In my last article in this new series for Tennisplayer, we looked at techniques for developing confidence. (Click Here.) Now let's look at some of the pitfalls many players encounter and must strive to overcome in that pursuit.
The first pitfall is learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is the belief that you can't change the course of negative events--that failure is inevitable and insurmountable. This is an ego protection mechanism.
When an athlete sees himself as victimized by the circumstances, he performs as if he were helpless. The belief is that failure is beyond the athlete's control, and nothing can be done about it. These players tend to have lower expectations and give less effort.
They may blame referees or umpires for their mistakes, or the wind, the heat, or the cold. They may exaggerate hurts and pains to have an excuse in case they don't win. Learned helplessness can also include the belief that opponents always get lucky breaks.
Ben Loeb has been the varsity tennis coach for the boys' and girls' teams at Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Missouri for over 30 years. His teams have won more than 1000 dual matches, made 38 appearances in the final four of the state team championships, and won 17 state titles. Been also teaches a high school sports psychology class and has used the principles he has developed to help hundreds of players to overcome the mental and emotional challenges of playing winning competitive tennis.
Ben's new book, Next-Level Coaching, outlines the principles he has developed over his career as a player and a championship coach to help overcome the mental and emotional challenges of playing and enjoying competitive tennis. It includes detailed self-assessment questionnaires and plans of action to help any player our coach use sports psychology to reach the next level.