Tennis is a frustrating game. You get a bad call, you double fault or miss an easy net ball and you’re ready to blow. But wait just a moment before you break that racket. One mistake will never destroy you, but the way you react to it can.
The days of yelling, screaming and pouting like John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors are long gone. The bad boys of tennis lived in the 1970s and they taught an entire generation of players to behave like babies. We now know that acting like this warrants a diagnosis of “Intermittent Explosive Disorder.” These are the players who cannot control their anger and destroy property. They also destroy their reputation in the process. Losing your temper wastes energy, kills focus and will get you depressed enough to lose the next few points. I always tell my players that if you are serious about winning, you cannot afford to lose your temper. It serves to do nothing other than encourage your opponent and give the opposition hope.
The best thing to do if you have anger problems is as follows:
1. Realize it will hurt your game if you show your anger.
2. Realize you are not perfect and do not need to be perfect in order to win.
3. Learn to forgive yourself by taking a deep breath after misses.
4. Use the great Roger Federer as a role model. He rarely shows anger and has taught a generation of players how to manage their anger with grace, dignity and patience.
Do these things and you will play better tennis and enjoy the game a lot more as well.
Dr. Tom Ferraro
For consultations, treatment or on-site visits, contact Dr. Tom Ferraro Ph.D., Sport Psychologist, by phone at (516) 248-7189, e-mail DrTFerraro@aol.com or visit DrTomFerraro.com.