Have you ever had a coach tell you that you hit a "perfect" serve or played a "perfect" set? Well, let me tell you, there is no such thing as perfect in sports. Perfect implies you can't get any better, and that's just not true!
What your coach really meant to say is that you hit your best serve or played a set at your peak. And that's something to be proud of!
But sometimes, we can get too caught up in the idea of perfection, and it can cause anxiety and stress. Maybe your coach, parents, or even yourself expect you to play perfectly all the time, and when you can't, you feel like you failed.
That's a lot of pressure to handle, and it's not fair to expect perfection from anyone, including yourself.
Seeking perfection often leads to anxiety
In fact, one parent of a young tennis player asked me how to help their daughter who gets upset and loses composure during matches when her opponent starts winning. Chances are, she's feeling the weight of excessively high expectations.
It's important to have realistic expectations and understand that you won't ace every serve or win every point. But you can focus on improving your first-serve accuracy, placement, or speed. And when you make a mistake, don't let it get you down! Stay confident and focus on winning the next point.
Take a cue from WTA No. 1, Iga Swiatek. She understands that perfection shouldn't be the goal. After being knocked out in the fourth round of the 2023 Australian Open, she focused on getting her expectations lower and not putting so much pressure on herself to play perfectly all the time.
And guess what? She went on to win the next tournament which is the Qatar Open!
Here are 3 practical tips for letting go of the pressure of perfection:
Firstly, set realistic expectations for yourself. Understand that you won't win every point, but you can still play your best and aim to improve specific areas of your game.
Secondly, pay attention to your self-talk. If you catch yourself saying things like "I have to win" or "I can't make mistakes," you might be putting too much pressure on yourself. Instead, try focusing on playing point by point, and let go of the need to be perfect.
Lastly, don't be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes - even the top tennis players in the world. When you make a mistake, take a deep breath, reset, and focus on the next point.
Focus on the next point after you made a mistake
Remember, tennis is a game, and it's supposed to be fun! So don't let the pressure of perfection take away from the joy of playing. Just focus on doing your best and enjoying the game.
Keep up the great work, and let's hit some awesome serves and sets together!