Q: Tell us about Mental Tennis, for those who do not know, what is it?
Mental Tennis is an effective method that provides a solution to one of the biggest issues in tennis. It trains the mind to compete when the athlete needs it most; when he/she has to take to the court and win the match!
This is a methodology to increase performance, it’s not a psychological or mental coaching, and is therefore a very suitable tool for coaches as well.
Mental Tennis prepares coaches to learn the techniques that they will subsequently use with their students to advance them at every level of their game.
Last year we created specific courses for parents, who even when acting in the child’s best interest, can be an obstacle to their child’s growth. We know of cases where parents struggled with their own mental approach to the game and ultimately hurt their child’s progression, up to and including the child’s defection from the sport.
Mental Tennis is a method that can improve someone’s game as well as the relationship between coaches-athletes and parents-children. If, for example, a player has a technical issue (could be their grip or their forehand, backhand, slice, etc), the right mental attitude is needed to overcome these technical issues.
A mind that’s not properly trained will make us lose a game even after just a few poorly hit shots. The emotions will prevail leading us to ultimately “check-out” of the match.
Mental-Tennis encompasses all of that but in addition we offer our services to teams at tennis academies, where we intervene to assist the teams. The aim is to turn these teams into a close-knit team that knows how to communicate, is not afraid of conflict, operates with responsibility and attention to results and ultimately enjoys the sport more. It’s a well-known fact that a cohesive team will be able to bring out the best in each other, will know how to give support and motivate others. A team that is fragmented, poorly coordinated and poorly trained mentally is a team that can easily dissolve.
Mental Tennis has various programmes, online and on a physical court, both for tennis players and coaches. We first try to understand the needs of the person and what they really want to achieve in terms of results. We evaluate the technical level, the difficulties in managing the mind and the level of ambition of the individual. Mental Tennis works on improving these aspects and then putting them into practice during a match. This all help to address the typical problems that a tennis player faces during the competition, such as knowing how to close matches, deal with the anxiety and tension that often cause players to lose matches, handle disappointment, regain confidence and self-esteem, temper control, keeping a firm focus throughout an entire match, have a game plan and know how to switch gears and plans within a match. One issue we often deal with, for example, are the excuses we create to justify certain things we do. This is one of the greatest obstacles we all face and can lead to diminished results.
Q: Interesting, how did you come up with the idea of creating such a method?
Look, I might sound ironic, but it was obvious to me that we needed this kind of training, from the first moment I set foot on a court to compete in this sport!
I said to myself: “Guys, the mind is everything!”, if you can’t use it to your advantage it blocks you and shapes you to such an extent that you become almost clumsy in your performance. If you can’t control your mind, you will allow fear to permeate every aspect of your game, resulting in low self-esteem and anger. And as I mentioned earlier, you start creating excuses, placing the blame on other things until you start believing it.
The problem is that by doing so you lose the power to decide what you want to achieve. You are a puppet in the service of your fears and excuses.
In 15 years of traveling the work teaching mental training, I’ve always wondered how it was possible that tennis coaches/experts had not yet realized that the key to winning is to train their players to think differently.
In 2015, when Wawrinka beat Novak Djokovic, known to be one of the toughest mental players in the sport, he pointed with his index finger to his head, an indication that his mind had been a critical factor in his win. At that point, everything clicked for me, I got confirmation of what I had long known and that it was time for me to contribute to this wonderful sport.
I understood that it was necessary to change the way things were being taught around the world and with great dedication, passion and determination, I took all of my notes from the past 10 years and incorporated them with research studies and personal experiences. I’ve managed to create a training programme that is both practical and effective and allows you to train your mind while you’re playing tennis. Tennis is not just about learning a forehand or backhand; certainly not if you want to win a lot of matches. There are a lot of players who get used to the idea of losing, who get used to being slaves to their anger or disappointment. I created Mental Tennis for those who are tired of losing and want to understand how to solve their inner problems. This is why Mental Tennis was born: to allow athletes, coaches and even parents to overcome our mental limitations and ultimately achieve greater success.
Q: What do you and your team do to help tennis players?
We intervene mainly in 6 Macro-Areas: 1. Motivation, 2. Attitude and Mindset, 3. Management of Emotions, 4. Focus 5. Strategy or Game Plan. 6. Confidence, Self-Esteem and Flow
Flow is the highest level of performance we can achieve, when we are fully immersed in a game, when the shots all go in, when we feel fully in charge of the match and are also having fun.
If I wanted to summarize what we do to assist the tennis players, I would tell you that as a first step we work in changing their attitude when they take to the court to compete. Instead of them feeling shy and intimidated when stepping onto a court, we teach them to take to the court with their heads held high, confident, to go and grab their win. We teach athletes to develop fundamental virtues such as patience, resilience, endurance, mental solidity, inner serenity, courage, heart and proactivity. With us athletes begin to love and believe strongly in what they do as they can see the best version of themselves.
The second step is to build, over time, a winning mentality, which we do through the integration of what we call the 10 commandments of the Mental Tennis mindset. Finally, we train them to use mental training tools to correct any problems or issues they may be experiencing. Like all valuable things, results don’t happen in a single session. We explain to everyone that they will have to shift their expectations and realise that results will take a minimum of 3 months and that they should not focus on the end-goal. The best results that we’ve seen with those who prepare with Mental Tennis is when people start putting into practice what they’ve learnt. If they follow our methodology and play close attention, they will be able to see the results first-hand.
Many tennis players do not even know what it means to have an inner resource let alone how to use it. The ability to be able to engage within yourself is like having an ally by your side when playing a match.
Often times, players who lose many matches are remarkably good at berating themselves when they make a mistake, which often leads to discouragement which in turn can disengage someone from a match.
To try to eliminate all of this, my team and I do many exercises on the court and encourage everyone to apply the Mental Tennis method.
Q: What are the main differences that arise with Mental Coaching?
There are many of them, but for now it is better to summarize them into 4 main sections.
The first and most important is that Mental Tennis is a method to train your mind and therefore our job is to train you to compete. To do this we do not try to earn the trust of the players, which is something taught in all mental coaching and NLP courses. Trust is an essential component that we require from you as a prerequisite to start working with you. Rather, it must be the player who will need to earn our trust. I’d like to give you a hypothetical. Imagine you are applying to take part in a military training course. It will not be the sergeant who will have to earn your trust, if anything it will be you who must prove all your commitment by earning his!
In Mental Tennis we immediately teach a clear verticality of the roles between the trainer-coach and the player. In this way we are able to break down all the negative thoughts and behaviors that pop into our client’s mind.
In doing so, we are immediately able to produce concrete results, without wasting time and precious energies. I say, you do! Stop, no questions!
The solutions will arrive if you are able to persevere, to constantly apply yourself and to give yourself enough time to properly learn this method. However, if you keep resisting, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll end up where you started: few wins, little satisfaction and wasted opportunities.
Mental Tennis is a methodology that fits into a world where everyone wants and expects everything immediately. In a world like this, 99% of people claims they want to accomplish as much as possible, but almost no one focuses on the discipline and perseverance required to achieve it.
Our method, on the other hand, teaches patience, tenacity, mental solidity and resilience, which is what allows you to achieve above-average results. Our children today have huge potential but they really need this type of training because they live in a society that convinces them that it only takes one click to buy yourself a dream! Dreams must be built, point by point, game after game, training after training. Dreams are built with a lot of hard work. Otherwise dreams will just remain dreams.
There are numerous studies about this and they highlight how the aforementioned is the fundamental aspect to be able to produce immediate and tangible results. It’s the only way to achieve success, to come out on top of a sea of people who dream, but that only 1% of people can actually achieve.
So, if you are an athlete, a coach or a parent of a player and you want to really achieve tangible results, you have to have confidence in the way I train and respect these 3 conditions:
Total trust 2. Willingness to listen and sacrifice 3. The time it takes to apply the method.
A minimum period of preparation with Mental Tennis is that of 3 months, a period in which you will be asked to be disciplined in applying the Mental Tennis method every time you step on the court to train but especially when you play official matches.
It is precisely in those moments that you have to learn to manage pressure and tension and bring out the best in you! Your body will be strongly influenced by how your mind has been trained.
The second very important difference lies precisely in the double role we have, namely trainers in the classroom/online and mental tennis coaches on the court.
The Mental Tennis team will undertake to transfer specific knowledge, first at a theoretical level with our online sessions and then to verify on the court that you know how to put it into practice. In this way you will achieve full autonomy and independence from any mental coach. You will become the best coach of yourself because you will finally be able to find the solutions yourself. You won’t have to depend on someone else anymore. But let’s be clear that I’m not diminishing the value of a mental coach but rather that this is not what we are offering.
The third difference with mental coaching is that we don’t try to go and solve the root cause of the problem but rather, we teach you how to disconnect your mind from your fear so that the fear does not control you. The Mental Tennis method teaches you to feel your shots without interference from fear, doubt and whatever else might be inhibiting you. It would take too much time and resources to do a job that goes to the root cause, and in today’s world, we know that if you want to make the qualitative leap, you don’ have the ability to spend time, money and resources to do so. According to Mental Tennis the secret is therefore not to train more but to train better. The secret is to train the mind to unleash the potential and hereby lies our expertise; we will help you make it your ally and not an impossible obstacle that cannot be overcome.
The fourth difference is precisely the time factor. We assure our students that if you listen to us and apply everything we tell you, every day, session after session, then we can make sure that you will achieve important results in a tenth of the time that it would take with a mental coach or psychologist. This is not simply something we claim but rather what athletes and coaches who have tried Mental Tennis have stated. An example? Diego Nargiso, who released a video testimonial on our Facebook page.*
Q: Given the period we are living in, can one benefit from the work done with Mental Tennis?
I have to admit that our workload has increased exponentially.
Given that everyone was forced to be home, many took the opportunity to strengthen the mental part of their game.
At Mental Tennis, we immediately created online courses that attracted athletes and coaches from all over the world.
Just to give you an idea, we are currently training tennis players and coaches in 3 different languages in 5 different continents: Africa, Europe, America, Australia and very recently even Asia, in particular China where we are collaborating with an important academy and we plan on organizing exchanges between our branches in Italy and Spain. In fact, we are looking to expand our current team to meet the demands from people to learn our methodology.
To return to your question about this singularly unique period of our lives, it has provided people the opportunity to participate in mental tennis sessions from the comfort of their living room. All you need is a smartphone or a PC and a connection to follow the courses.
Once you have purchased the course and registered, the coach or tennis player will set-up a time with my Team Manager Andrea Rodriguez to organize the first session. We have a lot of requests so we’re trying to do everything we can to please everyone. Sessions can be private or in a group depending on the preference; many prefer the group setting as you have the added value of listening to other individuals discuss their thoughts.
Q: What can people interested in deepening their knowledge of Mental Tennis do?
I would say that first of all they can visit our www.mental-tennis.net site (which will soon be upgraded) and schedule a free introductory session that we normally do with the Zoom platform or Google Meet but also with WhatsApp or Skype.
If you use social media you can follow our Facebook and Instagram pages where we often do introductory webinars in 3 languages (Italian, English and Spanish).