Mental preparation Tennis
3 tips to become stronger mentally
How can we be stronger mentally? The Tecnimag has some advices for youRead more
We always say that in tennis, you have to enjoy in order to perform. When we lose, after a good match, we sometimes even think that the important thing is that we took pleasure. But what is the pleasure on a tennis court? Is it essential to keep motivation, continue to train?
Today we begin our ‘Coach Fonvet’ saga: this character enlighten us about some indispensable notions in tennis, starting with pleasure and motivation.
Antoine: Hello coach Fonvet, I would like to talk with you about the idea of pleasure. I often read that sportsmen seek pleasure, that it is important to have good results and for the training. What do you think?
Coach Fonvet: Hello, Antoine, why are you talking to me about pleasure? Is it something that is affecting you actually in your training?
-Yes, I feel that I like less what I’m doing in training. And I read that it's important, so I'm wondering…
-Always good to ask questions... even better to look for answers, so...
-I read books about mental, they talk about having fun. I do not always have fun when I’m playing or training... Do you have any advice to give me?
-Thank you Antoine for asking me this question, because it is a subject that concerns me. Pleasure is one of the foundations of our availability and our effectiveness in our work, coach or player. I confirm that pleasure is essential, but it's about knowing what is the pleasure we're talking about! What is the meaning of this word? For you, for example, what is pleasure?
-For me, it's winning! At training, I do not like losing and I quickly lose the pleasure of playing. That's what my coach says, because I tend to get upset, and to withdraw.
-And the pleasure? Because you only talk to me about winning and not having pleasure while losing.
-Yes, it's true! But that’s because for me, pleasure is just winning. The pleasure of becoming a high-level player, a professional. Who plays the big tournaments.
-Now, I feel like you speak to me about your dream and the joy that you would have reaching this dream…
-Yes, but that's my pleasure, otherwise tennis does not interest me so much...
-Be careful to the terms "pleasure" and "dream" by the way! They are often used right and wrong. Use your dream as a motivation, but you'll have to turn it into more attainable goals, clearer, more precise, more short-term! A small step every day to move in the direction of your dream. But let’s go back to the notion of pleasure, the pleasure of being on the field, for training or in a match, when you win or when you lose...
-Well, it's also being with friends and laughing...
- A first element that I must clarify with you.
- You know the pleasure, for me it's not just laughing and having fun. In the sport of good level, it is often a confrontation with yourself and your limits. It becomes the pleasure of the research, of a better control of your shots, a better way of playing, a better way to deal with pressure. It's often frustrating and it's hard, mentally, physically, emotionally, and yet you get pleasure from it. A deep satisfaction.
-It's very selfish no?
-Not selfish, because it can be shared, but for me it's personal. I like this definition of the success of John Wooden, UCLA's famous basketball coach in the university, whom I inspire me to define pleasure: "this peace of mind to know that I gave the maximum to become the best I am capable of becoming”. And you, what are you looking for on the court?
Pleasure is often a confrontation with yourself and your limits.Coach FonvetImaginary Coach
Antoine : Well I come to training for...
Coach Fonvet : I cut you off, do you come to training, or do you train?
-Well, I don’t know really. Why are you asking me this question?
-Because it is fundamental! If you come to training, you come to "consume" training. When you come to train, you come as an actor, proactive in the content and the form of the training! You are appropriating what is going on, and the state of mind is of a different nature. Pleasure comes also from the fact that you are active in its elaboration!
-I will think about it... but it is true that often I come because it is necessary...
- Think about it, before going to training. 5 minutes before, take a quiet time, alone, to take stock. Do you want to consume or to be an actor of your effort?
-I'm going to try!
-Now, to go further, more than the word pleasure, we can seek a feeling of inner joy!
-Yes, my coach repeats me constantly (Antoine takes a solemn posture) "here and well present"! This moment of the training or during the match, I must create it as a pleasant moment, in harmony, free, full of hope, intense, joyful, relaxed, warm ... Whatever happens!
-You learned the lesson! And do you do it? Do you believe in it?
- Antoine : Not always, it's hard! And then often I have no joy, this moment is quickly ruined by my faults and when I lose, it's so frustrating...
- Coach Fonvet : The answer can be to accept the situation as it is, and not as you would like it to be. To know how to adjust to the sensations and feelings of the moment, and constantly adapt.
-And then, the mistake is a moment of learning, of pleasure to face its limits but also to see areas of progress. We often say that we learn more in the defeat than in the victory, and it's true!
-I see a lot of young players who are interested in tennis very early. It's new for them, they are so enthusiastic in this phase of curiosity. Their motivation is huge.
-And then, when the level goes up ...
-Yes, I have friends who stopped tennis while they were so motivated at the beginning!
-This phase is characterized by an awareness of the efforts that will have to be made to acquire the new skills. This can provide an important motivation for starting a new project and learning new things. But it can also create a real sense of discouragement in front of the work that faces us.
-It's me... I continue but I do not know if I'm progressing. There is still so much to do and I feel fickle...
Pleasure is fundamental. This is the key to stay motivated in the face of complex challengesCoach FonvetImaginary Coach
-Coach Fonvet : That's why pleasure is fundamental. This is the key to stay motivated in the face of these complex challenges, that require patience, determination and self-sacrifice. The coach plays a fundamental role there. By means of the exercises he proposes, but also of the attitude and behaviour that he adopts with his player. He must adapt to him and communicate with him all the time!
- Antoine : It is true that my coach helps me a lot, he supports me all the time!
-There, you touch an important element of the pleasure: it is a shared feeling. Taking pleasure is also giving pleasure! The pleasure is much greater and durable if it is not selfish.
-Have you had players with whom you had this relationship?
- I trained players with whom I had to adapt.
I give you 4 concrete examples.
With a first player I had to be reassuring, this player needed security. He wanted to obtain guarantees and evidence on what he was told, constantly check and rely on facts. As a coach, I must be precise, logical in my explanations with this type of player, what I demonstrate must be specific. I could not make him some unclear and illogical explanations. His pleasure was to understand and be consistent with himself. At the end of practice, when I had done the explanation work, he was reassured and confident.
Another player had to be challenged permanently! He needed to overcome obstacles, achieve goals, win and surpass himself. He wanted quick results. My training for him had to be very "match oriented", with sequences that he could use during the points, intensity, pressure. His pleasure was to show that he was the strongest. At the end of practice, he was reassured and confident when I managed to put him in a match challenge situation, pushing him always further.
A third needed harmony and support. To be loved, accepted. By me and also within the group around him, with his training partners. His pleasure was created by the group. He was reassured and confident when I did a work of group cohesion and sharing.
The last one needed to shine, especially in public. To be congratulated and recognized. For him a training should be synonymous with challenge, creativity, recognition. He was reassured and confident when I let him build his own training with me and when I congratulated him for that...
-It's funny, I feel like you are describing some players of my team!
Well, I have to go to training... (Antoine stops) Uh, sorry, I'm going to train!
- (Coach Fonvet, amused) So what have you remembered of this exchange?
-For me the pleasure, it is the fact to be with the friends, to be in a group, and to win! But I want to win so much that sometimes, losing ruins the pleasure of playing. I think I need to think better about how to create and maintain that inner joy of playing, whatever the score of the match and the quality of my game. And mostly, I have to stop getting angry too quickly as soon as it's not going well.
-Thanks Antoine, and keep in mind that training is the thing of every moment, a permanent learning about yourself and your limits. Good luck!
Jacques Hervet : Mental skills coach
"To accompany an athlete is to help him or her to stand on its own"
A tennis player (227th in the world singles and 159th in double-participation at Roland Garros in 1983), and then a 20-year coach on the world circuit, he continues to play the gesture by playing with the "elders". He is the world champion of +55 in 2017
How can we be stronger mentally? The Tecnimag has some advices for youRead more