We all know how well pros hit the ball. The complexity of the technique and footwork to be at the pro level is only for the most talented and dedicated players in the world. But how hard is it to mentally handle a professional tennis match? Let’s dive into some statistics from grand slam matches using the charts below:
I want to focus on the last two rows. If you add up the % of points that end in an error or winner, you’re right around 60% regardless of gender. Assuming you are about equal to your opponent, that means you either make an error or get a winner hit on you about 1 every 3 points. So at the very highest level, players will miss a ball or get a ball hit by them a third of the time. How do players coup with such failure when they hold themselves to the highest level of expectations as a tennis player? Simple. They let it go. Professionals have trained themselves to detach emotionally from each outcome. They have learned it is beyond their control and focus on the present moment of preparing for the next point. This takes incredible self-control to not allow themselves to become too upset over an unfavorable outcome on a previous point. To remain cool while not meeting your expectations takes a lot of practice and this is why many top players have a sports psychologist to help them with just that.
Relating This Back To Us
If we were able to look at statistics of our matches, I’m willing to bet we would have a lot more errors than winners! So that means we have made a mistake many times before connecting on a winning shot. No wonder we see rec players loose their cool countless times during a heated match. As the level increases, you tend to see less and less of this as these players have experiences from training through a high school or college team to be ready for mistakes and handle them with less of an emotional response. So how can we do this?
My Way Of Acting Like The Pros
I have recently found a way to become a much stronger player by focusing on one key thing during my matches. After every losing point I would stay hopeful that the next point would end in a better way. This idea of hope is not new. This is the same idea in the worst circumstances someone can face. In the book Man's Search for Meaning, the author (Viktor E. Frankl) shares that hope was the main factor between a holocaust survivor or one that perished. The next time you start getting frustrated on the court, consider having more hope that the future outcomes will get better for you and you will see some that your luck just might change. Regardless, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy your matches more!
Here's a tutorial on the importance of slice and how to hit it