Mindset challenges in the off season

Always turn up, even when you don’t want to and don’t turn up on days set aside for rest, just because you feel good.

Right, you have decided what to do in the off season. You have a plan of sorts even if it is not written down. And you have made a start, high on the excitement of how you are going to rip up the courts next season. 

Then a week or two down the line, you hit the wall of motivation. This could be for any number of reasons, tiredness, no one to practice with, rubbish weather or even factors beyond tennis. Real life is out there. 

Some things are just beyond your control and you can do nothing about them. 

The key here is to try and figure out what is happening. If the matter really is beyond your control, relax. Take care of what you need to take care of. When you get a moment re-evaluate and reset to get yourself back on track. 

Now if the thing that has brought you to a standstill is something you can control, you have a chance to adjust. Don’t kid yourself, it can be difficult. You probably know this already. For example, you just lined up a great hitting partner for the morning and they have to cancel on you for something outside their control.

You Always Have Choices

You have two choices, do nothing or do something. You have set aside the time anyway, so weigh up your alternatives. Maybe a little serving practice, or someone else at the club might agree to hit. Is there a hitting wall or maybe go to the gym instead (radical I know). This ability to quickly readjust will help you get the most out of your time. Do something and you will feel a whole lot better. Then have that cup of coffee. 

Sustaining momentum during these dull days, with competition on a distant horizon can be easier said than done. Creating a positive mindset when you appear to be the only one can be a challenge. Here is what I sometimes do on those less than inspiring days, when the effort can seem too much. I try and maintain a positive culture around what I am doing. In my mind, it is not just me. I am part of a group of senior tennis players trying to improve our game. I think beyond where I am physically, as there is no one else here right now. I cast my mind wider, knowing that in other places there are players working on their game and getting to the gym on a daily basis. That is where I try to put my mind 

I try to create an imaginary team of people around me. There are the guys at the club, my regular hitting partners, the guys at the gym, my coach, my physio, my online trainer and other online resources. I think of them as my extended network of assistants helping me to progress, even if they do not know that. And none of them know they are part of my extended team. Let’s go guys. 

Other factors play a role as well. Sometimes its fear about what others might be doing and sometimes its ambition about what I want to do and sometimes, (yes sometimes just sometimes), it’s about time running out and probably mostly it’s a combination of all three. Consistency I think is key, as is working to a longer term plan. Try not to waver or make snap decisions to do more or do less. 

I don’t really feel like time is running out. Though for some people it already has, that is the actual reality of life. The name of someone you know, comes up in conversation, because they have had some terrible illness or even worse passed on. It causes a momentary pause, a reflection, an evaluation even.  

My Left Knee Hurts

Today in the gym my left knee hurts. Probably as a result of cranking up the weigh on the leg press. My right knee cracks on the leg extension. My neck remains stiff and my lower back is a little sore. I continue to be grateful. Jog to the gym in the rain and smile. These are good times. 

Always turn up even when you don’t want to and don’t turn up on days set aside for rest just because you feel good. Unlike the pros it is difficult to have a rigid schedule, there are unsurprisingly other things in life, practice partners are not always available when you want them, the gym is the easiest thing to be consistent about if you can commit to going first thing in the morning. 

There is Always Doubt

There is always doubt. Today at the club after finishing my tennis practice, I saw two of the areas better singles players whizzing the ball between them, baseline to baseline. A controlled ferosity, that puts my own feeble efforts into perspective. Maybe I am thirty plus years older, but that is not comforting. 

What is it they say. We all have our own journey to follow! Best get on with mine and good luck with yours. 

Turn up today and enjoy what I am doing. Do the same again tomorrow. Repeat. 

You know you are outside the cultural norm. When most seem happy to occasionally venture to the gym or play a game of casual doubles. This does not work for me. I like to feel that each day is a step further to being an accomplished tennis player. I can only play it as I see it. 

It’s all about the mindset.  

Hi I’m Mike Thomas a fairly average tennis player aged 63, who still has a hankering to play singles, for at least another year or two. I hope my thoughts and observations on being an older tennis player help you, if so let me know. 

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