We all know the song, and I feel we need to apply this song title to our attitudes when playing recreational tennis and pickleball. I too often see players get upset and stressed out during recreational competition. While I am a very competitive player and I like to win, when I am on the courts competing in social, non-tournament competition, I prefer to focus on enjoying myself and spending time with my friends. Yes, we should always be competitive and play to win, and if I am competing in a tournament, I have a different attitude/game face, then when I play socially.
While some of you do compete in tournaments, most players are competing at their local club, in a social atmosphere, where winning really doesn’t count for anything more than a high five with our partner. Because of this setting, we need to remember to not let the heat of competition force us to cop an attitude of “winning is the only thing,” and not allow ourselves to get carried away with having to be victorious. We are not competing for prize money, rankings or even a silly little plastic trophy. The reason we are competing is because it adds excitement to whatever we are doing, whether we are playing tennis, pickleball, golf or bowling. The keeping of a score, to produce a winner and a loser, is what puts the thrill into competition.
I am a firm believer that we need to know how be both a good loser and a good winner. Losing is not as fun as winning, but losing is part of life and I am also a firm believer that how we accept losing and how we deal with it makes us better competitors.
Win or lose, our time on the courts should be utilized as an opportunity to laugh at ourselves when we make a mistake and remember to compliment our opponent for a nice shot.
I like to utilize my competitive time on the court, not as a stressful/pressure situation, but as a release of stress and pressure,a time to get some exercise, have fun and just enjoy the camaraderie of good friends.
This is also true for kids participating in sports at school. Whether it’s tennis, football, basketball, volleyball, or even band, cheerleading or guard. Organized sports is a time for young athletes to enjoy the camaraderie of being part of the team and the commitment, pride and spirit that goes along with it.
As an athlete, my most enjoyable and memorable moments of competition were in my younger days, when I was involved in some kind of school/team competition. As an adult, even though I have attended many sporting events, including professional tennis and golf tournaments, NFL football, NBA basketball and Major League Baseball games, etc., my most enjoyable and memorable games have actually been my daughter’s athletic events at high school and college. Win or lose, the excitement and team spirit that you experience at these games, quite simply, cannot be matched at any other sports venue!
Everybody is different. Some of us are very competitive, while some of us just want to play, get some exercise and have fun. Whichever personality you may have, make an effort when you are in the heat of competition on the tennis or pickleball court to remember that whether you win or lose, the most important thing is to make sure that you always give it your best effort, and above all, just have fun! You will find that you become a more popular player/partner, not because you win all the time, but because you are a fair, friendly, and most importantly, fun person to play and compete with.
Wayne Clark is a certified professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction. He has been the head instructor at The Marco Island Racquet Center since 2001. The Racquet Center offers clinics, private and group lessons for both tennis and pickleball. Coach Wayne’s Island Kids Tennis juniors program runs year round and has classes for players from kindergarten through high school. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org by phone or text at 239-450-6161.