Embracing Constructive Criticism
Constructive feedback is essential to rise through the ranks and improve your tennis game.
Feedback from your coach provides useful information, not only about your performance in a match, but how to perform better in future tennis matches.
Feedback allows you to understand:
- Your successes in the match (what you did well.)
- The effectiveness of specific technical skills, match strategies or mental techniques that you utilized during the match.
- The things you need to develop for future performances.
Basically, feedback allows you to know if you are moving in the direction of your goals or if you need to adjust your course.
But all the feedback in the world, even if it is given to you by the top coaches in your sport, will not improve your game if you do not apply it in practice.
If you want to further your game, it is important to transfer the feedback you received in a match into focused and deliberate practice.
There are several reasons tennis players fail to apply coaches’ feedback:
- Some tennis players view feedback as criticism and feel like they are being told they are not good enough.
- Some players receive an overwhelming amount of feedback. Too much feedback fractures your focus in too many directions.
- Some players don’t understand the feedback they are given or are not clear on how to make the necessary changes.
- Some players feel they are not capable of making the suggested changes to their game.
- Some players ignore the message if the coach provided it in a demeaning manner.
How to effectively utilize feedback to improve your game:
- Don’t take it personally – Feedback should be viewed as a means to improve your game. Ignore the delivery of the message and sift through the valuable pieces of information that can improve your game.
- Understand the feedback – Get clarification from your coach regarding their feedback. What exactly does your coach mean?
- Write it down – Immediately after the match, record the feedback from your coach. Many times, athletes forget their coaches feedback due to the intense emotions of competition. If you forget, ask the coach to review your performance at your next training session.
- Narrow it down – Select 1-2 critical aspects of your performance that you will focus on improving for future matches. Improvement is hindered when too many things compete for your attention, effort and energy.
- Progress Updates – Occasionally, get update reports from your coach in regards to your progress. Ask your coach, “Am I doing it right?” or “What do I need to do differently?” Don’t be shy about getting the advice of your coach. Practice feedback is critical for your development as a tennis player.
Try these tips to effectively apply the feedback from your coach:
- Tip #1: Understand that feedback is meant to build your game not destroy your confidence. It doesn’t matter the manner in which the feedback was given. Find 1 or 2 aspects that you can improve for the future.
- Tip #2: Create 1-2 practice goals for each training session. Practice goals will provide direction and focus for your training sessions.
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What are our mental coaching students saying?
“Since you last worked with AJ in early September, his National ranking has improved from 349 to 148. His tournament record at one point, since talking with you was 17-4, with 3 of the 4 being in third sets or tiebreakers and 2 of those matches being the same player, whom he has since beaten (you may recall he was on an 0-9 losing streak when we contacted you). His tie-breaker record is at least 90% through last weekend when he won the 18s District tournament with a semi and final match tiebreak win. Your help has definitely improved AJ’s results and his on-court demeanor has substantially improved.”
~Dawn Woodman, A.J.’s Mother