I have written many times about blending together your successes and failures instead of thinking of success as good and failure as bad. Most professional athletes recover instantly from a mistake and move on to the next point without even a murmur. They have mastered the concept that failure and success are opposite sides of the same coin. For years they have been taking these two-sided coins and investing them in their mental vault for long-term dividends. The result! The top pros have acquired a greater mental wealth than the players who have not quite made this investment yet. Therefore, when the pressure is on and a top pro is not playing well he or she cashes in on some of his or her investment and often pulls out the match. What the pros accomplish appears spontaneous but their narrow escape from disaster comes from years of reaping the benefit of mental investing. Have you made any deposits into your mental account lately?
AN OFFICIAL CHALLENGE
Let's find out if you still need to make some mental investments to make future profits. Many players in match play make mistakes, then begin talking to themselves out loud about their failure -- whining and complaining, "what a horrible shot," "that's terrible," "bend your knees," "Oh no," "how bad!" and so on. Often they continue ranting until just before they serve or return serve and even then they continue to mentally dwell on the mistake.
Here is my challenge to you. The next time you play and make any mistake DO NOT SAY ANYTHING! Nothing! Zip! Complete silence! Then turn around and move to the other side to return serve or serve. Think and show confidence. If you do not dwell obsessively on failure you will be successful. But if you make a molehill of failure into a mountain of discouragement you have lost the challenge. Why? Because the more you make failure an issue, the more your thinking will be clouded in despair. You will be consumed by the moment and will forget "the next shot is more important than the last mistake."
If you have not acquired this relaxed mental attitude for when failure strikes, here is a list of reasons why.
1. You still do not get it!
No matter what anyone says to you or what evidence exists contrary to what you believe, you still will not accept that failure and success must move together toward victory. I guess we could at this point say, "It's the mental attitude, stupid."
2. Your failures consume your thoughts.
You know what the correct thinking is, but failing is still an issue in your mind. You have not yet learned through practice to forget your mistakes and move on. Maybe you continue to cling to your failures because you are not convinced you can make mistakes and still win.
3. Your emotions are out of control.
When negatives, mistakes and failures occur on the court you still do not have your emotions under control. YOU ARE REACTING TO FAILURE INSTEAD OF RESPONDING TO THE CHALLENGE. Emotions that dictate to your mentality cause you to over-think the failure and completely blow it out of proportion. You must learn to suppress this short-term emotion for the sake of long-term victory. My audio CD, "The Refocus Technique: Controlling Your Emotions in Tennis" can help!
If you cannot handle failures without whining all the time on the tennis court, then it's time to make some changes. But I caution you to not go frantically looking for some technique to make you positive. YOU have to do it! Even my CD, which is loaded with principles to help you control your emotions and improve your decisions, will not make you positive. YOU must accept and apply the principles.
So the challenge is on. The moment of truth -- "The next shot is more important than the last mistake." Are you going to whine or shine?