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Emotional and Mental Pitfalls

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  • Emotional and Mental Pitfalls

    Let's get your thoughts on Ben Loeb's latest article, "Emotional and Mental Pitfalls"

  • #2
    I have coached for many years and visited many local and county tournaments. In my experience, it's the fear of 'losing face' that is one of the biggest mental barriers players must overcome. At junior level it is one of the leading causes of burnout. Young players find it extremely stressful to lose to someone they (and their peers) feel they should beat. No one wants to lose face. Particular against someone you have repeatedly beaten but who has since started to improve rapidly and is now looming up as a terrible threat. I have seen this scenario time and again in junior (and it's not uncommon in adults) tennis.

    The best example we have is Roger Federer. He has everything to protect yet he goes out and doesn't give a damn about losing face. Losing is a fact of life in tennis. This is what aspiring tennis players must learn. I say learn to lose as well as you possibly can because it will make you a winner in the end.
    Stotty

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    • #3
      I really appreciated Ben Loeb's article. I am not a tennis coach but I coach academics on performance and while the fields are completely different, pressure is pressure as is competition. I found particularly wonderful the encouragement to focus on what is going well and what one did right instead of what went wrong. This for academics who trade in critiques of each other's work is precious. At the end of the day, telling the story of what went well builds compassionate self-awareness.

      a propos Federer ... I heard or read somewhere that he plays best when he likes his opponent as opposed to dislikes him. Interesting because it suggests how emotions about the opponent shape one's ability to be comfortable with aggressiveness. This follows with what Stotty says above about teens -- where being liked or not is experienced so deeply. It is hard to be aggressive if it means losing face to someone you don't like or doesn't like you.
      cheers ,Susanna

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      • #4
        Fear of Failure is rampant in my neck of the woods. It shows up in a widespread lack of 'friendly but competitive' matchplay. I have struggled to promote ladders, box leagues and ranking apps, but players have no appetite for playing and potentially losing to 'weaker' players, let alone having the result posted publicly. I'm pretty sure this must be the nature of things, but it leads to a stasis with players content in their superiority, but not improving. The irony is that everyone aspires to beat better players, but never wants to be the better player in any match, hence no matches. This thought must be so un-original that it's barely worth posting, but there we are...

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        • #5
          Originally posted by glacierguy View Post
          Fear of Failure is rampant in my neck of the woods. It shows up in a widespread lack of 'friendly but competitive' matchplay. I have struggled to promote ladders, box leagues and ranking apps, but players have no appetite for playing and potentially losing to 'weaker' players, let alone having the result posted publicly. I'm pretty sure this must be the nature of things, but it leads to a stasis with players content in their superiority, but not improving. The irony is that everyone aspires to beat better players, but never wants to be the better player in any match, hence no matches. This thought must be so un-original that it's barely worth posting, but there we are...
          I understand exactly what you're talking about. It's all the more frustrating when none of these players are ever going to make a living out of tennis. They would be so much better off learning how to enjoy a competitive game of tennis regardless of the outcome.
          Stotty

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          • #6
            Yes. We're all somewhere on the continuum of ability, doesn't really matter where, just enjoy it and try to improve. By chance, last night my children were watching classic Battlestar Galactica on Amazon Prime, with the following quote from Anders who's a star in some future-sport being interviewed:

            Look, you want to know the truth? I don't really care about the stats or the cup or the trophy, or anything like that.
            In fact, even the games aren't that important to me, not really.
            What matters to me is the perfect throw, okay? Making the perfect catch, the perfect step and block, it's perfection.
            That's what it's about.
            It's about those moments when you, ... when you can feel the perfection of creation, the beauty of physics, the wonder of mathematics.
            You know, the elation of action and reaction, and that is the kind of perfection that I want to be connected to.
            Spins and turns.
            Angles and curves.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by johnyandell View Post
              Let's get your thoughts on Ben Loeb's latest article, "Emotional and Mental Pitfalls"
              Oh yes...emotional and mental pitfalls. I've got some good advice for any of the millions of snowflakes out there on the tennis court...it's dog eat dog. If you don't like that kind of situation then you probably should be somewhere else than on a tennis court playing competitive tennis. Sure...go out and hit a few. You can't lose if you don't play. But if you want to metaphor life as the game of tennis was originally invented to challenge the human being on the physical, emotional, psychological and even spiritual level go out and keep score. Know the score and play to it. You aren't always going to win. It isn't like that, you know. So get over it and do your best. Just like in life...the meaning of tennis is to simply do your absolute best and let the chips fall where they may.

              But todays modern world perfectly mirrors modern life. I won't be surprised when the kiddies start to show up for their training with helmets. These kids can't even go for a bike ride without their head gear. Here are a couple of metaphors from the past. When I was a kid I loved my bike and I NEVER wore a helmet. When I was a kid I started playing tennis at 14 so when I started to enter tournaments guess what happened to me? I would get my ass handed to me rather frequently. It is a fact of life. You start out on the bottom and eventually you end up on the bottom. No one here gets out alive. So buck up and struggle...like the rest of the life on the planet. Ever hear of the evolution of the species? The kids nowadays go out to play by going out on the front porch with their iPhone, iPad or laptop. Technology my ass. Evolution my ass. We are in a devolution phase. Handed over the keys to AI...virtual reality. Get ready for Virtual Morality...it is already here where all of the excuses are listened to and carefully sorted and monitored and endlessly analysed to discover the root cause and therefore a thousand possible solutions.

              I love performance philosophy. I love to consider how Roger Federer prepares to go out and take on the kids nowadays. It is a fascinating and interesting subject. But when you are young and bold just go out and take the bull by the horns and either you get him under control or get ready for to hold on for dear life. You're going to learn either way. Walk away to play another day...survival. That's the goal in the end. The sixty million dollar question. Win or lose? In the end it doesn't matter. Not a twit. All of those matches that I played so many years ago...who cares? Answer: NOBODY! Play as if you don't care about anything except delivering your absolute best effort. Let the chips fall where they may.

              In another life I also managed a Quality Control Laboratory for the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan. The employees were union members. There wasn't any sort of evolution going on in that department. The collective goal of the group was to maintain the status quo. Stupid me...thinking that life was an opportunity to improve everything that you touch. To make it better. No...that isn't what human nature is. I found that each and every one of these sad excuses for human existence would come to me looking for some sort of sympathy for their individual and collective problems. It didn't take me long to realize that most people really need a good kick in the ass to motivate them.

              Tennis is one tough act. "Two players with racquets that symbolise swords or rapiers and the balls that symbolise their gonads. Trying to castrate each other." Come on. Buck up. Trust me this one has taken a turn for the worse...just as society has in general. We are in a devolutionary phase in tennis and in life. You see it in the tennis whether you are aware of it or not. Most are too young to know. Much the same as in life. In 1984 on the CBS broadcast of the semifinals of the U. S. Open (the very first Super Saturday) all four players were using oversized graphite tennis racquets for the first time in a Grand Slam event. The commercials that day were all about what? Computers, that's what. IBM, Hewlett Packard, Apple, McIntosh and all of the rest were hawking the first dinosaurs of computers. It was the day that the worm turned. But you had to be cognizantly aware by that year and if you weren't good luck in trying to sort out the reality of things...let alone tennis.

              All along when they were stealthily changing the game from the original art/philosophy based form to the brainless thumping we see today for the most part...I was screaming "they are taking the art out of the game!" Well it turns out they took more than that...they took its very soul. Metaphor to life once more...VIRTUAL MORALITY. A word that I coined...it means that the human race has rejected the notion of God for the first time of their thinking existence and replace it with the computer. Just imagine if the tennis racquet change could have that sort of devolutionary effect on the tennis player...what is the computer doing to the human race?

              "The real impact on Humans by Artificial Intelligence. I made up a word...virtual morality. You've heard of virtual reality. Virtual morality occurs when "God is Dead" and the computer become the deity. It's happening. This is what all of this modern thinking is about...virtual morality. Rewriting human values and existence with the cold, clinical morality of a hard drive." - don_budge

              I used to say that tennis and golf were God's gift to humanity in terms of recreation. Now I am not so sure. Man has made an intervention. Mucked it up as usual.

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