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Fair Play and Ethics: Win or Lose

Everyone has played someone who has broken the rules. Everyone knows that feeling when their ball is called out by their opponent when it was clearly inside the line. And everyone knows what it feels like losing to that kind of opponent. Needless to say, it isn’t nice. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who hasn’t played against someone who breaks the rules then I hope this remains to be true and you continue to lead by example. For those of you who have, you’re not alone by a long stretch and it’s so incredibly important to share with you that you’re on the right side of optimal performance and the right side of reaching that next peak performance cycle. How do I know? Quite simply, those who choose not to abide by the rules do not have the moral compass needed (i.e. internal ethics) to follow The Long Game.

Ascending towards the top of the game takes work. And a lot of work. My three favourite “D’s” that I have honed into any player/athlete I have worked with over the past near twenty years is this: Discipline, Dedication and Determination. It’s that simple. You need the discipline to show up even when it gets hard. You need the dedication to continue to fine-tune your craft. And you need the determination to see it though. This combination of “D’s” is lethal in the right hands and places you on the trajectory of The Pathway towards the finale of your initial 10 Years of Play. As for the following decade of play, these three “D’s” will be in your DNA as habitual behaviours that you’ll be at-the-ready to ascend towards the Top 10 with the 7 Keys becoming solidified within your game.

Of course you’re asking, if only it was that easy? The irony, however, is that it’s pretty close. But those who do not abide by fair play will eventually stumble as these three “D’s” do not agree with those without ethical standards. As such, when it comes to ethics it is as simple as whether or not it is ethical to lie or to tell the truth. Hopefully you’re following along and agree with the truth. The same applies for that ball inside the line. By conditioning these behaviours in the initial 10 Years of Play these players/athletes are raising the bar for the next generation of play alongside each key raising the level of play.

At the highest levels of play on both the WTA and ATP tours, fair play is a must have and players are bound to these terms per the code of conduct.

Sadly, some players at this level will still break a rule or two from time and others even more so. These behaviours are not attributed towards a Top 10 tennis ranking and as such players who do not maintain ethical standards are scarcely positioned to ascend towards the Top 10. And for the one that does every so often, fair play soon enough takes over. Then there are those who quickly fall into line. Why?

There’s something about the Top 10 that threatens your rankings hold if you step out of line and rightly so with fair play on the line. The same applies for ethics with both the WTA and ATP tours championing both principles.

By all accounts it is incredibly sad when these players do tarnish the name of our game. But for those who uphold these values and lead my example, they’re the ones who have harnessed the three “D’s” and used these behaviours to amplify their game. Meanwhile, those who make the choice not to play fair and/or by ethical standards, they’re also the ones who oftentimes are battling an inner turmoil that needs addressing to balance their personal and professional agenda.

There is one thing for sure when it comes to fair play — those who play by the rules have nothing to fear. And at the elite echelon of play, there are a myriad of hoops to ensure they’re all considered and adhered towards. These behaviours set not merely help your performance but they also ensure you’re eligible to continue to play the game you have grown to love. As for ethics, they go hand-in-hand with fairness and by upholding the values of the sport and respecting your status as a role model — once you’ve crossed the threshold into the Top 10. By doing so raises the bar again for the next generation after and by upholding these values reestablishes the importance of this cycle and fundamental behaviours in that initial 10 years of Play that builds key behaviours of which can later be attributed towards more readily processing the 7 Keys and more easily transitioning from one peak performance cycle to the next. And all it takes as an added bonus is a moral compass bound by healthy ethics and fair play.

To learn more about Fair Play and Ethics: Win or Lose, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 44. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Addiction and Coaching: the Tennis Player

It is important to preface this segment by sharing that if you’re experiencing a form of addiction, please consult your local physician / GP for steps to put in place to help you overcome these behaviours. The following is not medical advice, it is based on science (behavioural) coupled lived experience.

Addiction is more often than not associated with quite drastic outcomes to behaviours and the underlying and/or more subtle addictions that can come about in the daily lives of adolescents to teenagers when they’re not receiving the attention they seek are often overlooked. An example in the sports coaching context for the tennis player may be over-training to carrying an injury without sharing — for fear of ‘loss’ of training. However, there are also more widely known addictions that may present themselves away from the training grounds that coaches can become privy to if they put the work in to build trusting/trustful relationships with their players that can also allow the coach in turn to ‘ring the alarm’ with a player’s and/or child’s parent/guardian.

There are a multitude of signs a coach can look for from a behavioural perspective and coaches are in a unique position to play their part to combat these more concerning behaviours. It is also pertinent to remember some players will be more susceptible than others due to their environment and the ‘training grounds’ (i.e. tennis courts) is one such area that can mitigate these vulnerabilities to susceptibilities with the right guidance, support network and structures than work in unison to condition the player/athlete to build more robust foundations as they transition through their younger years into adulthood.

This is one core topic that is rarely addressed that when the training environment is well-rounded it can play such a positive part in a child’s life whilst also building behavioural responses that can allow them to better cope when put in more pressurised environments away from the training grounds i.e. at-risk and/or vulnerable environments that may lead to and/or contribute towards an addiction. As a huge proponent for sports participation, one such textWhat is Your Game Missing, Now? begins to address the social implications of reduced sports participation to increasing the rate of active populations.

It is well documented that active (physical) hobbies — whether casual or for the more dedicated, have incredibly positive benefits for both physical health and mental health.

Whilst the role of mental health and the tennis player has previously been touch on, the presence and/or susceptibility to addiction is new. And whilst from a societal perspective it is also well-documented that addictions are a part of our communities, that isn’t to say that the sporting athlete and with that, the tennis player, is not at-risk at developing an addiction. By all means through participation the risks are lowered, but a proactive coach that builds trust and is conscious of the signs, can not merely be a sounding board to confidant in times of need by building the triangular relationship (refer to the coach-parent relationship) this also affords a best-practice protocol when keeping a healthy eye on a child’s overall physical and mental health and preparedness to discuss and/or address the role of addiction in sport and how coaching plays an integral part in the players/athletes development.

To learn more about Addiction and Coaching: for the Tennis Player, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 31. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Learning from Mistakes: Tennis Players

Everyone makes mistakes. It is one of those things in life that is inevitable. How you respond to these mistakes will vary and these behaviours are often formed in your earlier developmental years. Only later in life, if and/or when you choose, will you begin to modify these behaviours. On this premise, it is so incredibly important to set the standards in a child’s earlier years to ensure their response is well-attuned to appropriate and builds the ‘right’ kind of behaviours opposed to setting that child up for a harder road ahead i.e. needing to ‘rewire’ these behaviours due to the poor responses initially developed and/or noted as acceptable at the given time.

An example of a poorly developed behaviour in earlier years, when we’re narrowing our focus on the tennis player, is the reaction when a point is lost due to an unforced error i.e. a mistake. A child has two options — to accept that their performance wasn’t good enough for that given point and to learn from their mistake for the next point; or, the child may behave poorly — throw their racket, scream a few ill-choice words and perhaps even throw a little tantrum that involves a ‘slap’ to their leg, or similar. This example is shared from a lived experience — behaviours that once-upon-a-time I personally had become accustomed towards as acceptable and suitable to the poor performance. That is, mistakes were not okay and were frowned up. At the time, if your behaviour showed your level of frustration to disappointment this was almost applauded opposed to the calmer player that moved on to the next point.

Thankfully, my behaviours evolved as this was never a natural reaction. Again, from a personal perspective I was too well-rounded to keep that type of behaviour up — I knew better from a young age that this was not acceptable and I definitely would never get away with it off the tennis court and/or in front of my parents. There was absolutely no way that would have happened! And yet, this still happens to this day and coaches and parents alike allow this to happen. And that is not okay.

A child’s to tennis player’s actual development during these years sets the scene to what’s allowed later in life, in particular those adolescent years when hormones can at times take that behaviour to the next level. Even worse, off the tennis court this ‘screaming’ to ‘throwing’ can become evident in other areas of life when those types of behaviours are never okay. If you wouldn’t get away with screaming at yourself and throwing your book and/or slapping yourself after receiving a lesser result that planned on a test, why would it be okay on the tennis court?

Poor behaviour is never okay and setting the bar high for the developmental player means we’re also conditioning more positive behaviours for when that child becomes an adolescent and in later years, a young adult. On this basis, sport is incredibly powerful for setting well-rounded behaviours.

At the end of the day, everyone makes mistakes and it’s how we react that makes the difference. If you’re able to learn from your mistake — why it happened and its cause, specifically in tennis, your performance can evolve as you search to nudge those metrics further and reach your next peak performance. In this sense, mistakes are a constant that can be flipped upside down as a learning curve — a way in which can foster further development, further progressions and edge that player closet towards that Top 10 tennis ranking in the weeks to come, months to come, years to come and/or the next one or two decades ahead, depending on your rate of progress to current ranking range.

To learn more about Learning From Mistakes: Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 30. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.