Throughout the duration of term, the predominate focus has been on sports psychology and the mental blocking aspects that affect an athlete’s performance. Physically, enhancing and improving tennis abilities has been the primary data putting the theoretical concepts into application being used as the primary data for this folio. Firstly, as a novice tennis player, the goals were to be able to perform basic forehand and backhand concepts, movements and strategies. Moreover, these skills will allow me to become competitive against my peers in a high-pressure situation. Secondly, another aim was to utilise a selected psychological training mechanism that would enhance and elaborate my overall level of ability and experience throughout.
However, before commencing the evaluation, I had to gather intel and understand how I felt before, during and at the conclusion of performing tennis related movements. Gaining self-awareness can be a difficult and strenuous task so firstly, I had to understand the term and side affects that coincide with self-awareness. Firstly, self-awareness can be defined as conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings (Positive Psychology, 2019). Thus, in order to assist in this process a Sports Journal (Appendix A), Observation Sheet (Appendix B) and various video recordings (Appendix C) have been documented in order to accurately assess various issues associated with poor performance in tennis.
Mental blockages, anxiety and overall self-confidence can affect anyone at anytime however, this is especially prominent in sporting situations. As it can be seen in my Sports Journal (refer to Appendix A), the main issues that I face whilst performing in a tennis environment are; a lack of arousal and low motivation. This can be elaborated through my clear lack of intensity whilst performing serving and forehand movements. Additionally, when mistakes are made it does not affect me, not feeling bad or wanting to improve my tennis movements.
Beginning with low arousal, there are many factors that can affect performance in conjunction with low arousal. A person’s level of arousal can be described as a function of alertness, situational awareness, vigilance, level of distraction, stress and direction of attention. In short, how ready a person is to perform appropriate tasks in a timely and effective manner (SkyBrary, 2019). In relation, to tennis how ready I am to complete an adequate tennis performance. Secondly, stemming off low arousal, a lack of motivation also has significant consequences on performance. Motivation is most commonly defined as a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way, willingness and goals. Motivation is a result from interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors. In conjunction with arousal, it can be clearly demonstrated whilst performing in tennis on both ends of the scale, high and low.
Effects on performance, body and movement concepts
Throughout sports psychology, there an abundance of issues that can occur within an athlete’s mental state which can drastically affect their performance. As discussed beforehand the most prominent issue evaluated is arousal levels and in correlation, motivation. Both of these aspects of psychological awareness can have detrimental effects on one’s performance. Specially, I will be focusing on the ability to perform basic forehand and serving techniques. To begin, in order to achieve a successful forehand shot a player must;
- Visualize the correct stroke
- Simplify the stroke as must as possible
- Footwork position yourself in line with the ball for an easier shot and increase accuracy
- Improve shot selection quality shots over quantity
- Racket face face racket downward for a flatter shot (Optimum Tennis, 2019)
However, as clearly demonstrated through the following videos it is evidently clear that my lack of arousal and motivation is increasing difficulty to focus and learn from previous mistakes. Moreover, this compromises my performance and ability to improve in the given circumstances. If the psychological concepts displayed continue, it will stunt my ability to grow and succeed as an athlete and possibly lead to other issues later on in life concerning athletics and personal growth.
Strategy to improve
Based off the previous analysis there are an abundance of strategies that can be used to improve the issues of a lack of arousal and in turn motivation. Moreover, I need to narrow down my focal levels and work on hyping myself up.
In order to achieve optimal performance in tennis the following has to occur: Athlete focuses attention on relevant information, processes and behaviours whilst simultaneously blocking out irrelevant cues
This can be achieved through;
- Getting control of breathing
- Think of stress as a challenge
- Practice under pressure (in the environment in which you will be performing)
- Organise what you need to remember (Dickson, 2019)
Furthermore, focusing on what I want to do instead of what I fear might happen. This success-oriented approach immerses you in the present moment and allows you to intuitively play your game or perform the way you want to. Asking positive questions, such as, “What is the best that can happen?” By focusing on what you want to have happen during competition, your performance will follow your thinking. Hopefully, by successfully implementing these strategies my arousal level will rise and in conjunction, motivation will increase. By increasing these two psychological concepts my overall focus and tennis forehand and serving movements will improve.
Evaluation of effectiveness
After implicating the strategy of focusing beforehand the results were as follows;
- An increased motivation and willingness to participate
- Higher competitive levels and I am ‘in it to win it’ mentality
- More focused, accurate and concise forehand strokes
Refer to videos on PowerPoint to back up statements. Furthermore, it is evidently clear that by implementing the previously discussed strategies, my overall tennis performance has improved allowing me to grow and potentially succeed as a casual tennis player. Given the circumstances, at the beginning of the term I did not have a competitive mind set and would automatically go into matches assuming that I would lose. However, after successfully applying the previous strategy, my performance has improved greatly, enhancing my ability to successfully and accurately perform a basic forehand stroke and stay competitive in a rally. Thus, it is clear the previously discussed strategy was successfully executed improving my overall tennis performance.
- Positive Psychology (2019). What is Self-Awareness and Why is it Important? [+5 Ways to Increase It]. [online] PositivePsychology.com. Available at: https://positivepsychology.com/self-awareness-matters-how-you-can-be-more-self-aware/ [Accessed 18 Aug. 2019].
- SkyBrary (2019). Level of Arousal – SKYbrary Aviation Safety. [online] Skybrary.aero. Available at: https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Level_of_Arousal [Accessed 18 Aug. 2019].
- Optimum Tennis (2019). Tennis Forehand Tips – Improve the Tennis Forehand Shot. [online] Optimum Tennis. Available at: https://www.optimumtennis.net/tennis-forehand-tips.htm [Accessed 19 Aug. 2019].
- Dickson, G. (2019). 20 Simple Ways to Increase Motivation in the Workplace. [online] Blog.bonus.ly. Available at: https://blog.bonus.ly/20-simple-ways-to-increase-motivation-in-the-workplace/ [Accessed 19 Aug. 2019].