Why do we do the things we do. Or why do all of us at times do things detrimental to our performance on the court? Why do we sometimes lack patience, try to do too much, lose focus, think negative thoughts, dwell on past mistakes, and lose our composure?
- Why do we get impatient during extended rallies and go for too much too soon (such as an impossible angle to end the point) rather than patiently wait for the right opportunity to attack with a higher percentage groundstroke or volley? Why are we not willing to stay in the point and hit as many balls as necessary to win the point? Why do we do the things we do?
- Why do we continue to go for big serves despite getting very few in play instead of taking a little bit off the serve to get a higher percentage of first serves in play? Is it the exhilaration of that one big serve (when it does go in), stubbornness or just a lack of thought process? (Ouch, that hurts.) Why do we do the things we do?
- Why do we discontinue moving at the net after botching a poach volley? Why do we often dwell on mistakes? Why do we hold back when we know it is important to be aggressive and to take every ball we can when at the net in doubles? Why do we do the things we do?
- Why do we have difficulty acknowledging the strengths of our opponents particularly for opponents who have a different playing style from our own? Why do we fail to recognize how these strengths pose match-up challenges to our ability to do the things we want to do with the ball? Why do we not instead note and appreciate what gave us problems and then look for ways to improve our game to better respond the next time we compete against the same opponent or an opponent with a similar playing style? Why do we do the things we do?
- Why do we try to try to outhit a big hitter even though we know it is not sustainable (and most likely will lead to a mistake) instead of taking pace off the ball and raising the height of net clearance and trajectory with spin? Conversely why do we become tentative, passive, and flat-footed when playing a steady, consistent player who hits with little to no pace rather than actively working the feet, hitting with racquet head acceleration, and taking advantage of opportunities to attack when presented with a short ball, open court and/or a court positioning advantage? Why do we play to the tempo, and pace of our opponent rather than to our strengths and playing style? Why do we do the things we do?
- Why do we press and try to do too much with the ball when opponents approach the net (often hitting our passing shots into the net or wide)? Why do we not instead “work the point” by first keeping the ball low to set up a better look or opening for a passing shot, hit a lob or at the very least put the ball in play to make our opponents have to beat us with the volley? Why do we do the things we do?
- Why do we focus our thoughts on not double faulting prior to hitting the second serve knowing fully well that dwelling on making a mistake or the consequence of making a mistake is negative and often leads to a negative outcome (and very often in this case, a double fault)? Why do we fall trap to the Law of Attraction which states that if your conscious mind is full of negative thoughts, you will end up attracting more negative thoughts and eventually start attracting a highly negative reality? Why do we not instead focus on process and purpose rather than outcome and result? Why do we do the things we do?
- Why do we have difficulty closing out a match when ahead and nearing the “finish line”. Why do we when faced with the anticipation of a win (particularly against a respected, formidable opponent) often divert our attention and focus away from the process and task orientation that enabled us to get the lead and instead redirect our focus to the outcome and what would happen should we win. Why do we not stay in the present and approach one point at a time? Why do we do the things we do?
- Why do we get upset and lose our temper when we make a costly mistake? Is it based on a fear of losing, a lack of confidence, general insecurity or possibly a concern for how others may judge our ability and talent based on the outcome of the match? Does this anger serve as an internal excuse for a poor performance? Would it not be better to harness adrenaline and the emotional response to conflict for inspiration, motivation, and determination? Would it not be better to view competition as a challenge where the goal is to achieve success rather than as a threat where the goal is to avoid failure? Why do we focus on the outcome (which can lead to frustration and anger when things do not go our way) rather than the process (how we hit the ball and the purpose of each shot)? Why do we do the things we do?
- Why do we experience lapses in our attention and focus? Why do we get distracted by outside interference, feel rushed and unsettled with the pace of play (between and during points), preoccupy our thoughts with previous points, missed opportunities and potential future calamities lying in wait or simply let our mind wander to other things affecting our lives rather than focusing our attention on one point at a time and the immediate task at hand? And why do we ignore our training and not utilize tools available to us to control our emotions and keep us on track such as a set ritual prior to the start of each point to reinforce our sense of purpose, establish a plan of attack, get emotionally charged and invigorated and control the tempo and pace of play? Why do we do the things we do?
Every tennis player has experienced setbacks, made mistakes, and has had difficulty coping. The question is how to best respond when things are not going as well as planned.
So, what to do?
Recognize attitude is a choice. You always have a choice on how to respond to conflict. We all have a choice to be happy, sad, positive, or negative, composed or agitated, resilient or resigned, etc.
Put things in perspective. Whatever happens on the court, no matter how disappointing, is rarely a life threatening or life altering occurrence. You can care, even passionately care but at the same time you do not want to care too much.
Acknowledge what is fun about tennis and tennis competition, the variety of things you can do with the ball, the dynamic nature of the game, the rhythm and tempo of exchanges, the tactics in constructing a point and more. Tennis is fun, engaging and yes at times frustrating because the outcome is always in doubt. What fun would tennis be if it was easy, and the outcome was never in question?
Focus on the things you have control over and not the things for which you have no control. Stay actively engaged in the present and focus on the process and not on the potential outcome or the consequence of a potential outcome.
Approach all conflicts and difficulties as challenges and opportunities for growth and development.
Utilize measures to stay on task such as an established ritual prior to the start of each point and positive self-talk.
“When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.” Dr. Seuss