As a full time player and a now a full time coach, i have seen a wide array of attitudes on the tennis court every single day. “yes i work 7 days a week 😀 ” What is an attitude that would lead to the most success in a career of a tennis player?
Lets check out 2 different extremes, both that will affect your improvement and enjoyment of a game by a huge margin.
The happy social player
We have the pure social tennis player. Everyone who goes to a club, or public tennis centers know this kind of player very well.
Most of the time they play for the purpose of getting out of the mundane everyday life, meeting friends or new people and exercise to keep healthy. I have seen some people who even go to the tennis courts with a racket in hand just to talk with their friends, never actually hitting a single ball.
It is possible for a social player to improve if they play often, but usually they are not serious or have little focus on how they play / their technique. But there is nothing wrong with this, everyone has their own reason to why they want to play tennis and it does not matter unless you are trying to go professional.
The social player really has fun on the court and really enjoys tennis because there is no pressure being put on themselves. If you are a social player, it will be great if you could find a group who thinks the same way so you can have a really great time on court together.
Anyway, the most important thing playing sports is to have fun, no?
The 110% serious player
Next, we have the really serious player, who takes everything too seriously. This player expects 110% from him/herself, and anything lesser than that will make them go insane.
Because of their perfectionism, they have huge focus and concentration on what they want to achieve, with goals set for themselves consistently.
This type of player improves really quickly, making huge steps at a time. However they may not feel that they enjoy tennis as much because of the high expectations they set for themselves constantly.
Some may even quit halfway. They are always stressed unless they are at the top form of their game. It is not easy for them to mix with players who just want to enjoy the game and may cause misunderstandings with them.
In truth, the best attitude for most of the people who play tennis is about 50/50. The balance of both sides are extremely important, you want to be improving but enjoying the process at the same time.
You do not want to be burning yourself out while playing because at the end of the day, you are not trying to be an ATP ranked player.
Do not stress over the small things and try to enjoy the game, it is understandable to be frustrated over expectations of yourself that cannot be met, but tennis is a long process and permanent immediate results are not easy to achieve, so why not enjoy the long process it takes to get there instead!
All athletes have to realize that most days, you will be performing your average. It is hard to accept for some people but the reality is that it is impossible to be on your top form all the time.
Take it from me, I have been there, stressing over if I will be on my top form for today’s match in my tournament. It gave me a huge amount of pressure because of the uncertainty, i could not control whether i would be on good or bad form. In the end the secret was learning to just play with how i felt and what i had on the day.
There are a few things that you can control however…
Your effort, your focus, and your determination to get better.
By choosing a better attitude towards your results, you can not only get better but have more fun and enjoyment along the way. If you can keep a close eye on those three things, your “average” performance will continue to raise. Which means you would be improving so much that your previous top form would now be your average form.
This does not mean that you will not have bad days ever again on the tennis court. It just means that your level of bad will not be bad anymore, good in fact. Do not ever let a bad day, a bad match or a bad experience affect your focus and effort. Try to understand that it is going to happen and you have to learn to live with it.
So strive for a good attitude for your tennis, and in your life in general. Things that are done just for fun are fine, but don’t expect to ever become great at them.
Things that are done with the expectation of personal perfection will probably give good results, but very little satisfaction and a great deal of frustration as you chase a never ending higher goal each time.
Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis – Lessons from a Master
The tennis classic from Olympic gold medalist and ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert, now featuring a new introduction with tips drawn from the strategies of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Andy Murray, and more, to help you outthink and outplay your toughest opponents