Tennis champions cultivate intrinsic motivation and de-emphasize extrinsic motivation

Here is another psychological secret of the tennis champions from the book Maximum Tennis by Nick Saviano.

Nick Saviano and Sloane Stephens

Similar to performance goals, you should cultivate your motivation inside yourself and not be concerned with things that lie outside yourself. Two basic sources of motivation exist: intrinsic, which comes from inside a person, and extrinsic, which comes from outside a person. In the long run, intrinsic motivation is the more power motivator. If you are intrinsically motivated, it means you are personally striving to master the sport or the skill at hand. The emphasis is on being the best you can be. It means you are constantly striving to improve your performance, your skills, and your mastery of the game.

Here’s what Andre Agassi says about motivation: “The goal of getting better (intrinsic motivation) has to be the most important motivation because if it’s to simply win a tournament (extrinsic motivation) and then you win it, what do you do then? For me, it’s to see if I can play better now than I did yesterday.”

Players who are intrinsically motivated develop a true passion and love for the game. Once again, the emphasis is on things you can control. Extrinsic rewards, such as trophies, victories, rankings, and public adulation, are strong motivators, but the feelings they engender tend to fade away quickly. In the long run, they are not as powerful a motivator as intrinsic ones. In addition, external motivators are the things you cannot control.  By striving for and accomplishing objectives you can control that are cultivated from within, you will derive a greater sense of satisfaction.

I believe that, if you cultivate and emphasize your intrinsic motivation and de-emphasize the extrinsic factors, it will help create a formula for you to reach your full potential. Basically, it ties right back to getting yourself psychologically into the ideal performance state. Focus on what you can control, and challenge yourself to see how well you can play and compete. People who truly strive for excellence are predominately intrinsically motivated.

Why Serena Williams lost at 2012 French Open – Roland Garros?

The 2012 French Open
Here is an opinion of Johan Kriek,  two-times Australian Open champion and former # 7 tennis player in the world. I like his point because Johan not just express his thoughts about Serena Williams lost in the first round of Roland Garros, as many already did. He also explain how should tennis players deal with that kind of the situation on the tennis court.

Johan Kriek, two-times Australian Open champion

The mental breakdown and “strategy” instability during tough matches do not happen only in juniors but even at the very top. Look at this year’s French Open match between Serena Williams and Virginie Razzano…Serena was up a set and 5-1 in the tiebreaker against French woman Virginie Razzano.

Virginie Razzano, The 2012 French Open

Serena was the overwhelming favorite to win this match, Serena had never lost a 1st round match in her whole career during the majors, in fact she was 47 and 0! Although the French crowds can be very partisan, Serena was in fact “cruising” when suddenly, all the “wheels came off”! Serena lost 6 tie-breaker points in a row, lost the second set in the tie-breaker, but then “went away” mentally, completely, lost the next 5 games in a row to go down 5-0 ! Even though it made for some real tennis “theater” to see Serena make a last ditch effort to come back, she managed to get back to 5-3 Razzano serving for the match for the second time and that game lasted nearly 30 minutes! But here is what we can learn from a match such as this one.

And I tell my students this all the time…NEVER , EVER underestimate your opponent! EVER! Not before or during a match, because things can change around in seconds! This was a classic example of “underestimating” an opponent, and then suddenly find yourself so far in the “hole”, it is impossible to get back! I tell my students that no matter who you play, focus on execution at all times, and do not focus or become worried about the score. Yes, be aware of the score, since one has to play differently depending on the score and such, but when one can beat somebody, 0 and 0, do NOT let them think for a second they can come back! Beat them as badly as possible! Serena lulled herself into “lalaland” …or was so used to “never losing” she forgot to “execute” and suddenly looked like a “deer in the headlights!” She looked like somebody with no “purpose” and no idea what to do…

At 5-3 in the third set, Razzano was serving and with that “country club swing” albeit quite effective serve; she was so tight, that at 30 love, her second serve nearly hit the ground first! Serena should have immediately recognized that and focused on getting as many returns of serves back as possible..but what happened? Serena tried to blast second serve returns for winners and made at least 4 unforced errors on her returns in that last game. Huge mental error! On top of it, Razzano looked like she was cramping too, the more proof to just get the balls back in and let her run as much as possible, with the “eye” on easy winners too! It was astonishing to see such a high caliber player like Serena Williams come “undone”. Serena Williams. The 2012 French Open
It happens and one can certainly learn from these matches by watching…if you know what to look for…Better to get some “reading skills” if you want to be a complete tennis warrior!

University High School tennis team captures third straight high school tennis CIF division 1 title

UNI tennis team, boys and girls

On May 30, 2012, University High School’s tennis team became the CIF division 1 champion for the third time in a row, while also making the 7th straight final appearance. The school has won the championship 6 times out of the 7 since 2006. The only loss came in 2009 to Thousand Oakes High School. Coach John Kessler hopes to reach the record of 10 straight final appearances established by Santa Barbara High School.

Stefan Menichella, Drew Dawson and Gage Brymer

This year, University defeated Corona Del Mar High School with the final score being 13-5. Uni swept all 9 of the singles matches, with Gage Brymer dominating 6-0, 6-0, 6-0, Drew Dawson winning 6-1 6-4 6-0, and Stefan Menichella winning 6-1 6-2 6-0. The school’s #2 doubles team consisting of Konrad Kozlowski and Skyler Butts also won all 3 of their matches, going 7-6(5), 6-4 and 6-2.

Captains of UNI tennis team

Even with a few of their top players not fully healthy, such as Tyler Lu and Reo Asami, this final shows just how much better University’s team is compared to any other school in Southern California.

Coach John Kessler with seniors  tennis players

My son has been on the team for 2 years. I can say with confidence that, not only is this team full of amazing tennis players, but it’s also full of great people. Good job UNI!

Discussion of the article “Winning is not the number-one goal when you are competing “

I received many interesting points from tennis coaches and players about this article and want to share some of them with you:

George van der Geest “Totally agree! I’ve had numerous interesting conversations with my students how to do this. What I discovered is that we (tennis players and professionals) how a strong faith that thinking helps us to solve difficult issues and that this same thinking about the end result (winning) will help us win our tennis matches. Unfortunately this is a contradiction in terms. The answer lies in finding out as to why an athlete puts winning a match before anything else. I like to use the logical levels of Bateson and Dilts and look at the levels of believe and identity. Then after this deeper dig work and providing the athlete is ready to lose they will start winning without this being their first priority it is a logical result.”

Alex Yep “I found that in the sport of tennis, you must focus in winning. This is one of the few sports with only two competitors. We have to say, one must lose. Losing does not feel good. A player must focus on channeling the positive energy which is the thought of winning and raising that trophy up in the air. To pump themselves up in the joy of victory. This is one aspect of mental toughness. The ability to focus on being the winner and to bring the edge to your side of the court. On the other hand, if you were to focus on losing which you will bring yourself down while you playing. I really think as a tennis player, you must choose to think as a winner. You only have two options, win or lose. Take your pick.”

David Izumi “Wining should never be the #1 goal in competition…I always teach and coach that winning is a process and players have to learn how to create their opportunities to win. This process begins with an understanding of their own abilities…Mentally, physically and emotionally then we begin to learn to problem solve.”

Savina Diankova “I like the discussion and support the comments. The famous quote of Vince Lombardi, “Winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is everything”, is helping me to prove my point. Winning, like the success in life, is a result of hard work. If I look at the top of the mountain instead of climbing on the way to it I get lost. For me, if I have a plan during the tennis match how to outplay the rival and keep trying hard, soon or later it would happen. Recent example is the match Virginie Razzano vs. Serena Williams at French Open.”

What do you think about that? Is winning the number-one goal when you competing in tennis?

First surprises at Roland Garros – The 2012 French Open

The 2012 French Open

Unfortunately the prediction, which was made by one of the tennis coach in the previous posts, became a reality. First time, Serena Williams lost in the first-round match at Grand Slam tournaments. She lost in three sets match against Virginie Razzano of France 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 at Roland Garros today.

Serena Williams lost

Although Serena Williams several times was just two points from her winning in the second set, she could not to win, including 5-1 in the tiebreak. With Serena’s lost there are only very theoretical chances for Americans for winning in singles in Paris.

Virginie Razzano

Other main candidates for victory at The 2012 French Open such us Maria Sharapova, Vika Azarenko, Petra Kvitova, Li Na and Carolina Wozniacki continue to play in Paris.