How To Make The Best Of Your Talent

How To Make The Best Of Your Talent

Hi, I’m a junior player who’s just started playing tournaments this year.

All my coaches as well as kids and my parents say I’m fantastic and could be top 5 in the nation if I could play that way in matches.

I used to play top kids in practice and beat them badly. But recently in a low level tournament, I lost to a kid who was EXTREMELY BAD:) he lost to alot of other kids who aren’t very good and I lost to him 6-4 6-3.

It seems as thought I am the weakest and dumbest tennis player ever mentally and during matches; I’ve never come back and won from a set down. For me, it’s either win in straight sets or lose in straight sets.

My question is do you have any tips for me with my kind of tennis mental problem? Is there any way that I can overcome this mental weakness and be positive and relaxed during matches?

Cause I feel like I’m letting my coaches, parents, and myself down when I play like that.

What you describe is one of many obstacles talented players face. Roger Federer faced the same problem when he was younger. (You might want to read his biography – The Roger Federer Story: Quest for Perfection)

Here’s what happens: you know you’re a VERY good player. You know it, your coaches tell you, your friends tell you and you can compare your tennis to the game of the rest.

You see you are better and so your EXPECTATIONS are very HIGH.

So when things don’t go according to your expectations – meaning that you don’t play fantastic tennis, maybe just an average game – then you become very disappointed.

The reality is different than the story in your mind – of good you are.

The solution?

1. Know that even though you are good, you are NOT PERFECT. Your ability to play best tennis is NOT constant. Your body and mind don’t perform at 100% every time you play tennis.

And in tennis even if you are better than someone, the real difference is just a few %. If you lose those percent on a “bad day”, you WON’T be able to play that fantastic tennis you are used to.

2. Respect the game of tennis. You haven’t analyzed tennis much yet. You are still young.

Once you start thinking about the complex movements that need to take place and all the calculations that take place in your mind before hitting the ball, you’ll see it’s almost unbelievable that we play the game.

Not to mention the infinite number of tactical possibilities that you can play and yet you still choose with very high probability the right ones.

If you understand all that, you should be HUMBLED and GRATEFUL that you can play such a complex game that well.

And sometimes, this game is even TOO DIFFICULT for you to play without problems.

In other words, your ego needs to subside a little bit. Yes, you are good, but NOT that good to master the game of tennis anytime and any place and against anyone.

The reason why the best players in the world are the best is because they fight on bad days and try and make the best of them despite being unable to play their best tennis.

They still make it to the quarter-finals or semi-finals (In most cases but not always. Remember Federer losing to Canas twice last year and once to Volandri?) and get valuable points that at the end of the year give them the edge against the rest.

3. You say: “Cause I feel like I’m letting my coaches, parents, and myself down when I play like that.”

Here’s a very important thing you NEED to do. Let your coaches and parents read my answer to you and ask them what they REALLY expect from you.

If they expect WINNING, then ask them if that is really within your control.

Can you win if you want to? Can you always play your best tennis?

Maybe they haven’t thought about it and they put unrealistic expectations and pressure on you.

Or maybe you just mis-interpret their support for you.

What EVERYONE should ask you to do and expect from you is to give your best in the current situation. If it’s a bad day, so be it. Now try and make the best of it. If you have to lose, OK, then lose like a fighter.

Give your opponent the toughest resistance you can before they can shake your hand. Even if you lose, your opponents will respect you for the fight you put into the match.

And if they don’t, then don’t take their opinion seriously. They need to grow up and mature.

In summary:

When things don’t go your way and you see that you play “just average” tennis today, ACCEPT that. The game of tennis and life is more challenging than you would like. 😉

It is that tough. Win when you don’t play your best – see it as a challenge – and then you’ll really feel confident.

Play average tennis and grind it out. Win with your fitness if you have to. Win with your mind if you have to. Win with your footwork if you have to. Win with smarter tactics if you have to.

If your strokes are not at your best, find another way. There are many. 😉

And if you eventually lose, you’ll know you gave your best. That’s the game of tennis. It’s not only about winning, it’s also about knowing how to lose as a champion, learn from the experience and respect all other good players of the game.

Related posts:

How You Can Always Finish The Practice In A Positive Way
Useful Resources For Tennis Parents
Dealing With Parent Pressure
4 Ways To Ease The Stress Of Competition For Tennis Juniors
How Should a Very Talented Tennis Junior Play The Game?

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 10th, 2008 at 4:39 am and is filed under Mental Tennis. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “How To Make The Best Of Your Talent”
Jim Says:
February 10th, 2008 at 8:30 am
I also find that when I lose matches I try to come back, but my mind just keeps saying, it’s all over. Your gonna lose.

I keep trying to stay positive but during tournaments I keep losing to people who stink. It’s squandering my talent and making me sad on and off the court. Any suggestions?


Tomaz Says:
February 10th, 2008 at 8:32 am
Yes, it’s a WAR in your mind. It’s a war between the negative voice and the positive one.

You have two approaches:

1. Fight the negative voice. It’s a tough battle and it never ends. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t.

2. Ignore it. 😉

How can you ignore it?

Let me give you an example: let’s say you ask your friend to do something for you. (Wait for you in front of the school after the class or something like that.)

So your friend is there 10 times but then suddenly one day he is not there.

Do you TRUST him the next day to be there?

Probably not. You can have 10 positive experiences and only ONE negative to lose trust. So even if he says he will be there, you WON’T believe that statement.

Do the same with your negative voice!

Can you find an example when your negative voice was WRONG? That it was telling you that you will lose and you still won?

DON’T trust it anymore. It can be wrong. You NEVER know.

Your voice claims that it knows the future. (and that it’s not worth putting the effort) But hey, you can prove it wrong.


Is it worth it for you to put all the effort JUST IN CASE your negative voice is wrong?

The choice is yours.

Another view is this: Let’s say your voice is right and you will lose. How do you want to lose?

Think about it.

Best, Tomaz

P.S. You mention squandering your talent. You WILL squander your talent a few times in your life. You are still learning and you will never be perfect. But that’s not called squandering your talent. It’s called life.


jack Says:
August 19th, 2008 at 4:16 pm
thankyou ,
i have the same problem with getting up-tight and hearing the ‘voice’ , telling me to give up .
i have a tennis match tommorow , i will try these techniques . i have great beilive in them , my coach tries to teach me to do it . i try my hardest to use it and when i have managed to do it , its pulled of .