The crowd hushes as you make your way to the line. You bounce the ball 5 times in front of your lead foot, no more, no less.
You look your opponent in the eye trying to find any possible sign of weakness.
You look within, at yourself, and try to find any possible sign of weakness.
The mark of every successful tennis player is their ability to set goals and stick with them. In tennis there can be only one best player, only one champion. Tennis is about constantly striving for more.
Improving on a daily basis no matter what your rivals are doing. No matter what injuries are taking their toll on your body and your mind.
In order to secure success down the road, you must first understand precisely what that success will look like.
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself before judging success in tennis this spring.
The sheer amount of different shots required in a typical tennis match is staggering. Outside of the big guns, forehands, backhands and serves, pay attention to the situational shots that could use work before heading into the busy outdoor season.
2. Do You Need to Win?
“Success does not have to mean ‘title’.”
Every sport is more fun when you win, but for most recreational athlete the point is not to win, it’s to exercise the body as well as the mind.
Will you consider the spring a success even if you don’t win? If so, then focus on the elements of your game that will lead to success, like improving shot selection or understanding opponent tactics better.
To learn to win you must first learn to lose.
This might sound like lunacy, but it’s true. If you can accept losing, more specifically, the reasons for losing, then you’ll have an easier time fixing the elements of your game that lead to losing.
Part of finding success in sports is recognizing the impact they have on the rest of your life. If you absolutely can’t handle losing - if it negatively affects other areas of your life, then perhaps success in tennis this spring will be identified by not playing tennis.
As Garry Valk says about his daughter Alli’s rise to junior tennis prominence, there’s always someone better.
If success means climbing the tennis hierarchy as it were, then it’s crucial to pay attention to other players around you.
Make no mistake, aiming for the top has nothing to do with professional players vs recreational ones - it’s always alright to try to win, just be prepared for the added stress accompanied by not winning.
Of your potential opponents, ask yourself:
Prepare yourself for your opponents this spring and chances are success will find you in one form or another.
Success is subjective. Particularly in a sport such as tennis where you’re mostly on your own with no teammates to help you or bring you down.
Heading into the outdoor spring tennis season, take stock of where your game is at and where you want it to be when all is said and done.
Will success show up at the end of the season?
Plan ahead and you’ll know it when you see it.