If you are like most tennis players, you think you are competing well because you are trying hard to win. In reality, competing and trying hard to win are not the same. Here is a little test for you to determine if you are a true gladiator or just trying hard: Do you:
1) Truly prepare for competition? For most players preparation for a match means getting enough sleep, eating well and having a great warm-up, but a gladiator takes another approach. Gladiators do not just prepare for a specific match, they are constantly and diligently preparing day in and day out by working to optimize everything that may give them an edge.
2) Fight for every point regardless of the score? Usually when players get a lead in a match, they reach a point when they feel under control and victory seems near. However, once in a while one faces an opponent who does not seem to go away. Regardless of the score, the player continues to fight. Those are the gladiators.
3) Accept the circumstances and try to use them in your favor? You almost always face some adversity: too much wind, slippery courts, rain delays, etc. – an uncomfortable situation you can’t change. Most players always ask “why” and waste time answering that question. Gladiators ask: how can I use this to my advantage?
4) Maintain a positive and confident body language at all times? Gladiators establish an imposing presence on the court. Their body language exudes confidence and composure and their image whispers in their opponent’s ear: You are in for a battle!!
5) Focus on solutions, not problems? On-court problems rattle most players: their serve is not working, their forehand is off, they got a bad call, they just missed an overhead, the opponent is annoying, etc. Gladiators understand that the essence of match play is to solve problems. You are on the court to solve problems. That is why you play tennis. It is like entering a marathon and getting rattled because you have to “run far.”
6) Reflect on the past but focus on the future? The main goal of the gladiator is optimal performance every single point and that requires discipline. Dumb mistakes and unfortunate situations are never easy to handle, especially during key moments in the match. However, gladiators never dwell on things they can’t change and always focus on the future. They only use the past to better prepare for the future.
7) Constantly fine-tune your thoughts and emotions to achieve and maintain an ideal performance state? The only way to play your best is by getting yourself into a mental state that facilitates optimal performance. It is a state of focus, relaxation and confidence. A match is foremost a battle against yourself and any gladiator knows that.
8) View adversity as an opportunity? Gladiators seek adversity because they know it is the only way to truly test themselves and improve. They look forward to uncomfortable opponents and difficult situations. They thrive when things get complicated. Gladiators understand that although it is nice to win 6/0 6/0, a closer match is much better for their development.
9) Avoid excuses? Because gladiators give it their best every single time they play, they accept the result without trying to make excuses for their performance. They may not like the result but they are able to analyze the match objectively and learn from their mistakes.
10) Regroup and look forward to the next challenge? After a loss, gladiators are eager for another opportunity. They can’t wait to get a second chance. After all, testing themselves is what they enjoy most.
So, how did you do? If you answered, “yes” to all these questions, I would like to ask one more critical question. Do you do all this with pleasure? In other words, do you absolutely enjoy the battle? If the answer is another “yes,” congratulations, my friend: you are a TRUE GLADIATOR ON THE COURT!