A lot of players are facing challenges on finding motivation to play during the current pandemic crisis. They are unable to compete and some of them wonder what they are practicing or preparing for. Nobody can predict what will happen as far as traveling, tournaments and rankings for 2020, but there are a few things players can take advantage of to make the best of the current situation.
Recovering Intrinsic Motivation
While extrinsic motivation can be helpful for all athletes, finding our intrinsic motivation is key to be successful in any sport. Getting a good ranking, a trophy or money are all examples of extrinsic motivation. What do you play for? These times may be a good opportunity for players to ask themselves that question.
It can often be difficult for players dealing with a lot of pressure to solely play for their own satisfaction. This applies to junior and professional players who continually play tournaments and train with the purpose of getting results. It’s not easy to be on the road constantly defending points, keeping sponsors happy and to stay on top of your game. Working on a stroke that needs technical improvement while you are in the middle of a tournament season can be challenging at times, but this is exactly why this year should give all players the chance and the time to polish their strokes, make their strengths a weapon and to minimize their weaknesses. Finding that motivation to wake up in the morning solely with the purpose of getting better in every way possible and finding enjoyment in doing just this, is a good challenge for all tennis players right now and whoever is going to take advantage of this time will not only be more prepared for the tournaments to come but will be mentally stronger because they will have complete conviction of why they are playing for.
Injury Prevention & Body Strengthening
Getting better is not just about hitting the ball. All players know by now that tennis is a very complex sport that requires body strength, rehabilitation, flexibility, endurance and more. Players who are usually on the road try as much as possible to stay strong and to keep training hard in between tournaments, but the reality is that they don’t really have much time to get better in these areas unless it is during pre-season. Right now is a great time to work on all of these areas and to get better at them. Injury prevention is so important right now; if you get injured, you can’t play. Flexibility, rehabilitation, strengthening and nutrition are all big aspects in injury prevention. Are you maintaining or are you getting better?
It is true that players improve their mental strength during competition. It helps to gain confidence when you play well and win good matches against good players. But it is still hard to keep that level of confidence up for long periods of time. In today's world, it seems that it is easier for players to loose their confidence than to gain it.
Being mindful means being fully in the moment without letting other thoughts disturb you or distract you. It is as simple as eating a sandwich and enjoying each bite, focusing solely on tasting every flavor and nothing else. I challenge you to practice mindfulness in every single thing you do during the day. Sure, it can be difficult since there are so many distractions, but that’s the challenge! Practicing mindfulness can make you more present and aware, which can help you perform better not only in tennis but in anything you want to do in your life. Stand before the baseline before you serve and feel every single movement your body is doing, how you bounce the ball, how it sounds in the ground, how your arms are moving fluidly, how the drop of sweat falls to the ground before you toss the ball and get ready to serve. Practice makes perfect, but being more aware and present with your body can help you get in the zone.