals and also creating some daily rituals to help you achieve them.

First of all, let’s look at why most people do not achieve the goals they set.
It is easy to set goals, I am sure you have been through the process of setting a goal and being super pumped to get it done, only to lose motivation and stop short of reaching it.

This is the case with most goals people set out to achieve, this generally happens for a number of reasons.

  1. Unrealistic Goals – People set goals that are unattainable within the period of time they have set out.
  2. No Accountability - It is always best to have shared the goal with someone or a few people and get them to keep you accountable.
  3. No Plan – Setting a goal is easy, creating an action plan is a critical part. Asking questions like; I know I want this, what do I need to do to get it? Who do I need help from? How much money and time do I need? Etc. It won’t just happen.
  4. No Daily Rituals - I have found that reminding myself daily of my goals keep me focused on them. Also following the daily rituals, you will find below will help you move forward towards your goals. You will find it really impactful when you are consistent with your daily rituals! They are a must.
  5. Be Sure of Your Goal/s - When you set a goal make sure it is what you really want (this is why we spend a few weeks thinking and processing our goals) once you are certain about them, be unwavering on chasing them!
  6. Stopping When it Gets Hard - Being challenged and uncomfortable chasing your goals should happen at times, in these moments you need to dig in and stay focused on why you want it and how good it will feel when you achieve it.

We have found each time we goal set we evolve the process and make it more specific and practical for us. You never want it to be a drawn-out boring process, but rather and an exciting moment. We have taken information and knowledge from various sources over the years.

Goal setting is a skill and the more you practice it the better you will get at it and the more success you will have. Below are a few basic tips and processes we use, we recommend you use what feels right for you and then alter what you need in order to make the process work best for you, your needs, and your lifestyle.


Goal Setting for Tennis 

We use the SMART goal system as a base for goal setting. Here is how it works.

S – Specific - Example 1 (unspecific) . I want to improve my serve. Example 2 (specific) I want to improve my first serve percentage by 20%.
M – Measurable - How can you measure it before and after? I am currently serving at 40% on my first serve, I want to improve this too 60%
A –  Attainable - Is it attainable? Make sure the goal can be reached, it is good to challenge yourself with a goal, but it needs to be realistic. It is always good to get advice/feedback from a coach or specialist when it comes to some goals.
R – Relevant - Is this goal going to help you move closer to achieving your dream/s? If your dream is to be a top 100 professional player, I would say adding 20% more first serves in your game will help.
T – Time - How much time will you give yourself to reach the goal? This is all dependant on what the goal is. As a general guide, we like to set yearly goals and then break things down into smaller goals that are orientated around moving us towards the big goal/s. The breakdown of the smaller goals is generally set over a 10-week period.

Action Steps

Once you have the goal/s set and are clear on them it is time to step up and take action. Having someone appointed as an “accountability inspector” is important, someone who will be involved with the process or is a part of your family or team will work best. Their job is to make sure you are sticking to your action plan.

From here you need to write down what needs to change to reach your goal e.g. I need to spend 3 x 20min sessions a week working on my serve, I will get advice from my coach on how I should best structure this. I also need to improve my shoulder mobility and stability, I will follow one of the Tennis Fitness, Tennis strength and conditioning programs, 2 x per week to help improve this area.

I will also get some extra serve advice from my coach every 2 weeks, things that I can work on my own during my extra serve sessions. You would then structure your week clearly, having added in when and what you will be doing with your sessions. Then it is a matter of sticking to it. Which is when the accountability inspector comes in!


Daily Rituals

Following positive daily rituals are critical. They not only provide the consistency needed to reach a goal they will also create long-term healthy habits that help us function better through the good and bad times. Here is a guide to the daily rituals we like to use, we break them down into morning and evening;

• Morning gratitude; Focus on 3 things you are grateful for.
• Think about your goal/s; Why is it important to you? Are your daily actions connected to achieving it? Keep your goal in your thoughts.
• Today's Target; What do you need to get done today to move you closer to your goal? Your action steps.
• Be prepared; Do you have everything organized for the day? (court booked, bag packed etc)

Evening (we like to do these during deep breathing exercise)
• Acknowledge your wins; What did you do well? how did it feel? Enjoy the fact it is moving you closer to your goal.
• What could have you done better? 1 thing you could have done better.
• Gratitude; Acknowledge the good things you experienced.


“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine” Darren Hardy


Progress Milestones

It is important to check in every 2-4 weeks and see where you at. Have you been sticking to your action steps? Has your serve percentage improved? Has your shoulder mobility improved? What can you be doing better? Do you need to change anything? When we see positive gains, it is really important to stop and give yourself a pat on the back, seriously, give credit when it is due and encourage yourself.


Celebrate the Win

Too often we reach a goal and there is not enough celebration! When you achieve your goal, make a conscious effort to have a reward in place for yourself. It does not need to a physical reward (new racket etc) although it can be. We have always worked more with rewarding ourselves with an experience e.g., a few days away surfing or going out for a nice lunch. That’s what we like to do. Just make sure you have some form of a celebration lined up for yourself! What will be waiting for you at the finish line?

Goal Setting Is A Skill

Remember goal setting is a skill and the more you do it and follow the principles above the better you will get at it and the more confident you will become at setting a goal and taking action steps to reach it.

You may fall short on occasion because you are human and the world throws curve balls at us (injuries, illness, and other factors). This is normal, and you should learn from these experiences and not be deterred to keep setting goals and moving forward. If you continually fall short of your goals, go over the list of things people do wrong when goal setting, it will help get you back on track.


Most importantly, enjoy the process of setting a goal and striving every day to achieve it, the result may not always be what you desired, but I guarantee you will gain confidence and life skills out of the process. Give it a go!

To finish off here is a quote on goal setting we like to use at Tennis Fitness.

“Set it, action it, do not budge from it, achieve it, celebrate it”

Now get your goals ready!

Good luck


New Year Program 25% Sale - We are also offering every one of our tennis community 25% off any of our programs. Only for a few days go here to check it out