Success on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour requires a specific blend of perceptuomotor abilities, technical proficiency, tactical awareness and mental skills. This case study describes the competitive structure of professional tennis and outlines the program of mental skills delivered to a professional tennis player over a 3-year period. The program embraced five stages: (1) education; (2) assessment/profiling; (3) mental skill learning; (4) application of mental skills in context and (5) evaluation, and was associated with some positive outcomes. This case study provides some possible guidelines for sport psychologists who may wish to provide consultancy services within professional tennis.
James E. Loehr
This paper explores personal experiences in building a career in sport psychology and providing consulting services to professional tennis players. It describes the range of services provided, major client groups, and philosophy of service delivery. It reviews the overall training model used in service delivery as well as psychological assessment procedures used in consultation. It also describes how professional services were organized, type of services provided to specific client groups, and specific training components. Factors and issues influencing professional effectiveness and competence are explored. The importance of training and competence in all sport sciences are emphasized. The challenges and hardships encountered in building a successful career in this specialty are reviewed. The need for more effective and responsible applied technology and research is discussed.
Kyle R. King
while reflecting on the uncertainty that remains. The Grand Slams With a bit of simplification, the top touring professional tennis calendar looks something like this: southern-hemisphere hard court tournaments in January/February, culminating in the Australian Open; brief hard-court season in Indian
Katie Lebel and Karen Danylchuk
The innovations of social media have altered the traditional methods of fan–athlete interaction while redefining how celebrity athletes practice their roles as celebrities. This study explored gender differences in professional athletes’ self-presentation on Twitter. Content analyses were used to compare male and female athletes’ tweets relayed by all professional tennis players with a verified Twitter account. Profile details and messages were scoured for themes and patterns of use during the time surrounding the 2011 U.S. Open Tennis Championships. Goffman’s seminal 1959 theory of self-presentation guided the analysis. While athlete image construction was found to be largely similar between genders, male athletes were found to spend more time in the role of sport fan while female athletes spent more time in the role of brand manager.
Column-editor : Joseph J. Piccininni
Dan C. Hilliard
An interpretive analysis of mass circulation magazine articles on leading male and female professional tennis players indicates that both groups are treated in terms of a “debunking motif” which reveals their imperfections and character flaws. The flaws identified among the women are closely associated with stereotypically feminine gender roles, while the flaws observed among the men are associated with stereotypically masculine gender roles. Thus, the articles reinforce the concept of professional sport as a male preserve, while suggesting an underlying traditionally feminine gender role for the female athletes. It is argued that this construction of the female athlete role derives from the commercial sponsorship of professional tennis.
Transgender people are increasingly tolerated, and sometimes even actively celebrated, within contemporary Western popular culture. However, despite the broader political movement against gender-based discrimination, transgender people’s participation in élite sport remains contentious. Although American transgender professional tennis player Renee Richards drew attention to transgender athletes as early as the mid-1970s, even major sports organizations such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) struggle to formulate fair and consistent gender policies. This article discusses the specific case of transgender players in men’s netball in New Zealand, a somewhat uniquely gendered sport, as a means of understanding emerging issues surrounding transgender athletes’ participation in sport more broadly.
Maria T. Allison and Carrie Meyer
This investigation used qualitative techniques to identify and analyze the experiences of elite female tennis professionals and their perceptions of their competitive years and subsequent retirement from the sport. Through a system of networking and snowball sampling techniques (Babbie, 1986), 28 athletes who had played on the professional tennis circuit were contacted and asked to complete an extensive semistructured questionnaire; 20 completed questionnaires were returned. The questionnaire asked players to recount their earliest expectations and goals in competitive tennis, their experiences and perceptions during their most competitive years, and their reasons for and reactions to retirement from the tour. In general, results indicated that the athletes did not find disengagement from their competitive years traumatic, but rather found it as an opportunity to reestablish more traditional societal roles and lifestyles.
Delia D. Douglas
By 2002 Venus and Serena Williams were the top two women players on the women’s professional tennis tour. Nevertheless, despite their spectacular success, there has been a decidedly ambivalent tenor toward their accomplishments. Applying Raymond Williams’ concept of “structures of feeling,” this essay considers how dominant cultural meanings and values are taken up and expressed through the atmosphere produced at a sport event. Drawing on the insights offered by critical race scholarship and critical whiteness studies, the following discussion examines the character and significance of the atmosphere produced at two tournaments (Indian Wells, CA, in 2001 and the French Open in 2003) in order to understand how white racial subjectivities are conceived and communicated in daily life.
Florian Loffing and Norbert Hagemann
When anticipating future events like an opponent’s stroke direction in tennis, players are assumed to rely on both kinematic and contextual cues such as an opponent’s on-court position. However, knowledge of position dependency in shot-direction probabilities and experimental evidence of the effect of on-court position on action-outcome anticipation is missing. Here we show that shot-direction probabilities vary as a function of a hitting player’s on-court position in professional tennis. Moreover, unlike novices, skilled players in particular relied on information about an opponent’s position when anticipating forehand baseline shot direction in a video-based experiment. The position dependency in skilled players’ prediction behavior was most evident when little information on an opponent’s stroke kinematics was available. Findings suggest that skilled players consider the reliability of different information sources by weighting the available contextual and kinematic cues differently in the course of an opponent’s unfolding action.