Setting Goals when the Courts are Closed


Setting goals in the New Year was always an important part of my tennis playing days. I enjoyed laying out the tournament calendar and choosing the tournaments I had a true desire to win, the ones where I wanted to peak, to be sure I was playing my best.


Effective goal setting is a major part of any successful athlete or performer’s preparation. If you have a coach you may have already worked together to set out goals for you to achieve. Goal setting gives you a clear focus on what achievements you desire. You get to assess your strengths and what needs to be improved. And you can track your progress and measure your improvements in different areas. You have a clear target that encourages you to work out strategies and tactics to achieve your goal. Executing a goal can provide you with a real sense of personal satisfaction.


However, setting outcome goals (e.g. goals such as winning a particular tournament) during a time when the goal posts keep moving can be a difficult task. Unfortunately, at the moment, there is no certainty about competition. In the past we were so sure of events taking place. But 2020 was the year of cancellations! In the tennis world tournaments, matches, events, leagues etc. didn’t go ahead. Even the Olympics and Wimbledon were cancelled!


For everyone, including athletes/tennis players this can be unsettling. But that doesn't have to stop us setting out to achieve performance goals and process goals (Performance goals are like stepping stones towards achieving your outcome goals; process goals are goals you focus on while trying to achieve your performance goals.)


Who knows what tournaments we’ll get to play in 2021. Here in Ireland, at the beginning of this New Year, our movements and activities have been restricted once again. January is supposed to feel like a fresh start, a new leaf, a clean page, but for many, it can feel like they are stuck, or worse still, like they are moving backwards. You might wonder why you should plan for something that possibly won't take place? Why put in the effort and the training if there is a chance of no competition?


In my opinion, there's nothing worse than getting caught unprepared. So, the best thing to do is to be thoroughly ready if the opportunity to compete presents itself.

In these times you must control what you can control and let go of what you can't. You may not be able to get out on the tennis court but look around you and become creative in finding ways to improve your game.

  • Set your goals - ask your coach for help with this if you need it

  • Figure out ways to continue to train physical, technical and tactical aspects of your game.

  • Work on your mental game. Meditate. Improve your ability to focus. Visualise your strokes, your game plan, scenarios etc.

  • Watch old matches on Youtube and see if you can learn some things from the professionals.

  • Practice gratitude.

  • Enjoy the process

Working on your mental game is great at any time of the year but it’s a particularly good time now, January 2021.

For a more thorough explanation on goal setting you’ll find a complete guide and worksheet on Goal Setting for your Mental Game in my Be Present – Compete programme. It includes explanations on why we set goals for our mental game, and descriptions and examples of different types of goals. It also includes a questionnaire that asks you to take a good honest look at your mental game and to write down areas where you feel improvements need to be made. After completing the questionnaire and reflecting on your answers you will get a good idea of where exactly you would like to make improvements with your mental game and then you set your goals.

In addition, the meditations in this programme can improve your mental game on the tennis court. They can also improve your overall wellbeing. And we can all do with time spent nurturing our wellbeing, especially these days.


I offer consultations on Managing your Mental Game through Meditation - please email yvonnedoyleyoga@gmail.com to book an appointment or to find out more.

For more info on Be Present - Compete click here


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