Azarenka on Progressing her Game

How to Have a Positive Approach to Loss

Nobody likes to lose… But losing does not have to crush your confidence.

Losing normally affects tennis players in this way… You enter a match with some degree of confidence, whatever level that may be. Whether you lose in straight sets or lose a match after battling it out through a tie breaker in the last set, you feel dejected when you leave the court…

You start mentally replaying every mistake you made…

You verbally beat yourself up telling yourself, “I am a horrible player. I will never be good at tennis. I always mess up no matter who I play.” You become highly critical of parts of your game, for example your return game, and feel it’s useless to even try to improve.

It is clear to see how this reaction to a loss can crush a player’s confidence.

You want to look at losses in a way that doesn’t hurt confidence. With this perspective, losing is still not fun but it provides a sense of direction geared towards improvement which helps preserve confidence.

This how that process works… You lose a match and you still experience some negative emotions such as anger or frustration… Later that night or the next day, you start processing the match…

Instead of verbally attacking yourself, you objectively review the things you did well and aspects of your game that need to be improved…

You see the things that went wrong not as indicators that you “stink at playing tennis” but as feedback for how to improve your game. The loss still stings a bit but your performance provides insight and feedback on how to improve that both increase motivation and help foster confidence

As you take that feedback and apply it towards practices, you improve your game mentally and physically.

It is this type of preparation that further lifts your confidence and leads to better performances and more confident play in future matches.

Just look at Victoria Azarenka…

Despite not winning a title since 2017, Azarenka beat two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 at the 2019 Italian Open. The reason this win was important for Azarenka is that the match represented the improvement from lessons learned earlier in the season.

AZARENKA: “Right now I’m looking at the overall big picture and trying to improve every aspect of my game.”

Azarenka revealed her positive approach to losses.

AZARENKA: “There is a difference between losing and not progressing and there’s a difference between losing and learning and then coming back and not repeating that again. So that’s where I’m kind of at.”

Losses hurt but those losses do not have to hurt your confidence.

You can keep your confidence high by focusing forward, crediting yourself for your successes and identifying a plan for improvement based on objective feedback from both wins and losses.

Keeping Confidence After a Loss:

Use this post-match strategy to assess your match performance:

  1. Identify 2 successes (What did you do well in the match?)
  2. Identify 2 areas that need improvement (What can you do to improve upon future matches?)
  3. Create an action plan (How will I work to improve these areas in my practices and training sessions?)

Take a growth perspective to each match instead of focusing on what’s wrong with your game. Learn–> Move on–> Train better.

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