Endure is a funny word, it is rarely spoken. Endurance is more commonly used. Both words essentially mean the same thing, but dictionary.com defines endure as, “to undergo (as a hardship) especially without giving in: suffer”…but when the word endurance is used, it is immediately related to a physical ability. With that said…

“Endure, put up with whatever comes your way, learn to overcome weakness and pain; push yourself to breaking point, but never cave in. If you don’t learn that lesson, you’ll never succeed as an elite athlete.” – Toni Nadal (Coach and Uncle of Rafael Nadal).

In Toni’s quote, he is not only talking about physical endurance. He is talking about ones ability to mentally endure. Jimmy Connors once said that, “tennis is, above all, 70% mental.”

I truly believe that success at the highest level is due to a remarkable ability to mentally endure.

An issue I have with most tennis players is they want constant feedback on what they are doing wrong and how they can improve a particular shot.

“What is wrong with my forehand?…why can’t I serve?…How is my backhand so bad?

EVERYBODY is guilty of asking those questions. Well, here is my problem with it: What if you are at 4-4 in the third set and your forehand has been off for a few games. Can your coach walk onto the court and tell you what is going wrong? No! You have to figure it out on your own.

But, if your coach is constantly holding your hand in practice about how to fix something then you are essentially relying on him to solve your problems.

That will not get it done in the trenches of competition. What if during practice you find yourself guilty of asking, “Why can’t I hit a serve?” And instead of getting frustrated, you relax your mind, ease the tension in your body and calmly take a basket of balls to work on your serve — ALONE — until you figured it out. Because, trust me, with enough hard concentrated work, you are all good enough to figure out a way to hit an effective serve.

Now, imagine yourself at 4-4 in the third set again and your serve goes haywire, you don’t need your coach to walk on the court to help your serve. You can think back to your last practice and fix it all on your own.

That mental memory and the feeling of doing it on your own will give you the confidence to execute your serve to victory. That is what being a self thinking tennis player is all about. To reiterate: it’s the individual ability to endure when things get tough.

That is just one example of a way you can endure through a tough situation. The real issue comes in your ability to mentally endure when you are frustrated the most.

But, frustration comes from the inability to execute a shot or shots throughout the course of a match. If you can figure out a way to endure those situations alone in practice, you will certainly be able to endure the exact same situation in a match.

Having everything go against you while maintaing a positive attitude and giving consistent effort is the ultimate meaning of mental endurance.

William Heiser