DEVELOP THE “WILL TO LEARN” NOT THE “WILL TO WIN”

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

As coaches, athletes, leaders and mentors we have all fallen into the trap of trying to emphasize or develop the “will to win.” It sounds good and seems to make sense. It implies giving your best effort, not giving up and trying to become victorious. If you look more closely at developing the will to win, you are actually focusing on things you can’t control. You aren’t controlling the controllables. Your learning, attitude, preparation and effort level are things you can control.

How well your opponent plays on any given day is something you cannot control. Play to play well rather than play to win is what I’ve been emphasizing with the players and teams that I coach. Even with that you can’t always control how you play. In tennis, some days you don’t hit the ball as well as you’d like to. You can, however, control your level of learning. If you open yourself up to learning by controlling what you can control and not focusing on outcomes, but on the process, you will be a better athlete.

This isn’t easy. In life people judge us, whether we like it or not, on our results or what you have done lately. To increase your chances of having an optimal result or performance you need to shift your mindset to one of learning rather than winning. In tennis, on a big point, against a formidable opponent, do you secretly hope that they double fault or make an error? If you are, then you are focusing on the outcome. Focus on playing the best you play can based on what you are given. Have the ‘bring it on’ attitude. Compete with a sense of ‘here is what I am going to do so try to stop me’.

The football coach Jim Harbaugh said “If you’re an individual who’s looking for more work and less fun, you can be a champion.” I’d rephrase that to say that you look for fun in working hard, learning and improving to be the best you can be.

The Urban dictionary definition of the will to win is “the ability to do whatever is necessary in life to achieve your goals in life, sports, or any endeavor you undertake. The will to win is a phrase held by only those who truly believe in the will to do something that others believe one cannot do.”

Interestingly, according to Rob Polishook, a mental training coach, “in martial arts, they don’t differentiate between matches and practice. It’s all called practice. There is an implicit understanding of the process and matches are an environment where players can continually learn, grow, and improve, rather than serving as ‘“judgment day.’” 

Vince Lombardi touched on this concept when he said “the will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win.” Most athletes enjoy winning and therefore have some type of will to win. But the will to prepare or the will to learn – now those athletes are much more rare. If you put your urgency into the preparation and let the performance just happen you’ll be on a better road to success.

It’s not how well you compete but how well you prepare. It’s not how often you win but how often you learn, improve and grow.

Be prepared. Enjoy the process. Don’t let the score or outcome cap your learning potential.

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:

Our Inspiration – 2 World Records 2 Minute Video
FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
If you found this article of value please consider making a donation to Save the Children. Otherwise, please share this article so that we can educate, inform and inspire others.
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DEVELOP THE “WILL TO LEARN” NOT THE “WILL TO WIN”

Be the Best Version of Yourself

rogercrawford-trophyRoger Crawford carrying the Olympic torch (left courtesy Roger Crawford). The trophy my father gave to my brother & me when trying to set our first Guinness World Record in 2007 flanked by the two books that highlighted our records.

In sports and in life you need to celebrate your small successes. Each improvement, no matter how small, will increase your confidence. Unfortunately in our society we compare ourselves to others in order to judge how we are doing ourselves. It’s easy to do. In school we received grades. Those can easily be compared to other children. In sports there is a winner and a loser. In life there is your neighbor’s house, lawn and car.

If we let it, comparison can consume us. STOP. Adjust your mindset so that you are comparing yourself to yourself. You want to be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be. Compare yourself to ONLY yourself. Now self-improvement can be like a good stock in the stock market. There are days it can go up, be level and go down but all in all, just like a good stock, it improves over time. Sometimes the changes are subtle but the subtle improvements, especially among athletes, are the most important and challenging ones because they often go unnoticed by you. Turn your set backs into comebacks and be resilient when faced with adversity just like Roger Crawford says in his book How High Can You Bounce? Think of it this way. The US Army’s slogan is “Be the Best You Can Be.” It’s not ‘Be better than everyone else’. Nike’s slogan is “Just Do it” and not ‘Just Win it’.

Comparison to others will just foster jealousy, envy and self-dissatisfaction whereas comparison to ourselves is the best thing you can do to foster introspection, improvement and success. Look at the world’s top athletes or world record holders. If you are already the best at something then comparing yourself to others will only be a path downward. However, creating a mindset whereby practice today has the sole focus of being slightly better, stronger or faster than you were yesterday will lead you on an upward path of becoming a champion.

Sometimes in life you are the silent champion with no one knowing how much you’ve improved so make sure to give yourself a good medal.

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:

Our Inspiration – 2 World Records 2 Minute Video
FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
If you found this article of value please consider making a donation to Save the Children. Otherwise, please share this article so that we can educate, inform and inspire others.
Make a Donation

Be the Best Version of Yourself

The Four Types of Strength

 

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

Mental toughness is often incorrectly used interchangeably with resilience. Psychologists define resilience as a positive adaptive process of coping with adversity and stress, as opposed to a group of personality traits or psychological attributes. In other words, mentally tough describes someone’s personality but resilience is a process to handle situations.

In her second TED talk, Jane McGonigal discusses four types of strength in the form of resilience: Physical, Mental, Emotional and Social.

Strength in sports comes in forms that may surprise you. The four types of strength are:1. Physical resilience, 2. Mental resilience, 3. Emotional resilience, and 4. Social resilience.

Physical Resilience is the most obvious and most commonly known form of strength. Being able to resist force. Being malleable to flex with stress and pressure and not too rigid to break under pressure. In tennis many coaches and players tell themselves to “move their feet.” This gets their blood going, getting them breathing more oxygen and ultimately is a physical way to get the mind working. Absorbing someones force rather than crumbling from it.

Mental Resilience is the second type of strength. Just like any muscle, the brain needs to be exercised. Specifically, the will to win is one of the strongest emotions an athlete can have. Will power can grow if you work on it. One way to improve it is setting small goals and achieving them. With each accomplished goal your will to reach the next goal is born from success and confidence.

Thirdly, Emotional Resilience relates to emotional intelligence or control. Fully understanding the beneficial effects of positive emotion and the detrimental effects of negative emotion is important to success in sports. What goes up must come down. If your positive outbursts are too many and over the top then when things don’t go your way you can’t help but to react negatively. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson discovered that experiencing positive emotions broadens people’s minds and builds their resourcefulness in ways that help them become more resilient to adversity and effortlessly achieve what they once could only imagine. In her book Positivity, she explains that one negative emotion can neutralize at least three positive ones. You can even take a Positivity Self Test.  I’ve heard that in tennis, for every negative expression of “NO!” we would require 10 positive outbursts like “C’MON” to return to neutral. Staying away from negative emotions is of critical importance to being strong.

Finally, the 4th Strength is Social Resilience. When you connect with someone in person it boosts your positive energy. Like giving your doubles partner a high five after a great shot. This positive gesture with give you an energy boost. The Bryan Brothers do this well with their signature chest bump after winning a great point or hitting a great shot. Even in individual sports, it takes a team to get the job done. In tennis, there is the player, technique coach, fitness trainer, nutritionist/physio, stats analyst, and mental skills coach to name a few. Working as a team with a team that believes in your vision and abilities is important to your social resilience.

Remember that whether you consider yourself mentally tough or not, you can improve on your 4 types of strength.

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:

Our Inspiration – 2 World Records 2 Minute Video

FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
If you found this article of value please consider making a donation to Save the Children. Otherwise, please share this article so that we can educate, inform and inspire others.
Make a Donation

The Four Types of Strength

Understanding & Managing Fear

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Photo credit: Listverse Ltd


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

Athletes at all levels need to learn how to understand and deal with fear rather than to try to avoid it. Fear in sports comes from two primary outcomes:
Fear of failure.
Fear of success.
Studies have shown that human beings strive to avoid pain rather than seek pleasure. In V. Nicol’s book Social Economies of Fear and Desire: Emotional Regulation, Emotion Management, and Embodied Autonomy, “…fear is the painfully felt urge to overcome danger in order to avoid pain, while desire is the pleasurably felt urge to implement security in order to pursue pleasure. Together fear and desire constitute the most basic forms of subjective motivation to act.”

Fear is the more powerful form of motivation.

Unless you are fearful of physical harm, fear in sports typically centers around undesirable outcomes. The fear of failure or losing could lead to disappointment by your parents, coaches and friends.  You might not be as popular or authoritative in your sport in the eyes of others. Ultimately champions LOVE to win and HATE to lose but they are not AFRAID of losing. They embrace the opportunity for the chance at winning. They understand the risks. They are able to rationalize the fact that they cannot directly control the outcome so they might as well enjoy the process and see what happens.
Failures are the steps to success. The more times you fail the greater your chances of succeeding. I know this seems counterintuitive from a confidence standpoint but it’s true. It took Thomas Edison 10,000 attempts to refine the lightbulb. He sees each failure as simply a “step” towards the invention. He failed his way forward to success.
The fear of winning is a different animal in the same species. Winning could put you in the uncomfortable spotlight. It can put more pressure on you the next time around to succeed. It inflates everyone’s expectations of your performance going forward. You can no longer fly under the radar. Change is not good or bad it is just change. So if you have a fear of failure or a fear of winning, it’s ok as long as you are able to rationalize the fact that you cannot control the outcome, so enjoy the process and deal with the outcome, whether losing or winning, when it comes.
Compete like a wolf. Wolves rarely have or show fear. Understand and put fear in its rightful place. You do not need to protect yourself from what others think , what you will feel or what the outcome might be. Focus on controlling the controllables rather than worrying about the outcome and everything else will fall into place.
I believe in the motto of Special Olympics which I learned when volunteering at the 1995 Special Olympics World Games at Yale University: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.
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:

Our Inspiration – 2 World Records 2 Minute Video
FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
If you found this article of value please consider making a donation to Save the Children. Otherwise, please share this article so that we can educate, inform and inspire others.
Make a Donation

Understanding & Managing Fear