| By Jessica Stiles


I have a question: What percentage of tennis do you think is mental? I always thought it was a minimum of 50 percent and a maximum of 99 percent, depending on whom you play, the tournament and match score. As a junior USTA player and collegiate Division I player, I often wonder why most players don’t pay more attention to the mental game. I have to believe that it’s because there is no easy and accessible way to work on your mental game. The mental game sometimes comes across as mystery, and the players are looking for the key.

Now, thanks to Rob Polishook, founder of Inside the Zone Sports Performance Group, help is on the way. He is changing the way we mentally prepare and play matches with his new book, Tennis Inside the Zone: Mental Training Workouts for Champions. After reviewing his book, I hope and believe it will encourage and inspire players of all levels to spend more time on their mental game.

Tennis Inside the Zone is a game changer! The workbook will enable all players to dedicate real time to their mental game just like they do with on-court tennis training and fitness training. It’s a fun purposeful guide to help take your game to the next level. Players will learn how to make simple, yet critical, adjustments off-court, before, during and after matches.

The workbook is organized into four sections: Off Court, Pre-Match, Match and Post Match. As I reviewed the book, I found each workout (32 in total) to be an eye-opener! Working through the experiential questions, combined with quotes, principles for improvement, and articles gave me great insight to my own mental tendencies and how I can personally improve.

For the purpose of this review, I immediately chose to complete one workout in each section. I started off with the “Competeology-The Keys to Winning” workout. It helped me identify mental behaviors which professionals at the highest level demonstrate. Then, I worked through: “OMG … I’m Nervous!” which helped me to accept and reframe my nerves instead of fighting them. I then went to “I Suck … How to Tame Negative Self-Talk.” This helped me understand the triggers to some of my non-productive self-talk. Lastly, I chose, “I’m Better … How Could I Lose?” which made me aware of where my focus has been during matches and how to change it.

Tennis Inside the Zone is targeted towards junior players, as well as weekend warriors of all levels who want to improve their overall mental game both on and off the court. In addition, I would recommend the book to coaches who want to teach their teams how to compete and to parents as an easy tool to encourage their kids to work on their mental game. I have known Rob for many years, and his caring and passion for people and the game is truly special. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have.


Jessica Stiles

Jessica Stiles is an intern for New York Tennis Magazine and is a player for the University of Kentucky Women's Tennis Team.