There is something you should understand about developing mental toughness or aspiring to be a Champion - YOU are in the minority! In everything from training concepts to match play philosophies, club players and the status quo think one way and Tennis Warriors think another. For instance, forgetting mistakes and moving on is a Tennis Warrior philosophy and not the way the majority of players think. Therefore, in certain circumstances you will be challenged by other players. They will make you feel like you are wrong, and they may even tell you that you are wrong. Are you up for it? Champions welcome the challenge; you should too. You must learn to stand on your own two feet and remain confident. Tennis Warriors go it alone.
I remember teaching a lesson where I was hitting ball after ball to one of my students. We were working on his backhand, using little technical instruction but hitting loads of balls (tennis warrior style!). Another pro was watching and apparently upset that I was not constantly making corrections. Now keep in mind, both my student and I were having a blast hitting hundreds of tennis balls. I was slowly training his mental attitude to not over-think and to let his physical game develop from the intense practice.Ê
I noticed the pro slowly coming over to my court. Since this had happened to me before, I knew what was about to occur. Sure enough, the pro wanted to know why I was not saying much about my student uncoiling from the shoulder and coming around too much. I explained that in time, with many hits and improved timing, balance, ball judgment and muscle sense, this so-called bad habit will disappear. We debated a little bit and he walked away scratching his head. Apparently, this pro likes to micromanage his students' strokes and my intense repetition training did not fit the mold. Therefore, to him, I was wrong. Tennis Warriors go it alone.
Those of you who play on teams will often be pressured to change your ways and conform to the "failure is bad" mentality. In the beginning of a match you may be thinking correctly and slowly developing your timing and rhythm, but the moment you make a mistake you will be encouraged to change your path. Everyone on the team will agree, "You're failing...it's bad!" You may think to yourself, "Am I wrong? I thought I was supposed to work myself into the match and not panic. I was beginning to feel some rhythm." In addition, players are telling you to bend your knees, stop running through the ball, or not to hit this way or that way. To compound your confusion, the advice you receive often comes from better players who are winning. Yet just because these players are better than you or are winning does not mean they know what is best for you! Tennis Warriors go it alone.
The truth is, the majority of players do not make decisions based on correct principles, but on what feels good. This really is the way most players think. But this is NOT the way Champions think. Whether learning, playing or practicing, Champions suppress their incorrect emotional feelings for the sake of long-term victory. If you attempt to follow this pattern, do not expect other players to understand... they won't. And neither will many coaches. Tennis Warriors go it alone!
Do not be dissuaded from your Tennis Warrior goals when everyone is either opposed to you or does not understand you. For the most part, this opposition is an excellent indication that you are on the right track.
Can you see it yet? Compared to what is being taught in the tennis industry worldwide, the top players and Champions have a completely different way of thinking. Now, why are most players and the tennis industry doing the opposite of what they see in the way pros think and play? Because the majority of people (coaches included) watch a tennis match on television as an intellectual and objective exercise. Nothing personal is involved, just objective analysis. But then when they head for the courts, their focus changes to a more emotional and subjective experience. What they see on television does not translate into application in their world. If you are one of the few who can make the correct application, you are in the minority.
Tennis Warriors go it alone. Hang in there!