Definition of success…

Andy Gerst is seen here training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

Andy Gerst is seen here training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

Week of July 5th…

San Luis Obispo, CA

It’s been a great week of training here in SLO this past week. I have been getting in one or two practices a day, with drilling and practice matches, combined with a good lift, quickness and agility training, and conditioning drills. A special thanks to Hugh Bream and Mike Napoli who have taken the time and energy to work with me over these past two weeks, along with the months prior. They are great men and great coaches who pour their heart and soul into tennis and working with others…Thank you!

As I put more time and energy into my training and preparing for my upcoming tournaments, I have to define what success is. What does it mean to have success? Is it winning every tournament I play? I have goals that I want to achieve, for instance winning a Futures tournament in the next year, or ultimately playing in a grand slam, but am I only successful if I achieve these things?

It’s important when you set out to try and achieve something to define what success means to you, because success to one person does not necessarily mean the same thing to the next person. For example, in the recent soccer World Cup, they were interviewing a former German World Cup player and coach, and asked what the expectations were for Germany’s relatively young and inexperienced World Cup squad. The former coach responded by saying that anything less than a semifinal appearance would be viewed as a failure for the German squad. He said that this is the definition for success for Germans in the World Cup every year. In contrast, it was the US World Cup squad’s goal to reach the knockout stages of the tournament, or the round of 16. By simply reaching the round of 16, the US had a successful World Cup. Two different countries, two different definitions of success.

However, success does not always have to deal with outcome goals, or goals concerning winning and losing. In fact, by focusing all your energy on these types of goals, it can end up being destructive for your game. You cannot always have full control over the outcome of a match. We all have played matches where you play seemingly as well as you possibly can, and either due to your opponent playing extremely well too, or maybe some unlucky calls or conditions you still lose the match. Even when you do everything in your power to arrive at the outcome that you desire, it is still possible to come up short. You want to be able to have full control over your success.

Gerst is seen here hitting a backhand volley while training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

Gerst is seen here hitting a backhand volley while training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

This is why it is important to let success be based on your performance goals, or goals that you have total control over achieving, regardless of your opponent or practice partner, conditions, or anything else that can externally affect you. For example, our Cal Poly team last year focused on our A.C.E. (attitude, concentration, and effort) every time we went out on the court. These three things are always entirely in your control, and you can make the decision whether or not to allow outside influences to get the way of your attitude, concentration, and effort.

It can be very stressful and destructive when success is defined in terms of your outcome goals. You want to be able to have total control over your success, otherwise when you do everything in your power and the outcome still doesn’t go your way, your confidence and mind struggles to stay sharp and in tact. As I set out playing tournaments in the coming months, it’s important for me not to have my definition of success tied up in whether I win or lose. Instead, success to me is competing my best every match, giving myself the best chance to win by preparing my absolute best, and getting the most out of each new city and each and every day. These are things I have complete control over, and though my outcome goals are what drive me everyday and give me something to work towards, they do not define my idea of success. So when I step out on the court, either in competition or in practice, my focus stays internal on the things that I can control, and not on external distractions like the result, the opponent, the conditions, or anything else that I do not have control over.

I leave San Luis Obispo this Friday morning (July 9) for the Tracy Austin Doubles Tournament in Palos Verdes, CA. Check back for updates from the tournament!

-AG