I recently had a tennis player sign up for one of my sports psychology programs, but who has trouble following through with it. He does this with every part of his tennis game. He also has trouble working on his weaknesses. Here is the post he made recently in my tennis psychology survey:
“How do I commit myself to work on the things I need to improve on? I know I should work on my mental game more, but I don’t. I know I should go out and serve a basket of serves a day, but I don’t. For some reason I’ll put in 4-5 hours of practice a day plus conditioning on top of that, but I don’t have the motivation to work on my areas of the game that I’m struggling with the most.”
He went on to talk about his commitment to his mental game for tennis:
“I love the sport to death. If I just had the commitment to the things I really need to work on, I feel my game will go up several spots. Here is an example. I signed up for this program with you…trying to stay committed with it. It worked out for the first few weeks. And then it stopped. I have no idea why. I feel I guess I just don’t need to work on it anymore, but that’s not true. I’ve done my share of research through other programs like yours and I chose yours out of six others… I love the way you speak and the way you deliver your material for me to comprehend. For some reason, out of the blue… I just stopped!”
Here is my response to this player:
Most players have a difficult time working on their weaknesses in practice because they are not as fun to practice – that’s why they are weaknesses! Many players love to pracitce their strenghts. To me, you don’t have a solid practice plan for tennis. Your practice should not be random. You should look at your match statistics and develop a practice plan based on your strengths and weaknesses.
I also sense you are searching for the secret to great tennis. I do believe you should be searching. It’s similar to jumping from instructor to instructor looking for the magic potion to help you become successful. In sports psychology for tennis, we talk about sticking with what works and keep going back to the well. Don’t go searching for the magic pill to make you a complete player.
As for neglecting your mental game of tennis or lack of commitment to it after starting a program, this is very common in my work. I think you started to improve you mind game for tennis, and then forgot to do what helped you improve your mind game. You abandoned what mental edge you had because you felt like you were “fixed.” This term does not apply in my work as a tennis psychology expert. You are never fixed and have a perfect mind game. You have to stay on top of it constantly – making adjustments with each match you play and every mental game error you make.
So you are doing many of the right things to help you become successful in tennis, but there’s no follow-through. You abandon what works or has worked and jump to something else. My suggestion is to develop a practice plan to help you succeed - mentally and physically – long term and then be patient. Set goals based on what you want to improve. Commit to your practice goals. Rely on experts and your stats to tell you what to work on with your physical and mental game of tennis. Stick with your program and make small modifications based on your match performance.
Do you have a question for me on sports psychology and tennis? Please take my tennis psychology survey.