Many of our girls on the tennis team have expressed a desire to be stronger mentally. You see, some have been up in matches only to let their leads slip away and end up losing—sound familiar? So, I started re-reading The Fearless Mind by Craig Manning. It’s a book I picked up in Costco when Craig was there promoting his book awhile back. I’ve known about Craig for some time. He was the head women’s coach at BYU for a number of years and really got the program back on its feet. He now works with athletes from various sports as a sports psychology consultant and with his father-in-law’s company, Griffin Hill Consulting, as a mental strength conditioner (interesting title!). I recommend Craig’s book; it’s a quick read and it has taught me a lot about myself and it has helped with my mental game as well—I’m sure it can help you too!
While I was reading the other night, I came across these paragraphs:
“Just as it takes hours, days, and even years to perfect a forehand, it takes hours, days, and even years to learn to control our minds. At high levels of performance, one wrong thought can be very costly. That’s why it is so much fun: the challenge of performing a task so well we don’t know how we could do it better, the joy in testing our limits. This is why we push ourselves toward perfection.”
“I remember loving to hit the ball when I first started playing tennis, but more than anything I loved trying to master the skill sets required of the sport. I got addicted to tennis while I was still playing baseball and football (rugby league) (he’s an Aussie if you didn’t know). I loved game days for both baseball and football, but practices were boring. Tennis was fun every day, whether it was a match or just practice. I loved seeing my progress every time I stepped on the court. There were so many skill sets to master. It got to the point where I had to play every day of the week. As the years rolled by, I realized I wasn’t so much addicted to tennis as I was addicted to self-mastery. I loved seeing how good I could get performing each stroke.”
It was like I was reading about myself. How many of you feel the same way? My bet is that many of you can relate to this!
Tennis is such a physical and mental sport. It takes years of physical practice to become a good player; and, it takes just as long, if not longer, to master the mental side of the sport also. Just like Craig, that is what I love about this beautiful game. And, that is why I am a tennis junkie/addict. There, I said it, confession is good for the soul!
One last thought on our team’s mental strength conditioning (I really like that title!): Many high school coaches don’t address the mental aspect of the game; they just don’t have the time. When you’re trying to teach 25+ young ladies about tennis strategy and how to hit forehands, backhands, etc., it’s almost impossible to provide individual, or even group, mental training. It seems that most of our mental training takes place during match play when we’re providing on-court coaching—you know, here a word of encouragement and there an observation! Hopefully, as we continue to work with the girls, their mental game will continue to develop just as their physical game is developing. I’ve already seen progress in our girls’ mental game and I’m sure with more experience they’ll figure even more out.
Tennis, it’s a journey and an adventure! And, for some an addiction!
See you on the courts!
This article was written by admin