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Just Go Through It, or Grow Through It! Perception as a Steppingstone to a Healthier Performance!

The power of TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) is a critical component of every person’s development. We are collectivistic beings, and as such, we depend on each other to grow, learn and develop. This can be seen across various fields, at home, in school, on a team, or at work. Relationships that we create can take us a long way and can last a lifetime. Whether they are romantic relationships (a team of two), or a working relationship (a team of however many members), we need each other in order for our skills and knowledge to surface. In competition, it is critical that we develop a healthy respectful relationship with our opponent. We actually need the other person to play on a high level, so we can become aware of where we stand with our game and how we handle both good and poor performances. This insight is valuable in providing us with the information on what we need to work on to improve and grow. This notion is tightly linked to practice and training. The number one most important element of practice is improvement, and how we become better week to week, even by the smallest margin. Certain perceptual habits we create in practice are the exact habits we will fall back on in competition. Let us, for a second, consider Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and how they perceive their own performance. They both talk about pushing each other in matches. They very well know each other’s game, and are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They are both very good at using their strengths against the other player’s weakness. In other words, if we wish to be successful competitors, we need to [...]

By |October 9th, 2015|blog, Nikola|0 Comments

From anxiety to confidence! The power of tennis as a team sport!

I felt lonely not competing when I quit tennis. I had a lot of time on my hands that I had to adjust to. I still wanted to keep playing sports. Besides tennis, I grew up playing basketball and soccer, so I decided to join a basketball team and start training. I felt like I needed to catch a break and rest from tennis induced anxiety and basketball was a good sport where I could be a part of a team and share both good and bad moments. I needed a team to be my support group and my home base, a place where it would be okay to potentially feel anxious again. I was tired managing anxiety on my own while competing. After a few months of adjusting to the team I realized that we are all simply a bunch of individuals playing together. I was hoping that we would communicate more off the court and learn about and appreciate each other more. I felt that every player wanted to excel individually and the only thing we had in common was the uniform. I did not think we were a team at all. So, for the second time in my life, I quit the sport that I love. I felt disappointed for still not having found my support group. By this time, I was 17 years old and moved to the United States from Serbia due to my mother’s job with the United Nations. We moved to New Jersey, where I attended a public high school to close out my sophomore year. I met a group of Chinese students who were part of a a competitive table tennis team. I went to a few [...]

By |May 27th, 2015|blog, Nikola|0 Comments

Sunshine After Rain

Tennis in Serbia was very much played as an individual sport in my junior days. All tournaments had a singles format only. My coaches were busy at the academy so they seldom attended my matches. I was left at the mercy of riding alone in the car, and to my own thoughts about feeling anxious. At first, I started to experience anxiety only on the day of the match. I did not know how to handle it so I tried the most common self-talk : "oh come on don’t be ridiculous, don’t be such a coward, it’s only tennis’. Later on it became :’ Why am I feeling this way ? What the hell is going on ?" I was trying so hard to convince myself that this is just a game and that everything will be alright. None of it worked. Feeling anxious became normal to me. I expected myself to feel this way on game day. I became very good at feeling anxious, I was actually the expert at it. As the Director of High Performance at Intensity, Ryan Ginley, says : ‘ Practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent’. This is how I felt, like I was practicing how to be anxious. Thoughts of feeling anxious for the upcoming weekend tournament started to enter my mind at the beginning of the week. I was not even aware how difficult dealing with this was going to be. It was like thunder before the storm. The weekend anxiety was just a warning for what was coming after. I started feeling it the moment I would sign up for a tournament. I felt I had a package deal, if I sign up for a [...]

By |March 3rd, 2015|blog, Nikola|0 Comments

A Sudden Meeting with Anxiety

While growing up in Serbia during my elementary school years, I was lucky enough to join a club in my area that had a coaching staff of the highest quality. Practices started off once a week due to my own scheduling and availability of my coach. The club had an academy and a fitness side, as well as an adult program, much like we have now at Intensity. I was taught to play the game in a technical and tactical way. Proper mechanics and play patterns were two main components of our junior training. I must admit that I have always been an exceptional listener, an even better follower of directions and, most of all, possessed an incredible work ethic. These three skills enabled me to stay task-focused and learn the game more efficiently. It was a fun, social and educational way of learning the game of tennis. However, a few years passed and my technical and tactical skills came to a satisfactory high level. By this time I was twelve years old and the club started assigning me different coaches as I was moved from one level to another. At one point, my coach encouraged me to start playing in tournaments as he thought I was very talented and skillful. I never thought about this but decided to give it a shot at a national 14U tournament. I signed up for a few consecutive tournaments to see how well I would perform. I felt motivated to compete because I was having a great time playing tennis. These national events were what really counted toward building my ranking and the way to do it was to win, win and …well, WIN. So it started - [...]

By |February 3rd, 2015|blog, Nikola|0 Comments

Becoming Mentally INTENSI-Tough – Tennis Training

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 [...]

By |December 10th, 2014|Nikola|0 Comments