Analyzing Your Effort In Tennis Matches
One of the main reasons why you lose games and eventually matches is because you don’t give 100% of effort all the time.
You may feel down, frustrated or disappointed (you’re in a low activation state) or you may feel angry, upset or nervous (you’re in a high activation state). In either case, you’re not giving 100% of effort at that moment.
You may also feel somewhat tired and your body’s natural response is to save energy. If you’re not mentally strong enough to overcome those impulses, you’re again not giving 100% of effort.
I am currently working on the mental game with a 13 year old girl tennis player, who competes in National junior tennis tournaments.
The score from a few of her matches suggested lots of ups and downs and I decided to check what’s going on with the effort level in those matches.
I simply asked her to mark the games where she gave 100% effort and mark the games where she didn’t put 100% effort.
She lost one match 6-4, 1-6, 5-10 (final set was a tie-break) and I instructed her to make a table where in one column she marked the games where she played 100% and in the other games where she didn’t play 100%.
This is what she wrote:
100% effort less than 100% effort
until 4-3 4-3 to 4-4
4-4 to 6-4
0-0 to 1-1
1-1 to 1-2 1-2 to 1-6
And in the tie-break about 50% of the time…
Then I asked her to add all the games where she played 100% so that added up to 7+2+1 = 10. She did the same for the games whe didn’t play 100% and that added up to 1+2+4+1 (tie-break) = 8
So she played 10 games with 100% and 8 games with less than 100% effort.
Then I asked her how many games she wins if she plays with 100% and how many if she plays with less than 100%.
Out of 10 games she won 7. And out of 8 games where she didn’t give her 100% she won 1 game.
That really helped her understand the cause which is effort and the consequence which is the score.
She won 7 out of 10 games when playing 100% and 1 out of 8 games when playing less than 100%.
We met next week after another tournament and did the same type of analysis.
She played 15 games with 100% and 5 games with less than 100% and still lost the match.
One week later we met again a day after her loss in the second round of under 16 tournament and she was very pleased. She said that she played well and felt good about her game.
We did the analysis and she played (2-6, 3-6) 17 games and ALL of them were played with 100% effort.
She then realized that giving 100% effort is the key to playing well and it’s the key to feeling good about yourself even if you lose the match.
By giving 100% effort you cannot blame yourself for losing (the feeling of guilt destroys self-confidence!) since you cannot give more than all you’ve got.
The opponent was simply better and it’s easier to accept that and accept the loss as a normal part of competitive tennis.
What was really interesting in her case was that she remembered very clearly which games she played with full effort and that she was honest about that and shared that with me.
Only by being totally honest with yourself you can grow and move forward in this part of the mental game of tennis.
Once you know the relationship between effort and the likely outcome, you are free to choose 100% effort or not. Note that I never forced her to play with full effort, I simply made her aware of the relationship between effort and the score.
She is free to choose whatever she wants as long as she knows the cause and effect.
And what may be so trivial to a coach or a parent watching the match – seeing that your player is not giving 100% and therefore losing more games – is NOT so logical and trivial to the player especially at this age and under stress on the court.
Have your player go through the effort analysis shown in this article and they’ll become much more aware of the cause and effect when it comes to giving full effort.
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This entry was posted on Monday, January 4th, 2010 at 2:59 am and is filed under Mental Tennis, Tennis Coaching. 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.
One Response to “Analyzing Your Effort In Tennis Matches”
Arturo Hernandez Says:
January 15th, 2010 at 3:28 pm
Interesting! It is possible to give too much effort? Sometimes a player can try too hard.