ACE Mental Training

Aimee C. Kimball, PhD

A: Attitude and Attention
C: Confidence
E: Energy Management


  • Choose the mindset you want during a match
  • Know the type of player you want to be and the attitude you want to have
  • Focus on the current point and on where you want to hit the ball
  • Focus on what you control
  • Know what challenges you and pre-plan your mental and physical response to these critical situations


  • Confidence is a choice
  • Preparation and trust are the keys to confidence
  • Confidence is about knowing you can play your best in the given situation
  • Appropriate focus will enhance confidence
  • Acting confidently leads to confident feelings and thoughts


Create the energy level that helps you to play your best

To Relax:

  • Take a few deep breaths
  • Release any physical tension
  • Clear your mind with a trigger word, action, or focus cue
  • Keep it simple, you are just connecting the paddle with the ball

To Get Pumped:

  • Listen to music pre-match
  • Give yourself mental pep talks, use trigger words and focus phrases
  • Make sure you have positive body language (head up, shoulders back)
  • Use imagery to picture the match you want or previous successful matches

Don't just play the game, seize it, control it, make it yours.

Dr. Aimee C. Kimball is the Director of Mental Training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Center for Sports Medicine. She received a PhD from the University of Tennessee where she specialized in sport psychology. She is an Association of Applied Sport Psychology Certified Consultant, and is a member of the American Psychological Association, the United States Olympic Committee's Sport Psychology Registry, the USA Swimming Sports Medicine Network, and the NCAA Speakers Bureau. As a Mental Training Consultant, Dr. Kimball has worked with professional, collegiate, high school, in analyzing potential draft picks and the Pittsburgh Penguins in developing their players. She has been a featured speaker at conferences across the nation and has appeared in Men's Health Magazine, Runner's World, Athletic Management Magazine, various local and national newspapers, and has appeared on ESPN, NPR, and news broadcasts across the country. Recently, Dr. Kimball was named as one of Pittsburgh Magazine's Top 40 People Under 40 for her dedication to improving the Pittsburgh region. Currently, Dr. Kimball works with athletes, coaches, corporate leaders, and other performers to assist them in achieving success in sport and life. (412-432-3777;

  1. Set specific, realistic, process-oriented goals for practice and competition
  2. Focus on skill improvement (not outcome) and self improvement (not comparisons to others)
  3. Remember why you enjoy competing
  4. Know that the situation does not change the task
  5. Align expectations with reality
  6. Control the controllable
  7. Stay in the present and on task; don't worry about consequences, distractions, or past mistakes
  8. Have a routine include a deep breath and a trigger word
  9. Know everything about your best performance (thoughts, feelings, physical state) and what got you there (warm-up routine, music, imagery)
  10. Develop a mental game plan
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