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Tennis Warrior
February 2005 Article

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Control over your emotions!

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Tom Veneziano

The most frustrating time for me as a teacher is trying to keep players thinking positively in the face of negatives such as failures and mistakes. I tell players that mistakes happen and failure is inevitable from time to time, yet they 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 and discouraged with the immediate problem they become mentally blind and do not see the solution. The solution is understanding the principle that negatives, mistakes, and failures are part of the success process. In fact, as I have mentioned before, success and failure are two sides of the same coin. The 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 emotions control your mentality, you cannot think under pressure. You see only the problem, never the solution. Do not let your emotion dictate to your mentality, instead let your mentality dictate to your emotion.

For instance, you are learning a new technique because the old one was adequate but not improving your game. So you are making a lot of mistakes and immediately you think, "I hate this, I will never learn this technique. 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 perform correctly so you might as well go back to the old way and leave your game in a quagmire of inadequacy? This is a typical emotional reaction when choosing a short-term solution. You are more interested in protecting your little ego from failure. Feeling good about yourself is more important than learning and improving. Obviously, this is counter-productive. You may feel better about yourself for a moment, but in the long run, you will be just a mediocre player.

In a match, or when you are practicing, you must learn to overcome your terrible feelings 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 to conquer your emotions. The next time you are in a match and experiencing negative feelings, practice controlling the incorrect emotional impulse with your mentality. Remember, you control whether or not the negatives, mistakes, and failures will work for you or against you.

If you are controlled by your mentality your response will be courage under pressure and you confidently say: "the next shot is more important than the last mistake." If you are controlled by your emotion your response will be surrender under failure and you whine: "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 courage that champions must exert within themselves to play at their optimum level. Courage becomes confidence, confidence becomes stability and stability triumphs over failure.

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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.


In Tom Veneziano's book "The Truth about Winning!", tennis players learn in a step-by-step fashion the thinking the pros have mastered to win! Tom takes you Step-by-step from basic mental toughness to advanced mental toughness. All skill levels can learn from this unique book from beginner to professional. No need to change your strokes just your thinking.

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