I received a lot of feedback from the blog’s readers about that winning is not the main goal for a tennis player. Some of the readers disagree with that opinion. In the following article from the book Maximum Tennis, Nick Saviano explains in details why he thinks that winning is not the number-one goal for a tennis player.
Winning is extremely important, and, of course, it is always one of your most important goals for competition. But when winning becomes your number-one goal during competition, it will psychologically consume you because you will be focusing your energies on something you cannot control. This will distract you from executing your game to the best of your ability. At that point, you are no longer giving yourself the best chance to win, and that means you are not going to win as often. Great champions know this concept well and the bigger the match, the more they attempt to discipline their mind. Concentrating on the things they can control, they know that winning will be a by-product of executing to the best of their ability.
Winning, as your number-one goal, in reality means striving for mediocrity relative to what you are capable of. The question is not whether you win or lose. Billie Jean King said: “When you stay in the process is when you win. Not when you get into the end results.” The question is did you do everything in your power to give yourself the best chance to play up to your potential and are you constantly trying to improve? After Tiger Woods won his third Masters championship, everyone was speculating on how many majors he would win. What he said illustrates my point: “The thing I keep saying to myself is that I want to become a better player at the end of the year. And if I can keep doing that year after year for the rest of my career, I’ll have a pretty good career.” That is the pursuit of personal excellence! Winning is a natural by-product of this pursuit. The commitment to personal excellence does not guarantee winning. It does, however, ensure success. The end result is that you will win far more than you otherwise would have, and you will often exceed your self-imposed limitations.
Rising American star Andy Roddick, as he was preparing for the 2001 French Open said, “I really don’t have any expectations (concerning winning or losing). I want to play well (in other words, execute his game). If someone is going to beat me, I want him to have to play a good match (concentrating only on what he can control).”
Later in the year, as Roddick was preparing for the 2001 US Open after winning four tour events, he said, “I’m just going to go in and try to play well (focus on what he can control), have some fun, and see what happens”. Andy reached the quarterfinals, where he lost 6-4 in the fifth set to the eventual champion Lleyton Hewitt.
Roddick concentrated on what he could control and gave himself the best opportunity to win. This is the mental approach the top pros take. Don’t interpret this to mean that winning is not important to them. Quite the contrary, which is exactly why they try not to think about winning while they are competing.