After sharing additional insights on all other sections of the initial chapter of The Secrets to Optimal Performance Success, the topic of Performance Expectations really showcases how ‘pressure’ remains a constant throughout play irrespective of what stage of development to progression and/or topic is being discussed. This underpins why key steps need to be put in place to remove the negative noise. A discussion in and of itself, the idea of protecting your inner circle is incredibly true in attempt to mitigate negative implications from external people who do not support and/or are not conductive for your performance. This applies to the tennis player in equal parts to individuals as a wider practice to be conscious of and safeguard your own internal compass against this type of noise.
One of the biggest culprits of negative noise with quite alarming trends in each demographic worldwide becomes apparent on social media. Unfortunately, most players/athletes are a part of one, if not multiple social media platforms and their direct inner circle — those inside the triangular relationship: parents and/or guardians and the player’s coach, often are also using these platforms. In other words, no one is void from this type of noise. Each person within any given inner circle has a role to play — a responsibility, to ensure the player/athlete in this context maintains their course along The Pathway and that any potential form of negative noise is minimised. This is more simple than perhaps thought as while each person is susceptible to the influences of social media and their own respective version of negative noice, a greater awareness of this and steps in place can in fact limit this impact with the right inner circle in place.
Keeping the player/athlete at the forefront remains key, especially if this player/athlete remains inside the scope of the developmental spectrum. This age range is not only more susceptible to negative noise but are equally as impressionable to negative influences. Interestingly and often ignored is that poor behaviours that a player/athlete may exhibit have oftentimes been picked up from their inner circle. The more concerning aspect with social media is that this broadens an individual’s inner circle if controls are not enforced (think boundaries) to protect that developing child and their susceptibility to view right and wrong (albeit simplified). An interesting conversation to be had.
Turning to child psychology to human behaviour, it is well known the levels of susceptibility to impressionability in the developing child. Rather, this is the age range where they’re learning ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and they will continue along this learning curve until their later years into adulthood. Of equal importance is that this still rings true for young adults who are continuing to pave their way in the world — sporting or otherwise. This highlights the role of social media at all ages — particularly within these earlier years, whether child to maturing adult, that impressionability is still an active behaviour that most are susceptible towards and that trends on social media to interacting with others should be cautioned if any such ‘right’ and/or ‘wrong’ debate is brought to the surface. By keeping that inner circle tight knit affords a level of guidance to gently nudge players/athletes in the desired direction opposed to deviating and becoming susceptible to a new fad and/or otherwise misstep.
Irrespective of your age, social media does leave you susceptible to impressions and the more frequently these are viewed, your scope of understanding may become fractured in particular if your inner circle leans towards these views.
A players/athletes behaviours and what shapes them should be well accounted for whilst the parent and/or guardian remains mindful of these influences. This includes the varying facets of the Coach-Athlete relationship that have now been discussed and revisited throughout this Chapter, including the coach-parent relationship and the power of establishing the triangular relationship. Keeping in tune with placing the child at the forefront is the choice of hiring and firing your coach — giving the player/athlete a level of responsibility to learn what is helpful for their inner circle and what might not be as effective. By being encouraged to make these decisions early on helps the player/athlete with their decision making processes but also keeps them accountable to their choices in respect to their coach. That is, a player/athlete should be encouraged to decide who fits their game best and who should be included in their inner circle — with the help of their parent and/or guardian, and if their current coach falls into the less than optimal category of no longer being effective and/or helpful at this ‘new’ stage of development as they pursue The Long Game.
To learn more about Revisiting the Coach-Athlete Relationship: Part 4 Developing an Elite Tennis Player, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 49. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTok, Twitter, Threads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.