CHAPTER No. 1 - ACTIVE MENTAL TRAINING & YOUR MENTAL EDGE

Presented by Beau Treyz and Claudio Pistolesi

06.12.2022

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CHAPTER No. 1 “ACTIVE MENTAL TRAINING & YOUR MENTAL EDGE”

Tennis requires each player to have complete mastery over their physical, mental, and technical parts of the game. It is very important to be aware that all those aspects are communicating with each other, and the mental part is predominant in leading the player to the peak performance. Without teammates, every player must be able to play offense, neutral, and defense; they have to be problem solvers on court to find ways to win – on any given day, against any type of opponent. Coaches can help mold the proper techniques, recognizing that each player has different stroke mechanics than the next. Coaches teach players how to hit slice and topspin, flat and kick serves – all the shots required to be a complete player. The physical aspect of the game was revolutionized in the late 1970s when Martina Navratilova and Ivan Lendl turned themselves into physical specimens, who became dominant because of their strength and stamina. Today, every player is fit; they must be. Now, we see players with full time physiotherapists as permanent parts of their team, further helping players prevent injury and stay on court in their best shape.

The mental side of tennis is extremely broad, as it includes areas such as mental support, neuro training, mental stamina, and many more.  We refer to these three aspects (mental, technical and physical) working together as the training triangle, seen below. We briefly covered the technical and physical, and now we would like to dig deeper into the mental aspect of the game, where we believe it gives you that mental edge with a new form of technology, virtual reality. 

 


The mental side of tennis, and how we as players, coaches and parents train is constantly developing. ‘Active Mental Training’, is what we believe now with the ability to use virtual reality for brain training, supports players in developing their coping mechanisms needed to perform at their potential- the use of drills and the ability to recreate scenarios players struggle with by decreasing the amount of anxiety the player feels in real life. The ability to simulate triggering scenarios and walk through them with no ‘real-world’ outcome has never been available to athletes before. It is not about asking athletes to journal about their emotions, or move their strings around in between points, virtual reality is now providing players the chance to be an active participant in their own mental health on court, which we believe will lead to many breakthroughs for athletes of all levels. In this way this technology can contribute to the overall mental health of the athlete.

There are many variables in tennis, and too often, we wait until we fall at one of the obstacles in our way before we work on it. This is a time-consuming and often frustrating process, that we can now speed up. The mindset of the best players in the world is to be constantly working towards their potential, which means preparing for obstacles before they reach them. In addition, this new technology is offering an amazing opportunity for coaches to involve the player in the learning process, in order to create great interest and permanent motivation in the never-ending search of getting better. The top champions who we have had the privilege, as tennis lovers, to watch perform in the last 20 years – Djokovic, Serena, Federer, Venus, Nadal, for example – have shown all of us that regardless of the incredible number of titles and majors they have achieved, their one focus on a daily basis is asking themselves:

“HOW CAN I GET BETTER?”

            To give a practical example, let’s say a player plays five matches in three months where he/she may have had several break points to finish the match, but could not make a return. After failing at this many times, it will be apparent to the player, his/her coaches, and parents that the player gets nervous or starts overthinking the game when he/she is near the finish line. It is not apparent to anyone that the player needs to focus on the mental ability to close out a match until the player has blown a couple matches; losing those matches establishes that the player needs to find a way to work on the mental side of the game. Those matches were not lost because of a forehand or fitness level, but rather because of the mental game. At this point, three months have gone by and now, the player starts truly focusing on it and trying to create similar scenarios in practice so that he/she can overcome the obstacle of “making that return”. But that’s a long time, and this is a problem that may be likely to occur five times in a year! Maybe no one around the player really notices what is happening, in which case the obstacle never gets overcome, only pushed off until the next time the player winds up in that scenario, or until it is too late.

           This is where virtual reality enhances the way players can train. Now, athletes can be in the comfort of their own home, let alone a gym or any indoor area, and create specific scenarios they want, allowing players to create environments such as being in a stadium full of fans, or allowing you to practice in front of a crowd. The addition of external distractions will help a player get used to that situation before arriving on the court. Soon, players will be able to add the sun, wind, crowd noise, and different situations to make the challenge even harder for them; but not just harder, actually make it more personalized to what the player truly needs to work on. Coaches and players can pinpoint certain obstacles and put in that scenario as many times as they need. For example, if you are not a huge fan of playing a lefty, get your brain used to it. Once you have specifically trained the areas each player needs, we will see the growth of the player mentally, as they begin thriving in those same scenarios they once struggled with. 

           Beyond being able to address areas of struggle for players of all levels, this type of technology gives us the ability to be proactive in the pursuit of our potential. We all want to reach the next level, whatever that may be (going pro, getting a tennis scholarship, reaching your highest ranking or that UTR/USTA level, finally beating that friend or rival that is just out of reach, etc.). Players can simulate the type of decision-making necessary to play at the next highest level, and we can get our players the mental skills they will need so that their tennis can shine through.

“WHAT CAN I IMPROVE?”

           Mental training is becoming accepted as an area players need to legitimately focus on just as they do their fitness, nutrition and physical tennis techniques and strategies. We see Iga Swiatek and Taro Daniel, among others, traveling with full time mental coaches. We believe these are the core mental abilities that players need to work on, among many others: 

  • Concentration

  • Decision Making 

  • Self-Confidence

  • Self-Efficacy

  • Activation Management

  • Breath Management

Which will consequently improve the below skills: 

  • Anticipation 

  • Reaction 

  • Rhythm 

  • Balance

  • Orientation 

“HOW TO ACHIEVE FLOW?”


The ultimate Goals of the Active Mental Training is to accelerate the process to achieve the “ Flow” status and complete “Self awareness “ of the Visual-Psycho-Neuro-Muscle process for Tennis or more widely known as the muscle memory (image below)


Sense Arena gives the unique opportunity for players and coaches to “tailor made ''active mental training“, utilizing  the drills specifically for the need and tennis identity of the players developing each one of the mental ability and coordination skills, the tools that the human body needs to become a better athlete. From the point of view of coaching education, Sense Arena offers a great example to the tennis world about how important it is to break down the needs of each player and how coaches can involve each player directly in their tennis developments, and being more effective with their coaching .            

           Sense Arena is the most practical form of ‘active mental training’ on the market right now, supported by some of the world’s greatest players and coaches. Our advisory team is composed of 59-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova, as well as renowned coaches Claudio Pistolesi, Pavel Vizner, Ashley Hobson, Jack Waite and Beauregard Treyz, who continue to collaborate on how to create and provide the most realistic scenarios players face and need to be ready for on the match court. From providing great warmup drills for mental stimulation to specific situations on matches and drills, Sense Arena is here to help athletes reach the next level. The journey begins now and we, just as all players, want to continue to evolve as we continue to improve, so we will be able to help you to train your inner game.   

 Sense Arena - Your Inner Game - By Claudio Pistolesi & Beauregard Treyz

Start improving your tennis skills today