This study investigates the effects of a service routine mainly composed of external visual mental imagery (MI) focused on the trajectory of the ball and the target area to be reached before the actual strike on tennis service performance. Forty expert tennis players were randomly divided into two experimental groups: control and imagery. They performed a pre-test (i.e., 25 first serves in match conditions), 20 acquisition sessions (i.e., physical practice + IM or physical practice only), and a post-test similar to the pre-test in environmental conditions. The percentage of accurate first serves, their speed, and their efficiency scores, evaluated by experts observing the return of serves in match conditions, were used as performance indicators and dependent variables. The results of this experiment show an improvement in performance in the participants of the imagery group only. It therefore seems beneficial for expert tennis players to use routines based on breathing, ball bouncing, and mental imagery of the trajectory of the ball and the target to be hit before first serves in match conditions.
- mental imagery