I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win – Michael Jordan.
Play To Win versus Play Not To Lose
Some athletes play to win, others play so as not to lose. Some athletes play to make plays, while others play so as not to make mistakes. To perform at a champion’s level, you should always play to win by trying to make something positive happen. Anyhow, it’s more enjoyable to go after something of value than to be constantly running for cover!
In tennis always play to win the shot, the rally, the game. In your practice, go for your personal best every time, always push yourself to achieve your best during your training rather than saving yourself for your match! Your tournament will be more enjoyable as you will already know what it is like to push yourself to your maximum.
If you play to not lose, you are placing yourself in a no-win situation; there is everything to lose and nothing to be gained. If however, you play to win, you are placing yourself in a no-lose situation. By not overcoming the challenge at hand at that moment, all you can say is that you didn’t achieve your goal on that day. That is massively different from the strategy of avoiding losing.
Here are some of the differences between playing not to lose and playing to win:
- Playing so as not to lose is rooted in fear. Playing to win is based in confidence.
- Playing so as not to lose puts you constantly back on your heels. Playing to win keeps you on your toes.
- Playing so as not to lose impedes all of your abilities as you overtry or undertry. Playing to win allows you to play within yourself.
- Playing so as not to lose causes muscle tension and mistakes. Playing to win frees you to perform at your best, tension-free.
- Playing so as not to lose is about merely surviving. Playing to win is about thriving.
- Playing so as not to lose makes for stressful moments. Playing to win creates special moments.
Remember, you are in it to win it!
Fear of winning and fear of failing
You cannot win at everything you attempt in life. In your tennis career you have to be willing to fail and accept not taking the finalist medal during your journey to greatness. It’s all part of the process. Every tennis star has had their share of match losses on their way up the tennis champion’s ladder! It’s all part of the grind and helps shapes you as a player both physically and more so mentally.
This willingness requires that you worry less about what other people might think if you fail and that you take smart risks and play your game.
As you progress along your sports career path, you will find two fierce opponents against which battles must be fought. These opponents are the fear of winning and the fear of failing; defeat both to achieve your highest aspirations.
Which of these inner opponents menaces your game the most? In order to win the battle within, learn to face your fears by taking them head-on. Dare to be the gold version of yourself!
Give yourself permission to win unapologetically
Some athletes fear winning big against an opponent or winning a major competition. They may feel they are not worthy of the reward or they may perhaps shun the spotlight. However, consider this: Why not you and why not now? As a talented athlete, you need to develop a sense of deservedness. If you have worked hard and intelligently for a positive outcome, then you have already earned the reward, so you should feel proud of your accomplishment. Do not limit yourself to small goals and do not underestimate your personal liability to become more successful. GO FOR GLORY!
Give yourself permission to fall forward
Some athletes fear failing in the big competitions. They might fear that others will think less of them if this happens, or they just don’t want to let themselves down. As a capable athlete, all you can do is train correctly and bring your best game to the competition. What others may think of you is only their opinion and does not have to be your concern. Don’t be too discouraged after delivering an unsuccessful performance. Transform losses into new beginnings or growing pains rather than thinking of them as end points. After all, there is no shortage of competitions and opportunities if you look for them.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising each time we fall, stated ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius.
So, keep pushing in the direction of your goals.
- STEP UP
- TAKE A RISK
- DRAW ON THE POWER OF GOING FOR GOLD
Do you go for gold or aim for the podium?
What is your strategy when it comes to competitions? How do you approach each match, each set, each point? Are you performing as the gold version of yourself?
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Excerpts taken from “The Champion’s Mind – How Great Athletes Think Train and Thrive by Jim Afremow PhD. ISBN 978-1-62336-562-2 – An excellent read from a leading sports psychology consultant and licensed counsellor.