‘I felt bored out there: It’s tough to find motivation– said Bernard Tomic 24, speaking to reporters after his first round loss to Mischa Zverev@ Wimbledon 2017-Times sport- 6th July 17. Bernard, who turned PRO at 15, had a career best ranking of 17 and is considered as one the top players in the circuit.
Thanasi Kokkinakis 21, who is a promising tennis player with a highest career ranking of 69: turned PRO during 2013 @17 years of age: said recently – ‘ I sometimes feel bored in practice sessions and smaller tournaments, but not @ Wimbledon. Is this boredom a mental issue among younger players and a cry for help? Probably yes!
This is not one would expect from these talented youngsters who have a long career ahead of them. Tragedy, that it can be, it could be one of the reasons why the younger lot have not been able to perform consistently at the highest level to trouble the best in business. Staleness and burnout can only be the reasons for this disturbing symptom.
It has been a trend to make the children to start sport as early as 6 or 7 and begin to take part in competitions by age of 9. There are instances of young teens turning PRO by 15 years of age. It does not warrant an expert to say what happens when one turns PRO. It involves intensity with vigorous training, practice, travel and competitions all year round. The pressure to keep winning and meet competitive demands is enormous. It is at this age these young PRO’S go through the grind when their peers are enjoying their life out there. Tomic said he has been on the tour since 17and have played at Wimbledon for 7 years already, as in 2017.
This continuous grind throughout the year takes its toll: though it does not have to be a rule- there have been instances where the younger Pros have burnt-out due to this. The probable symptoms of burnout in Tomic and Kokkinakis could be- 1. Apathy and lack of interest in the activity 2. Lack of desire to practice or contest in terms of achievement 3. Physical and mental exhaustion 4. Lack of enjoyment 5. Feeling jaded and stale with BOREDOM. The probable reasons could be that 1.the players could have given it too much in to less time 2. The sport has been too monotonous without any form of enjoyment & socializing 3. Injuries and mental breakdowns forcing lay- off from competition for a long time 4. Competition too stressful.
This is what could have forced Tomic to say- ‘I know Wimbledon is one of the biggest tournaments but I couldn’t find anything [motivation and momentum].
Having achieved too much in too less time [external motivation] might have forced Tomic to say- ‘I have won titles in my career: I have made finals a lot: I feel holding a trophy doing well doesn’t satisfy me anymore. At some point of time he must have made a conscious decision to continue playing for security, as there was no alternate career and he has identified himself with Tennis. This is called entrapment. He could be playing professional Tennis to build financial security: drawing inference from his recent press conference- ‘ I am going to play for another 10 years and I know after that in my career, I don’t have to work again.’ This situation has happened many times in Tomic’s career and has also been accused of tanking– as it happened against Zverev, when he gave in too easily.
Burnout involves a psychological, emotional and sometimes physical withdrawal from a formerly enjoyable activity in response to stress or dissatisfaction over time [Smith 1996].
This situation is totally in contrast with players like Roger Federer who at 35 continue to enjoy the game wanting to get better all the time. It is all about intrinsic motivation– which could be the only HOPE for youngster who turn pro early and want to stay in the circuit for long.
M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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