“When you stay in the process is when you win – not when you get into the end results.”
Billie Jean King, former No. 1 women’s tennis player in the world and holder of 39 Grand Slam titles
Billie Jean King is right. Winning is important, but when it becomes your # 1 goal — whether it’s on the tennis court, golf course, basketball court or football field — then you’re likely focusing your energy and mind on something you can’t completely control.
Control what you can. Let go of what you can’t.
Concentrate on the tennis fundamentals you’ve worked on your entire life. That’s what got you where you are now. Focus on what you can control and everything else will take care of itself.
It worked for Billie Jean King, just as it worked another former No. 1 tennis player in the world, Andy Roddick. Heading into the 2001 French Open, his mantra was, “If someone is going to beat me, I want him to have to play a good match.” He echoed similar thoughts later in the year when preparing for the U.S. Open.
Roddick didn’t win either of those tournaments, but he did win 32 times in a 12-year professional career. Had he been obsessed with winning every single one of his tournaments, he could have become consumed with defeating his opponent — potentially distracting himself from playing to the best of his ability and severely compromising his career.
Wisdom that reaches beyond the court.
Consider golf sensation Tiger Woods. He’s won 14 Major Championships and 101 tour events since turning pro in 1996. When the media began speculating on just how many Major Championships Woods would capture and whether he would catch up to the great Jack Nicklaus, Woods kept his focus. He responded, “The thing I keep saying to myself is that I want to become a better player at the end of the year. And if I can keep doing that year after year for the rest of my career, I’ll have a pretty good career.”
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. But if you do your best and continue to improve your game and hone your skills, you’ll win far more than you’ll lose. Concentrating on what you can control, rather than what you can’t, is the true pursuit of personal excellence.
No, it’s not always about winning all the time. It’s about disciplining your mind to focus on the things that you have control over – the things that are responsible for whether you come out on the winning or losing end.
Written By: Xavier Luna, Director of Junior Tennis for the Advantage All City Junior Tennis Programs