No 1 reason why tennis players fail

Failure is a part of the process. It doesn’t matter if you are playing tennis or you are starting a business because you are going to fail. There is nothing wrong with some setbacks but you have to learn from these experiences. If you made a mistake one time it means you didn’t have an answer. If you did it twice it means you didn’t prepare.

All of us have different tennis goals. John in Los Angeles wants to get to UCLA and play college tennis. Kei in Osaka wants to improve his game just to be able to play with his friends. Joanna in Germany will do everything to chase her dreams of becoming the next No 1 player in the world. All these players have different goals but they have to go through the same process. They have to focus on technical, tactical, physical, and mental skills to get better every day and get closer to own dreams. It doesn’t matter where you are right now – what really counts is direction you are heading for.

We love success stories. Williams’ sisters starting in garage and becoming the best players in the world. Lebron James didn’t have anything and now he is one of the best in the history of basketball. I could give hundreds of more examples which we all love to hear because they are motivating. They push us forward and make us do this extra repetition. But life is not easy. There are many success examples but there are definitely much more failures. People who don’t get accepted to colleges. Juniors who have to retire because of serious injuries. Amateur players who come back home angry because they are not able to win a match. All these examples show that failure is present in tennis world. We can’t erase it but we can definitely limit its occurrence.

To address any issue, firstly we have to understand it. From my experience I can say that No 1 reason why tennis players don’t achieve their dreams is complaining. Yes, activity that we see every day. Complaining is easy because it puts responsibility for our failures on external factors. Players use them as a shield to be free from burden of being responsible for own weaknesses.

By working with different levels of players I can easily make a list of most common factors that players complain about. These are:
– tennis balls
– tennis courts
– weather conditions
– racquets/strings
– hitting partner/coach
– fatigue
– drills

It is impossible to achieve your greatness with complaining approach. It is all about responsibility. If you miss the ball into the net you are responsible for that. If you are tired during the second hour of practice it is your fault. If you can’t control the ball with the new racquet it is your weakness. Stop complaining about external factors to make your internal dialogue much more effective. If you take responsibility for all your actions you will improve at much faster pace. When I hear players complain about string or bee flying close to their head I ask them straight: If little insect can ruin your game how do you want to become the next champion? How are you going to deal with serious injuries during your career? How are you going to cope with long losing streak on the tour? How are you going to respond when opponent will punish your weakness from the first to the last point of the match? The answer is: you are going to break down. The first and only step to develop character and improve your skills every day is responsibility. Be brave and deal with positive and negative situations. If you do this you can be sure that this way is the right one leading to your dreams.

Remember – complaining is a weakness. It doesn’t do anything instead of blaming others, not yourself. This is not the way top players walk every day. If you want to be the best you have to be responsible!


Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website Marcin has been working with USTA, top 100 ITF and WTA/ATP players. He is a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines and he was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA. 


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