How do I give my player the winning instinct?

How do I give my player the winning instinct?

To Marieke Das (who answered my previous question)%3A The 16-year old male loves tennis, and loves winning. It's just that he cannot carry his good game from practice to match. His shots become shorter, and with less pace. Even his net game suffers. I fear he is afraid to fail. What should I try?

Tennis CoachCoach
Tennis CoachCoach

The key to making players play matches better is to make their practice sessions like a match. In a practice session they are relaxed and feel like they can't miss mostly because they just get another chance at the same shot if they miss. If you can make their practice feel like a match, where there is a consequence for missing, then they will hopefully learn to deal with the pressure that a match puts on them. One other thing you can do is make sure that they see the "big picture". All they need to do is make sure that they are following their game plan during a match and make it work once, twice, then three times. They need to realize that a match will never go perfectly but they need to develop some kind of comfort level so that they don't tighten up during matches. The main reason your player slows his shots down is because he is tight, nervous and doesn't want to risk losing the point. Without risk there is no reward.

Robert GarruchoCoach, United States of America

From another angle, a lot of players go through this experience during match play because their sole focus is on winning the match. Since tennis is a game of mistakes (the player with the least mistakes often wins), focusing solely on winning the match forces the mind of the player to do whatever is necessary to just keep the ball in play. Consequently, the player tends to hit safe shots that are short and with less pace. The player also tends to tighten up on serves, volleys and other shots. Next time, try focusing more performance rather than results. This means instead of focusing on winning the match, focus on translating the shots you hit at practice to the match. Just keep reminding yourself to hit those same shots regardless of the outcome. Sure you may lose points here and there but I'm pretty sure eventually you will hit one that you feel really good hitting and something will click. You will then hit more and more of the same shots you hit during practice. As this happens you will also notice that the results (winning matches) will begin to follow. When that happens, you know you have overcome this feeling.

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