Why high achievers sometimes struggle with mastering tennis
My best advice is to start thinking LESS.
See, high achievers often have a strong work ethic, high IQ and their compass is always pointing towards the next goal and success in their life. All positive traits which have served them well in an academic setting as well as other activities where ‘thinking’ is not as detrimental to their game as it is to tennis.
The high achievers that I have come across really have that burning desire to become great at tennis and to make that school team, pennant team or even just to beat their friends. They might search on YouTube for more information and hear of some other ways to add 5% extra power on your serve. They will search through the latest racquet technology or be like a hawk looking for the edge to their tennis game. Depending on their personality and upbringing, they will also often be highly critical of themselves.
But herein lies the problem. Too much information starts to have a detrimental effect. Positive progress is one thing but overloading and squeezing the journey is like feeding yourself more than you can chew, let alone digest.
Another way to think of it is once we learn to drive a manual car, you don’t then think about moving the stick 4 cm up, 2 cm across to the right and 4 cm up again when executing your 2nd to 3rd gear change. You just do it and you eventually become flawless with it as you trust the process while paying awareness to your driving.
The best tennis is played when your mind slots into a ‘no thinking’ mode. Not a lazy, no thinking mode but a heightened awareness which can react quicker, decide quicker and stay focused longer.
Their positive, disciplined practice will serve them well and their skill acquisition can be let out of its shell once playing becomes about finding that heightened state of awareness.
So the high achiever needs to find ways to switch off the mind. This can feel totally counterintuitive to them and takes a lot of practice. At a deeper level it’s also about them losing the feeling of control and move towards taking a leap of faith on their game. Breathing helps and is probably the single best way to get the monkey out of the mind. Leave the intellectual side alone and go towards the raw yet razor sharp warrior mindset.
3 of the best ways for high achievers to ‘let go’ to improve their tennis game
- Breathing: Between every point and at the change of ends breathing slowly and consciously will help your mindset.
- Trusting: Back yourself with less evidence. Develop a deep belief that you have the ability to win (not so much about the tactics, technique and equipment).
- Simplify: A good coach will help you focus in on specific areas. Limit trying to improve everything all at one time.
This applies to those in high school years through to ladder climbing corporates, professionals and other frustrated over thinking tennis aspirants. I should add though that if a high achiever manages to work this out then they are unstoppable.
If you have not checked out Dr Timothy Gallway who wrote “The Inner Game of Tennis” do so as it can help expand this further.
Director of Tennis