Habits for Tennis Success: Set goals based on vision

December 8, 2016 02:14 PM

By Dr. Larry Lauer, special to USTA.com

The best tennis players separate themselves from the rest not solely because of talent, but because they have excellent habits that lead to their success. World-class tennis players have a number of habits that they do in their own individual ways, but are similar to the 10 Habits for Tennis Success.

The third habit in this series is setting goals based on the vision of self and game.

Habit 3: Set Goals Based on the Vision of Self and Game

The best players in the world have a strong focus on how they are getting better. Working in concert with their coach, they know what they need to do to achieve higher levels of performance. They set goals for their development in the areas that will make the biggest difference, and then they focus it on every day. Everything else is just noise!

Remember, Habit 2 is to create a vision of self and game that allows the player to access his or her best self consistently. From this understanding, players set goals that matter the most for their development. They will list long-term, intermediate and short-term goals. Two areas of focus are created in the developmental plan, and one area of mental focus should be created as well.

In doing so, a target for development has been created. When the player is involved in this process, it creates empowerment and accountability to achieve the goals.

At the same time players will also set three types of goals (listed next):

  1. Outcome goals. Here, the focus is on achieving a result or a ranking by beating or in comparison to others.
  2. Performance goals. With these goals, the focus is on comparing yourself against yourself (i.e., improve first serve percentage).
  3. Process goals. For process goals, the focus is on “how to” achieve performance and outcome goals (i.e., play with bigger margins).

Several principles are important here:

  1. Players will have all three types of goals.
  2. Process goals should be 95 percent of the player’s focus daily.

For example, a player’s goals might look like the following:

Long Term (Dream Goal): Be Top 100 in the World
Long Term (2017 Outcome Goal): Win a $50,000 tournament
Intermediate: Win 55 percent on second-serve return points by May 2017
Intermediate: Be more balanced at point of contact
Short Term: Practice return of serve 15 minutes each day
Short Term: Commit to exercises daily to strengthen the legs and the core

Coach Action

Meet with your player at the beginning of the season to set goals reviewing the developmental plan and the vision of self and game. Allow the adolescents and adults to lead much of this conversation and to have a voice in the goals that are set. Remember, we all need to feel self-determined to be motivated!

Again, make sure that the goals that are set connect to the vision of self and game. An intense personality would probably do best with an intense approach to their game.