This is a guest post by tennis coach Marcin Bieniek, founder of Enjoy Tennis Blog. In order to reach your best level in tennis, you have to learn to accept a lot of unpleasant experiences. In this article, Marcin explains how you should focus on aspects that you can control, while learning to overcome inevitable unfortunate situations such as injuries, defeats, and superior opponents on the other side of the net.
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced player, you have to understand the essence of tennis in order to make your experience with the sport enjoyable and smooth. If you have false expectations, you will get negatively surprised all the time, so make sure you are an optimist with realistic view of things that you need to accept.
Focus on things that you can control
To improve your level of play, always focus on things that are in your control. You can definitely have impact on your footwork, emotional control, changes in strategy, or post-match analysis, to name just a few aspects. It is up to you how much time you want to dedicate to factors that you can fully control. Wrong mindset combined with focusing on areas that you can’t control is a simple recipe for failure, leading to lack of motivation and defeats in more matches than expected.
Use every opportunity to learn, overcome defeats
There is no doubt that good competitors learn every day. On and off the court, there are many opportunities to improve your game. It can be that you practice with a better opponent or just watch a tennis match on TV — if you are dedicated, a range of experiences can make you a better athlete.
However, you have to remember that there will be numerous ups and downs. You have to be ready for both triumphs and painful moments. If you can deal with tournament titles but struggle after unexpected losses in the first round, it can be really hard to continue the quest for becoming the best tennis player you can be.
Tips to bounce back in difficult moments
There are several things that many players approach improperly because of their unreal expectations of the game. Changing your perspective is an easy solution to make difficult things more digestible and to be able to bounce back even after you get the hardest “punch” from the tennis world.
Learn to accept losses
Do you like losing? I know you don’t, but better be ready for it. I don’t know a single player who wins all their matches all year long. Even the best players in the world have to deal with getting out of tournaments sooner than expected. Accept that you are going to lose a lot of matches but these results won’t have a crucial impact on your chances to reach your goals.
Good opponents will always make you struggle
If you take part in a competition with players weaker than you, you will probably have an easy road to the final. In any other situation, when you face rivals at your level, or at a higher level, there is no doubt that their skills will force you to use your weaker sides and struggle to find solutions to various technical, tactical, physical and mental challenges.
If you think that your performance depends solely on your game, you are wrong. Opponents have a big impact on how you feel with your game and what decisions you make. You have to accept that to win against good rivals, you have to deal with a lot of pressure and an uncomfortable environment.
Injuries stop us from training, improving on the court and taking part in competitions. Injuries happen because of different mistakes, like improper physical preparation, too demanding practice sessions, or inadequate nutrition. However, it doesn’t mean that players who take care of their bodies will go through their careers without injuries.
The demands of the game are really high and to be able to compete effectively players have to train daily at the highest possible level. It simply means that the body has its limits and injuries are a part of the process. You have to accept that injuries will happen, but you have to learn from them and make sure to prevent them the best way you can.
It all comes down to acceptance
It takes guts to control your emotions and accept facts that are not easy to digest. I know that we would all like to go smoothly from point A to point B and accomplish planned tasks as soon as possible. However, tennis is an individual sport that requires strong character and ability to go forward even when obstacles loom around the corner. If you really think about getting to the top, better start to accept losses, struggles and injuries as the part of the process.
Visit our Tennis Tips page for a lot more articles by tennis coaches. There you can learn how to improve specific shots and skills, handle pressure, adapt your game to all surfaces and weather conditions, choose the most appropriate tennis racquet, best strings, and much more.