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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Atlanta tennis, Losing With Style

Losing With Style

Thought my readers would have interest in this article. Fitness with jeff Atlanta
By John F. Murray, Ph.D

Win or lose, Marcos Baghdatis can usually find a smile.
© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Let’s talk about losing. While I don’t wish defeat on anyone, most of us will agree that we lose 50% of the matches we play at any level. If you play a serious match once a week, that’s at least 25 losses a year, and you are in super company. Nikolay Davydenko is behind only Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the world rankings, and he lost 28 matches in 2006! Losing is nothing to be ashamed of, but how well we handle defeat greatly influences our future performances and well being.

People often talk about sportsmanship, class, or grace following defeat. Unfortunately, many tennis players still have not mastered this skill. Rather than crediting the opponent, defeated players often sulk, ignore eye contact, or invent clever excuses. We've also known players who refuse to shake hands, insult their opponents or just pack up and bolt. Who or what created these monsters? The reasons are abundant. Let's examine a few.

Obsession with Outcome – Players sometimes become so obsessed with outcome that the cost of possible loss is magnified tenfold. I’ve seen parents and coaches who yell at their children or students following a difficult loss, and in some rare cases use physical punishment or emotional deprivation. It’s not surprising that there is so much of this thinking going around. We live in a competitive society that glorifies the best. Most of society doesn’t even know the names of players not ranked in the top 5. If you want to be a household name, win Wimbledon, and do it again – or face obscurity!

I have nothing but praise for those who fight hard to win and achieve success, and a huge part of sport psychology is designed to enhance performance. But I’ve even unwittingly found myself at rare times slipping into making comments that border on the “typical obsessed parent” syndrome, and have to remind myself to take extra caution so my comments are not misinterpreted or hurtful.

An obsession with winning seriously detracts from a healthy "present focus" and overlooks the realities of tennis where winning and losing often hinges on just one point. The all-or-nothing mindset can also create catastrophic fear and pressure. Once the match is over, courtesy and regard for the opponent is impossible because the losing player is even more obsessed with outcome and feels like a loser! Self-esteem takes a major hit as the player has defined himself or herself as a failure when they might have just played the match of their life.

Perfectionism – Perfectionism can appear noble on its surface, but crumbles under closer scrutiny. This kind of thinking may also set the stage for negative or disrespectful conduct toward the opponent following a defeat. Perfectionists usually develop their personalities by trying to please others, or live up to some impossible standard. So, after a loss, it's not too far removed to expect sour grapes since these players see their loss as just another personal failure rather than an opponent’s success. By acting ugly or angrily, these players further motivate their opponents for the next match and lose support from others along the way.

Immaturity – Another reason why some players fail to lose with grace is due to faulty expectations based in immaturity. These players unrealistically think that they have complete control over the match. Their self-centeredness keeps them from appreciating the opponent when they lose, and they actually lose more frequently due to their overconfidence! While tennis is an individual sport where self-reliance is key, in its worst form it may also contribute to disrespect for others and self.


Okay, so some players act like poor sports following defeat. Who really cares? Ask yourself how you felt the last time you played against a poor loser? You might have enjoyed exploiting the defective mental equipment in your rival, and you should, but did you want to get together with this person for lunch? Probably not! Does this attitude grow the sport or help you find practice partners? I seriously doubt it.

If you play tennis for the fun, fitness, or competition, you'll hopefully realize that respect for the opponent is a fundamental skill that needs to be taught and constantly encouraged. We could all learn a lesson or two from players like Steffi Graf and the grace she showed throughout her career. Even in loss, she usually kept her cool and credited her opponents.

Tips Following a Loss

1. Immediately and enthusiastically shake your opponent's hand and say something nice.

2. Avoid making excuses for your loss. There are many reasons for outcome, but direct your focus on your opponent's strengths that day as well as how you can do better next time.

3. Keep your sense of humor. This is only a sport and there are many tomorrows.

4. Whatever you have learned from this loss, work on it in practice.

Losing a match is a universal experience, and nothing to be ashamed of. You’ve learned something because, by definition, you were pushed to the limit of your skills. Welcome this lesson and reinterpret it as an opportunity for growth. Now go out there and win! After all, how could you have possibly lost to that absolute nobody? Oops … there I go … I just slipped over the line again!

For more from Dr. John click here.

Losing is OK, Sometimes Even Good!

Losing is OK, Sometimes Even Good! I found this article out on the web at a site called tennis4you alot of very good information, thought it was very good, happy reading, Jeff, Atlanta tennis instructor and personal training.
By: Scott Baker | http://www.Tennis4you

I don't know about you but I absolutely hate losing a tennis match. I am one of the most competitive people I know and when I do not come out on top I sometimes do not think straight enough to be able to appreciate the match for what it was. So what is so bad about losing? I have lost matches in every situation, tournaments, leagues, finals, school matches and matches against my friends. What it boils down to is that I am a much better tennis player because I have lost all of those matches.

Whenever you play a tennis player that is better than you there is a lot to be learned. I often tell players not to just play people all the time that they know they can beat. To improve your tennis game you must play against better players! When I left for college I met tennis players that were much better than I was. By playing these better players day in and day out my game improved by astronomical amounts, and I was losing everyday.

A lot of times players will join a club and stick with the same group of players. That is perfectly acceptable, tennis is fun and should always be fun. However, if you are the best player in the group and you consistently win and you want your game to improve, you may need to play elsewhere against better players.

When you play stronger players you get to see a variety of tougher tennis. You quickly learn that you can not get lazy or lose focus. They will hit better passing shots, deeper ground strokes, better volleys, faster serves and execute their overheads better. They will wrong foot you more often and possibly just out-power you. This requires you to improve to be able to keep up with these types of players. Playing better players is a great motivator to help you play better tennis. If you are beating players that you play every day there is little motivation to get any better.

I will admit, losing to someone you know you can beat, and maybe regularly beat, really sucks! However, maybe you need to look at why you lost, look at what you need to improve, look at where you fell short, and most importantly, think about how you can do better next time. Losing is a motivator to play better tennis plain and simple.

Losing a tennis match means you that you were not the better tennis player that day. That is OK, take it for what it is worth, let it motivate you, and keep on trying. Continue to play the better players when you get a chance and watch your game improve. To me, allowing my tennis game to improve is more important than winning a weekly match against the same group of players.

Good Luck on the Court!
Scott Baker

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