The deep fear of losing
Tennis players fear the result. Fear the embarrassment of losing to someone who has poor technique and makes no great shots. Even worse, the shame of losing to someone you always beat or someone with a lower rating than you, lower ranking than you or perhaps just lower status based on your perceived tennis CV’s.
Fear and more fear prevents the whole spectrum of players. From club competitive players through to all junior and senior tournament players are inhabited by this fear.
The fear of what might happen before it even begins. The justifications made to yourself after a tough loss where you feel embarassment for your performance, regret for your conduct and a stomach ache from the humble pie.
I have played and coached for 30 years and still get the fear of losing, even in friendly matches. Its ridiculous but realistically it still happens in my mind, but a much much lower degree. My challenge is to help others start to reduce their fear.
Opportunity to learn
- Vs much better player = no fear, mindset of ‘nothing to lose’ but low expectations to win.
Opportunity to get an upset win
- Vs slightly better player = small fear, particularly if against someone you have lost to before and lack belief that you can beat them.
Opportunity for a bad loss
- Vs slightly lower player = high fear, anxiety high with decent chance of losing to them. Choking happens here and high degree of frustration and emotional instability.
- Vs much lower player = low fear, you know you can just get the ball back and ‘hack’ a victory even though you will be dissapointed with playing like that. Normally you totally need to lose your mind to lose to a player much lower but its possible!
So who is your next match and how is your fear factor?