How to Focus on Tennis
After speaking with other colleagues about competitive tennis, and about how to train a player to compete without becoming a victim of psychological deterioration, I have come up with the following reflections. First of all, a big mistake is usually made when one only wants results, whether it be in a match, a tournament, a season, or so on. They say things like, “If I lose in singles, I won´t play doubles,” or, “If this year I don’t rank x position, I´m giving up tennis.” I remember these phrases well, because I also said them. But at one point, I realized that this approach to competition was very difficult to obtain results. I began to wonder: what am I competing for, who am I competing against, and what is the use of competing this way? One day I heard José Higueras, who trained Jim Courier (a former star athlete in the tennis world) say, “If Jim just plays for money I won’t train him.” My first response was to say that Courier had so much money that this comment could not possibly matter to him. Later, I understood that it was actually my own justification I was listening to, and that if I was playing tennis it was because I had chosen it myself. Courier had not only chosen it as a job. It was his way of life, and money was not his only objective. Therefore, once I changed my objective to improving, my attitude towards the result began to change. I played and fought, without thinking where it would lead me. I could win or lose, but the most important thing for me was to analyze my own performance, or how I had played. I learned not to compare myself to others. I learned that every person has a capacity, a style of playing, and a different moment to shine. It’s a lie that one can´t play over the age of 18. Statistics show that the average age of great players is around 25. To succeed in any profession, one needs work and time, or else wouldn’t a doctor graduate in a year? The most important thing to consider is whether or not one is willing to make the effort. The next thing to think about is what you want to be.
Ask Yourself, Do I Want to Be a Tennis Player?
During my years as a player, I had many moments of doubt, and twice I thought about quitting. Today, I realize that that would have been a big mistake. I love tennis, and if I stopped playing it would have been because I wasn’t seeing better results. Today, I give thanks to tennis for everything it gave me. Thanks to this sport, I developed a strong will, discipline, responsibility, and patience, among other things. Therefore, for me, tennis is a means, a means by which to develop as a person. It is a means to meet people from different countries, customs, and traditions. It is also a medium that helped me face problems, those that I created and those created by my opponent. This beautiful sport cannot be limited by thoughts of winning, or a silver metal, because that restrains us the possibility of growing. If we dedicate ourselves to working to improve a little bit each day, we can see changes, and the panorama widens, changing our life in the end. I challenge us to have tennis be a part of our lives and not to live for tennis. Winning is not the only thing that matters. There is something else, something greater that awaits us. The important thing is to learn to work hard, and the result will simply be the consequence of this.
Coach Guillermo Minutella