Tennis tournament is a tempting environment
To become the best tennis player in the world you have to sacrifice a lot of things. This rule doesn’t apply only to tennis because it is visible in other sports as well. When your friends go to the cinema you have to practice forehands. When your class goes on the school’s trip you work on your serve. When your brother has a birthday and offers you a birthday cake you politely refuse and choose vegetables. Are all these actions required to succeed? Yes, they are but they also can backfire at times.
Tennis is a lonely sport. At the beginning it is all about the groups of friends and having a blast. Unfortunately, the better you become the less people will be there with you. Not everyone has motivation and conditions to play tennis competitively for many years. Some players drop the sport because they find friends and entertainment more attracting than hitting the balls while others just can’t continue the athletic career because they lack of money or proper coaching. That is why tournaments for 15-18 years old mostly consist of players who want to be really good and who want to just to socialize. Both groups of contenders have own reasons to participate in the competition but we have to make sure that we understand which group we want to belong to.
Human being is a complex machine that even the best minds in the world can’t understand. However there are few things that are proven for any person. These are: caring for other’s opinion and looking for acceptance. Especially at the younger age when we don’t have a lot of life experience, and our values are not finally formed we make decisions that we wouldn’t do at the age of 40 or more. It is not surprising because everyone learns from own situations and should try to avoid making the same mistakes twice but we, as coaches and parents, have to be aware of different harming scenarios that all players will meet during the tournament. Tournament is a test not only for our tennis skills but more importantly for our personality. It reveals our true athletic soul and shows if we really want to achieve our greatness on the court.
In any country in the world there are many players who are not able to effectively deal with tempting situations that exist in the competitive environment. The first step to get from the tournament only the right things is to know these temptations. If we are aware it is easier to properly act when we face this kind of situation. Below you can find why some players waste their tennis potential while being on the tennis tournament.
The number one reason why players make wrong decisions is friends. We all know that there are different kinds of people who have different impact on other human beings. Some friends will motivate us to go further while others will do everything to bring us to their own low level. As I said before players don’t understand the effects of some relationships so coaches and parents have to talk to them and explain how one bad decision can change the life forever. It is not uncommon to see tennis players not warming up before the match because they friends “advise” them to play the game on the phone a little bit longer. At the first glance it seems like something minor but injury sustained because of the cold body can be a major reason for retirement.
2. Wrong role-models
When people are young they have different role-models. Some cherish Albert Einstein while others love Justin Bieber. There is nothing wrong with each of them but we have to remember that tennis players will try to imitate and get closer to own idols. Not everyone has an access to the world stars so that is why youngsters tend to look for role-models in their older or more successful friends. Of course word “successful” means something different for 14-years old than for the parent who is over 40. For the adolescent, successful person can be a boy who has a pretty girlfriend so definitely this is not something that adults would agree with. Knowing that some tennis players who don’t focus anymore on the results can be role-models for our players we have to make sure that we talk to our students and let them know about this wrong perception. I know many players who were great athletes but they wasted their potential because they exchanged the goal of being the number one in the world for trying to become the best girl-dater within the group of his friends. Priorities are crucial so coaches have to show these priorities to players!
3. Lack of supervisory
Many parents think that if they keep their kids away from different temptations by playing tennis every day their kids won’t try to change it on the tournament. Unfortunately it doesn’t work this way all the time. Players work really hard every day so they need some outlet for entertainment and for normal life. If they don’t get it they will look to break the rules at the first possible opportunity. If players are forced to eat healthy without understanding the benefits of the energy coming from the right food they will take coke and pizza on the tournament every time they go without a parent. The same story comes with a party scenario. If coaches don’t allow young adults to go out from time to time when there are no tournaments in the coming weeks it should not be surprising that these players will party hard with friends when alone on the tournament. Everything is for people but we have know the balance.
Tennis is a beautiful sport but not all tennis players participate to achieve something great. It is not our problem to change their approach but we have to make sure that these bad personalities don’t have a negative influence on us. If your players start to travel on the tournament by themselves you have to talk to them to guarantee that they are fully prepared for the scenarios that they will face on and off the court.
About the Author
Marcin Bieniek is a tennis coach from Poland and a former professional player (Polish National Juniors Team). He is a certificated tennis coach by the Polish Tennis Coaching Association and the Professional Tennis Registry. Marcin has worked with many of the top 20 Polish Juniors and the top 150 players in the world.