Doug Hofer
Elite Professional

To become an Elite Professional, a USPTA member must be at least 22 years old, pass the written Elite exam, which covers business, programming, sport science and tennis operations, Elite stroke analysis exam and the Elite-level on-court exams. In addition, members must earn 16 specialty course and 24 APC credits. Elite Professionals are required to earn 6 credits every three years to maintain their membership. They commonly are considered for director of tennis or head tennis professional positions.

Handling the Fear of Losing

     Competition brings out the best or the worst in our tennis games. We either meet the challenge or we choke. Sometimes we do both in the span of one set. Fear cripples our ability to strike the ball cleanly with confidence. Fear of making an error, fear of losing, or just fear of failure makes us crumble like stale bread.

     To combat this fear we need to do several things.

     First we need to realize that tennis is only a game. A game that is to be enjoyed not feared. We won’t die from losing a tennis match. Everyone loses, everyone makes mistakes, do not base your self worth on whether you win or lose. We are unable to control winning and losing, we can only control how we react.

     Second we need to instill confidence in our abilities. We do this by practice. We hit thousands of forehands and backhands grooving our swings to perfection. The key however is to groove our swings under pressure of match play. Having confidence in your shots allows you to relax and hit precision winners.

     Third we need to accept failure. No one hits every shot for a winner. Most points end in an error, and not because of a great placement. Being able to clear the mind and relax after a “flub” allows us to meet the next point with the same confidence as the last. If you cannot clear an error from your mind you will build up layers of failures which will increase the chances of more errors. Negative self talk is very damaging to confidence. Positive talk and encouragement will give us more inner strength.

     Go out, play more tennis and have fun. Feel the challenge in this contest of skill and determination. The greatest players all have this in common, they loved the game!

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same you’ll be a Man, my son!” Rudyard Kipling, “If”.