Christine from “The Tennis Mind” is here to talk about several issues that are common with adult recreational tennis players. Christine is a local league coordinator, a 4.0 rated player, and coaches players on the mental game of tennis.

Her coaching includes issues such as:

  • Struggling ON or OFF the court with your mental game
  • Feeling frustrated when you play tennis
  • Losing matches you “shouldn’t” lose?
  • Enjoying yourself every time you play tennis
  • Winning more because you are more mentally fit
  • Playing better more often

Here’s a transcript of our conversation

Speaker 1: 0:06

Hi, this is Carolyn and I’m here with Erin, and this is part two of our conversation with Christine from the Tennis Mind about the mental game. If you would like to hear about common issues adult recreational players have, please check out part one. But here is part two. Christine, I remember discussing with you my issues about bad line calls and sometimes I’ll go to a bad place mentally, not outwardly when someone makes a few bad line calls. I remember you telling me that I have no control over the calls that they make and that I needed to take responsibility for how I react to the bad line calls.

Speaker 2: 0:47

The other thing with that specifically is that does it change how you feel or change your anger if you’re thinking they’re doing the best they can and they just didn’t see it? They didn’t see it the same as you. Or they’re trying to cheat you and steal and win the game by being a cheater? When you think about those, those are just two completely different thoughts that if you think one way, it’s enraging, it’s a justice issue. You’ve got to make that right. That’s not fair. Or they’re doing the best they can and they’re trying to be fair, and most of the time people are trying to be fair, they aren’t malicious about their line calls. Every now and then you’re going to come across someone who is trying to cheat, and that’s okay too. There’s not much you can do about that. But yes, it’s just coming back to what can I control? Because if you get angry and then that affects how you play, then you’re essentially handing over the match and saying, all right, you can have it now, because I’m mad at you. It doesn’t serve you at all, but it’s hard. Believe me, I’ve got what that?

Speaker 1: 1:53

plenty to yeah it is hard, very hard.

Speaker 2: 1:59

And one last tip that I have is to come into the match with one thought ready to go, because a lot of times, almost every match I have, I’m going to have a low point where I’m struggling Either I’m losing or I’m not playing my best, or I need to refocus. And for me it’s very, very simple. It’s about bringing everything back to just the simplicity of why I’m out there and I’ll literally look at the ball, whether I’m getting ready to serve, or I’m watching my opponent serve and I watch her toss the ball, and I’ll look at the ball and I’ll say I get to hit this ball. Wow, how fun is that? That’s it. That’s what I tell myself when I’m struggling, when I’m losing, when I’m not playing my best, and I get back to why I’m out there, which is to hit the yellow ball across the net. And when you get that basic, it’s hard to take it that seriously because it’s like I’m hitting a yellow ball. So then I can relax my body and I take a deep breath and I can literally feel my body relaxing and I may not win, I may not change anything, but at least it kind of helps me reset and get back to where I’m enjoying the match, because I now enjoy my matches, whether I win or lose. It doesn’t. The win is also. It’s really fun, but it doesn’t have to happen in order for me to enjoy the match. So those would be the three things you know, kind of recognizing your higher brain versus your lower brain, deciding which one you want to listen to and then having the self-confidence going into the match. Not waiting until you win to think you’re able to have confidence, but going in before knowing you’re going to be okay, no matter what. And then going in with a thought that you believe. You can’t just go in with something that says, okay, I’m going to beat them, no matter what. You know you have to have a thought that you believe, because if you don’t believe it, it’s just going to fall, it’s going to fall flat and it’s not going to help you. So those would be three tips I would give for players.

Speaker 3: 3:58

And that all sounds to me like all of those are just prep work, mental prep work before you go into it. And I would be someone that would write that on a card and probably bring it out right before and just you know, like, or in a changeover, because we know matches change from not only game to game but like point to point and set to set right. So I would be that person that would. And I used to have little when I was a two-five I had things like you know, remember to brush up on the ball or like the technique kind of stuff. But now that I’ve played forever and I have the techniques, it’s the mental stuff.

Speaker 2: 4:31

So I would write those on a card and, like read them either right before a match or during the match if things are going south, you know that’s such a great idea because when you get in the heat of the moment and we all get in the weeds of our own brain, you know, I even have a coach. I know the stuff inside and out and I recognize my higher brain and my lower brain and all of that and I know how to teach it. And sometimes I’m so entrenched in it that I kind of lose it and I think I can’t recover from this. What am I going to do? I have a coach that can help me get out of the weeds of my own life. You know, whatever it is, whether it’s on the court or off the court, and so that’s where I can be helpful is that? You know, it’s like it’s so simple. I just need to change this thought. It’s not always that simple. It is that simple, but it’s not always that easy, because it’s hard when you, when you’re believing something and you’re in the middle of a match and you’ve missed you know you’ve double faulted a whole game away you’re thinking I don’t have a serve, where did it go? I can’t get it back. But in the moment sometimes it just feels very hard to get out of that. But it is just a matter of shifting that thought work and it’s just. It’s so important and I think having those, those cards, is a that’s a great way to just remind yourself. It’s kind of like your little coach while you’re on the, you know, on the bench sitting, you know, during the changeovers.

Speaker 1: 5:51

Christine, I love that, the way you do this, because you coached Aaron and I and you coached us as individuals and then as partners, and I think that’s great that you do this. Can you talk a little bit about how you coach players?

Speaker 2: 6:03

Yeah, I actually have a bunch of different packages that I offer and, while you know, I coach individuals, doubles partners, whole groups and then teams, and while each of them are a unique experience, I teach the same thought tools for everybody. So, whether you come to me as an individual or a doubles pair or a team, I’m going to teach you those skills to self coach, because I really think it’s important that you’re not dependent on me, that you’re not thinking, oh I need Christine because I’m losing it. There are going to be times when you’re in the weeds and you may need you know I need a session because I’m struggling to find my way out of this. Totally get that. But day in and day out, I want you guys to feel empowered. I want my clients to feel empowered to be able to make their own thought changes in the moment or before, after a match, and so what’s important for me is teaching those skills, no matter how I teach it, no matter what the package looks like. So, with individuals, they tend to come to me when they’re in a rut or maybe they’ve lost the joy of the game. You know they’re struggling like. This just isn’t funny for me anymore. I don’t know why I’m frustrated all the time. You know I work with them personally and help them kind of work through the thoughts that they’re having and how can I help them see that? You know, tennis can be so fun all the time, no matter what you know, and help them figure out why they’re struggling. So in those packages can range from, just you know, range from three to 10 sessions or more, or can be long term, short term I work, I’m very flexible about those. And then for the doubles partnerships, those are fun because you’re working with two people and kind of helping them gel together and I have what I call a mini package for them and it’s just three sessions. I do one and this is what you guys experience. So you, I did one personally, a private session with each one of you and then we come together and have one session as a team and that’s where we work on strategies and and kind of sharing each other’s thoughts and becoming more aware of how each of you are thinking, so that you can help and you can support each other and actually grow more and have more fun on the court instead of bickering or getting mad or not understanding each other. You know, that’s that’s what you see a lot is, especially as you start to play together a lot, you become like sisters or family or a married couple and you want to. You know it just gets a little. It gets a little harder on yourselves and each other. So that’s super fun and and it’s always when I work one on one or when I work with you guys as individuals. A lot of times sometimes people will the partner will say, well, if they would just do this or that, and I get frustrated when it’s never about the other person, it’s always about you, you know, and so that’s what we talk about in your private session, and but it’s also a confidential thing, so I’m not going to go and say, oh well, Aaron, guess what? Carolyn?

Speaker 1: 8:58

said about you.Speaker 3: 9:00

Let me tell you what Aaron said.

Speaker 2: 9:03

It’s not about that. So it’s really about bringing a cohesive team together and having more fun and winning more. So I love working with doubles partners and then I also. One thing that was really successful when I was in Texas is I would work with whole groups where anywhere from six to 20 people somewhere in that range but I would get with the teaching pros and we would. the teaching pro would maybe spend 45 minutes or so doing running the running everyone through drills doing strategies for singles or doubles or whatever, and then we would come off court and I’d spend about 30 minutes working on the mental game. So you know, if there’s ever a teaching pro that’s interested, they can just reach out to me and we can set something up. So it’s usually about like a two to three hour workshop super fun, very low key, but you can learn a lot of skills that way. And then the last way that I work with people is if a full team wants to work with me. Let’s say they’re prepping for a season, like combo seasons, getting ready to start, like if there’s a combo team that really wanted to try and do their best as a whole team, they can hire me to work with them. Or if let’s say, you do well and you’re want you’re going to state sectionals or something, they can hire me and we work together and I coach them as a, as a big group. I teach them strategies, I teach them how to coach themselves, so they’re all kind of following the same mental game together. There’s a lot of ways that I work with people, but it all comes down to teaching them the, the thought tools that I have, teaching them how to self coach and how to manage their thoughts before, during an after match. So I enjoy all of it. I think it’s super fun and just love working with with the tennis players in any of those capacities.

Speaker 3: 10:46

Yeah, I love all of those ways, but I think working with a team would be so beneficial because every individual has their own idea of what the successful team looks like, right? So the captain might have formed a team and is like we’re going to states, someone else might be on it just to be like. I’m just here to have fun. I want to meet people. You know, like, everyone has their own goals, but I think coaching as a team gets everyone on the same page, which I think that would be wildly successful for teams. We have a lot of really strong teams in our area that tend to you know, a lot of them tend to or a lot of the same teams tend to go to states but maybe can’t get over that hump of like winning states and getting to sectionals or nationals and I know people have those aspirations. But that would be such a great way to work with. You know, not just in our, obviously everywhere.

Speaker 2: 11:35

But yeah, it gets everyone on the same page you know, and you don’t even need to have the same goal. You know, like there might be a couple of people on the team that are like I just like these people, and that’s OK. But how are you working and working towards what you want and getting fulfilled by your participation on the team? You know, and so a lot of times there’s there’s, there can be so much drama with oh well, they’re playing the, you know, the certain people get all these matches and other people don’t get very many or the lines oh, I’m playing line three again or you know, there can be so much drama and it’s really about removing that, and those are all just thoughts that we’re having of, oh, I’m not good enough, or oh, they think they’re better. It’s removing that and then you can all achieve your goals together, even if they’re slightly different, and so, yeah, but I agree with you being open about what your thoughts are and understanding them, sharing them, supporting each other and whatever you guys want to achieve as a team. It’s super, super powerful. I like that.

Speaker 1: 12:41

Oh, this is also good. I also just wanted to mention Christine sometimes says little things that help you a lot and you don’t realize it. So I, when I spoke with you, christine, I had just lost a match where I was up five zero in the second set and I lost the match. And I remember talking to you about it because I was so upset that I had gotten up and then had lost the match. And you, you had told me well, how great is it that you were up five zero in a match? And I remember thinking that’s such a great point. I had never thought about that. I was just thinking about I need to quit adult recreational tennis because I blew this so badly.

Speaker 2: 13:25


Speaker 3: 13:26

Yeah, you know, it’s her lower brain gets big.

Speaker 1: 13:30

Yeah, it does. It’s like out. It grows Especially in singles, not so much in doubles, but in singles.

Speaker 2: 13:37

It is coming out Right I think it’s punching you in the face, yeah, yeah, and it’s more, just recognizing that it’s. You know, you had five great games in a row. How awesome is that. You know, and I think for you. In that situation too, when other people are starting to come back, which what’s happening is that they’re relaxing, thinking resigned that they’re going to lose, they start playing better. Naturally, it happens, it happens all the time and people creep back in and then suddenly your brain is chirping at you and but it’s not. It’s not recognizing that. Hey, I just did a great thing, and so what if they’re coming back? They’re coming back, but it’s. It’s just because your brain is shifting and their brain is shifting. They’re relaxing, you’re getting tight. All of a sudden, you know there’s these expectations. So many things can go on in our brain and it’s. That would be a perfect example of Okay, this is a yellow ball. I get to hit this ball. How fun is that. You know that’s what. But it’s hard. When you’re in the middle of it, you’re like why are you so stupid and why are you? You know, why can’t you just hit the ball? I was up a set and for love in a match, this is what I would consider the worst match I’ve ever played a singles set and, for love, winning easily. And the same thing that you, caroline. Suddenly she didn’t do anything different. I just suddenly I couldn’t serve in the box. I couldn’t hit any ball in the box, I wasn’t even trying anything special, I just went off the rails. This was before I was a coach. I could assure you is my coaching back then ended up losing this match. I think it was a match I needed to win. I needed one match to win at this specific tournament in order to make it to the state championships in Texas. It’s a big deal, tournaments are a big deal. There lost this match and I was beside myself. I was just like I don’t know how I did that. And today I would look at it and just say you know, it happens, it happens, but hopefully I would have my thoughts better and check that. Hopefully I could prevent it from happening. But I won’t always be able to do that and then, knowing that I’m gonna be okay, no matter what, it goes back to that and I’ll let myself feel disappointed. But it happens to all of us, I promise.

Speaker 4: 15:53

Thanks again to Christine for being on the podcast. We have one more episode with Christine will. She will give mental tips for doubles. If you like to contact Christine, we’ve included her information in our show notes. Thanks so much for listening and hope to see you on the court soon.