A tennis match tends to have natural ebbs and flows. Performance is rarely consistent from start to finish, and players’ true colors are revealed when adversity arises. How do you respond when ground strokes become loose, serves are off-the-mark and the body feels lethargic? One approach is to be reactive, emotional and helpless. The other, more favorable option is to be proactive, thoughtful and open to introspection.
Are you a reactive or proactive athlete?
A reactive athlete allows immediate results to define their tennis ability during and after a match. Reactive players often mutter “If I start well, I am good” or “if my forehand is off early, I can’t get it back.” This athlete tends to take an extreme approach to matches and results, where emotion drives decisions. They do not evaluate performance during or after the match, recognizing what was done well and opportunities available for improvement. The reactive athlete wants to forget about poor results and treat a successful performance as though it should always be expected. They tend to avoid the reality of the situation.
The proactive athlete may show emotion to successful and poor performances, but response is not extreme and doesn’t last for an extended period of time. This player knows adjustments will be required to improve. Looking to draw from past experiences, the proactive player applies those experiences to current and future opportunities. Results provide insight on areas of improvement rather than ammunition to judge a performance. The proactive athlete takes time during a match to check-in physically and mentally to measure stability. Effective evaluations of performance cannot be executed when emotions are running high. Tennis players must feel they are “neutral” to assess strengths and limitations before making necessary adjustments. The proactive player looks to find a smoother rhythm, improve footwork and play deeper shots as the match evolves.
By Matt Cuccaro, Director of Mental Training for Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy
About Matt Cuccaro, Ed.M.
Matt Cuccaro is the Director of Mental Training at Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island, SC. Matt has a Master’s of Education in Counseling/Sport Psychology from Boston University and is an active member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Matt has worked with individuals in a number of sports ranging from the junior level to world-class professional athletes.
Ivan Lendl IJTA exemplifies Ivan Lendl and David Lewis’ desire to give back to tennis and develop future champions through a new-era curriculum and holistic training approach. The Academy focuses on classic fundamentals, leading-edge biomechanics, strength training / fitness and mental preparation. Lendl and Lewis subscribe to a hands-on approach with students instilling dedication, focus, hard work, motivation and overall preparation.
For more information: www.LendlTennis.com, 888.983.6647 (888-9-TENNIS) or 843.686.1529.