Kill Your Negativity or Why I Play Tennis

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

Learning Positivity and Determination on the Tennis Court

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a Tennis Instructor and (some of you may be groaning) I’m also a writer. I constantly write, blogs, articles, book ideas, etc. Many of the things I write about come directly from my on-court experiences. So, very shortly, my next book will be coming out. The title is Double Down: The Only 5 Doubles Tennis Strategies You Will EVER Need. I won’t be spoiling it by revealing the 5 Strategies, but I did want to release this penultimate chapter on Positivity & Determination. Let me know what you think!

Chapter 6

Maintain The Positivity & Determination

“Nobody’s journey is seamless or smooth. We all stumble. We all have setbacks. It’s just life’s way of saying, time to change course.” – Oprah Winfrey

Something we like to forget is why we started playing tennis in the first place. It’s fun! It’s a game! But let’s be clear, I have more fun when I’m winning! Sure, it’s not the only thing, but it is one thing that does contribute to how much we enjoy the game. Imagine if you will that you lost every single time you played… you would probably give up pretty quickly.

My favorite example to give is the extreme care video game designers give to making a game increasingly tougher to win, but not impossible. And they let you level up in regular increments to further motivate you to continue. Imagine how Super Mario Brothers would have fared if you could never beat the Level 1 Boss!

Tennis allows us to have similar successes. The United States Tennis Association uses the NTRP Scale to help players assess and play at their appropriate levels. Ok, it’s not perfect, but it does help regulate the game so that winning is not an impossible task.

As a tennis instructor, my job is built on helping players achieve small, manageable steps to get better and better at playing the game. But within that framework, a great deal of what I do is to help players have fun and feel successful along the way.

There are definitely times that I am not able to Get 3 Balls in the Court, or hit my shots Crosscourt, Crosscourt, Middle Middle Middle. I have days where I am not successful. But I rarely have a day that makes me think I cannot improve.

Every tennis player who has competed much will deal with this dilemma and it is crucial to master to maintain your Positivity and Determination. Does your success depend on winning or losing? Or does it depend on how well you played the game? Or does it depend on how much fun you had playing?

It can be some of all three, but it cannot be only one of those.

  • Winning / Losing: If you base your success solely on winning or losing, you will feel too much pressure and you may paralyze yourself and sabotage all of your hard work! Winning really isn’t the only thing, but neither is losing. A healthy desire to win is ok, but an unhealthy view of losing is not. Getting the “W” is only one aspect of this game!

  • How You Played: If you only care about how well you played the game, you will give up if you have a day that isn’t quite your best. Perfection is unattainable and if that is your only goal, you will fail. And every player probably has a story about a match that they should’ve won… or maybe a match that they should’ve lost! They were evaluating the result based on how well they played. Is it important to play well? As an instructor, this is probably the one I have more input on, but it’s again only part of the puzzle.

  • How Much Fun You Had: Hmmm, this is a tough one. Is it ok to go out and just be playing for fun? YES! Of course it is! Tennis is one of those great sports that can be defined as both a sport and a hobby. What’s the difference? You WIN a sport. You don’t WIN a hobby. Thought a hobby can have a positive result, such as a beautiful garden that produces vegetables, or a coin collection teaching history… but you don’t get a win or loss when you participate in most hobbies.

In a sport, for the most part, when you’re done, there is a winner and there is a loser. But a sport like tennis can cross the line into a hobby. We like to play because we fellowship with others, we get a little exercise and there’s a great deal of excitement in the eco-system that surrounds a hobby, like with new tennis racquets, new tennis shoes, new tennis clothes, etc.

So, in this book, I’m hoping to help you improve the skills that you need to have a little bit of all three of these: Wins, Playing Well & Fun! No strategy is perfect, and some of these concepts will work better for you than others, but my advice is to give them a try and remember to Keep It Simple (Tennis) Students!

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