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Tennis and Sports Psychology Academy (TSPA) Mental Skills Guide

Mental Skills Associated with the
In-Flow and Out-Of-Flow Experience

Mental Skill
In- Flow





100% Positive thoughts.

Anything under 100% positive thoughts with some or many negative thoughts.


Just right.

Either too high or too low.

Body Language

Positive body language leading to encouragement and success.

Negative body language leading to poor results.


Techniques are developed to reach flow.

Little if any understanding of the power of breathing and performance.


Excellent communication within the team. Players know what others team mates are doing and going to do.

Communication breakdowns that lead to poor performance and costly mistakes.


Optimal confidence for performance.

Either too low or overconfident.


Individual or team is discipline and puts the needs of the game in front of their own.

Individual or team lacks discipline and is too often penalized for a lack of control and selfishness.


Concentrates on the task at hand and has the ability to block out distractions.

Distracted with internal and external thoughts that negatively affect performance.

Goal Setting

Setting smart goals that are clear, measurable and in your control.

Poor goal setting or no goals set in competition or practice.

Ideal Performance State

Everything is in flow.

Peak performance has not been experienced and / or has had difficulty maintaining the state.

Lessons Learned Learning, adapting and changing from mistakes.
Repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
Mental Imagery

Clear pictures in your mind of your performance using all the right senses and techniques associated with it to achieve flow.

Lacking a clear understanding of the concept of mental imagery and its usefulness. Very little, if any, time spend on this technique.

Mental Toughness

Despite setbacks, adversity and heightened pressure, shows the ability to be resilient and rise to the occasion. The ability to deal with adversity and interpret the pressure as a challenge and opportunity to grow.

Breakdown of mental attributes and eventual feelings of choking.


High drive, willingness to succeed. Actively pursuing your goals.

Low drive and at times sense of helplessness or hopelessness. Motivation is too erratic and at times passive.


Optimistic of outcome which enhances persistence and ability to rebound back quickly after a setback. A clear understanding of the important dimensions of optimism and how you interpret both positive and negative experiences in your life.

Pessimistic and delay in the ability to rebound back after a setback. Attributes success to external factors while internalises poor performances. Sense of helplessness and inabilityt to associate effort with outcome.


Optimal tension during key moments.

Inability to feel relaxed in tight or important parts of the game.


Highly developed, systematic and sequential pre-game, during and post game routines.

Very little or no routines designed for pre-game, during or post game routine.

Self Talk

Positive internal dialogue directed at one-self.

Negative internal dialogue directed at oneself.


Ability to regulate and deal with stress effectively.

Insufficient isolation and filters to guard against the negativity of stress.

Social Support

Athlete surrounded by positive people and family members who support and provide a positive impact on performance.

Athlete surrounded by people and family who are energy thieves and provide for a negative impact on performance.

Team Building

Team-mates show genuine care and trust for one another and are trustworthy of each other. Attitude of win-win in the dressing room.

Negative vibes in and out of the «dressing room». Lack of trust apparent. Often one person's victory is at the expense of someone else's loss.

Time Management

Able to manage many things at the same time because of time management skills that have been developed and honed.

The difficulty associated with managing many things at the same time despite distractions and the many tasks that are required in today's busy schedule.


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