Be Happy But Not Satisfied – The Importance of Intent

Photo: AP via

by Angelo A. Rossetti, USPTA Elite/PTR Professional, USTA HP & Mental Skills Certified & 2x Guinness World Records™ holder 

Unfortunately most competitive athletes focus too much on the result and not enough on the process. The intent behind the result is more important than the result itself. In tennis, if you go for an unnecessary, low percentage shot when it’s not called for and it clips the net and barely trickles over for a winner should you be satisfied? Under these circumstances I’d be “happy but not satisfied.” Be happy that you won the point but not satisfied with your intent since it wasn’t a high percentage play.

Satisfaction would be derived from attaining the desired result while also having the correct intent. In soccer if you have the ball and juke the goalie so badly that he ends up falling to the ground leaving an open net and you blast an upper corner shot that hits the inside of the post and goes in, you should thank your blessings. All you needed to do was tap the ball into the open net at a safe distance away from the net post. You should definitely NOT be satisfied with that outcome, although you can be thankful or happy.

Intent is so important in competitive sports because it is an indicator of having the right tactics and strategies. You cannot directly control the outcome but you can control your intent. By having the right intent, hitting the right shot at the right time, you will eventually achieve increasingly positive outcomes. Having the wrong intent isn’t sustainable but sometimes athletes achieve the result that they want not realizing that they were lucky or got away with one.

In tennis, the four primary variables that a player can control are speed, direction, spin and height. Your fixed obstacles are the net and out of bounds lines and your variable obstacle is your opponent. If you have your opponent out of position then you only need to hit the ball fast enough to close out the point but NO FASTER and far away from your opponent enough to close out the point but NO FARTHER! If you are over hitting then you are either playing with emotion or ego, both of which are recipes for disaster. Humans are unable to think clearly and have emotions at the same time. When you become angry or emotional on the tennis court then you think less logically, which makes you stray away from your “intent” or game plan. Playing with ego can be disastrous as well because you are looking to “make a statement” when you just have to win the point.

When you are planning your intent for the fixed obstacles then spin and net clearance become more important. Barely clearing the net or consistently hitting the lines aren’t typically examples of sustainable strategies. I often say that if you have to hit the lines to win then you are either very lucky or playing someone much better than you (because there is so little margin to win a point).

Remembering when to be happy versus when to be satisfied will help keep your intent in check.

I always welcome feedback at angeloarossetti @ gmail .com.

You can learn more about a couple of tennis GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ that I have been a part of:

FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
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Be Happy But Not Satisfied – The Importance of Intent