We all try to learn from top athletes in the world. Whether we play tennis or basketball there is a lot to take from watching Roger Federer or LeBron James in action. We can see how they move, what decisions they make and how they use own strengths to dominate opponents. Of course these are really important qualities but there is one that we can’t omit if we want to get to the top of tennis world.
Tennis performance is based on technical, tactical, physical, and mental skills. If you want to achieve your potential and get own game to the highest possible level you should take care of these areas and make improvement day by day. It is almost impossible to take all these abilities to world-class level because many times one eliminates the other. Tennis is an individual game so the players are different too. John Isner has one of the best serves on the tour but he will never be the fastest person on the court according to footwork. Agnieszka Radwanska has „gifted” hands to play drop-shots and lobs but you will never see her hitting 25 winners while returning. That is why most of the time we should focus on individual needs and look for skills that can help this specific player achieve great results.
If we look at the best players in the world it is not surprising that they all have different weapons. Rafael Nadal has tremendous forehand topspin shot. Novak Djokovic is famous of his flexibility and lethal backhand. You won’t find a stronger player on WTA Tour than Serena Williams. And then we have Caroline Wozniacki who can counter your shots like nobody else. This is just a confirmation that tennis is for everyone and everyone can be successful if he will work on his own individual strengths and weaknesses. Does it mean that we shouldn’t look for general skills that can help us get to the top? Definitely not!
In my opinion there is one skill that makes a big difference in tennis. If you develop this skill to the highest possible level you can be sure that your friends will envy your results. No, it is not a forehand. It is not a serve too. Movement? That’s a bad pick. What is that number one? That’s … an ability do deal with failures!
Maybe it looks too simple to be a magic formula for winning but let’s take a closer look at this ability. Every day you miss hundreds of shots during practice sessions. From time to time you have to deal with injuries that are not easy for any athlete. Then you go to tournament, you have 32 players in a draw and only one player will finish this competition without a loss! Do you see it now? There are failures for tennis players everywhere. If you can’t deal with them for many years in a row your performance won’t go significantly up and maybe you will even give up on tennis. That is why you should change your thinking and start working on skills that will guarantee great improvement. Your ability to deal with failures is the one to start.
At the end, let’s move back to your last lost match. How did you feel after the match? Were you motivated to practise hard the next day? How was your mood? Now you see it. Probably you weren’t happy and maybe you started doubting in your skills. That is why you have to work on ability to properly deal with failures. Learn this skill and next failure will transform into lesson!
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website http://tennisisland.us. Marcin has been working with USTA, top 60 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.