“Life Outside the Lines” is a new weekly column in collaboration with one of India’s promising Gen Next player, Mukund Sasikumar. With candid honesty, he shares his thoughts from a player’s perspective.
Read the first episode here –
Episode 1 –Expectations
As a continuation of my previous write up on expectations, today I want to write something on how to control frustration and anger and not lose focus from what we are doing.
To start with, it has happened to all of us. It will happen again and it’s a human emotion, because we all expect the best from ourselves. We all have broken racquets, screamed, abused. But one thing about it that is common for most of us – it doesn’t help! One of the main reasons which can make a person very frustrated on the court, with tons of external reasons is EGO, in my opinion. How could I miss this? I practiced this shot so much! Well, clearly not enough. This was a crucial point! We make points crucial!
Well coming down to how to make it better, it is to accept the reality that you are human and you can miss. If I ask one of you to paint, dance or play a new sport for the first time and you are terrible at it, you would not be disappointed. Why? Because you accept the fact that you are not very good at it and you need more practice. But when it comes to something we practice for a few years, we think we are good at it but the fact is, we are probably still not. We still need more practice, but not many of us tell ourselves that. We expect to stop missing if we practice something repeatedly. But most of us don’t understand, we are just more used to it compared to something we are not used to. Otherwise, everybody reading this article would be in contention for a slam, if practice makes you perfect. It doesn’t! Practice optimises your chance to get close to perfection in what you are practicing.
So it is very important to take responsibility for your mistakes on and off the court. To accept and understand your limits. And tennis is a very high coordinated sport. To each shot, there are many small executions that you need to perform right, for the outcome to be good. So it is humanly completely fine to miss one of the steps a few times in a 2-hour match as you. Maybe that’s the reason Rafa never gets frustrated. Because maybe he doesn’t tell himself HOW COULD YOU MISS THIS? He instead must be telling himself how can I do it better.
What happens when you get frustrated for missing a shot? Shifting of momentum happens. So instead of making one mistake and moving on to a few normal points, you make 3 mistakes in a row and lose a few games. When 3 or more mistakes happen. you start doubting if you are doing the right thing and start holding back. When you start holding back, the opponent of course takes advantage of it and you lose a few more points and games and maybe even the match in the process. You must be wondering you lost because of that one crucial mistake you made. No! You lost because of the emotion you forced on yourself which leads to so many other things.
Let us analyse the facts that gets you frustrated. Some players get ticked if the opponent plays well. What are we playing? Easy level on PlayStation? Is he forbidden to play well? Wrong calls from the umpire. When you are not perfect at something you pay so much money and train, why can’t he make a human error? He made 100 other correct line calls, did you play well on all those points? So including me, we all cannot afford to waste our mental energy on things that are not our bad. Why I am saying this is you will get FRUSTRATED. We can’t stop it. We can only limit it, so it’s EASIER to control. The minimum you keep it at, more limited to yourself you keep it at, the more positive you keep it at, the better the person you will be on the court.
So to conclude it, as we happily accept our good shots, learn to accept our errors as well which will only motivate you to work harder to get better. Instead of getting furious for missing 3 shots out of 10, maybe try saying wow I hit 7 in. So let me try for 8 and it’s much easier to get to the practice court. In a match, if it happens, remind yourself, ” OPPONENT IS ONLY HAPPIER TO SEE YOU CRY. UMPIRE DOESN’T CARE IF YOU ARE ANGRY WITH HIM. RACQUETS ARE EXPENSIVE- DON’T YOU DARE THINK OF IT! PEOPLE ARE WATCHING YOU PLAY, SO TAKE IT EASY! YOU STILL ARE NOT WORLD NO 1, SO I GUESS IT’S OK TO MISS, YOUR NAME IS NOT ROGER AND FINALLY, IT’S COMPLETELY FINE TO BE WHERE YOU ARE.“
Thank you and Jai hind,