It’s not all strawberries & cream: Challenges experienced by professional tennis players
Are you planning to watch this year’s Wimbledon tournament? Like many people, we at the SPRINT Project plan to kick back with some strawberries and cream whilst we watch the drama unfold on centre court.
Description: Close up of strawberries and cream in a brown bowl on a lawn next to two tennis rackets and a tennis ball.
The excitement and competitiveness are palpable even through the TV, but have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in tennis player’s lives?
In a recent BBC Radio 4 documentary, Break Point for Tennis, Karthi Gnanasegaram examines mental health in tennis. She places a focus on the highs and lows of professional tennis, the stressors that young professional tennis players experience, and the things that are being done to help them.
SPRINT Project alumnus Dr Saul Shrom was invited to discuss the mental health of professional tennis players in the documentary. He spoke about the findings from his PhD thesis and highlighted the challenges that are experienced by tennis players when on professional tour.
Listen to the revealing documentary here and let us know what you think in our comments section!
What strategies do tennis players at the top of their game use to succeed? In a BBC Sport article, we learn that Novak Djokovic—who is hoping to secure his 24th Grand Slam at Wimbledon, recognises the importance of sometimes challenging his need for a strict training routine, and that less is more. He also highlights not being too hard on himself, the power of imagination and preparation, and the use of breathing techniques to accept and quickly recover from temporary lapses in focus.
Description: Close up of a tennis ball on the ground in a tennis court.
Saul’s PhD was on the junior-to-senior transition in professional tennis and he was supervised by SPRINT Project’s Prof Jennifer Cumming, and Dr Sarah-Jane Fenton (Associate Professor at the University of Birmingham). Since completing his PhD, Saul has established Centre Court Mental Performance in Vancouver, Canada. He has also become a Professional Member of the Canadian Sport Psychology Association. You can read more about this here.
Do you want to find out more about Saul?
Saul consulted at British Canoeing, England Athletics, and Loughborough University while living in the UK and has since begun working as a mental performance coach with the high-performance tennis program at Hollyburn Country Club. He has extensive experience in tennis, working with players from around the world, as well as working with coaches to better develop psychologically informed training environments. Outside of his tennis work, Saul is the mental performance coach for the men’s volleyball team at Capilano University.
You can follow Saul on his Instagram page.
Be sure to follow all the excitement of Wimbledon 2023 and let us know your thoughts about mental health in tennis! You can keep up with the discussion on Twitter using the hashtags #TennisMentalHealth #BreakPointforTennis #Wimbledon2023 #SPRINTProject
Photo credit: Canva.
Written by Dr Sally Reynard, Research Associate in the SPRINT Project.