Loneliness On The Court!

No athlete talks to themselves like tennis players‚of all the games men and women play, tennis is the closest to solitary confinement, which inevitably leads to self-talk, and for me the self-talk starts here in the afternoon shower. – Andre Agassi: Open, 2009, p. 8-9

Tennis is a unique and exciting sport, one that I truly enjoy and love. However, being out on the court can feel like being deserted on an island, especially if you are a high-caliber player at the peak of the game. This loneliness is real and unavoidable ‚ certainly a challenge for those in single play. Point after point, you are left to deal with the ups and downs of each swing of the racquet, and you need to be prepared. Unlike other sports, tennis players are left to talk with themselves ever more so to pick themselves up when the going gets tough and motivate themselves to press on and to fight through another point. As an avid player of solid skills, it must always be remembered that there are days when you are not at your best, and these present even more challenges to overcome.

So, how do you deal with the loneliness? Is this type of isolation the same or similar to that felt when or if you go to sleep alone at night? I would venture to say that tennis players‚ on-court loneliness is a lot different than that felt alone in evening because you have your opponent just a few feet away; however, those few feet away feels like miles. To deal with on-court loneliness, you need to become one with the racquet and see each shot into the strings. You need to visualize where your shots are currently going and also where the next shots will arrive! Talk to yourself ‚that is okay and is the norm in this great sport. While you might be physically alone on your side of the island that the tennis nation calls the court, always remember that you are not therefore emotionally alone. That is something that you control! Keep a strong mind! Stay hard-working and determined. Your opponent faces these same challenges, so let him or her beat himself/herself and fall to this loneliness.

As you face the next service or find yourself serving for the match, it is important to realize that on-court loneliness is real. Don‚ ignore it, for instead just challenge your energy towards the positive and what you have control over! Agassi, like you, has faced this loneliness and possible dealt with it even more than the average player. Self-talk is normal, so do not be afraid to turn to it!

DW



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