How would you like it if when you made an error on the court, your coach starts screaming at you from the sideline, “You idiot!”, or “What a moron!”, or something even worse? My guess is that you wouldn’t like it at all. Seriously… No one needs a coach like that!
What made me think of this actually happened last weekend, during our doubles strategy team drill. One of my team mates was very verbal about her play, calling herself an idiot and a loser, and a few other names I won’t mention here. And if you guessed that the self-
coaching abuse didn’t improve her game one bit, then you’re absolutely right! Matter of fact, it made her play worse.
It’s all too easy to go there, to berate ourselves when we make a mistake. But the constant stream of deprecation will eventually have a negative effect on how we feel about ourselves as well as our performance.
So DON’T do it!!
With the power of positive self-talk, we can change that negative mind set. Instead of telling yourself: “You suck! You can’t even get the ball over the net!”, tell yourself this: “Calm down, and hit up the middle (lowest point of the net) using top spin, and aim a few feet higher than the net. You can do this!” The positivism will allow you to focus on the present (rather than dwelling on the last or previous points), and to create a positive mental state that’s conducive to peak performance.
Use words of encouragement and motivation when errors have you feeling down or angry, and don’t forget to praise yourself for all the good points that you play. Be the coach that you would like to have sitting in your corner!