How A Scorekeeper Can Improve Your Tennis Game
As a sport psychologist specialising in tennis performance, I am always looking for ways to help athletes and tennis aficionados improve their tennis game.
I recently stumbled upon a personal tennis scorekeeper called Scoring Right. And I wanted to share my experience in this blog.
What Is Scoring Right?
As mentioned in the introduction, Scoring Right is a portable, personal tennis scorekeeper. All you need to do is attach it to your racket and keep score this way. It’s designed to be extremely light, so it doesn’t affect the weight of your racket.
Now, this might seem like a gimmicky item, and something only young players would use to hold score.
Yet, it’s much more than that.
How Can Scoring Right Help Improve Tennis Performance?
Players don’t always have a referee on the court keeping score for them. So, it means that they have to keep score in their mind using precious brain power in doing so.
Let me explain.
When you focus on keeping score on the tennis court, your brain burns glucose using oxygen to produce energy and fuel your mental activity. The more you focus on something, the more glucose, and oxygen are required from your brain to keep the cells firing and communicating with each other.
Now, these precious resources could be used to improve tactical thinking, emotional control, and motor execution on the tennis court instead.
Attention, decision-making, and memory are all key elements of tactical thinking. And using a portable scorekeeper like Scoring Right can help improve these high-level cognitive processes and therefore enhance your tactical approach.
After all, how can you be 100% focused on your game if you’re always thinking about keeping score?
Tennis is a competitive sport, and chances are keeping score is pretty important to you and your opponents. And you know that not keeping score properly could immediately favour them.
Now, using a portable scorekeeper allows you to input the information on your racket and forget about it while you play. This way, you can focus 100% on your strategy and tactics.
Another essential cognitive process a portable scorekeeper can help you improve while playing tennis is emotional control.
Having to keep score and focus on your game and your opponent’s all at the same time can be stressful.
Using a scorekeeper to track points, games, and sets will free up some mental space, allowing you to focus solely on your game and significantly decrease your stress levels.
Besides, tennis players use their working memory when playing. The working memory temporarily stores the information you are consciously thinking about.
But the thing with working memory is that it has a small capacity.
Now, when a player has to think about a lot of details at the same time to make decisions, the amount of information fueling the brain might exceed the capacity of working memory. And this, in turn, can trigger the brain to reset, just like a computer. And this means that the player can lose the information they’re consciously thinking about and trying to remember.
And, of course, this can be highly stressful!
Knowing you won’t lose track of your score and can free up some mental space to allow your working memory to work efficiently can help reduce stress, improve your working memory and emotional state, and enhance your ability to make great tactical decisions.
But that’s not all.
A portable scorekeeper can also help improve your motor skills.
When you play tennis, you most likely observe your flaws and make mental notes to improve. You also probably observe these changes as you adjust and keep adjusting to maximise your game and performance. For instance, you might notice your breathing isn’t good and prevents you from playing at your best.
Now, to make all these observations and changes, you have to use your working memory.
Keeping score with a portable scorekeeper allows you to free up your working memory so it can focus on your breathing or any other flaws enabling you to enhance your physical and tactical abilities at the same time.
There’s nothing worse than arguing on the court with your opponent. Whether it’s a friend, a colleague, or another athlete, arguments on the court can be a source of stress and prevent you from focusing on your game. And it can also damage relationships.
Holding the score on the racket prevents disagreements about the score and allows you to enjoy a smooth and peaceful game!
I can’t tell you how many people tell me that scorekeepers are only helpful for young players who don’t have much experience yet.
Well, I strongly disagree.
While adult players can easily keep score in their mind, without them realising, this impacts their information-processing capabilities and mental focus.
Every single tennis player has to make quick decisions during a match.
Saving brain resources for highly strategic and tactical cognitive processes can be key to a player’s performance and ability to win games!
|By Leopoldo Ferrer, Sport Psychologist Specialised In Improving Tennis Performance|
(Leopoldo is psychologist specialising in tennis who designed several innovative tests as part of a mental preparation program. The tennis Player's mental tendencies test: identify mental failures and mental strengths associated to emotions, strokes, physical capabilities, social relationships, and tactical decision making. The Key Point test: relies on the previous test and identifies the strengths and weaknesses which generate the greatest jumps in performance when enhanced or corrected. And the Ferrer Flow-chart Test: used to create a Flow-chart representing the mental programs contributing to athletes win or loss.)