Goal Setting in Tennis
What types of goals have you set for yourself this tennis season?
Have you set your sights on winning a specific tournament or reaching a particular ranking?
Goal setting is important for tennis players to achieve success in their sport.
Goals provide specific targets to shoot for but what is more important is your approach or how you set out to achieve those goals.
Think about a time when you set a goal to improve your ranking to a certain level…
Improving your ranking is a very worthwhile goal…
You know that in order to improve your ranking, you need to win more matches especially against ranked opponents…
You tell yourself, “I have to win THIS match!” and the pressure builds inside…
When you make an error, you begin to worry about losing and your performance slowly declines.
The problem is not your goal, it is that you are focused on the wrong thing… the outcome.
In sports psychology, there are two types of motivations or approaches to goal achievement:
Process Orientation or Outcome Orientation
Process-oriented tennis players focus on the daily steps needed to reach their goals.
Outcome-oriented tennis players focus on their results (wins and losses). For these types of tennis players, match outcomes are the only thing that matters.
Is it better to be process-oriented or outcome-oriented?
Goals are extremely important for athletic success.
Being outcome oriented is good in the short-term but in the long run, you cannot have that mindset exclusively.
Achieving goals is most effective when a tennis player is process-oriented and focused on continual growth and improvement.
In order to improve, you must focus on the process or plan, not on the goal.
For outcome-oriented tennis players, goal attainment is an end point. For process-oriented players, goal attainment is simply a milepost on the journey to further success.
When outcome-oriented players lose, they see themselves as a failure and it damages their self-worth often leading to burnout.
The problem is that no one can win all the time and sole focus on outcomes provides no constructive feedback after a loss.
For process-oriented players, each match can be objectively evaluated in order to modify training sessions for optimal improvement.
This approach keeps a player’s confidence high during rough patches throughout the season.The process-oriented players are still concerned with the outcome of matches, but their focus is improving technique, conditioning, strategy, and mental skills, which are steps toward the achievement of their goals.
Try these tips focus on the process of achieving your goals:
- Tip #1: Set not only long-term seasonal goals but short-term goals (things you need to do in the next few weeks). Develop a practice plan for how you will work towards your short-term goals.
- Tip #2: You should evaluate your progress regularly. Are you on the right path? What can you work on now to improve you game? When evaluating your matches, objectively use your performance as feedback. Look for ways to develop your game further in practice.
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