Motivation is weapon #1 in tennis. Part I
When we look at modern tennis players we are excited to watch these spectacular points. We admire power, quick movement and risky decisions that lead to some errors but also provide many winners that fans love to watch. Tennis has changed and priorities have done too. Things that were effective 10 years ago nowadays are not as useful. Players use their weapons to dominate opponents but what exactly are these weapons? I have to answer before you guess. Neither forehand nor serve.
Tennis practice shows enormous changes between past tennis and present tennis. Player practice shorter rallies, look for opportunities to put pressure on the opponent and don’t slow the racquet down even after hitting few easy errors. It is true that most of the points on the top are won by using blasting first serve or heavy forehand but these are just the skills that are based on one crucial weapon. Like in Ferrari car, car is not a weapon – the engine is. So what stands behind this visible great forehands and serve?
Before I give you an answer let’s quickly analyze what tennis career is really about. Daily practice sessions require hundreds of repetitions that are responsible for the level of technical and tactical advancement. Keeping proper diet and taking care of specific recovery techniques allow player to have energy, stay injury free and get ready physically and mentally for the next training or match. Setting goals and analyzing own performances are steps that build self-awareness and develops responsibility for own actions. When we add to this list won and lost matches during tournaments, players also have to learn how to deal with success and failure and how to keep moving and focus on things that they can control. It doesn’t matter if we talk about winning forehand or getting up early for the practice to achieve these things player needs … motivation. That’s the weapon.
Without motivation it is impossible to have fruitful tennis career. You can’t build great stroke without being motivated to work hard during practice session. You can’t improve your stamina if the rain is the reason to skip endurance session. You can’t continue your journey to the top if one lost match has negative influence on your willingness to fight for every ball for the next 7 days. You can be talented, have experienced staff working with you and unlimited money to travel to numerous tournaments but these factors won’t be enough if you won’t have motivation. Motivation to stay strong, to improve, to get better and to prove yourself that impossible is nothing.
Looking at the best players in the world we clearly observe that motivation is the biggest weapon that they possess in their own repertoire. Nadal is motivated to win another Roland Garros trophy even when his trophy shelf is full of them. Roger Federer could happily retire today but his quest to win another Grand Slam title is not finished. He is motivated to prove – himself and others that age is not a limitation. Novak Djokovic shows that with motivation you can change your body to the point that people start to think of you as a machine. That’s the power. And the best fact is that motivation is not something that you are born with – it is a skill that you can develop in the same manner like you develop your strokes.
It can be surprising for many readers that one little factor has impact on so many aspects in tennis development. Now you know why Rafa Nadal is on the top all the time and why Nick Kyrgios can’t win his first Grand Slam title. In the next article I will write about controllable and uncontrollable factors that have influence on motivation