Welcome to my very own mental toughness blog. I will be guiding you through my personal journey of being a junior player to becoming a mental toughness coach and overcoming some of the most difficult moments both in my junior tennis performance and later on in the working world as an adult. I am hoping to help you understand what mental skills are and how to use them so you don’t go through the same horrific moments I used to.
As a junior performer, I can freely say that I have lacked most mental skills. Or should I say, I had them inside me, I just had no clue how to use them. Since my beginning days of tennis, I was always the player who had great talent, physical predispositions and technique to make it to the highest level, and was told so by every coach in my junior days.
I had a great time training. I learned a lot and improved very quickly. Every day was about me and my own development as a player. I made good friends at the club and was enjoying our time together…until tournaments came along. OH MY LORD – yikes !!!This is where my performance started to take a giant slide downhill. Parents were watching, teammates were there, ranking was at stake and all of a sudden I felt like it was all one big test I had to pass…but, who was grading me and what was really the point behind competition? The stress level was out the roof, shaking, the increased heart beat and the racing thoughts were, I wish I could say, the only sensations I was feeling.
I will just back track a little bit and give you a brief insight into how I chose to start tennis. Both of my parents have always been very athletic and sporty. My mother was a professional folk dancer and had an amazing stage presence and a great creative artsy mind. My father grew up playing soccer, basketball and cycling, and later he picked up race car driving too. This genetic combination most likely had something to do with my choosing tennis, as it is a game of serious both physical and mental skills and creativity on the court. Now, my parents being supportive parents that they are, never wanted to impose any choices on me. However, they only told me one thing: “You can choose which sport you want to play, but you HAVE TO have some sort of physical activity. It’s healthy for both the mind and the body”. And so my quest for sport seeking started. Since I actually grew up playing soccer and basketball, I was thinking about those two, but I didn’t really see myself competing in either, I loved playing them for fun. One day, I saw tennis on TV and got this feeling all through my body that made me feel like this is where I belong…I KNEW I would be good at it and decided to join a local club.
The first day of practice came and oh boy, no red ball, no orange, no green ??? but yellow right away !!! Welcome to high performance, as an eight year old …
I hope you enjoyed my first blog post and hope you will come back next week to hear the rest.