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Tennis Legends: Patrick Rafter – serve and volley expert

The Australians have enourmously rich tennis history. As well in men’s as women’s tennis, also in team rivalry and in organizing competitions. Moreover legendary players like for example Rod Laver, Ken Rosewell, Roy Emerson, Tony Roche or Margaret Court whether Evonne Goolagong are the names which changed the sport of tennis and their impact or results are still important for upcoming generations of competitors on the courts. They worked out longevity and best hall of fame status. One of the remarkable person in Aussie tennis is Pat Rafter who was the player great to watch. His serve with fantastic volleys was the game which mostly does not exist in singles as most of the contenders are baseliners or more universal players? Results, contracts, honours In the years of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, the Australian was the man who won two times US Open championship and achieved two finals of Wimbledon. In doubles rivalry he triumphed in Australian Open with Swede Jonas Bjorkman, the current Andy Murray’s coach. The Kangaroo is also former number one in the world ranked player, although it lasted only for one week. The stats won-lost in singles are 358-191 and in doubles are 214-111. Earnings totally on the court were 11.127.058 $, of course additionally contracts with companies like Prince, Reebok or Dunlop. Since his retirement, Rafter become an underwear model...

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BUILDING YOUR CHARACTER THROUGH TENNIS

Dr. Jorge A. Valverde* Everybody has a purpose, a destiny. And each of us has to go through a process where we grow and mature.   Your character is who you are and what you do when nobody is watching you. And the key to develop your character is learning to be self-disciplined. Self-discipline is the ability to focus on what needs to be done at the right time and place with total commitment to excellence, whether or not it is convenient and regardless of the circumstances or obstacles you face. Self-discipline is possible because one has transcended beyond the moment, inspired by the clear vision of his purpose and those who support him unconditionally. To grow and mature you must change and shape your character. You must study your nature and you must challenge it with total determination in order to achieve excellence in every aspect of your life. If you don’t change beyond your nature, you are actually going backwards. Your nature is composed of your genetics, family, social environment, and cultural conditioning. Your genetic makeup carries with it the generational baggage, with many great aspects and many that are detrimental to your physical and psychological growth.  The same is true about your family; it can provide you with physical and psychological shelter but also can condition you with habits that will hold you back in your...

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Inner Motivation

Dr. Jorge Valverde Most great champions developed the ability to push themselves to go through all the challenges they have to go through during their careers. And inner motivation is the main reason why they are able to do so. Inner motivation is the ability to draw from oneself all the physical and emotional energy necessary to face every challenge on the way to the achievement of a goal or dream. This inner drive is usually developed early in life due to the desire of a child to be like somebody else, a role model, in particular, when this desire is reinforced positively by those who are close to the child (family and coaches) without the imposition of expectations. The moment relatives or coaches make a forecast of what their children or players are capable of achieving, they are not only putting unnecessary pressure on them, but also are robbing them of the opportunity to discover their own potential, a powerful source of inner motivation. Pressure is produced because children/players will feel the need to meet that expectation imposed on them and they will feel like a failure if they don’t. By not discovering their own potential, children/players cannot create their own expectations and they cannot own their own goals and dreams. The following are some examples of imposed expectations: “You are the total package.” “With your talent, you...

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Be Aware Of Your Little Voice

Dr. Jorge Valverde Anytime we go where we have never been, or try something we have never done before, fear will be present. It will always stand between us and anything worth doing. But the good news is, each time we conquer it, we feel a surge of self-respect and gain a level of confidence we never had before. It is our choice! Fear materializes in our mind as a little voice that reminds us of the failures we experienced in the past and their negative consequences. And it warns us of what consequences we will face if we fail again, for instance: “If I fail, my peers will think that I’m not good enough.” “I am running out excuses for my failures and I am tired of telling my coach that I lost a close match again.” “If I don’t do well in this tournament, I will not have a chance to go to the Nationals.” This little voice is perhaps the most powerful force in our mind. It is capable of triggering a reaction in our body that will impair our ability to move our feet; it can make our heart beat accelerate dramatically and increase our body tension; it can make our mouth go dry and impair our memory and our ability to think effectively; it can make us blink more frequently (which prevents us from...

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Parents – Concerns, Questions and Answers

Dr. Jorge Valverde My child does not want to work on the mental toughness. If parents let their children do what they want to do, that means that children are in control of their own development. For example, most children do not want to brush their teeth, go to bed early, eat vegetables, drink water, be organized, stretch, etc. They just want to play and have fun! However, most parents know the difference between what their children want and what they need. Do high performance athletes need to learn how to concentrate when playing under high levels of pressure? Do tennis players need to understand the building blocks for confidence? Do tennis players need to understand the relationship between thought patterns and performance? Do athletes need to grow and mature quicker than children who do not participate in sports? Do children need to have a break from having to learn everything from their parents? Can a parent be objective in figuring out what their children-athletes need in all the different stages of development? I want to wait until my son/daughter is more mature. Maturity is the ability to understand the relationship between cause and effect: thoughts and emotions, actions and reactions, preparations and successes. Only a small percentage of tennis players can figure out all these relationships on their own, and to act based on this knowledge is even...

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UNDERSTANDING JUNIOR ATHLETES

Please answer this short questionnaire before reading this article. Yes No [ ] [ ] I frequently interrupt my children when they speak to me. [ ] [ ] I have a hard time listening to my teenager’s arguments. [ ] [ ] I usually do not deliver what I promise to my children. [ ] [ ] I “fight” with my spouse in front of my children. [ ] [ ] My children often complain that my behavior embarrasses them. [ ] [ ] I think that my children’s bad behavior is due to influences outside the family. [ ] [ ] I believe that children deserve punishment when behaving badly. [ ] [ ] When correcting my children’s behaviors, I usually begin my statements with “Don’t. [ ] [ ] I think that if I praise my children for what they do well, they could become too proud of themselves. [ ] [ ] Right before matches, I usually tell my children what to do to play well. [ ] [ ] I think that as long as my children live in my house they should wear clothes that I approve. [ ] [ ] I think that it is all right to coerce my children to do what is good for them. [ ] [ ] After matches I tell my children with great detail how...

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A Few Facts Regarding the Mental Aspects Of Tennis

1. During a match, you are actually hitting the ball only about 25% of the time, the rest of the time you are just thinking about what is going on. This is why tennis is such a mental game. 2. When you play up to your potential, you are thinking very little on the court and your behavior and performance on the court are controlled by your “automatic pilot,” your subconscious mind. 3. In order to play up to your potential, you as a player need to learn to avoid overthinking, or overanalyzing what is taking place on the court. This is not easy, particularly when you are not playing well or when you are facing a difficult opponent. Learning how to stop thinking, how to think at the right time and how to think in the right way are crucial steps for the achievement of your goals as a tennis player. 4. Anger destroys your concentration, because anger is one of the biggest distractions that an athlete can face. Anger is just one letter short of “danger.” Now, consider this: without thoughts, there are no emotions! Consequently, if you cannot control what you think, you cannot control what you feel. Controlling your emotions is not an easy task, however, and only a few players can accomplish it without training– (about 5% of the tennis population). If you are...

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Play with a Sense of Destiny

By Dr. Jorge Valverde 1. Do everything with a sense of destiny, focusing on your mission to become the best player that you can possibly be — accomplishing that mission regardless of the circumstances you may face. 2. In your mind, turn every situation into an opportunity that benefits you. The key here is to be persistently optimistic. 3. Practice “environmental engineering.” That means to be aware of the places and people that can influence you in a positive way and make an effort to be in these places and with these people. On the other hand, stay away from any negative influences. Be like an eagle: better alone than with the wrong company. And, remember, eagles are the only birds that fly in a storm. 4. Stay in the path that leads to greatness, doing everything that enables you to compete at peak performance level. Here you need to be detail oriented, so write things down — those things that you need to do daily in order to succeed. This simple approach is very powerful. 5. Fuel your soul with confidence by focusing only on the things that you have absolute control over, letting go of all else. Remember that confidence is established from the inside out and not from the outside in. The best way to do this is by following a daily action plan that leads...

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Pressure is Like Trash

By Dr. Jorge Valverde Dear Dr. Valverde: I have been taken out of tournaments for awhile to work on my game and mostly my attitude on the court. My parents want me to start figuring out a game plan to get my game together. So far I have thought about why I get mad. I have realized that I am scared what my friends or people around me will think if I lose. In my division there are a lot of stuck-up cocky kids, and all they care about is who is good, and who sucks. I feel like I am scared of what they will think if I lose to someone bad. Even when people walk by and watch me play I don’t want them to think I suck, and all this leads up to getting mad, and upset. I would like to know if you have any ideas on how to help my game plan. C.E. Dear C.E: I am glad to hear that you have identified one of the sources of pressure you are feeling: peer pressure. Congratulations on beginning the wonderful process of raising your awareness about what produces pressure in you. It is highly likely that you will discover more sources of negative pressure along the way, so just remember to deal with them one at a time. In regard to peer pressure, I...

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Little Things Lead to Big Things: The Mentality of a Champion

By Dr. Jorge Valverde Doing the things we don’t like to do, but that we must do, is the key to real progress in tennis and in life. Doing the little things that we must do, but do not enjoy, will eventually allow us to do the big things that we want to do. It’s the seemingly insignificant tasks, the daily effort that is the key to our success. It’s commitment with discipline at its core. Nothing worth attaining is ever easy; the bigger the goal, the more the obstacles. On a daily basis we must be willing to work through life’s challenges; otherwise, we should not expect to reap its rewards. Having an injury, for example, can be the source of a lot of frustration … or joy. Learning to embrace adversity is learning the trait of champions, in sports and in life. Those that overcome adversity are inspired by something bigger than themselves. Real champions are not motivated by monetary gains, rankings, trophies, status or fame. They realize that all those things are temporary. Inspired by dreams and noble ideas, they venture out on a journey to conquer what others will not. They realize that the most important journey is to conquer the inner mountains of fear and cross the bridges that lead to uncharted territories. Real champions dream big, because the alternative it is not an...

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