Create A Mindset For Winning Tennis
Your Competitive Nature Can Be One Of
Your Biggest Weapons
Bill Cole, MS, MA
We all love watching Wimbledon in June and July. The English
championships are grand as always. I view them with some nostalgia,
because it seems every time the camera pans to the stands,
I see some players I competed against years ago. One in particular
is memorable. The coach of Tim Henman, the British #1, is
Paul Annacone, the former coach of Pete Sampras. I played
Annacone in 1984 when he had just won the United States College
NCAA Singles Championships. It was a doubles match in the
Hamptons of Long Island. It was memorable because I was able
to run a young 18-year-old kid around the court, hit some
crowd-pleasing shots and give him a run for his money. I lost
6-4, 7-5, but I played well.
That match was on Memorial Day and just a month later Paul
lost to Connors in the quarters of Wimbledon in a very tight
match. I like to think maybe I toughened him up for the Jimmy
match. He went on to become a top-20 singles player and Bill
Cole went on to begin teaching in California a few months
later. That was a few years ago, but I do remember how competitive-minded
I was that day.
Here are some of my favorite competition tips to help you
tune your mind up to compete at your best.
"Competition is about bringing out the best in each other.
Tough competition is an exercise in cooperation." --Bill Cole
Make Your Own Meaning And Significance
What match would you remember many years afterwards? The match
where you beat a very weak player in a very easy match, 6-0,
6-0? Or a very close match where you beat a player far better
than you, requiring you to use every ounce of your mental,
emotional and physical strength to win, handling every conceivable
difficulty imaginable, after battling multiple match points,
finally winning under incredible pressure?
You'd remember the tough one far more.
Choose to view your tennis match on YOUR terms. Here's how
you create more meaning in your tough matches:
- Realize that you will have a story to tell. The tougher
the match, the better the story. This gives you perspective
and objectivity, and reduces your fear.
- Know you will be a far tougher competitor as a result.
This reduces your pressure.
- Use the fear of losing as a stimulant to help you focus
- Strive to "compete fully". This means to risk the pain
of losing and all the potential heartache that comes with
putting yourself on the line in front of other people.
What Motivates You More, Wanting To Win, Or Hating To
Do athletes say that the pain of losing is greater than the
thrill of winning?
Many athletes say this. As a result, many athletes use the
so-called negative motivation of "hating to lose" more than
the so-called positive motivation of "wanting to win".
If hating to lose helps you win, go for it. It's NOT negative.
Avoid These Examples Of Behavior Designed To Save Face
- The opponent cheats and you say, "If you want the match
that bad, take it." Why would you not stay there, fight
and either win in spite of the cheater, or win to teach
them a lesson?
- How you close a match is closely related to how you handle
projects in the rest of your life. If you get things done
in real life, you probably "get it done" on the tennis court
also. Do you engage in procrastination? Or do you make sure
to complete things and hate to have "dangling loose ends"?
- No pain or bad feelings after a loss? This means you
don't care enough and you are seeking an out instead of
competing fully. You are defending yourself from the pain
of potential loss. Face the fact that you DO want to win
and you will win more.
Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Competitive Attitude
- How bad do you want to win?
- How committed are you to winning?
- How much do you defend against losing face?
- How much pain can you take?
- How uncomfortable are you willing to be to win?
- How many excuses do you make when you play?
- Are you creating excuses even as you play so you can
explain why you lost?
Now, go forth and use these winning mind tips to play better
and win more matches!
Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2004,
2007 All rights reserved.
This article covers only one small part of the mental game.
A complete mental training program includes motivation and goal-setting,
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Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness
and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching
Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports.
He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published
book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive
article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
Article Source: SportsPsychologyCoaching.com
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