Mental Game of Tennis: Don’t Compare Your Tennis Ranking to Opponent’s

After working with several junior tennis players on their mental game, I’ve noticed that players limit their success when they focus on opponent rankings or tournament seeding. As you might already know, comparing your tennis skills to an opponent is a mental game no-no in my book.

When you make comparisons to your opponents, you are essentially saying to yourself that they are better than you! When you look at the draws to find out who you are playing, do you focus on seeding or player ranking?

What’s the mental game of tennis danger in comparing your ranking to your opponents’ ranking? You make too many assumptions (or generalizations) about who should win and who should lose the match. It may seem logical that the number one seed should beat the number two seed right? You know this is not always the case and this type of thinking can cause a poor mind game for tennis.

Why? If you are losing the match to a higher seeded player (that you think should win the match), how will you react? Yes, you’ll confirm your pre-determined expectations about who should win the match and then tank it. You won’t be willing to fight back after losing the first set. You’ll engage with the “here I go again…” syndrome.

I know it’s hard to not pay attention to who you are playing and your opponent’s ranking or number of wins. I also realize that you can prepare your game depending on the style of your opponent’s game. So you could argue that knowing who you are playing can be an advantage. However, in most cases it’s not helpful to your mental game when you compare your ranking to other players in the tournament.

Then to compound the matter, players feel expectations from others to win if they are the better player or have a higher ranking. Your expectations about winning can turn into added pressure to win and fear of failure about losing.

You’re tennis psychology tip for today: Don’t focus on your opponent’s ranking or the tournament seeding. Focus on your strengths instead of comparing yourself to other players. Think about how you can perform your best no matter the level of the opposition.

About the Author

Tennis psychology and mental game expert Dr. Patrick J. Cohn is the founder of Sports Psychology for Tennis by Peak Performance Sports. Dr. Cohn is devoted to helping tennis players and their parents improve confidence, focus, and success in tournaments. Get free sports psychology for tennis articles, podcasts and videos by visiting Dr. Cohn’s tennis psychology website at: