1. They are negative. Remember, nothing positive comes from something negative. When you miss a shot, don’t ask “Why did I hit that terrible shot?” Instead, ask “How can I make an adjustment for next time?” Losers ask why, winners ask how. Next time you play, have someone keep track of how many negative comments, sounds, and negative physical actions you make…you’ll be surprised. I was teaching this woman who is one of the most positive people I know, and in the first half hour, had over 20 negative comments or actions.
2. They focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses. Sure, it’s fun to practice what you’re good at, but that doesn’t help improve your weakest link. If you have no backhand and I see that in the warmup, guess what? I’m hitting EVERYTHING to your backhand. Practice with a purpose.
3. They think winning is everything. Think about it, if this was truly the case, wouldn’t you just play people you were much better than? Wouldn’t that get boring? So there’s something to be said about a challenge. Winning is internal. If you give it your all and push yourself to play your hardest, and then some…guess what? You’re a winner. And if you learn from that, you’re on a whole ‘nother level. Because even is you lose 0-6, 0-6, you will still have gotten more out of that match than your opponent. They may have gotten a bit lucky or maybe they ARE better than you, it doesn’t matter, what you should really measure yourself with is YOU. If you focus on constant learning and improvement, the winning will come.
4. They have poor body language when they are losing or playing poorly. What does someone who is negative look like? Don’t they have their head down, shoulders slumped walking slowly? Guess what? It doesn’t have to be that way. You can instantly change your mood by your actions. So instead, when you’re down, snap your fingers and ACT like you’re really energized and ACT like you’re really confident. You will be amazed at the results; and then your feelings will follow.
5. They don’t have goals. Only about 3% of the population have goals, written goals. How can you get to the next level, if you don’t even know what that next level even is? If you’re trying to find your way around New York City and you have a map of Philadelphia…good luck. Once you have your goals, write the top 5 on an index card and keep it in your tennis bag. Read it before you step on the tennis court and then you will have a plan instead of just “seeing how you play.” The average tennis player says “Let’s see how I play today.” The great tennis player says, “This is how I’m going to play today and this is my strategy.” Instead of just “playing tennis,” be a “tennis player.” There’s a difference. If you’re just PLAYING tennis, youre hitting tennis balls. If you’re a tennis PLAYER, you have the mindset of a champion.
Homework: Watch the US Open and see if the pros make any of these mental mistakes…and see how that affects their performance.