Expectations vs. Reality
Expectations vs. reality. Players hit hundreds of balls every day. They practice forehands and backhands. Improve serving skills and returns. Implement specific fitness routines to strengthen body and prevent injuries as also they take care of nutritional habits to improve recovery and have enough energy for the whole week of training sessions. What is the reason that they do all these activities? Winning. Players want to go to the tournament and win.
Winning is great. Every time you step on the court and win you feel happy. You advance to the next round and you are better than your opponent. Everyone has own individual goals according to own career but I don’t know anybody who doesn’t want to win. In tennis players can’t finish the match without knowing the winner because there are no draws possible. Every time match ends we immediately know the winner and the loser. This reality puts a lot of pressure on the score so players do whatever they can to leave the court with balls in hands.
Preparation is the key to succees. In sport and in personal life if we want to achieve good results we have to put substantial amount of work before to be prepared for the incoming challenge. Without good preparation we can only count on luck and it won’t help us really often. It is always better to count on ourselves so daily practice sessions have the biggest impact on the performance during tennis tournament.
Do always the best prepared players win matches?
The answer is: NO. Why does it happen? It happens because tennis is an individual sport that puts a lot of pressure on player’s mind. Mental aspects of the game are crucial so proper mindset is needed to be able to use own physical skills to get advantage on the court. Unfortunately many players don’t pay attention to mental work as much as they do to physical efforts and that is why they are not able to repeat training performance during competitive battle.
As a tennis coach I know what kind of thoughts and expectations players have before they step on the court during the tournament. Their mindset can help them play well and achieve great results but it can also be the reason why they underperform and lose the match they normally should win. It is important to understand the difference between what players think and what really happens because wrong expectations can be more dangerous than even the best opponent.
Stress always occur before and at the beginning of the match. It is a normal biological process of our body when we wait for some kind of challenge. Especially when we can’t fully predict what will happen we tend to feel unsafe. Some level of stress is not detrimental to performance but too much of it can really limit player’s ability to perform well.
Unfortunately many players feel a lot of stress before the match and it happens because they have wrong expectations.
What if my serve doesn’t work well?
What if I miss easy balls?
What if my opponent will get to every ball?
These and other questions are related to one crucial mindset: I HAVE TO PLAY PERFECT MATCH TO WIN! That’s the obstacle. That’s not true. Most of the time you need ONLY solid performance to be better than your opponent. You don’t need to be perfect because… it is almost impossible to be perfect while playing against good opponent.
Let’s analyze what happens when you play against good player. You and him have good skills. You and him want to use own strengths and capitalize on rival’s weaknesses to get advantage on the court. Both of you will be stressed and probably there will be many leading changes over the course of the match. That is why there will be winners but also forced mistakes and really easy mistakes. This is the reality. You only play as well as your opponent let you and if you play against good opponent he won’t let you play your best tennis. As soon as you understand that your stress level will drop significantly and your mindset will focus on good performance – not on a perfect one!
Expectations are not always related to reality. Players have some doubts before the match but many of them are far away from what will really happen. Every time the match is coming player has to think how to maintain good level of play. Weak serve doesn’t prevent them from winning the match. Opponent reaching to every ball is not the reason that he has to win the match. Missing few easy balls don’t decide about the final result. The only expectation you should have is this one: no matter what happens I have always chance to win it. It all depends on me. If I play good I can win. If my opponent plays perfect match it means I let him do it.