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How to enjoy competing in tennis

Do you compete in tennis and lack fun?

You win matches but without real pleasure on the court?

Your matches are more like an ordeal and you are especially anxious for them to end?

You sign up for a tournament without much motivation, does it almost require an effort?

Do you feel a little obligated to play tournaments because you play tennis?

Because of this, do you sometimes want to stop competing?

In my experience as a player I went through several phases in competition; phases where I enjoyed playing and phases where I hated the competition.

As a tennis player and coach, I have also been able to observe and understand why some players like competition and others don't.

In this article, I take stock of all this and give you my advice for having fun in competition.

The fun is up to you

It is essential to realize that the pleasure we experience in tennis depends on us, not on tennis itself.

We sometimes tend to attack tennis directly when things don't work out the way we want, saying for example:

  • I'm tired of tennis!
  • this sport is not for me!
  • I'm bored on the court!
  • I don't enjoy playing!
  • this sport pisses me off!
  • and so on...

The feelings we have on the court depend on our way of perceiving events.

This is why two players do not react in the same way to the same events.

It is important to consider that we are not the victim of our feelings, that it is not the external elements that act on us and that we are not able to do anything.

Your vision of the competition

Your view of competition can impact your level of enjoyment.

You can see the competition essentially in two ways.

Competition as an opposition

  • I see the opponent as an enemy,
  • I want to crush the other,
  • I'm in "I want to prove my superiority" mode, I want to be better than the other,
  • feeling better than the other is my source of motivation,
  • I'm afraid of feeling inferior,
  • defeat is a shame,
  • I compare myself a lot to others,
  • I want to win by all means.

This view of competition can provide a form of motivation, but it also generates stress.

To see moreover if it is not rather the stress produced by a lack of self-confidence which produces this state of mind and not the reverse.

In addition, you have to look beyond tennis.

The goal of tennis is to progress on oneself, to find an attitude that can make us really happy.

It is not by trying to crush others to prove one's superiority that one will succeed in being truly serene and happy.

We need to cooperate and not seek to crush each other.

Competition as emulation

This is the state of mind that I recommend, to help you give the best of yourself while feeling the best possible:

  • I want to be better than myself every day, I want to progress,
  • I compare myself to myself and not to others,
  • the opponent is seen as someone who will help me progress thanks to his opposition,
  • I have no aggression directed towards the opponent.

This does not mean that one has to be particularly "nice" in competition. But at the same time you don't need to be particularly "nasty".

In fact, this problem is even a little off topic.

We just have to take care of our tennis, worrying as little as possible about the opponent.

It's all about a balanced assertiveness: you don't crash in the face of opposition and at the same time you don't show excessive aggression.

Don't be mistaken in expectations

Sometimes we lack pleasure in matches because we expect things that they cannot give us.

Here are some examples.

No competition to relax

To relax, choose an activity other than competitive tennis.

We can consider that a tennis match is above all having to solve problems, and it is not very relaxing!

In a tennis match, it is exceptional that everything goes as we wish and we must make efforts to deal with the problems that are posed to us:

  • the opponent's game,
  • our mind (this is often the biggest problem),
  • the organization of the tournament,
  • exterior elements,
  • our physical shape,
  • etc

You have to be physically and mentally available to manage all of this.

To relax while playing tennis, it is best to play with a partner with whom you enjoy playing.

No competition to have fun in the game

Another frequent source of frustration is not being able to play the game style that makes us happy in a match.

In a match, we don't know what the opponent's game style will be, and it's normal for them to do everything to prevent us from playing well.

Again, to have pure pleasure in the game, it is better to play out of competition with a partner that you select.

You have to like the stress of the competition

If you hate any form of stress, the competition will be difficult to live with.

Positive stress makes competition exciting and stimulating, it helps to give the best of ourselves, we must appreciate it and learn to use it.

Without stress, the competition would lose all its appeal.

Outcome and self-esteem

Your match enjoyment will largely depend on the stake you place on the match.

Do you play:

  • To surpass yourself?
  • To have an uplifting moment that takes you out of your comfort zone and your usual routine?
  • To challenge yourself and to try to give the best of yourself?
  • For the pleasure of playing tennis?
  • To make shots that you find fun and pleasant to perform?
  • Just to win?
  • To prove something to yourself through your results?
  • To improve your self-esteem?

The more you will play by giving great importance to your self-esteem, by considering that the defeat devalues ??you and the victory values ??you, the more you will put pressure on yourself and experience the match as an unpleasant examination.

This is an extremely frequent problem and it is, in my opinion, THE most important cause of the lack of pleasure in matches.

We lose the fun when:

  • we expect too much of ourselves,
  • our self-esteem depends on our results,
  • we devalue ourselves with each defeat,
  • we only seek valorization through victories.

As much as possible :

  • Separate your value as a person from your tennis results.
  • Value yourself through your efforts and your attitude; take pride in being able to do your best in the face of adversity and difficulty, regardless of the outcome.
  • Change your view of defeats:
    • A loss doesn't make you a bad person. It is a mental habit to change.
    • Repeat to yourself that a loss does not affect you as a person.
    • Seek to learn from defeats, view them positively.
    • Be indulgent with yourself, being very critical will not help you.
    • Allow yourself to lose.
  • Lower your expectations in terms of performance, don't expect yourself to be perfect, you will put too much pressure on yourself.

Play tennis for the pleasure of playing tennis

When you play competitive tennis, you can have several sources of motivation:

  • your pride, ego, self-esteem, etc.
  • the desire to play sports to be in a good shape,
  • the desire to surpass oneself, to live an exciting moment that takes us out of our daily routine,
  • the desire to make nice shots,
  • etc.

Our motivation is generally made up of a combination of all of this.

It is essential for your enjoyment to give the greatest importance to your enjoyment of playing tennis, for what is unique and specific about tennis.

Often, it is this motivation which is the starting point of the practice of the players, then it decreases in favor of a motivation centered on the results.

I encourage you to come back or stay in the fun:

  • to try to have fun playing tennis, like children do,
  • to make shots that you find attractive,
  • to give the best of yourself in matches, by entering the game without being in a comparison mode to the opponent,
  • to enjoy the stress when the score is tight,
  • to surpass oneself,
  • to do one's best even when things are going badly,
  • of being 100% in the present moment, focused on the game, the next ball to play.