I just returned from spending the best 11 days in Orlando, Florida, at the NCAA Championship.
Words fail to capture the immense mental strength displayed by these players. Their tenacity knows no bounds. They fought with unwavering determination, not just for victory as a team but also against the unforgiving elements – the scorching sun and suffocating humidity, adjusting to the different court speed from outdoors to indoors with only ten minutes to adapt, and the loud and ruthless screaming fans that can mess with your mind. Imagine waiting all day, mentally preparing for a battle only to unfold at midnight, stretching into the early morning hours. It definitely tested one’s mental resilience to a whole new level.
I feel so inspired that I just had to share some of the essential aspects that I saw and know can enhance your mental performance and take your tennis to the next level. These were: being, learning, and doing. Let me explain.
The Three Essentials
1. BEING: Stay Present. Tennis is a fast-paced sport, and dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about future outcomes can hinder your performance. How?
a) Train your mind to stay present in the moment. Shhhh, clear the noise in your mind. Take some deep breathers. Focus on one shot and one point at a time as they unfold.
b) Positive self-talk. Reassure yourself as you would a friend who’s battling in a match.
2. Learning: Tennis is a skill-based sport, and continuous learning is crucial for long-term success.
Here are some strategies to optimize your learning process:
a) Set clear goals: define specific, measurable, and realistic goals for your tennis journey.
Whether it’s improving your serve, increasing consistency, or moving up in the rankings, having clear goals provides direction and motivation.
b) Embrace Deliberate Practice: Regular practice is vital, but deliberate practice takes it a step further. Focus on specific aspects of your game that need improvement, break them down into manageable chunks, and practice with intention and intensity.
3. Doing: Competing with Confidence. When it comes to doing, it’s all about channeling your mental and physical skills into competitive matches. Trust in your training. Compete as you train. And train the way you want to compete.
Here’s how to approach it:
a) Control the Controllables: Tennis matches can be unpredictable, and it’s easy to get caught up in external factors beyond your control. Focus on what you can control—your attitude, effort, and strategy—and let go of distractions or outcomes.
b) Embrace Struggles: Tennis is a sport of highs and lows, and setbacks are inevitable. Cultivate resilience by reframing failures as learning opportunities, staying composed during challenging moments, and bouncing back quickly from setbacks.
Becoming a mentally resilient tennis player requires consistent effort and a willingness to learn and grow. By embracing the aspects of being, learning, and doing, you can unlock your mental performance potential and elevate your game to new heights. Remember, the mind is just as important as the body on the path to level up.
Cheers. Inspire On!