The Value of Setting Goals in Tennis

The Value of Setting Goals in Tennis

What are YOUR goals for tennis?

There is a reason “YOUR” is written in all caps. Tennis players often allow outside sources to influence their career or seasonal goals.

For example, your parents may repeatedly talk to you about playing Division I collegiate tennis…

They hire private coaches to help you “perfect” your technique. They watch you in practice and tournaments and critique your efforts and performance.

They tell you, “If you want a college scholarship, you must work harder.” Your parents have good intentions, but THEIR goals may not necessarily be YOUR goals.

Here’s another example. Your coach may push you early in the season to achieve a high junior ranking, stressing, “If you want a 3.5 ranking, you need to beat this opponent or win this tournament.”

Again, your coach may see potential within you, but YOUR goals may not be the same.

When you feel the weighty expectations of others, you will feel higher pressure to perform.

If you fall short of their expectations, you will become frustrated by your level of play, lose confidence in yourself, feel like a failure, or believe you are a disappointment.

Personal success starts with setting meaningful goals.

How do goals impact performance?

  • Goals establish a clear and specific target.
  • Goals motivate you through the highs and lows of the tennis season.
  • Goals direct your efforts and help you create a detailed goal plan.
  • Goals give you a reason to work hard and make personal sacrifices.

The question is “How can you make sure YOUR goals are YOUR goals?”

First of all, asking for feedback from your coach can help you clarify your seasonal objectives and develop an action plan. Input is useful but you still are the ultimate decision-maker.

Next, it is important to know your why. Why do you want to achieve your goals? What is the personal significance of your goals?

Finally, you need to be able to dismiss the opinions and judgments of others. In other words, don’t allow others to cause you to question or change your goals.

Professional tennis player Ben Shelton is 21 years old and is currently 16th in the world rankings…

Shelton has accomplished a lot in his young career, playing in six Grand Slams, reaching the quarterfinals of the 2023 Australian Open, reaching the semifinals at the 2023 US Open, and winning his first ATP Tour title at 2023 Japan Open Tennis Championships.

With success often comes weighty expectations. However, Shelton refuses to listen to the projections of others. Instead, Shelton is keeping his goals to himself.

SHELTON: “I feel like no matter what you say in the press, someone’s going say: ‘Oh, you shot too high or you shot too low.’ So, I’m going to keep my result-based goals between me and my team … I don’t have anything in my mind that I’m really setting out for yet. I feel like I don’t want to put a ceiling on myself and what I can achieve. I just want to take things one step at a time and see where I am at the end of this year.”

When you make your athletic goals personal, you increase the “buy in” factor and persist longer when facing obstacles or adversity.

To keep your goals personal, ask yourself the following four questions:

  • Is this something I want to achieve?
  • Is this a reasonable goal for me?
  • Why do I want to accomplish this goal?
  • What does this goal mean to me?

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Improve Your Mental Game for Tennis

Tennis Confidence 2.0

Tennis Confidence 2.0

This Tennis Confidence: Mental Game Strategies for Tournament Playersis 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 “Tennis Confidence.”

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