How do define success in the sport of tennis? Most tennis players view success as winning. But it is impossible to win every point, set, match and tournament. By defining success solely in terms of wins and losses, your confidence will rise and fall with every match you play. When you lose a tournament, you will feel as if you failed or maybe even label yourself ‘a failure’ which makes it difficult to bounce back from when you play your next tournament.
Since confidence is necessary to play optimally, you need to view success differently.
Take for example Roger Federer who is ranked No. 2 in the world. Federer recently faced off against top-ranked Novak Djokovic at the 2015 Wimbledon finals. Federer lost the first tie-breaker along with the match 7-6(1), 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-3. This was the second consecutive year that Federer lost to Djokovic in the Wimbledon finals.
Instead of viewing the finals result as a failure, Federer had a positive perspective on his performance.
In a post-match interview, Federer was asked, “When you look at the kind of competitor that you are, how are you able to separate the great run you’ve made from the disappointment of not getting it done today?”
FEDERER: “I still think I had a great tournament. You can have good tournaments without winning, as well, at the end. I still won six matches, lost one. The ratio still remains very good… Clearly I would have loved to win today. There’s no doubt about it. But I still think I can be very happy with the level of play.”
In fact, Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam winner and seven-time Wimbledon champion, won 18 sets and lost only one set through his first six matches at Wimbledon. Actually, Federer placed higher than 126 men singles players at Wimbledon.
Federer views his Wimbledon performance as a success. Federer still had his sights of winning the title but in retrospect his success was not solely defined by winning the championship. By objectively evaluating his play, Federer is able to maintain a high level of confidence as he gears up for his next tournament.
Maybe the best way to define success is the amount of improvement you make which includes learning from losses, playing mentally tougher and those small victories you achieve throughout the course of a match.
Strategy for Evaluating Performance
Redefine what success means to you. Make a list of those things that you can accomplish that would result in a successful performance evaluation (a higher percentage of first serves, a lower number of unforced errors, fighting back when trailing in a set). Redefining success does not imply that you accept losing; it means you are building small victories in order to reach your potential.
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