ESPN.com – Jan 4, 2000 – Tony Lance – As the new year begins, so does the annual ritual of making resolutions. Why not set some goals for your tennis game this year? According to Dr. John F. Murray, sport psychologist and author of Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game, setting goals is a sure-fire way to improve your tennis.

“Tennis players usually perform better and give a better effort when they have a smart plan in place for both short- and long-term improvement,” Murray says. His approach emphasizes small, achievable short-term goals that add up over time to bigger long-term goals. To get started, he offers the following steps:

Set short-, intermediate- and long-term goals.
Set detailed and specific goals (approach the net five more times in the next set) rather than vague ones (just do your best).
Set a deadline for completing the goal.
Always give a complete effort, but remain flexible to adjust the goal as needed.

Set performance goals (what to do) as well as outcome goals (reaching the semifinals), but place 90 percent of your focus and energy on achieving the performance goal.

Don’t ignore your short-term tasks. Murray contends this is the most common reason people fail to reach their goals. “Success usually resides in taking care of these often routine activities,” he says.

And you’ll eventually notice the results on court. “Hard work in setting and achieving goals always pays off in performance,” Murray says.

Smart Tennis offers much more information about goal-setting and other aspects of the mental game. It’s an excellent resource for players of all levels.

Related Link: Smart Tennis book Web Site