I've just started to work with a young tennis player and our primary goal this year is to improve her physical capacity. She will continue to compete throughout the year but we have been clear at the outset that the next couple of years is all about "knowledge of performance" not "knowledge of results". This is tough because tennis loves a bit of RANKING points!
What I want this young, talented tennis player to do is differentiate between knowledge of results and knowledge of performance.
We always want to be number one and in an ideal world. You will win every match or bout or competition that you take part. For an athlete there is nothing greater than going through your career with an unblemished record. To have a defeat on your record would suggest an element of vulnerability. Or does it?
This tennis player is just 16 years old, and hopefully has a long amateur and professional career ahead of her. Sure, her early career may not look amazing but in the big scheme of things these results will be long forgotten as she pursues a career in the professional ranks. Everyone has stopped giving Andy Murray a hard time – I wonder why?!
Whilst athletes are learning their trade, knowledge of performance is often far more important than knowledge of results. The result only tells part of the picture.
The key message to be taken from this is that when you are working with younger development athletes who are still developing their sporting skills, results to a large extent are immaterial. Parents and coaches screaming and shouting at young athletes, because they didn't win are really missing a trick. When you are learning your craft, sometimes it is more important about how you perform, rather than the final outcome. It's not an easy lesson to learn, but I think athletes that understand the difference go on to be champions. The others chase the hollow victories as a junior and become washed up also rans!
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