I think it is ok to get angry on the court. Getting angry shows you are a competitor. But like many other sports you have a very small window of time in tennis to spend angry. In tennis there is no time for “History Majors”. So get angry but get over it real quick and begin thinking about the next point and how you are going to approach it in a winning manner.
When I think of great sports legends and the subject of anger I always refer to Larry Bird and a playoff situation he was involved in many years ago against the Detroit Pistons. To me the situation exemplifies having self-control at the exact moment where Larry simply could have totally lost it and other lesser players surely would have. Here is a link showing this play! (If you watch the clip you can still see good ol’ Bill Walton swinging his hands in amazement after DJ scores at the “heads up” play by Bird. Love it!)
Let me tell you about it the way I remember it at the time. I may not be able to describe it perfectly for you but here goes. The Pistons had a one-point lead and possession of the ball with five seconds left in a pivotal Game 5 at Boston Garden. Bird stole an inbounds pass from Isiah Thomas and fed Dennis Johnson for a layup and a shocking victory. Now remember at that moment there was only about 5 seconds left in the game when Bird missed a layup and the ball was knocked out of bounds and this gave the ball to the Pistons. This is what put the ball in Isiah’s hands. No timeouts. Larry could have gone nuts with anger for the rejected layup. He could have groaned about not going to the basket strong enough. They had just given the ball to arguably one of the best ball handlers in the history of the game to inbound the ball and run out the clock. What a boneheaded, grade school and stupid play! Instead of getting angry even for a second Larry held his head and looked for a way to win and he did so by stealing the inbounds pass and feeding to DJ. That will always weigh on my mind as one of the greatest examples of how a player should not get angry and give themselves a chance to win the game.
1. The only thing on the court you can control is yourself.
2. Remember one of the best sayings by the great Allen Fox–“Never do anything on the court that does not help you to win the match!”
3. Stay in the “moment”. If you find yourself getting angry about a past point remind yourself where you are and what you are doing at that moment. If you do this it is hard to be angry about something that happened in the past.0
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