This past weekend our girls’ tennis team played in the Great 8 Girls Tennis Tournament in Columbia, MO. We have a different team make-up this year after graduating some key people from last year’s state championship team. Our top players are back but the rest of our varsity line-up is inexperienced. We won our first two rounds to advance to the finals. But in the finals we played a great team out of St. Louis. We lost decisively in spite of playing some close matches.
I asked the girls after the last dual to reflect back on the matches and determine individually what they could learn from the tournament. Some players will give it some thought in the moment and others will hear it as “coach-speak” and not truly self-evaluate. So what can the coach do or the player do for accountability?
I asked each player to set some goals for personal improvement moving forward. I had each player in the varsity line-up text me with a few goals for the coming weeks. I responded back to each player and in some cases added a couple goals for them of my own. The focus became on setting performance goals that could be related to stroke improvement (physical), strategy (mental), or psychological (emotional). I now have a one-page summary list of each player’s goals with me at practice.
Two reasons for doing this included (1) start to focus on something we can control and (2) to get the focus away from dwelling on the defeat. As for the latter, we had to be emotionally resilient. This can be very difficult when you really care about the outcome. But we had to strive to move beyond the outcome to the next stage of determining what can we do about it that will help us moving forward? This way of thinking will not guarantee outcome success. It will improve your chances of better future performance and a more enjoyable journey ahead.