Emotional Toughness in Competition

Emotional Toughness in Competition

There is an emotional toughness in competition that is developed over time.

Emotion – an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hat, or the like, is                      experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of                                          consciousness.

Developing Emotional Control

When a tennis player develops skills to the point of entering competition another emotional factor enters the picture. The player will have learned the basic techniques, i.e. forehand, backhand, serve, some volley. They would also apply these to various strategy scenarios, i.e. keep the ball in play  one more time than your opponent, cross court rallies are higher percentage, keep the ball deep, etc. However, there is an emotional component that enters the stage when in actual competition. Here, the player has to apply emotional control in situations that may seem out of their control (down 4-0), or visa-versa (up 4-0). If your strategy of being more consistent than the other player isn’t working, or some other form of strategy, emotions can come into play. They can either bring on a panic mode or cause the junior player to try harder. I found the statement, focus of intensity of concentration to apply to these circumstances.

Focus of Intensity of Concentration

Focus – the center of interest or activity.

Let’s take an example. While playing your match you go down 4-0. You realize you have been paying attention to your good practice buddy who is playing two courts over, or, maybe you are thinking about the concert you will be going to with your friends that evening.  You need to block out those interests and activities that are detracting from your focus and narrow it to only your match.

Intensity – the measurable amount of a property,such as force, brightness, or a magnetic field.

In this case the intensity that would be measurable is the score of the set. Let’s take an example. You are up 4-0. Things are under control. Then your opponent closes the gap to 4-1, 4-2,4-3, then 4-4. Now the level of intensity has increased measurably. You need to be aware of the intensity level in a match.

Concentration – the action or power of focusing one’s attention or mental effort.

Concentration can have two elements. One of ‘over’ concentrating, in which case you have to find a way to relax, and the other of being too relaxed in approaching your match. In the one case you have find ways to calm yourself by possibly taking deep breaths, or releasing your mind from overthinking and simplify your approach mentally. In the other you have to start make yourself move faster, think, and react quicker. It is important to find the right mix. This happens over time with experience.


To bring all three into play is to be aware how they interact in a competitive situation and to work at bringing all three into a balance that works in your favor. Do you agree or disagree with this approach?


About wdkealy

I retired from a career as a tennis professional to move to Portland with my wife to care for my in-laws and my mother in Abbotsford, BC. Not wanting to retire I took a vocational test and at the top was 'writer'. I have been researching and writing for about five years now and am looking to take more steps forward in pursuing this as a career. Time will tell whether I have the 'passion' to stay the course. My wife and I have three grown children with whom we are close. I had the privilege of coaching a high school team to a state championship in 2010. The team won by 1/2 point which was a credit to all team players. Looking to attend another writer's conference this year and grow. In the meantime I look forward to improving my social networking skills in order to have more meaningful contact with others who share a passion for life.
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