How to Spot Underperformance Issues in Tennis Players and Fix Them

Steve O Speak Tennis

What’s the worst nightmare for tennis coaches and instructors? You likely spend months working with your players, helping them practice and polish their skills. They even surpass your expectations in practice sessions and you can’t wait for them to hit the court.


But then your students’ confidence dwindles on the day of a tournament and they end up underperforming. This sends them down a spiral of lower self-confidence, which, in turn, affects their game in future tournaments.


Whether you’re training professional tennis players or a beginner, chances are you’ve faced this situation more often than you’d like to remember. But as a coach, it’s up to you to motivate your students and get them back on track.


So, how can you train your players to perform with as much aplomb in real-life tennis courts as they do in practice sessions? The key is to identify and work on the root cause of their performance issues.


Various factors, including bad timing, fatigue, and injuries, can interfere with your student’s performance on the court. In this blog, we’ll explore the main reasons why tennis players underperform in tournaments. We’ll also explore a few solutions you can implement to help your players overcome these challenges. Let’s get started.

Lack of Sharp Reflexes

Apart from physical strength and focus, reflexes play a crucial role in tennis success. Lack of proper reflex training can affect the reaction time, hand-eye coordination, and balance in tennis players. This, in turn, could take a toll on their timing and decision-making on the court.


If you notice that a player is failing to anticipate oncoming serves or taking too long to respond to an opponent’s moves, it’s time to amp up their reflex training. Apart from conventional tools, such as reaction balls and foam sticks, you could also consider using reaction training lights.


Reaction training lights systems, such as the Blazepod reflex training lights, improve reaction time and stimulate the brain for faster decision-making. They can also be instrumental in improving coordination and agility.


Most systems use a series of flashing lights that can be set to specific patterns that mimic different situations on the field. The player needs to respond to the lights and tap them before they turn off. The Blazepod reflex training system also comes with a specialized app to let you program various patterns and drills.


Additionally, you should ensure that your players are eating a balanced diet that’s rich in proteins and green vegetables. Studies have shown that foods, such as spinach and eggs, that are rich in tyrosine can go a long way to quicken your reaction time.


Likewise, exercise promotes blood circulation to your muscles and brain, thereby strengthening your reflexes. Also, it keeps you physically fit and agile. Apart from regular tennis practice, you should encourage your students to follow a proper exercise routine.

Fear of Failure

Success on the tennis court largely depends on a player’s mindset and motivation. If a player is constantly under the pressure to win, it could reduce their confidence. This, in turn, can make them develop the fear of failing and underperforming.


Start by assessing whether you’re expecting too much from your players. While it’s acceptable to push them out of their comfort zone and excel at the sport, you shouldn’t always pressurize them to win. Alternatively, this pressure could be coming from a player’s family or peers.


Also, it’s a good idea to advise your students to consult a counselor. Even if they don’t exhibit any obvious signs of stress or low self-esteem, a professional counsellor can help identify deep-rooted mental health issues that could affect their performance.


Between practice, reflex training, exercise, and tournaments, it’s easy for players to become physically and mentally exhausted. On top of that, the constant pressure to win and impress everyone around them can be emotionally draining. This will lead to burnout in the long run.


Make sure your students get sufficient time to engage in activities other than tennis. This could be in the form of pursuing another hobby or skill, such as playing a musical instrument or learning a new language. Also, make sure they follow a healthy lifestyle and get at least 8 hours adequate of sound sleep every night.

Injuries & Ailments

Sometimes, a player may not be in their usual form because their body isn’t supporting them. This could be due to an undiagnosed injury or underlying physical ailment that’s causing weakness or pain.


As a ground-rule, you should advise your players to undergo regular physical exams and blood tests to identify any potential physical disorders. Keep a close eye on their blood sugar and hemoglobin levels. Also, it’s often a good idea to simply talk to your students and ask them how they’re feeling.


What steps are you taking to keep your tennis players physically and mentally fit? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.



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