Pre-service routines, mental toughness and performance enhancement of young tennis athletes

Catarina Morais * and A. Rui Gomes **

(*) INEGI, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
(**) School of Psychology, University of Minho, Gualtar, Portugal

Some common performance enhancement strategies used by tennis players are related to a pre-service mental preparation routine. This study provides an insight on the efficacy of the implementation of mental routines on performance of young tennis players (aged between 11 and 14-years old). Specifically, we compared several performance indicators before and after the intervention, and when players performed vs when they did not perform the mental routines. We also tested whether mental toughness was a good predictor of performance, using behavioral measures to assess both mental toughness and performance. The results revealed: (1) a positive impact of the intervention program on performance efficacy; (2) athletes won more service games after the intervention program; and (3) mental toughness, explained by pre-service routines and players’ ability to positively manage errors, was a good predictor of players’ overall performance.

Keywords: Mental Routines; Pre-performance routines; Psychological Skills Training