The pursuit of becoming a tennis champion is a journey that consists of numerous highs and lows. In my opinion and after my own experiences, the lows certainly outweigh the highs, particularly if you have your sights on big time tennis. This is the nature of the sport of tennis. It’s not about how many highs or lows you experience or the positive and negative experiences, rather treating every experience as simply being part of the bigger picture. I tell my students on many occasions that if they want to be successful, they must stay in the present moment, because that is the only way they will truly embrace all that is around them and grow as an athlete and person.
Having said that, there should also be a long-term outlook for every athlete and it should be based on the following things;
- Work hard and smart
- Seek improvement
- Focus on your health
- Be happy
- Be mentally fit for competition.
In addition to the above, you should keep your eye on your short-term goals and focus on achieving them, because they are the pathway towards achieving the long-term goals. The long-term goals will predominantly require tournament schedule planning and ranking analysis.
Let’s take a real-life example, say your short-term goal is to get fit before a big tournament, so you hire a fitness trainer and spend 6-8 weeks working on a specific fitness program in addition to your on-court training. Learn from the experience and move onto the next goal. This could be to better your serve, so spend 20min at the end of each on-court session working on the serve, in addition to your current on-court activities and fitness maintenance schedule. Learn from the experience and move onto the next goal. This could be to work on your in-game tactics during matches. One way to help you here is to play games and tie-breakers in addition to your on court-training and fitness maintenance schedule. It would be ideal to have your coach watch you and guide you in terms of in-game tactics to improve on. So as you can see, you have now tackled 3 short-term goals of improving your fitness, serve and tactics in a smart and productive way. This is how you can work hard and smart.
Do you think that an athlete can do this alone? I don’t think it is possible in the long-run. It takes a team of professionals behind every step of the way for any athlete. It is not a walk in the park at all!
If that sounds like much, or you’re thinking ‘Alison, you must be exaggerating”, let’s take a look into a day in the life of young Rafa Nadal, as he explains in his own words whilst unveiling his new tennis academy in Mallorca, Spain.
“Attend School from 9am to 12pm. Tennis Training from 12-2pm. Attend School from 2-5:30pm. Soccer Training from 5:30-7pm. Tennis Training from 7-9pm. Dinner and Homework from 9pm onwards.”
Are you still asking, what does it take to become a tennis champion?