By Emilio Sánchez Vicario, CEO and Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy.
#4 Focus on your tools to go towards a goal; never focus on the result (Mental).
Tennis is an individual sport where the most important aim is to win. To win points, a tournament, a ranking, a round, a game… It’s a sport in which, from a very young age, the players are focused on winning, not losing, having more or less points, getting into a tournament or not, getting a better ranking. In short, at all ages, the focus is clearly on the result.
And of course, it’s very important to win, stand out, and be one of the best. It’s important for self-esteem, self-confidence and to stimulate the motivation to continue working and learning every day. But there are huge risks if we only focus on the result, and if our environment only demands the result from us. “You played against this person a month ago and you should win again”, or “You can’t lose this match, they are two years younger than you!”, or “You haven’t got into the Master because there’s another player with two more points than you”.
At all stages of training, when the player is consolidating their technical, tactical, physical and mental framework, the principal objective should never be the result. “What do you want me to think about if not winning?” someone asked me once. There’s another type of motivation which helps to strengthen trust, self-esteem and motivation, and moreover, provides a lot more emotional stability. It is the motivation oriented around work, around a task. Something which depends on you 100%, and that you can achieve just by making an effort with daily tasks. This approach will help you to achieve the most you possibly can in any given situation, and if you’re level is high enough that day, even win the game you’re playing!
Fostering motivation which focuses around achievable tasks also helps to manage and control stress caused by the game, tournament or circumstances. After years of playing competitive sports, little boys and girls suppress large amounts of stress – they have to live up to a lot of expectations and promises to their families on a personal, and economic, level. This means that there are many boys and girls who aren’t actually enjoying what they are doing.
The iconic tennis player Bjorn Borg has a son who is a stand out tennis player for his age in Sweden, who he often accompanies to tournaments. Borg recently commented in an interview: “When we were playing tennis there were some parents who were too involved, but today it’s insane, it’s shocking”. He went on to say: “I think it’s because there’s a lot of money in tennis, you can see the children who don’t want to play. It’s as if the parents are pushing them to do something that they don’t want to do”.
The environment, the system or the circumstances – such as being the son or daughter of a great champion – can create additional tension. This tension often stops you from being able to enjoy yourself, can destabilise you and cause you to underperform.
Creating tasks to follow, objectives to fight for, will help you to manage all these situations.
And as I commented earlier, focusing your energy on these objectives won’t just help to centralize your concentration on the things which only depend on you, but will also help you to focus your attention onto something manageable and achievable.
Focusing your motivation towards a goal which then leads to a result, instead of heading straight for the result itself, is a habit which will allow you to overcome any adversity you might come across on the way.
Emilio Sánchez Vicario
CEO and Fonder at Sánchez-Casal Academy