One of the most frustrating things for me as a teacher is to try and keep players positive in the face of negatives. Even after being told that negatives will occur, players still have difficulty. Handling negatives, mistakes, and failures is tough for everyone. When it comes to negatives, most people have a short-term focus. Players become so preoccupied with the immediate problem they become mentally blind and do not see the solution. The solution is a long-term focus that understands the principle that negatives, mistakes, and failures are part of the success process. In fact, as I have mentioned before, success and failure are the same, the only difference is success gets up and keeps moving.
The question is -- why do players have such a short-term focus in the face of these negative obstacles? The one-word answer is -- emotion! Their mentality is being controlled by their emotion. Here is a principle you should remember. When emotion controls your mentality you will make decisions that offer only short-term solutions, but when your mentality (with the correct information) controls your emotion you will make decisions that have long-term solutions. Do not let your emotion dictate to your mentality, instead let your mentality dictate to your emotion.
For instance, you are learning something new and making a lot of mistakes. Immediately you begin thinking, "I hate doing this, I will never learn it. If I went back to the old way I could do it much better." Now, do you think this makes a lot of sense? You have been working on a new technique a whole five minutes and you just cannot do it correctly so you might as well go back to the old way. This is a typical emotional response of choosing a short-term solution. You are more interested in protecting yourself from failure and feeling good about yourself than you are about learning and improving. Obviously this is counter-productive. You may feel better about yourself for a moment, but in the long run, because you have not learned correctly, it will catch up with you -- and then what?
Whether you are in a match or practicing, you must learn to override the terrible feelings you experience when you fail. How can you do this? By constantly choosing to control your emotions with your mentality. That is why they call it MENTAL toughness. You keep the correct perspective by using your mentality. The next time you are in a match and experiencing negative feelings, practice controlling the incorrect emotional response with your mentality. Remember, you control whether or not the negatives, mistakes, and failures will affect you.
If you are controlled by your mentality your response will be "the next shot is more important than the last mistake," but if you are controlled by your emotion your response will be "the last mistake is more important than the next shot." It is your choice! Stop letting your emotion dictate to your mentality and you will begin experiencing the mental control that champions must exert over themselves to play at their optimum level.