How to handle emotions
Many players are slaves to their emotions , anger , depress , or any other emotion that prevent them from having the performance they should have.
I do not know if this is true , but once someone told me that the word emotion comes from "E + motion " and that means energy in movement, true or not , I think it is very figurative. What is clear is that a strong emotion is a stream of energy flowing like a volcano often from within us , if I stop it, I´ll accumulate, and if I, explodes I´ll loose control of my actions. In adolescence , this lack of control is much more evident because CNS immaturity
An emotion creates a chemical change in the body, if we are happy if we produce endorphins , and when nervous we produce adrenaline, this alters our ability to perceive objectively . To take an obvious example, if you are in love , everything is perfect and if you are depressed everything is ugly and dark, but the objective reality is the same. This means , we create our reality from emotion we are feeling. From a neurophysiological point of view, emotions are automatic response to a given situation.
And from the evolutionarily point of view they are necessary for the survival; meaning that emotions arrives to the executors nerves before rational thought. It is a typical situation where the player smash the racket and then regret the action , i.e. react and then think ,
Any emotion is bad, all have their uses at the appropriate time . What we need to assess is how useful the emotion we are feeling is.
• How can we ask a person to handle their emotions if they haven’t been shown how to ?
• Should we be taught how to manage emotions in school?
• How to identify/put a name to these emotions ?
• And above all how to understand and respect what we are feeling and what others are feeling as well ?
Then , can you control the emotions ?
I think it is bad to curb emotions and also to let them run wild. Trying to restrain your emotions is like taking a punch , you can take it, but it does not mean it's good for you. Or you can let it go with very serious consequences. Then what do we do?
I can think of three scenarios:
1. Control : not express emotion, restrain . If this happens , usually the people who try to bottle up after a while explode and if they don’t, they get sick.
2. Explosion : no filter, so feelings goes unchecked and once released , it is followed by remorse and regret for the damage caused , for example, break a racket. ( at best )
3 . Handling : When we anticipate what can happen , and predispose about it. In my opinion , and from my intuition, we can only handle an emotion if somehow we anticipate it.
Anticipation is the key to the "management " of emotions. Assume and identify the moment when I could get angry or depressed and design a strategy to avoid the situation, are definitely the keys to solving the problem . But it is not only necessary to design the strategy , but to practice it, this means to TAKE A FIRM DECISION to master the strategy.
To handle an emotion I have designed 3 steps :
1 - Identify the emotion
2 - objectify the emotion
3 - Replace the emotion
For this strategy to work , you must have an agreement with the player, because you need to practice just as the particular emotion is manifesting . The logic is that if someone is angry and out of control, it is better to leave him alone . But I propose that this is the ideal time to start to learn to handle the emotion.
Now explain the 3 steps :
The importance of being able to identify the emotion is huge , starting from the premise that " NOTHING EXIST IF YOU CAN NOT DISTINGUISHED IT " if I can define what I'm feeling and if I have the ability to put a name to it , then it will be a lot easier to " handle it "
2 . Objectify .
Means , train to be objective about the situation, ask and answer , if what I'm feeling is helping me to be productive. Is being low/down helping/hindering my chances of winning the match? Is being angry having an impact on my performance ?
3 . Replace
It means take a firm decision to change the emotion that is unproductive. You can not tell me that is not easy.
Now I want you to think of a situation where you do not have choices , imagine an extreme situation, the impulse beyond its limits. For example , if you have to save a loved one in a difficult situation, would you stay in a paralyzing emotion or would you act ?
Changing the emotion is a simple decision. If you don’t, is just an excuse , it means you still think you have margin of error.
In the process of identifying , objectifying and replacing, the coach has to be very careful , first you have to take the player to the emotion you want to change , and at that point has to guide them to identify , objectify and replace the emotion. Only a consensual practice between player and coach makes this possible. Many times the player reaches the moment of emotional outburst and does not accept the Coach’s help . This is why there must be an agreement between the Coach and the Player
Opening possibilities (beyond the knowledge area, beyond the perfectionism paradigm)
One day when I was coaching and trying to get more spin in the 2º serve and after many trials exercises without any result, suddenly I thought that we were looking just for the perfect shot. When I ask to the player, “do it wrong” then, the shot started to work.
I try many times again the same strategy and the most of the times I got good results. What is happening? Why asking for the mistakes is possible to get the perfect shot?
From all the psychological tendencies, the perfectionism means paralysis, this mean, is that the perfection is just one point, movement, or whatever I m looking for, but just one. Around this perfection point you have infinites possibilities. The most of the coaches that I knew in my live were quite obsessed to get the perfect shot and didn’t permit the player go beyond his instructions. Then the player is losing all the possibilities around the “perfect” instruction or movement.
First of all is necessary to understand the difference in between option and possibility. Option is the way that I already know, possibility is the unknown way, the possibility become in option once we know and try.
We don’t have to give instructions, we have to give possibilities, then, maybe, the player will become this possibilities in new options to be able to solve more problems. The coach have to stop to think that he have to give solutions. Is the opposite, the coach has to give problems, show to the player where he is weak, and formulate the right question or create the good environment where the player feel able to get his own answer.
When I said formulate the right question, I mean, that to get a different answer I have to change the question. The perfectionism is always looking for the reasons: why did you lose? Why your forehand is going out? Now try for yourself, and answer a “WHY”, what you answered? Be honest……. you answered excuses, reasons, and always the answer is talking about the past: how you should have done it.
Now change the question, instead of “why” ask to yourself “how could I do…?” which kind of answer did you get it? I m quite sure that you got a new answers, and you create new possibilities to find a new solution. This kind of questions will project yourself toward a possible solution, but just possible.
If we are able to encourage our players to try new things, to go beyond the knowledge area, then, he/she will be able to learn forever. We have to be coaches, and be coaches mean, take a player and show him/her possibilities never close them into instructions.
Aldous Huxley Wrote: “The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which mean never losing your enthusiasm.”
Every kid is a genius till start to be educated, once we start to teach, we are neutralizing the natural capacity to learn, through the coaching we are recovering
Up to you!!!
Example: typical instruction, “bend your knees”, “move your hand” etc. what does mean for the player this instructions? How is He perceiving the actions? Is it possible that he perceive that he is doing what we are asking?
In my experience, the most of the times, the player is thinking that he is following the instruction perfectly. Is what he perceive. When, in fact, he is quite far from the “perfection”.
That’s the moment when the conflict start, the coach saying that is bad and the player trying to do it well but having, at the same time, other perception
Even if the perfect shot is the main goal, maybe the motor skills that the player has in the moment are not enough to get the perfect shot. Then is the moment to think in new possibilities:
Which possibility I have around the perfect shot can help the player to get closer to the goal?
mean that the coach doesn’t have ask just for the perfect shot, this is the last goal,
Since i m Tennis coach i saw many very good young players fail just because one cause: the parents. This article is not to attack the parents if not maybe to, at least, give to them the other point of view.
First at all I want to say that I m also father then, I know the parents point of view too. During all my coach live I saw, im seeing and will see parents, who push their kids to play tennis like professionals, watching on them the next Nº 1 and putting on them tons of expectations, obligations and pressure in 10 or 12 or 14 years old kids
Then is when is coming to my mind the question: what were they doing when they had 10 years old? When I ask this question to the parents they use to answer, I was playing something. (football, tennis, or whatever) . Then I remark them ; YOU WERE PLAYING, with all the meaning of the word “playing” This mean, play with friend, naturally, enjoying the moment and NOT LIKE SMALL PROFESSIONALS
Something wrong we are doing, believe me, if a kid is suffering in a tennis court just because this kid, the only thing is trying to do, is make the parents feel happy.
Sometime ago, in a mental session with a player I asked him: for what are you playing tennis? The answer was awesome: I play to achieve my Father dream.
How many kids, consciously or un consciously are playing just to get the parent recognition?
They are in this live to complete the Parents life?
My question for all the parents is: are your kids in this live to achieve your goals? You are not enough capable to achieve your goals for yourself?
Like I said, this is not one attack, unfortunately doesn´t exist a Parent School, nobody taught us how to be Parents. We learned with the experience. I don’t want to tell you how to be good Parents, I don’t have the authority, because, for sure, as a father I made a lot of mistakes.
The parent Workshop that I m organizing is just to share experiences, to give the opportunity to learn how to create a better environment to get that more kids play tennis happily
Hope to see a lot of Parents