Mental training program in racket sports: A systematic review

  • Valérian Cece University of Lyon
  • Emma Guillet-Descas University of Lyon
  • Guillaume Martinent University of Lyon
Keywords: Mental Skills, Mental Training Program, Racket Sports, Performance, Systematic Review


The mental aspect is largely acknowledged by athletes and coaches as a salient factor explaining performance variability. The mental component of performance holds a special place in racket sports considering the inherent demands in such intense and emotional activities. The importance of mental skills in racket sports has been examined within the literature through a bulk of studies highlighting associations between mental skills and a wide range of positive outcomes. Access to the programs which aim to improve the mental skills of the athletes represents a major issue for researchers and the different stakeholders (coaches, athletes, parents). The main objectives of this study were to (a) Collect the studies that incorporate mental training programs used in racket sports, (b) Organize the current knowledge on mental training programs and provide a synthesis of the characteristics of these studies, and (c) Identify the gaps in the literature on this topic and propose potential further investigations and practical implications. The present systematic review included 27 studies which involved 715 participants. Most of the studies used a quantitative approach and were conducted on tennis. The mental skills developed varied across the studies with domination of imagery and relaxation techniques. Overall, the programs led to positive outcomes on performance indicators (e.g. improvement of service efficacy and stroke quality) and permitted the development of the targeted mental skills (e.g. concentration, motivation). This review highlighted the weak representation of females and novice players within the studies’ participants. Moreover, the unequal representation of the techniques and outcomes in the examined studies encourages the development of further mental programs specifically applied to the demands of racket sports and a focus on different mental skills (e.g. emotional intelligence, coach education).

Author Biographies

Valérian Cece, University of Lyon

University of Claude Bernard Lyon I – University of Lyon, France

Emma Guillet-Descas, University of Lyon

University of Claude Bernard Lyon I – University of Lyon, France

Guillaume Martinent, University of Lyon

University of Claude Bernard Lyon I – University of Lyon, France


Akpinar, S., Devrilmez, E., & Kirazci, S. (2012). Coincidence-anticipation timing requirements are different in racket sports. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 115(2), 581-593.

Atienza, F. L., Balaguer, I., & García-Merita, M. L. (1998). Video modeling and imaging training on performance of tennis service of 9- to 12-Year-Old Children. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 87(2), 519-529.

Bastug, G., Ağilönü, A., & Balkan, N. (2017). A study of attention and imagery capacities in badminton players. Turkish Journal of Sport and Exercise, 19(2). 307-312.

Bebetsos, E., & Antoniou, P. (2003). Psychological skills of Greek badminton athletes. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 97(3_suppl), 1289-1296.

Behncke, L. (2004). Mental skills training for sports: A brief review. Athletic Insight, 6(1), 1-19.

Biddle, S. J. H., Markland, D., Gilbourne, D., Chatzisarantis, N. L. D., & Sparkes, A. C. (2001). Research methods in sport and exercise psychology: Quantitative and qualitative issues. Journal of Sports Sciences, 19(10), 777-809.

Bolgar, M. R., Janelle, C., & Giacobbi, P. R. (2008). Trait anger, appraisal, and coping differences among adolescent tennis players. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 20(1), 73-87.

Caliari, P. (2008). Enhancing forehand acquisition in table tennis: The Role of Mental Practice. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 20(1), 88-96.

Caserta, R. J., Young, J., & Janelle, C. M. (2007). Old dogs, new tricks: Training the perceptual skills of senior tennis players. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 29(4), 479-497.

Coelho, R. W., De Campos, W., Silva, S. G. D., Okazaki, F. H. A., & Keller, B. (2007). Imagery intervention in open and closed tennis motor skill performance. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 105(2), 458-468.

Connaughton, D., Wadey, R., Hanton, S., & Jones, G. (2008). The development and maintenance of mental toughness: Perceptions of elite performers. Journal of Sports Sciences, 26(1), 83-95.

Covassin, T., & Pero, S. (2004). The relationship between self-confidence, mood state, and anxiety among collegiate tennis players. Journal of Sport Behavior, 27(3), 230-242.

Crespo, M., & Reid, M. M. (2007). Motivation in tennis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 41(11), 769-772.

Currell, K., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2008). Validity, reliability and sensitivity of measures of sporting performance: Sports Medicine, 38(4), 297-316.

Dana, A., & Gozalzadeh, E. (2017). Internal and external imagery effects on tennis skills among novices. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 124(5), 1022-1043.

Daw, J., & Burton, D. (1994). Evaluation of a comprehensive psychological skills training program for collegiate tennis players. The Sport Psychologist, 8(1), 37-57.

del Villar, F., González, L. G., Iglesias, D., Moreno, M. P., & Cervelló, E. M. (2007). Expert-novice differences in cognitive and execution skills during tennis competition. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 104(2), 355-365.

Doherty, S. A. P., Martinent, G., Martindale, A., & Faber, I. R. (2018). Determinants for table tennis performance in elite Scottish youth players using a multidimensional approach: A pilot study. High Ability Studies, 1-14.

Dohme, L.-C., Bloom, G. A., Piggott, D., & Backhouse, S. (2019). Development, implementation, and evaluation of an athleteinformed mental skills training program for elite youth tennis players. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 1-21.

Ducrocq, E., Wilson, M., Smith, T. J., & Derakshan, N. (2017). Adaptive working memory training reduces the negative impact of anxiety on competitive motor performance. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 39(6), 412-422.

González-García, H., Martinent, G., & Trinidad, A. (2019). Perceived coach leadership profiles and relationship with burnout, coping, and emotions. Frontiers in Psychology, 10.

González-Garcia, H., Pelegrin, A., & Luis Carballo, J. (2017). Link between locus of control, anger and sport performance in table tennis players. Cultura Ciencia y Deporte, 12(35), 117–125.

Gould, D., Lauer, L., Rolo, C., Jannes, C., & Pennisi, N. (2008). The role of parents in tennis success: Focus group interviews with junior coaches. The Sport Psychologist, 22(1), 18-37.

Guillot, A., Desliens, S., Rouyer, C., & Rogowski, I. (2013). Motor imagery and tennis serve performance: The external focus efficacy. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 12(2), 332-338.

Guillot, A., Di Rienzo, F., Pialoux, V., Simon, G., Skinner, S., & Rogowski, I. (2015). Implementation of motor imagery during specific aerobic training session in young tennis players. PLOS ONE, 10(11), e0143331.

Harwood, C., & Knight, C. (2009). Understanding parental stressors: An investigation of British tennisparents. Journal of Sports Sciences, 27(4), 339-351.

Hastie, P. A., Sinelnikov, O. A., & Guarino, A. J. (2009). The development of skill and tactical competencies during a season of badminton. European Journal of Sport Science, 9(3), 133-140.

Hilbe, J. M. (2007). STATISTICA 7: An Overview. The American Statistician, 61(1), 91–94.

Jeon, H., Kim, J., Ali, A., & Choi, S. (2014). Noise distraction and mental practice in closed and open motor skills. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 119(1), 156-168.

Jones, G. (1995). Psychological preparation in racket sports. In T. Reilly, M. Hughes, & A. Lees, Science and Racket Sport (pp. 203-211). London: Spoon Press.

Koehn, S., Morris, T., & Watt, A. P. (2013). Correlates of dispositional and state flow in tennis competition. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 25(3), 354-369.

Kondric, M., Matković, B. R., Furjan-Mandić, G., Hadzić, V., & Dervisević, E. (2011). Injuries in racket sports among Slovenian players. Collegium Antropologicum, 35(2), 413-417.

Kwon, H. H., Pyun, D. Y., & Kim, M. (2010). Perceived leadership behavior of physical education teacher-coaches: When they teach vs. when they coach. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 29(2), 131-145.

Laborde, S., Lautenbach, F., Allen, M. S., Herbert, C., & Achtzehn, S. (2014). The role of trait emotional intelligence in emotion regulation and performance under pressure. Personality and Individual Differences, 57, 43-47.

Lees, A. (2003). Science and the major racket sports: A review. Journal of Sports Sciences, 21(9), 707-732.

Lejeune, M., Decker, C., & Sanchez, X. (1994). Mental rehearsal in table tennis performance. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 79(1), 627-641.

Li-Wei, Z., Qi-Wei, M., Orlick, T., & Zitzelsberger, L. (1992). The effect of mental-imagery training on performance enhancement with 7-10-year-old children. The Sport Psychologist, 6(3), 230-241.

Mace, R., & Carroll, D. (1986). Stress inoculation training to control anxiety in sport: Two case studies in squash. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 20(3), 115-117.

Mamassis, G., & Doganis, G. (2004). The effects of a mental training program on juniors precompetitive anxiety, self-confidence, and tennis performance. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 16(2), 118-137.

Martinent, G., Cece, V., Elferink-Gemser, M. T., Faber, I. R., & Decret, J.-C. (2018). The prognostic relevance of psychological factors with regard to participation and success in table-tennis. Journal of Sports Sciences, 36(23), 2724-2731.

Martinent, G., & Decret, J.-C. (2015). Coping profiles of young athletes in their everyday life: A three-wave two-month study. European Journal of Sport Science, 15(8), 736–747.

Martinent, G., Decret, J.-C., Guillet-Descas, E., & Isoard-Gautheur, S. (2014). A reciprocal effects model of the temporal ordering of motivation and burnout among youth table tennis players in intensive training settings. Journal of Sports Sciences, 32(17), 1648–1658.

Martinent, G., & Ferrand, C. (2009). A naturalistic study of the directional interpretation process of discrete emotions during high-stakes table tennis matches. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 31(3), 318-336.

Martinent, G., Ledos, S., Ferrand, C., Campo, M., & Nicolas, M. (2015). Athletes’ regulation of emotions experienced during competition: A naturalistic video-assisted study. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 4(3), 188–205.

Mathers, J. F. (2017). Professional tennis on the ATP tour: A case study of mental skills support. The Sport Psychologist, 31(2), 187-198.

Morais, C., & Rui Gomes, A. (2019). Pre-service routines, mental toughness and performance enhancement of young tennis athletes. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 50, 176-192.

Noel, R. C. (1980). The effect of visuo-motor behavior rehearsal on tennis performance. Journal of Sport Psychology, 2(3), 221-226.

O, J., Munroe-Chandler, K. J., Hall, C. R., & Hall, N. D. (2014). Using motivational general-mastery imagery to improve the self-efficacy of youth squash players. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 26(1), 66-81.

Poizat, G., Bourbousson, J., Saury, J., & Sève, C. (2009). Analysis of contextual information sharing during table tennis matches: An empirical study of coordination in sports. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7(4), 465-487.

Ramirez, F., Smith, D., & Holmes, P. (2010). PETTLEP imagery and video-observation: A motivation case study of four badminton players. Polish Journal of Sport and Tourism, 17, 239-244.

Riemer, H. A., & Chelladurai, P. (1998). Development of the athlete satisfaction questionnaire (ASQ). Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 20(2), 127–156.

Robin, N., Dominique, L., Toussaint, L., Blandin, Y., Guillot, A., & Her, M. L. (2007). Effects of motor imagery training on service return accuracy in tennis: The role of imagery ability. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 5(2), 175-186.

Seang-Leol, Y., & Calderon, R. (2018). Using counseling to improve the self-confidence of a young competitive female tennis player: A case study. International Journal of Coaching Science, 12(2), 29-48.

Sève, C., Ria, L., Poizat, G., Saury, J., & Durand, M. (2007). Performance-induced emotions experienced during high-stakes table tennis matches. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 8(1), 25-46.

Sharma, R. (2015). Preferred leadership behaviours of male and female badminton players. International Journal of Science Culture and Sport, 3(10), 73-73.

Singer, R. N., Cauraugh, J. H., Chen, D., Steinberg, G. M., Frehlich, S. G., & Wang, L. (1994). Training mental quickness in beginning/intermediate tennis players. The Sport Psychologist, 8(3), 305-318.

Steffgen, G. (2017). Anger management—Evaluation of a cognitive-behavioral training program for table tennis players. Journal of Human Kinetics, 55(1), 65-73.

Terry, P., Coakley, L., & Karageorghis, C. (1995). Effects of intervention upon precompetition state anxiety in elite junior tennis players: The relevance of the matching hypothesis. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 81(1), 287-296.

Tzetzis, G., Votsis, E., & Kourtessis, T. (2008). The effect of different corrective feedback methods on the outcome and self confidence of young athletes. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 7(3), 371-378.

Vidic, Z., & Burton, D. (2010). The roadmap: Examining the impact of a systematic goal-setting program for collegiate women’s tennis players. The Sport Psychologist, 24(4), 427-447.

Williams, A. M., Ward, P., Smeeton, N. J., & Allen, D. (2004). Developing anticipation skills in tennis using on-court instruction: Perception versus perception and action. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 16(4), 350-360.

Wolf, S., Brölz, E., Keune, P. M., Wesa, B., Hautzinger, M., Birbaumer, N., & Strehl, U. (2015). Motor skill failure or flow-experience? Functional brain asymmetry and brain connectivity in elite and amateur table tennis players. Biological Psychology, 105, 95-105. 2015.01.007

How to Cite
Cece, V., Guillet-Descas, E., & Martinent, G. (2020). Mental training program in racket sports: A systematic review. International Journal of Racket Sports Science, 2(1), 55-71.