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September 1, 2011
Tennis Motivation is Driven by the Process


Welcome to all the new subscribers to my email tennis lessons.  You will receive one long lesson on the first of every month and some quick tips in between.

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Remember the basic principles for learning tennis with my system is to develop a 'feel' for different strokes along with developing mental skills through REPETITION.  Repetition of simple procedures create that 'feel' NOT an over emphasis on the technical skills and mechanics.  Click here for an article that I wrote on 'feel' vs 'mechanics' in April 2001

Tom's Online Tennis Lesson
Tennis Motivation is Driven by the Process

Parents, do you want to motivate your child? Coaches, do you want to motivate your students? Players, do you want to motivate yourself? It's simple. Don't try. Huh?

Motivation is tricky business. To motivate a player you must keep in mind that you are dealing with a player's volition, his own ability to decide one way or another. The player chooses to go to the courts, he chooses to hit more tennis balls, he chooses to intensify his training. If that choosing mechanism is not turned to positive, your inspirational speeches will have a short-lived motivating effect.

Motivation is part of a package deal. Coaches and parents can slowly nudge it along, leading a player to higher levels of motivation, simply by creating the correct environment for motivation to happen by itself.

Here is how it works. A player who comes for weekly lessons may enjoy playing, but he chooses not to exert that extra mental energy needed to drive a little harder. You give endless motivational speeches, but nothing really changes. His attitude is not changing because there is more going on behind the scenes. Two more variables are critical to the motivation process. First, he plays in monthly tournaments in which he either wins or loses. Second, that player has a confidence factor in which he can either win or lose!

So not only does this player have lessons with you every week, but he also plays those tournaments every month which affect his mental attitude. He comes back from every tournament after losing in the first round or occasionally getting by one round. His very shaky confidence means his motivation is barely surviving. What to do?

You must get him back in the grind of hitting tennis balls. The environment you create, with lots of repetition and hard work, becomes his safe haven. You encourage him to keep pressing forward and remind him that losing is all part of the process. In this environment, he will eventually break through on his own. No need to send him to a sports psychologist or spout endless motivational speeches. This player, like all players, must learn to work through the process that creates champions. As a coach you are there to take an actively passive role in guiding the process. The motivation has to come from the player.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to that player, he is getting better! I say unbeknownst to that player because most players who lose in a tournament do not realize that they are improving. Remember, players tend to incorrectly pair winning with doing things right and losing with doing things wrong. But if you have them on the right path, the reward will come!

Now, months later, this same player goes into a tournament thinking gloomily, "Here I go again." This time however he is shocked to win back-to-back matches. And in the next match he loses by a narrow margin. That player immediately begins to think, "I can play with these guys. I'm not that bad. If I put my mind to it, I can excel!" This boost of confidence is immediately followed by, "I need to train harder."

With increased confidence, the player leaves the tournament motivated to go to work. This scenario - concentrated repetition culminating months later in back-to-back wins and increased motivation - is crucial for a player's development. Why? Because that player now realizes that constant training even while losing matches will lead to success and victories. This is a huge mental advantage that will help him through future challenges.

Make no mistake about it, forcing the perfect technique or the perfect stroke takes a distant backseat to developing the correct mental attitude and motivation through this process. As a coach, a parent, or even as the player, you should master the art of guiding the process without getting in the way. Motivation will take root and grow. All you do is create the right environment, set up the process, stay grounded in the weekly training and watch all the variables come together.

Your tennis pro,

Tom Veneziano



"The Truth about Winning" book is a Refresher Course on Tom's tennis lessons. What has helped my tennis the most is his Refocus Technique - "the next point is more important than the last mistake." I shorten this to "next point" before the serve and I find myself saying "forget it" to my partner if she wants to dwell on the previous point or game (good or bad). This has helped me focus on the present point and it has helped me win more of my matches.

Marlene Rosenthal
Houston, Texas


ADDENDUM:  I teach a total system of thinking in regard to stroke production and mental attitude which I cannot explain in one email.  Although each lesson can stand alone you will derive tremendous physical and mental benefit by understanding the total philosophy.  These emails, my web site, books, and tapes are part of a course in tennis, not just isolated tennis tips.  They all fit together into a system.  A system that once understood can help you not only learn tennis at a faster rate, and develop mental toughness, but also give you the knowledge necessary to help guide you and your children to a better understanding of the developmental process.

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