Archive for September, 2010

How to be a “smarter” tennis player

By · September 1, 2010 · Filed in Coaching · No Comments »

When I was 12, my father told me that I should beat him at tennis by the age of 14. I only managed to win matches against him by the age of 18… 

Now, don’t get me wrong – it is not because I was not trying or because he was that good. In fact, he was a very good player even though he started to have health related problems (sore knees, etc.). He still managed to beat me all the time. And that frustrated me badly!
I didn’t understand how an older man, who was barely able to move to the ball, could still beat me!
Now, as a tennis coach and “older” player, I find myself looking back to those moments and I can understand why I couldn’t beat my father.
Tennis is like life – the smarter the decisions you make, the better your life is going to be.
My father was better at winning matches against me because he was outsmarting me on the court (and off). 
He knew that he would not be able to run with me on the court and chase every ball that I would throw at him so he had to make smarter decisions in order to win.
 Every ball he hit was a calculated move. Every serve was thought out as far as placement and spin. Before starting the point, he knew ahead of time what he was going to do to win it… sometimes adjusting to find the right tactic in certain situations.
How do I know that? Because now, I am the “older” player. I am playing kids that I teach and they are as young as I used to be when I was playing my father.
For me to win against my students, I have to outsmart them. Otherwise I would be running all over the court having to deal with strokes that are sometimes more powerful than mine.  I wish many times that my students would see tennis the way I see it now: like an “older” player. I wish they could combine their flexibility, speed, and stamina with the power of seeing the tactics of winning through an “older” player’s eyes. (more…)

Affirmations and Self-Talk

By · September 1, 2010 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

We love our sports and sometimes we are completely frustrated in them; or I should say, ‘our’ performance and ‘our’ outcomes in them.  What does it take then to become an even better athlete and create even higher levels of performance?  Is this something only available to the elite, Olympic, or professional athlete? The answer is absolutely “No”!  Anyone who is willing to put in the work of mental  training can achieve greater and greater levels of success.  But like any achievement, it takes work, commitment and practice.

The late Dorothy Harris, PhD, who was a professor of sport psychology at Pennsylvania State University used to say, “The only difference between the best performances and the worst performance is the variation in our self-talk and the self-thoughts and attitudes we carry around with us.”

It is important to understand the direct link between self-confidence and success.  Using affirmations and positive self-talk are crucial in changing one’s performance and thus the desired outcome; it is the difference between a good athlete and a great athlete with all other variables being the same.  Pete Sampras, who retired in August 2003 after a stunning career, is one who used positive affirmations and self-talk to remind himself, that he can conquer an opponent even if he is behind and not playing well.

Most of us don’t realize that we spend a good deal of time talking to ourselves, and are unaware of our internal dialogue.  We ‘know’ what the right things are we need to say to ourselves, and sometimes even do say positive things, but more often than not, there is another  level of dialogue going on within us, that may not be so supportive and positive.  Those are the thoughts beneath the surface that have been there often our entire lives that we share with only a few, if anyone.  The beliefs and thoughts we hide; those are the beliefs that need to change to change our performances and thus our lives. Those are the ones that actually “rule” our lives.  What we ‘think about’ we create! (more…)