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Becoming Self-Aware like Fed: Developing the next generation of tennis champions!
3 March 2011
story by Jesse Philllips, WAIS Kayaker, National Champion - K2 200m
Once upon a Thursday, in a small city on the edge of a vast and dry continent, lay a white line on a hard blue surface. As a bead of sweat poured from her face she followed the droplet down to where it landed. She noticed how the sweat from her charged and tiring body changed the white into grey. Was this the same base line she knew? Or was it different somehow. Suddenly, the crowd’s roar brought her back to reality. This was it, Wimbledon grass courts, her crack at the big time. "Of course it is different”, she thought, ”these courts are grass.” The ball dropped above the white line. She knew this was the point that would take her through to her first Grand Slam Semi-Final Match. The ball returned to her hand as if appearing through the grass blades to form the tool she needed for the disposal of her sixth straight opponent. Memories whipped through her head taking her back to her days on the courts at the WA State Tennis Centre where it all began. In a small conference room upstairs, sitting with her team-mates, some of which were still playing. Or were they, all was forgotten – but for those lasting lessons at the Developing Champions workshop. She had remembered, those skills learnt on that day gave her what she needed to take her tennis to a new level. "Those were the days”, she thought...
As I stepped into the room to initially address the group of budding tennis superstars I felt a strange presence of experience and maturity. I say strange because with an average age of 15 years, I was impressed with the group’s level of awareness. Instantly feeling comfortable in the space Kate and I jumped into the program and the three hours went by without notice. We moved through the modules consisting of Understanding Me: The skills about self-awareness and management, Managing Me: The skills about scheduling and prioritisation and My Pathway: The skills about goal-setting and vision. Throughout the early evening session we dug deeper and deeper into the material, surprisingly the understanding and concentration levels of the athletes did not deteriorate. Each attending tennis player had their own dreams and ambitions which I found inspiring.
Considering tennis is such a competitive sport, due to the sheer numbers of great players throughout the world, for any of the athletes to make it to the ATP Tour program is really outstanding. And many of these players were indeed outstanding at their young ages, having travelled around the world in recent years competing against other ambitious Junior Pro Series players.
Out of the many interesting facts learnt on the night, I always look to the role models within a sport to gain a perspective on the junior players and what they are facing. One such example is Roger Federer, known by most as the greatest player to have lived. From reports of his younger days in the sport, Fed was not the most outstanding leader in his sport, but a short-tempered and angry player. So what changed Fed to the man he is today? Self-awareness and the ability to control his emotions and track his mood at any one time. He is able to focus when times get tough and generally pull-off his best tennis against any opponent – unlike many tennis players (most notably and duly exampled in the session: Serena Williams’ outburst on court at a court official). Role models are such a great tool for young athletes, through action come lessons – which can be learnt and used by anyone at whatever time he or she choose.
Thanks heaps to Len and all his chargers in the Tennis West State Academy.
A young, over emotional Roger Federer learnt to control his emotions ane become one of the best all time players.
The Fed: "I was throwing around my racquet like you probably don't imagine. Helicopters were flying all over. I mean, I was getting kicked out of practice sessions non-stop when I was 16. ... I don't know if I grew up a little bit. I realized that the racquet throwing didn't help my game because I was always getting very negative"
Click HERE here to read more about Fed.
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