Take Advantage of Opportunities to Grow Your Game
What are your thoughts after losing in straight sets by a top ranked opponent? Do you feel overwhelmed or embarrassed? Do you pick apart your game and become demoralized?
While most tennis players feel crushed after being dominated on the court, some elite players feel motivated by a loss. Instead of seeing the loss as an indication of a lack of potential, these players find the lesson in the loss.
Every match you play has some successes and some lessons. You must look at the totality of your performance in an objective manner.
In our Mental Game of Tennis Survey, one tennis player asked how to maintain confidence after big losses:
“How can I get rid of the fear of failure and gain huge self confidence levels, especially after I get demolished in a match?”
Going through a match where you struggle to win a point is challenging. While playing the match, you feel mentally worn, physically tired and even embarrassed.
You feel all eyes are on you as you lose point after point. To make matters worse, you hear the crowd cheer for your opponent after they hit winners. You feel you are in over your head. You don’t even feel like fighting back because it feels like a lost cause. You just want the match to end quickly.
But after you get off the court, the match isn’t over in your head. You feel like a failure. You dwell on all the misses. You want to quit the sport altogether; the effort doesn’t feel worth it.
A loss is a loss, but it can also be a lesson or opportunity to grow your game. It’s a matter of how you evaluate your performance. When you evaluate your performance by only the errors/result of the match, you lose confidence in your abilities as a tennis player.
When you evaluate your performance in an objective manner, you may feel bad, but those feelings are not overwhelming. Without the intensity of negative emotion, you can evaluate your play as a whole; both what you did well and what you need to improve.
Playing attention to the small wins will help you maintain confidence and have a clearer perspective on your overall game.
When you identify weaker areas of your performance, you can learn what you need to do differently and create a plan to improve your game.
In the 2021 Madrid Masters, 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz got dominated by Rafael Nadal, 6-1 6-2. Alcaraz saw the match as a learning experience.
ALCARAZ: “This match showed me how to manage the tough moments and know how to play against these kind of players. If I could play more matches like this I would grow up faster as a player.”
Assessing your performance is not about identifying every little thing wrong. You want to evaluate your game without emotion, even a loss can help you improve your practice routines in the future.
How to Assess Your Performance Post-Match:
After each match, give yourself a bit of time for your emotions to settle down before evaluating your match.
On paper, write 3 columns.
–In column 1, list what you did well in the match.
–In column 2, identify areas you want to improve.
–In column 3 list what practice strategies will help you to improve specific areas of your game.
Every match is a learning opportunity to improve your game–even devastating losses can become learning experiences.
Related Articles for Tennis Focus:
- Stay Mentally Tough During Matches
- Be Aware of the Signs That You’re Frustrated
- How to Get the Mental Edge in Tennis
“Tennis Confidence: Mental Game Strategies for Tournament Players” is Dr. Cohn’s program to help tennis players, coaches, and instructors improve the mental game of tennis is just 8 easy to learn sessions. Tennis Confidence: Mental Game Strategies for Tournament Players Audio and Workbook program is ideal for any junior, collegiate, and tour professional player. Tennis coaches and instructors would also be wise to teach the strategies in “Tennis Confidence 2.0.”
Tennis Confidence is a complete mental training program developed Dr. Cohn. You learn the same strategies Dr. Cohn teaches his personal students to help them improve mental toughness and consistency – from managing unrealistic expectations to coping with perfectionism. Read more about Tennis Confidence Program>>