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Hardscrabble Scramble
November 2000 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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Goal Setting

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Mike Whittington

I'm a big believer in setting specific goals in tennis. I think it is a way to track your progress and note your improvement or lack of improvement. Setting a goal is similar to having a game plan for a match. It is your road map to accomplish a specific objective. The same players that usually approach a match with no game plan are the same types that have few, if any, goals.

Your goals could be very simple. They could be to learn a new serve, achieve a certain ranking, or defeat a special opponent. Regardless of your end result, setting the goal helps you to focus on what you are trying to achieve. Then you can actually see your progress and know if you are going in the right direction. If not, then you might need some help in achieving your goals. It is important to know your own strengths and weaknesses so that you can establish realistic goals. A high school junior that has been playing tennis for a couple of years might have his/her sights set on making the team. However, turning professional before graduation is not a realistic goal!

Set long term as well as short-term goals and also list your ways to achieve them. This could be done through more competition, practice, etc. Think about how you practice and if it is beneficial to you achieving these goals. If you want to learn a slice backhand, do you have time set up to practice it? Do you only occasionally use it during a practice match? If it is a shot you want to add to your game then it is something that takes time and effort.

Write down your goals and track them along the way. Sometimes it is a good idea to talk to your teaching professional about what you want to achieve in your game. You know from my previous articles that I think it is important to go to a lesson with specific shots to work on and achieve a small goal in each individual lesson. By tracking your improvement you'll see that you are more focused and improving at a faster rate. Set your goal, set your map to improvement, and watch your game improve over the winter.

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Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


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