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How does a Tennis Player overcome a Stagnant Performance?

No one likes a stagnant performance. Frustrating to disheartening to somewhere in between is typically descriptive of various emotions that are felt at the multitude of stages that occur within this spiral to the feeling of being ‘stuck’ with a near combustion of sorts to move beyond these current confines to burst free. Sound familiar?

Whether you’re that tennis player of tennis coach — or coach and/or athlete for that matter, this is essentially universal irrespective the sport you play. That’s one of the best parts of my work in that it is what I term cross-sectional as it traverses across countless sports and not just tennis. However, tennis is my bread and butter and the sport that has been in my DNA throughout my personal to professional career and forms the baseline for this work with a greater bias towards the ‘tennis’ landscape. Back to it. 

These varying emotions that are by no means pleasant present a barrier to be broken — to be knocked down and stomped on to move past with gusto and ascend towards that next level of performance. What I term your baseline of play and/or performance — something I’ve harked on about and shared a multiple of times on Beyond Top 10 Tennis, is a measure of your current state of play that is to be built up through various stages of peak performance cycles. Sound familiar? I hope so. If not, check back to our episodes.

But where am I going? A stagnant performance is colloquial in a manner of speaking for a performance plateau whereby a tennis player becomes stuck at a given level.

This level is typically correlated with a player’s given ranking at the time on either the WTA and/or ATP tour with varying ranges. Whether that is Top 300 to Top 200 or between the ranking range of 150 to 100 — hovering on the brink of ascending inside the Top 100, countless players go through these ‘plateaus’ for the simple reason that there are only 100 given ranking places on either tour. Essentially, that’s 200 collectively and room for no more. Which means, you either have a baseline equipped with holding that level of play that is correlated with a Top 100 ranking and/or you quite simply do not.

Oh, but no way is it that easy? I hear a lot of that and fortunately it just isn’t true. Countless newcomers break into the Top 100 near on every week and on the flip side, countless other players regress outside the Top 100. And it isn’t just this ranking range. Performance fluctuates and these baselines are no more. They either remain stagnant — not as bad as it may seem, in contrast to a regression; however, a progression is most favourable and what we’re really after.

In order to overcomes this hurdle of being ‘stuck’ with the noted consequence quite literally more probable to regress outside your current ranking range — be that Top 10, Top 50 or Top 100, your baseline needs to become more solidified and robust to give you a fighting chance to progress. And if you’ve been listing to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and putting time aside to read these Blog pieces on a weekly basis, then you’re incredibly familiar with the key terms assimilated with these perofmrnaues that begin to correlate with not only a Top 10 tennis ranking, but the kind of performances that garner Grand Slam success — on a rolling basis.

It’s pretty unreal to say the least. But just to be sure, it’s all backed by science which makes it even more mind-blowing.

So what is a tennis player to do when their ranking hovers and those progressions are near whimsical and their ranking is on the brink of slipping backwards? Remember those 7 Keys — it’s time to take action. Recall my latest release: How to Develop a Top 10 Tennis Ranking: the Power of the 8th Key? That’s your calling. From 7 ‘metrics’ to the 8th ‘metric’ that unites them all, these eight rulers are guideposts for your performance. And the best part? You guessed it — 100% backed by science.

Now I know education gets a bad wrap and not every tennis player and/or coach wants to pop on open a book for fear that maybe there really is something they’re yet to learn or know, but sadly there is somewhat of a stigma for WTA and ATP tour coaches of ‘knowing’ everything already which is really disheartening for the tennis player. After all, most players rely on their coaches to up-skill and be the bedrock — responsible for passing down that knowledge. So please, don’t hold your player back by fear of learning something new that perhaps you don’t yet know or don’t really understand — the understanding will come over time, that’s something I can promise you.

But it’s not as easy as it always seems for good reason.

By learning or up-skilling or enhancing your education — irrespective where you’re at, this is what is needed if not demanded for a tennis coach to progress their player and to move them out of that stagnant zone and/or that performance plateau. But first things first is one book at a time until you reach the latest climax that runs it all home.

Ah, but you want all the answers right here and now? Sure, I can understand that. But as I’ve previously shared, by doing that would be a disservice to you and your player. Why? Quite simply, that’s what the data has said over the last 12 Years and counting and when we look at human behaviour to learning schematics and an assortment of behavioural psychology, all of this continues to run true. But per design, if you take the steps to learn through the framework depicted at AM8 International — from The Pathway to The Long Game you will snap out of the plateau and your current baseline will begin to shift.

Even better? The more the 8 Keys become solidified into a tennis player’s game, that Top 10 tennis ranking is not simply within reach, but so too is Grand Slam success. And I’ll end on that there’s a reason why it has been scientifically established that 92% of tennis players and coaches on the WTA and ATP tours do not know what it takes to ascend to and maintain a Top 10 tennis ranking, and why 8% do know but at the same rate, 2% of the Top 10 will lose their grip on their baseline each and every season. 

It’s a cutthroat world and tennis is no different. Use the 8 Keys to your advantage.

To learn more about AM8 International check out our selections of Books to options to join Dr B’s Pack to gain exclusive access to the best in the world. Not quite ready? Head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis for free to access 75+ episodes directly from Dr Berge of what it really takes to win multiple Grand Slams to securing that Top 10 tennis ranking. 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: Coaches

Mistakes happen and they’re readily made by the best of us. But this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Rather, far from it. From being conscious enough to notice mistakes and to have the capacity to reflect — instil regular reflective practice sessions, allows every coach irrespective of their calibre to build new skills and to become the coach they desire to be. Now this may take the form of a Top 10 tennis coach or an exceptional developmental coach — each coaching level serves a purpose in The Long Game and it is paramount to be mindful of how these levels intersect in building the best players to coaches in the world.

But first, it’s about those mistakes and the grey area that edges towards negligence. A scary word outside the coaching landscape and thus of greater concern when used within this environment, coaching negligence is a concerning reality players/athletes to parents need to be aware of and coaches incredibly mindful of to ensure they do not succumb to these pitfalls. One such preventative measure is the aforementioned practice of reviewing your own practices and if they’re working, if they need to be modified and/or if the time has come to update these older practices into more accommodating ones that take into consideration the individual player/athlete and their set needs i.e. that one size does not fit all and nor does a tennis drill and/or lesson fit all players/athletes.

To ensure you do not succumb to and/or fall victim to coaching negligence education is key and the willingness to uphold widely known ethical practices to codes of conduct in safeguarding all players/athletes — including from developing an injury.

This change of focus flips the script towards a coaches responsibility in their continued education to ensure outdated practices that have been identified as contributing towards the onset of injury in children to younger adolescents are removed once and for all. The same applies for the player close to the end of their initial 10 Years of Play and about to transition into their second decade of play towards their next peak performance with this cycle continued towards the Top 10 with further infusion of the 7 Keys into their game. However, if the initial decade leaves the player/athlete highly susceptible to the onset of injury then their second decade becomes derailed before it even starts.

Unfortunately this is seen all too often on the WTA and ATP tours when a player is in their later teenage years to early 20’s — early in their second decade of play, to then succumb to an injury that subsequently results in their rankings ascension regress and undoing the past 1-2 years of peak performance cycles. This is stoppable. It is preventable with the right practices and education around newer practices that align with the progression towards a Top 10 tennis ranking. But it starts with the ability to acknowledge that some practices may very well be outdated and change is warranted opposed to avoided.

When it comes to education it is important to be mindful of what was taught last year may not be as applicable as it once was and the same applies to what was taught twenty years ago may very well be outdated.

Sadly, there are a lot of coaches who rely on knowledge and/or education ascertained decades prior — whether that be one, two or more and avoid keeping pace with new knowledge and education. By all accounts, education one, two or more decades ago is still relevant and serves a purpose, just as important as knowledge from one year ago is to two weeks ago — it all serves a purpose. What is most critical is the ability to remain open minded to new knowledge — new education to ensure this can be integrated into your coaching practices opposed to being avoided and/or oblivious of new research that may very well uncover how to develop a Top 10 tennis ranking.

Times are changing and coaching negligence is a real thing and can be called out. Likewise, coaches need to be held accountable to these gaps if they remain void of up-skilling on a regular basis. And this definitely does not need to include courses and/or presentations from the same cohort, rather it is what’s external to your regular go-to source to see what else is available that may not be being shared within this context. To ensure this remains true this is where reflective practices comes into play and that level of consciousness on how you can review your own performance and do better — from safeguarding your players/athletes from injury to acquiring the knowledge that can see these players/athletes benefit from The Pathway to ascend towards the Top 10. All of this becomes possible courtesy of your own coaching practices — open whilst challenging the status quo to adopt new practices and leave the older ones where they belong — with the former generation of players opposed to the new and next generation of play that demands the winning edge afforded by science.

To learn more about Learning from Mistakes: Coaches, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 45. 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: the Role of Academia in Sport and for the Tennis Player

With ‘education and sport’ remaining such an in-depth topic that is rarely afforded the attention it deserves, this is a follow-up to our most recent Blog on ‘Education and its Role in Aspiring Tennis Players and Athletes‘. As the former looked at education more broadly and its applicability to building a player’s capacity and how education can be leveraged to enhance player/athlete performance, here we’re going to dig a little deeper. Most simply, education and academia fall under the same umbrella. Education can, however, be viewed as the initial learning years that are ‘mandatory’ for those who have access to these frameworks. Academia can then be viewed as ‘non-mandatory’ and rather used as a complementary tool to enhance performance and continue along a similar trajectory as The Pathway but with a more purposeful outlook.

By this it can be implied that academia is an individual’s personal desire — to learn, to continue their initial education into a more formal area and being immersed in academia in and of itself. However, for the tennis player this can be shaped as a continued ability to leverage their education and continue to do so in one or more of their peak areas of interest. Recall that through the initial formative years of a player/athlete their is limited choice of the actual framework, in most cases, as they are encouraged to learn a multitude of subjects to set them up for their later pursuits in life and/or prepare them for a more in-depth learning process in academia (i.e. University). However, this isn’t the premise.

The premise is centred around a player’s ability to ‘learn’ laterally and contextually by varied means with the tools at their disposal and in this case, using their education and the multitude of subjects they’re learning to tap into ‘other’ elements of play. And this is where the 7 Keys can amplify a players performance.

But there’s no mistaking the complexity that underwrites The 7 Keys and for a player/athlete to have a reasonable understanding of their initial education to better grasp and understand the topics to concepts to be presented in academia. By taking the next step in education, this can be assimilated with a player’s performance advancing in unison whilst their habits remain true. In other words, the structure of formal education can be integrated into the life of the player/athlete to afford a sense of normalcy and control — structure, that allows them to continue to follow The Pathway without losing sight of their end goal; becoming more susceptible to this when that structure is no longer in place.

A more prominent benefit nonetheless of academia is for the player/athlete to ‘finally’ study what they’re most interested in and/or inclined towards. On this premise, academia can be leveraged as a balancing act in more than one way whereas the player/athlete is continuing to reach new heights as they follow The Long Game and progressively ascend towards the Top 10. This ascension can occur in conjunction with the player/athlete and academia — using academia to offset this greater ‘progressive’ load and keep their intellectual advantage that has been honed over their schooling years and is now being maintained and equally ‘progressed’ in their academic pursuits for the ‘win‘.

Tune in to Beyond Top 10 Tennis for this week’s episode to learn more. And if you enjoy the episode, be sure to like, follow to subscribe or even a few stars or five! In the interim, catch up on the episode notes for all of our social links (or simply scroll to the bottom of this page).