Tennis is a game of errors. Even at the highest levels of the game, players usually hit more errors than winners and at the recreational level the amount of errors far exceeds the amount of winners!
Keeping this in mind, I believe it is unrealistic and foolish for players to get upset with almost every error that they make.
If you get upset when you make standard errors that are currently a normal part of your game, then essentially you are lying to yourself and not accepting the reality of your playing level.
This will in the long run, result in frustration, more errors, and can even kill your motivation to play the game.
By setting unrealistic expectations and acting accordingly on the court, most players try to send the message that they are usually much better and don’t make these kinds of unforced errors.
Unfortunately, the more often you lie to yourself like this, the more you undermine your self-confidence on the tennis court, the less you will enjoy the game and the more errors you will make!
Even in those rare cases that you meet your unrealistic expectations, will you only be satisfied for a very short period of time because players that have overly high expectations will usually find a way to readjust those expectations so that they will quickly be unsatisfied again.
The unfortunate part about this is that usually players with unrealistic expectations do not realize what they are doing. The expectations have been developed at a subconscious level over a long period of time and that makes it somewhat difficult to change them.
Oftentimes coaches and practice partners might tell you, that your expectations are out of line and that they are holding you back, but to you they seem realistic and therefore you will be reluctant to give them up!
The best players look at errors first and foremost as learning opportunities! This is part of a mindset that is primarily concerned with learning and enjoying the process rather than winning and short-term results.
So unrealistic expectations about errors lead to long-term frustration and more errors, whereas realistic expectations make room for learning from your errors and therefore making less errors in the long run!
Take Aways For Your Game:
So now let’s talk about how you can effectively go about adjusting your expectations and looking at errors as learning opportunities.
In general you need to be aware that realistic expectations are necessary for you to improve. It is very counter-productive when you set your standards so high that you cannot achieve them on a regular basis!
First of all you need to be aware that you spent many years on the tennis court building up the expectations you currently have about your tennis game. Therefore, developing more realistic expectations can only be viewed as a long-term project.
If your expectations are unrealistically high, then you need a system change rather than just a short-term change!
So What Are Good Expectations ?
If setting unrealistically high expectations for yourself is not the right way to go in order to maximize success and have a lot of fun along the way, then what are some good expectations to have regarding your tennis game ?
Personally, I believe that the only expectation you should have on the court is to try your best in regards to whatever you are currently trying to accomplish with your game!
So if you are working on your forehand technique for example, you could expect yourself to prepare as well as possible and try to execute the forehand with your new technique as often as possible. At the same time you don’t judge yourself by the outcome and instead only judge yourself by whether or not you tried your best in regards to executing your new technique.
These expectations will give you the best possible chance of improving your forehand as quickly as possible and enjoying the process at the same time!
For most players it is a long process to get to the point where you simply judge yourself by whether or not you prepared well and tried your best to execute the way that you wanted to execute. Nevertheless, it is a very worthwhile path to pursue!
We are all very used to judging ourselves by the outcome of whatever we are doing. Nevertheless, everybody can take small steps in the right direction and as a result enjoy the game more!
Concrete Action Steps:
#1: Write Down Expectations That Make Sense For Your Game
I highly recommend you spend 15 minutes to write down what you think are realistic/healthy expectations for your tennis game. Then go ahead and compare that to what you currently expect of yourself.
Most people will realize that there is a disconnect between these two.
As mentioned before I try to expect only the following on the court: Try my best to execute those things that I focus on (like hitting up on my serve for example or executing a certain game plan) and then accept the outcome with ease
#2: Consistently Remind Yourself Of The Expectations You Want To Have
The only way to achieve real change in your subconscious mind is having a new and different experience on the court. This experience can usually be initiated by consistently reminding yourself of what you want to expect and what you don’t want to expect.
Personally, I try to guide my thought process in the following direction: “All I care about today is executing my game plan and working towards whatevery I currently try to accomplish. If I focus on that and not the results, then I will improve and play better in the long run!”
Once you do that on a regular basis and start to realize that you feel better on the court with this mindset, you are well on your way towards creating a new subconscious belief system!
Improving and making less errors will then take care of itself!
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