Our attitudes, outlooks and practices toward training, learning and competing shape who we are, who we become and, in large part, how successful we are.
Below is a list of 20 pieces of advice worth considering, in no particular order. It's never too late to learn what is always necessary to know, so this list is worthwhile at any age.
1. Be willing to accept and learn from failure to enhance success.
2. Hold yourself and others accountable without blame.
3. Having an ego is normal but it should be regulated, so release ego fallacies and unhealthy ego tendencies and embrace ego regulators in order to have a solid, strong and healthy sense of self.
4. Tennis doesn't need to be fun to be worthwhile, but it needs to be worthwhile for fun to be relevant.
5. If you give your best, be proud. If you can't, get used to a lifetime of disappointment.
6. Practice positive behaviors because your function affects your form therefore how you act reflects who you become.
7. We can't be perfect but we can try to be excellent. Embrace and harness the beneficial effects of excellence seeking perfectionism for motivation and engagement and let go of the negative effects of failure-avoiding perfectionism.
8. Always be optimistic.
9. Never give up
10. When practicing skills and tactics you are not good at don't hold yourself accountable to unrealistic expectations
11. When practicing skills and abilities you are good at hold yourself accountable to higher expectations.
12. When practicing your competitive behavioral skills hold yourself accountable to the highest expectations.
13. Begin with the end in mind by setting end -goals and finding opportunities to achieve them.
14. Work toward these goals in a safe progression.
15. Embrace change and revise your goals.
16. Mentally rehearse to minimize suffering in matches.
17. Find a flow state through full involvement, intrinsic motivation, an energized focus, challenging goals, feedback and self-empowerment to find the joy and peace of being mindful.
18. We are not our thoughts, and fear is just a thought.
19. Recognize anger for what it is. If you get angry often, especially when working hard, you're probably confusing the feeling of effort with the feeling of anger because physically they feel the same.
20. When you have more, you have more to give. This is enlightened self interest because as you elevate others you elevate yourself.
Steven Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation and executive director and founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally-ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.