Many tennis players who are perfectionistic about their approach to tennis choke under tournament pressure. Perfectionism can hold them back from reaching their potential because they become tight, anxious, and over-control their performance.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some advantages of perfectionism such as having a strong work ethic, commitment to your goals, and a willingness to learn and improve, which often disguise this mental game roadblock to success.
Having some perfectionism can help you win in tennis quicker and get you to 75% of your potential, but after that you have to remove the hard-to-detect mental roadblocks that perfectionism presents.
There can be many disadvantages of trying to be too perfect with your tennis game and if not kept in check can stifle your talent, such as strict expectations, fear of failure, anxiety, and worrying too much about match or tournament results.
I have found it very hard to convince tennis players who want to be perfect that it really does hold them back in tennis. They resist having to change their psychology of tennis that has helped them achieved some past goals.
One of the problems with perfectionism is you unknowingly adopt very high expectations about your tennis performance. Not achieving your expectations can result in high frustration and feelings of failure. High expectations about winning make tennis players feel frustrated or helpless.
Tennis players may have high expectations about their performance such as not to double fault a single serve or to win matches 6-0, 6-0. If something does not go according to plan, tennis players would become agitated, frustrated, and lose confidence altogether.
When something goes wrong in a tennis match, such as a cheating opponent, a broken string, or an unruly crowd, this would not fit into a tennis player’s strict expectations of winning or contending. Tennis players want so badly to win. A tennis player will likely become upset, frustrated, and even lose confidence when he or she can’t meet strict demands set for performance.
Perfectionists think that maintaining strict expectations is what every athlete should do because it sounds good and the other option of accepting mediocrity – is unbearable! But I have a different take on this…
If not reaching your expectations in tennis cause you to become frustrated and lose composure – this will block you from achieving your full potential in tennis.
Thus, I teach my tennis students (1) to identify and discard strict expectations and (2) to let go of frustration so they can stay composed after mistakes and perform in the present moment without dwelling on the past.
High expectations is just one of challenges I teach you how to overcome in my new mental training program, “The Fearless Athlete: A 14-Day Plan for Unbeatable Trust” so you can perform with poise in competition.
In my new CD program for all athletes, I share all secrets on how to become a crunch-time tennis player by teaching you about the perils of trying to be too perfect AND how to have full trust and confidence in tournaments: