Tennis players learn new things every day. They practice forehands and backhands to make sure that they can finish these easy balls from the middle of the court. They spend many hours in the gym to be stronger, faster, and to prevent possible injuries. They also put some extra effort to develop mental habits and create healthy nutritional habits because these aspects have positive impact on performance. Does it mean that we coaches do a great job if the results are right? Unfortunately that is not all.
Some coaches value more tennis skills over life skills while others have completely opposite approach. I believe that to truly develop successful tennis players we have to incorporate both areas into daily development plan. Forehand and honesty. Backhand and responsibility. Drop shot and gratefulness. Only by focusing on athletic and personal improvement at the same time we can grow in the fastest possible way. That is why it is crucial that coaches remind players how important values are. On and off the court. If you have wrong values you will have many obstacles on your road. Many more than any other person. Nick Kyrgios knows something about it…
So what are these values? Honesty. Integrity, Responsibility. Care. Gratefulness. Respect. And any other value that makes you a better person. I know that some coaches and players believe just in results. If they win nothing else matters. But I don’t buy it. Values are much more important than results. Even at the top level values not only make you a better person but they also help you with your athletic career. Read on and you will see what benefits are hidden behind being a good person.
Tennis is a school of life and that is why we face many opportunities every day to work on our values. When we lose the match we can work on integrity. When we miss an easy shot we can strengthen our responsibility. When we win big tournament gratefulness is the skill to focus on. And so on and on. If you believe that tennis is only about hitting the ball you are wrong. It is much more than that. And if you want to be successful you have to include this knowledge in your daily activities.
Do values offer benefits for tennis players? A lot of them. Let’s see a few to make sure that it is worthy to be a good person:
Good values = Good performance
If you work on your values you also improve your performance at the same time. Imagine that you miss the ball and you take full responsibility for this shot. This „right” approach allows you to grow as a tennis player because you are going to learn from your mistake and apply proper adjustments in the next shot. On the other hand if your values are weak and you blame your hitting partner or the coach for your mistakes you will stay in the same spot for many weeks in a row. Values really improve your game so focus on them!
Good values = Friendly environment
Your environment has a lot of impact on your well-being and your game. If you are on the tournament it is really beneficial for your game if you practice with different players. You are allowed to deal with different styles and various decisions so you learn how to quickly adapt to changing factors. But this scenario is only possible if you have good values. If you cheat on the court or talk behind your friends back nobody will want to practice with you or even share the room with you. And of course if you will play the match gues who they will be supporting?
Good values = Huge opportunities
Being a good person shouldn’t be done for any external benefits. If you want to care about others you should do it without any expectations. But I have good news for you. People who have strong values definitely attract more opportunities than people who don’t. For tennis players it is important to have lucrative sponsorships which guarantee financial safety. Look at Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios. Both are top tennis players but only one of them have to reject some deals. Why is that? Values is the answer. Why does Rafael Nadal own clothing signature and Jerzy Janowicz doesn’t? Here we come again. Values. So is it worthy to be a good person?
There are some priceless things in life and values definitely fit this category. Money and championships can make your life easier but you will be remembered more for who you are than what you get. Make sure you have strong values as a tennis player because career lasts 30 years but you have many more left as a human being.
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website http://tennisisland.us. 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.