No matter what type of sport you play, learning how to become an intense competitor is one of the first steps towards greater success, especially when it comes to tennis. If you're not quite sure how or where to start, below are some essential tips to help you unleash your competitive side and become a force to be reckoned with during game time.
1. Accept the idea that you deserve to win.
Believe it or not, one of the biggest roadblocks to achieving competitive success is holding on to the idea that for some reason, you don't deserve to win. The source of this sense of unworthiness can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint, but in many cases, it can be attributed to factors such as past disappointments, negative thinking and/or low self-esteem issues. If you want to build a solid foundation for maintaining competitive intensity, you have to rid yourself of the idea that somehow you don't deserve to succeed. Accept the idea that you can be a winner, and that competitive victory is not only something that you should hope for, but it's something that you actually deserve.
2. Be relentless in practice.
Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player in history, had a very strong opinion about how players should approach their practice sessions. In his autobiography "Rare Air: Michael on Michael", Jordan made the following observation: "I saw some Dream Teamers dog it in practice before the Olympics. I looked at them and I knew that's what separates me from them." From trainers to coaches to teammates, everyone who interacted with Michael Jordan knew that he was an intensely competitive athlete and that giving a half-hearted effort in practice was simply not an option for him. How you handle your practice sessions says a lot about your work ethic, and if your work ethic is poor, you're simply not going to be prepared enough to have confidence during actual competition. Practice with intensity, and it will build your confidence for when it's time to compete. When asked in an interview whether or not he feared failure during games, Jordan responded with this simple yet powerful statement: "Work ethic eliminates fear."
3. Bounce back after setbacks.
Strange as it may sound, the one thing that all successful people have in common is that they have endured multiple failures along the way. If you're truly going to unleash your competitive side, you're going to have to get used to overcoming adversity and bouncing back after failures and setbacks. If your opponent happens to get the best of you – or, you simply make critical mistakes during competition – don't lament your defeat or wallow in your sorrow. Take the time to analyze what went wrong, and resolve to learn from your mistakes so that you can be better the next time around. As Oswald Avery famously quipped, "Whenever you fall, pick something up."
4. Compete against yourself first and foremost.
Truth be told, your most formidable competitor should be the one you see when you look in the mirror. Try not to focus so much on beating the person across from you, but instead focus on finding out ways to top your personal best over and over again. This will naturally lead to more success during actual competition.
While winning is important, it goes without saying that you shouldn't become so obsessed with winning that you do it at the expense of good character. In fact, the best competitors know that it's not actually about whether or not you win, but rather what type of person you become during the process. Keep that in mind as you put the above tips into practice, and you'll be able to approach every competition with a real winner's mindset.