Don’t Get Caught Up in the Fan Mentality

Each person involved has their own role in tennis: players play, coaches coach, administrators administrate, referees ref, parents parent, etc. As a player, you should only focus on playing! Don’t try to put yourself in any only role, including the spectator role.


​Know your role – You are a player, an athlete, a participant. This means you must think like a participant, not as a coach, not as an administrator, and certainly not as a fan.


Most athletes have never experienced being a coach or administrator; however, most of us have experienced being a fan. We’ve watched tennis on tv, or at a college match, or even at tournaments that some of our friends or siblings are competing in. Because we’ve been exposed to tennis from a fan’s point of view, the “fan mentality” is difficult for us athletes to shake. 


Fans talk about the importance of the match, streaks, wins, losses, upsets, records, predictions, rankings, and war stories of individuals. They spend countless hours watching television, listening to the radio, reading articles on the internet, participating in forums, debates, gambling, etc.


We learn all about stats and what indicators to look for in teams and individuals so we can win bets. We know all the stories about the athletes on our favorite teams and past records. We figure out stories and streaks so we have things to talk about while watching these games with our friends. 


All of these things teach us how to become a great fan.  However, what we do not learn is how to think like an athlete, or like a tennis player. Sometimes, we just sit back and hope it happens to us. Instead, we should be proactive in this process. 


Sport Psychology and common sense teaches you to focus on things you can control and stop worrying about things you cannot. When you compete, you cannot think about the stories, and records, and statistics, etc. You need to stop looking at the newspaper, predictions, forums, and rankings.  Try your best not to analyze tournament draws, or figure out who you are playing next.  This will prevent you from living in the present. While it is important to know your current opponent’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can develop a good strategy, do not get ahead of yourself by thinking about opponents in subsequent rounds.  Develop your strategy for only the current match, and deal with the next match if and when it comes.


Many people say that these things do not affect them, so they can still be a competitor and fan at the same time. If that is the case, I challenge you to think of past poor performances. Think of at least 3 of them. What were you thinking before and during the competition? If anything had to do with how good or bad your opponent was, this is partly because you got involved in the fan mentality and let that opponent’s reputation get in your head and block your focus. Walk away when friends and teammates start talking about the sport as spectators. Do not let those distractions get into your mind. 


The “fan mentality” is a difficult habit to break. To do so, you need to actively attempt to break it but the results are well worth it. Stop caring what other people think of you or how they will view your performance. Also avoid records, rankings, predictions, streaks, and stories; instead, read a book about techniques or mindset development. Start thinking like a participant. Destroy your “fan mentality,” and live in your own reality!

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