How to Assess Tennis Performance without Being Critical

How Osaka Thinks After Her Big Win

Are You Never Satisfied on the Court?

What does the term ‘never satisfied’ mean to you? Is never being satisfied a good or bad thing?

The connotation of ‘never being satisfied’ is a bit confusing.

‘Never being satisfied’ sounds like a positive, motivating philosophy that causes you to dig deep down and improve your game.

For example, you hear stories of tennis players who pushed themselves throughout their careers to eventually become top-ranked players.

These top ranked players are characterized by phrases such as ‘never being satisfied’, ‘hungry for perfection’ or ‘good is never good enough’.

On the surface, it seems that all tennis players should ‘never be satisfied’. After all, that philosophy must work because these players are the top in the world, right?

Not necessarily… listen to the tone of a high school tennis player who commented on her experience of ‘never being satisfied‘ from our Mental Game of Tennis survey:

“I need help with taking it easy on myself. I am very critical about my play in tournaments. Even if I win a match, I beat myself up over any mistakes I made. I never seemed to be satisfied with my game.”

When you are self-critical while you are playing, you emphasize your mistakes over your strengths.

Reminding yourself of everything you do wrong in a match doesn’t help you play any better. In fact, reminding yourself of your mistakes makes you play worse because you are no longer focusing on the present point.

Even when the match is over, reliving your mistakes or reminding yourself of mistakes over and over will hurt confidence.

When elite tennis players talk about ‘never being satisfied’, they are referring to the process of growing their game.

You’ll note a difference between being critical of your performance and critiquing your play to improve.

When you are critical of your performance, you normally list everything you did wrong and conclude that you choked, you stink or you are not as good as the players around you.

On the other hand, critiquing your performance is more objective. When you are critiquing your game, you may still point out some big mistakes you made, but you also recognize your successes. Critiquing your performance is about looking at the big picture and searching for ways to advance your game.

Critiquing your performance is a detailed assessment with a suggested plan of how to improve. Thus, critiquing your game objectively is a useful strategy to motivate you to put in the work.

‘Never being satisfied’ does not mean you can’t enjoy your success or victories. ‘Never being satisfied‘ is a statement that you are a work in progress, evolving, growing and finding ways to build your game mentally and physically.

How to Critique Tennis Matches

Assess your tennis performance instead of be self-critical….

In Column One, write down the positive aspects of your play (strong backhand, good pace on first serve, etc.)

In Column Two, write down 1-2 aspects of your game that you need to improve (staying calm after losing a set, better placement on your second serve, etc.)

In Column Three, write down your plan to improve those aspects of your game (learning relaxation strategies, working with your coach to develop heavy spin on your second serve, etc.)

An objective assessment of your game will keep your confidence high and help you improve your game.

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