Thursday, May 16, 2019
Kurume, Japan May 16th with temperature registered at 30º C (86º F) and feels like 38º C (100º F) with humidity and the UV index at 9 out of 11. It's blistering hot. The wind is swirling like a sandstorm making the match more like a survival game than a tennis match. Toppled that with a lot of bad line calls. It's downright frustrating. To say it's a challenge is an understatement.
As challenging as these conditions might be, they are a lightweight compared to when one feels lost with their confidence. In my opinion, confidence is not something you lose once it's acquired. It may be hidden with a lack of practice, but not lost.
I was watching a match the other day where a non-seeded player was playing against the number 1 seed in the tournament. The non-seeded player was up a set and a break in the latter part of the second set playing great tennis until it was time to close. She loses the second set and a one-sided third set. One minute she was playing brilliantly with full of confidence and the next completely lost her way. Her travel companion turned to me and proceeded to tell me that she's been struggling with her confidence.
So, the question is how do you tap into a hidden confidence? Here are three key points.
1. Setting objectives & plans
Pinpoint what your player needs. Is it tactics? Should they return down the middle to cut down return errors? Is it a higher % of first serves win? Is it to return earlier against second serves? If you want to tap into that hidden confidence, this step of setting up objectives is crucial. You need to narrow down on the specifics of the things that need attention and to have a clear idea of the what and the how. Most people can see what's wrong but not everyone knows how to fix things.
2. Keep track
After putting the objectives and plans in motion, you'd want to keep track of the progress following each practice session or a match. You can keep track either by using a scale of 1 to 10 or by percentages. Whichever method you chose, it needs to be consistent. Tracking, in addition to making sure all involved are on the same page, it helps to keep everyone focused on the things that need attention. When things are not going well, it is easy to generalize and contaminate the other parts of the game. Once a level of competency is achieved, you are ready to move into the third stage and that is to set new objectives.
3. Set new objectives
When you and your player arrive in this third step your player should be feeling better about his/ her game. They are inspired and motivated to train harder. It is important to set new objectives periodically to keep things fresh and to constantly work on improving.
Confidence is like a stroke. You spent hours upon hours mastering the skill. You might get rusty when you don't practice it but it comes back with practice. It's there on the sideline. You just need to pinpoint which stroke needs to be worked on. It is that simple!
at May 16, 2019
Friday, May 10, 2019
Ready, set, go except in a tennis match, it's game, set, and match. There are 56 female competitors in the draw here in Fukuoka with 60 percent of the players from Japan and the remaining 40% from other parts of the world. Yet, only a handful of them plays with an identity.
Establishing a strong identity, knowing with absolute certainty what you're about, gives you the competitor's edge. It's a trust that you have with yourself that when push comes to shove you can depend on you to show up to fight until the very end.
In a tennis match, there are three situations that take place to test your tennis identity.
Identity #1: toe to toe
You're both on even ground score-wise, skills wise, mentally wise, emotionally wise. You're on a deadlock keeping pace with each other waiting on the first one to falter.
Identity #2: when behind
Great competitors when playing from behind turns into this fighting machine that says "never say die" attitude. They get every ball back making you hit another ball and they refuse to lose. You will have to beat them because they are not throwing in the towel. They have this mentality of "the tough get tougher."
Identity #3: when ahead
Oh boy, look out. There is no stopping them. They are relaxed. Arms loose. Laser focused and they are not holding back. They see the finish line and they are going all out.
Tennis is a small world. Almost everyone knows everyone directly and indirectly. Players and coaches formulate their opinions on their fellow competitors very quickly. Be sure to establish a strong one for obvious reasons.
End of Day 3 - Fukuoka, Japan
at May 10, 2019
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Carpet (Outdoor) OmniCourt ProCourt (sandfilled)
One: Build trust with your feet
Two: Returns, returns, returns
Three: Understanding court character
Every surface delivers challenges and triumphs to different players. While a certain style of play is more conducive to a particular surface it does not mean you are doomed from success if you don't have the compatible style of play. Understanding the characteristics of how the ball moves after it hits the ground should give you great insights to which tools to use to be the most effective. For example, with the Omni courts, using variations on the serves with kick and slice were more effective than flat serves. That is not to say we never use the flat serves, it gets thrown in to mix things up as needed.
Tune in tomorrow for day 3.
at May 08, 2019
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
It used to be that when people asked how I was doing, I would answer good, great, or having a tough day. Then, I caught myself repeatedly saying I'm super busy; or I need more time in a day; or I'm running around like a chicken without a head. Busy, Busy, Busy. I'm sure you get the idea!
at May 07, 2019
Sunday, April 7, 2019
Best of luck this week.
Monday, February 25, 2019
Frozen hands, sweaty palms. Butterflies taking up all the space in the stomach, no room for food. Accelerated heart rate pulsating through the clothing. No, I'm not talking about a teenager falling in love.
Those were my symptoms. Symptoms that I felt every time before my match during the 18 years on the WTA tour. It was facing the unknown situation whereby the outcome has not yet revealed itself and I desperately wish for the outcome to swing my way that triggered them. The anticipation into the future instead of staying at the present.
It is normal to feel anxious before a competition. Competition in itself is not the problem. The symptoms associated with anxiety are not the problem. It's the experience that the child feels during and immediately following their performance on how you behave that dictates their association to competition and anxiety.
Let me explain. With anxieties, performance can suffer if the player can't get settled during the event. While struggling in their match, your kid will look at you or sense you (if they're playing on a further court) for support and encouragement. They are off balance. They are doubting their ability to handle the situation. During that intense moment, what you do and how you behave matter. In fact, it matters a lot. If they see your body language or facial expression of disapproval (shaking of the head, folding of the arms, tight jaw, pacing up and down, etc, etc) they will link your behaviors to their level of play. You become a reflection of their performance. On the contrary is also true, if your body language projects poise and confidence, your superstar will hook on those cues as well.
You see, it's not what you say as much as it is what your body language projects during the most intense moment when your child looks your way. You need to be mindful of what you do in the face of unpredictable situations. You can choose to project positive vibes with poise and calmness or moan and groan on every unforced error and every mishap. Whatever you choose, you can't be negative and positive at the same time. So, choose wisely :-)
It is natural to feel anxious about the things that we want to do very well at. Every child is different. Some have the maturity to tame their anxiety symptoms and settle into their match quickly and others need extra support. You want to be their solution, not become an added problem to their symptoms.
Best of luck this week.
Monday, February 4, 2019
Coaches can only do so much to help our child with their success. At the end of the day, no one loves and cares about our child at the level that we do. So, if we want our child to be all that we hope them to be, it is worth the effort to also transform ourselves so we can succeed along with them. No child left behind. No parents left behind.