Losing is a major part of tennis. When a player loses a match without being mentally fit, it can set up a challenging recovery process, both for the player and for the coach. Very often tennis players, especially at the junior level, react to losses in a very negative way, which directly affects their confidence level.
When players are not able to deal with their losses in a constructive manner they start to develop self-doubt towards their tennis abilities which in hand has an effect on their future tournaments. Some players get so frustrated after a loss that they start to develop a negative thought process towards their tennis which can really damage their motivation to continue to train and work hard.
I believe that one of the key aspects of a successful tennis player is knowing how to deal with a loss, and that starts from a young age. Every tennis match consists of three components: technical, physical and mental. The best tennis players do not dwell on the negative; they instead dissect and systematically analyze each of these three components of their lost game. Therefore, they learn from their experience and they use each match as an opportunity to become better and be even more motivated for their next tournament.
Everyone has a different attitude to losing. Below are some of my suggestions that can be implemented after losing a tennis match:
1. Analyze match performance: Post-match analysis with your team or just with yourself gives you extremely valuable information. Ask yourself, how focused you were during the match? How much did you feel the state of your opponent? What technical mistakes did you make? What was your physical condition? You also need to note what you did well in the match and what you could have done better. By asking questions to yourself and also discussing these aspects of the match with your team, it can convert a lost match into a stepping stone towards big success in future tournaments.
2. Learn and move on: Don’t take losing fatally, learn from your experience and move on. Once you finish analyzing your match you need to be able to let go of the match. Being able to move on from a loss is also a very important mental aspect in tennis; you have to be able to shift your focus onto the next tournament. Many times players have several tournaments in a row and thinking constantly about your loss from a previous tournament will only harm you.
3. Create a plan for the future: Set new goals based on the conclusion from your last match. One of the goals can be that you must improve your fitness, or you need to work extra on your second serve. Practice hard to correct discovered deficiencies. Having a specific goal for every practice is important, every time you step on a court you need to do know what are you doing and why are you doing it.
4. Be realistic with yourself: Having the right mindset is the key. In tennis you will lose more tournaments than you will win. Practicing smartly and persistently, maintaining the positive outlook in your game and playing with focus on each ball, you can do your best - you will be able to build on your experiences and move forward in your tennis career. What's more, you can make your life successful and valuable.
Anna Tatishvili is the Associate Director of High Performance and Adult Programming at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning. Tatishvili is a former Top 50 ranked player in singles and doubles, and represented the Republic of Georgia at the Fed Cup on multiple occasions. During her career, she won 11 singles and eight doubles titles on the ITF tour, and won the doubles title at the WTA event in Linz, Austria. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.