sports psychologist & clinical psychology

ATP TOUR HEADQUARTERS: PRE-COLLEGIATE WORKSHOP

Mental Equipment Syndicated Column – July 1, 1996 – Dr. John F. Murray – This month, the focus is on junior tennis players considering college tennis. I discuss the most recent workshop I conducted at the ATP Tour International Headquarters, followed by tips on selecting a college tennis program.

BUT FIRST … WHAT IS HAPPENING AT WIMBLEDON???

Are those upsets at Wimbledon a result of Sport Psychology having an impact on the tennis world and leveling the playing field? I wonder how many of those spoilers tune into the Tennis Server on a regular basis?!

BACK TO PONTE VEDRA

Ricardo Acuna, Wimbledon quarterfinalist and Assistant Director of the ATP Tour International Headquarters (see photo at right), invited me back to the home of men’s professional tennis to conduct another mental skills training workshop. Despite his busy schedule with the adult and junior tennis camps, he was a fine host, and treated my girlfriend and me to a savory lunch.

Hungry for knowledge! That was my pleasant impression of most of the 15 to 18 year old junior tennis players who attended my workshop. They were enthusiastic, focused, and inquisitive, and seemed genuinely interested in grasping the mental advantage.

Watch out for this next generation! They want it all, and that includes a strong mental game. Supreme mental proficiencies (e.g., proper management of thoughts, feelings, and actions), are just another step in the evolution of the tennis player (and participants in all other performance situations too!). Use your mental tools or lose … it’s really that simple!

SELECTING A COLLEGE

One major concern for the juniors within this age group is selecting the right college. Here are a few tips from the workshop (Thanks go to Ian Duvanage, Men’s Varsity Tennis Coach at the University of Florida, for his thoughts on this topic):

Try to get to know the college tennis coach as a person, as well as a coach. You will be spending 5 to 6 days a week with this individual for 4 years. Personal conflicts can lead to major disruptions (e.g., transferring, having to remain in an uncomfortable setting).

Ask the coach the following questions and listen carefully for the answers to see whether they match what you are looking for:
A. Since you’ve seen me play, how would you change my game? Can you live with his or her reply?

B. What is your coaching philosophy?

C. How important is academics? What is more important to you, tennis or academics? Do you agree with the coach’s answer.

Make a prioritized list of all the things that are important to you (academcis, weather, location, coaching etc…). Use this list to rank order your preferences.

If you do your homework, you’ll select a college in line with your goals, needs, and lifestyle. Now let’s get back to watching a few more upsets at Wimbledon!

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