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Tennis Warrior
November 2017 Article

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A Mental Reminder

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Tom Veneziano

A phrase I use often is "the next shot is more important than the last mistake." Forgetting a mistake and moving on is essential to playing more relaxed, automatic, and instinctive tennis. It is more important than the mistake itself! Unfortunately human nature has trouble moving forward after failure. This malady is universal. We all know that in order to succeed we must make mistakes, yet we have a difficult time applying that wisdom when we are failing.
To remedy this, you mustĘpractice forgetting mistakes and moving on. Here is a plan to help you. The next time you make a mistake, do not attempt to make any correction or analyze what you have done wrong. Just forget your mistake and move on to the next point. If you begin thinking, "If I had done this or that, I would have made that shot," ignore those thoughts and continue on to the next point.
But how are you going to make corrections and improve if you do not analyze your failures? Good question! Here is an even better question: How are you going to improve if you are always searching for a reason behind every failure? Many players slow down their progress because they are overanalyzing their failures instead of accepting them as part of the journey toward success. In their analysis they are actually seeking comfort: finding a reason why they failed makes them feel better about the failure, which makes it feel easier for them to move on.
Now, please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying you should never analyze. What I am saying is, most players analyze too much and recover much too slowly. They want reasons for every failure. How about this reason - you just missed!!! Accept it as part of the game and quickly move on to the next point.
Let me repeat what I stated earlier: the recovery from the mistake is more important than the mistake itself. Since recovering from the mistake is more important than the mistake itself, you should invest more time in practicing those recoveries. This is my challenge to you. For one month, do not, and I repeat, do not analyze any of your mistakes. Just move on to the next point. Play like most pros play! Most pros quickly move on from their failures and are immediately ready for the next point. They realize how crucial this is to their long-term success. So I challenge you for one month to do what most pros do automatically.
After you have mastered the art of forgetting your mistakes and moving on, then you can analyze your game. At this point you should be able to analyze without over-thinking every failure (a terrible pitfall we call "paralysis by analysis"). Keep practicing those smooth recoveries and you will begin to see many new mental options open up that you did not even know existed. You will have a glimpse into an arena of wisdom where few dare to journey.

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This column is copyrighted by Tom Veneziano, all rights reserved.

Tom is a tennis pro teaching at the Piney Point Racquet Club in Houston, Texas. Tom has taught thousands of players to think like a pro with his Tennis Warrior System.


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