Signs of Perfectionism in Tennis
Perfectionist tennis kids can often make tennis too complex.
They can be over-analytical about their own performance, think too much, and worry too much about fixing mistakes. All of these mindsets cause tennis players to lose confidence and under-perform in matches even though they may look like stars in practice.
Tim Gallwey was a coach who was one of the pioneers in sports psychology. Tim wrote the popular “Inner Game” series beginning with his classic book, The Inner Game of Tennis, released in the 1970s. If you have not yet read The Inner Game of Tennis, I recommend you do so. Tim’s principles are relevant even today.
Tim contends that when players perform at their peak, the mind is quiet and they experience minimal self-interference. They allow themselves to perform without self-criticism or over-analysis.
According to this inner game theory, two contrasting mindsets are always battling for supremacy. This is sort of a “right brain/left brain” theory.
When kids’ minds are quiet and they allow their performance to flow from creativity, they can get into a state of “flow.” However, when kids’ minds are overactive and critical, they force their performance by trying too hard. Their game is awkward at best.
The perfectionist mind is too overactive and self-critical.
Watch this video to find out if your tennis kids have the signs of perfectionism.
I’ll be offering tennis confidence videos soon to help players, coaches, and parents improve their mental game of tennis.
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“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.”
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“Maggie had such a great weekend. As always, after she works with you she just seems more grounded and focused. She’s less likely to look around and get distracted during her match. She’s more focused on one point at a time. Also, as a parent, I’ve learned to encourage her process goals and not outcomes. Consequently, she played well and won her first doubles match, upsetting a seeded team in a really really close match!”
~Katherine Johnson Cannata, Maggie’s mother
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