Sunday, November 28, 2021

Handling the Heat of Competition

Coach Wayne’s Corner

In both my personal and competitive life, I always attempt to feed on something positive, especially when I find myself in challenging circumstances. Needless to say, we are all currently facing some challenging circumstances!

If you have ever competed in any type of tournament, then you know the difference between walking on the court to play for fun and competing for a title.

We all know the feeling of those butterflies in our stomach, just before the curtain goes up and you start competing—aka pre-match nerves.

It is natural to feel nervous and anxious when we find ourselves in a situation where we are unsure as to an eventual outcome of being defeated or victorious.

As we are all currently experiencing the daily challenges of dealing with the unknown factors involved in our fight with the Coronavirus, now is the time to learn from how we handle the anxiety and stress of having to compete against an unknown and very formidable opponent. 

The fears, anxieties and emotions we experience during tournament level competition can be utilized and applied to dealing with the nerves and anxieties in having to combat the Coronavirus. 

Yes, the Coronavirus is a much more serious issue than winning or losing a pickleball match, but knowing how to manage and maintain a calm and positive frame of mind during an ongoing stressful and the emotionally challenging situation can only be gained from experience—aka the school of hard knocks.

So, once we get on the other side of all of this, and you are back out on the courts and possibly competing in your first big tournament, draw from your experience of how you are dealing with all that is going on right now. And when you are back out there on the courts and feeling anxious and nervous, just remind yourself that competing against an unknown opponent on the court is a piece of cake compared to facing off against and being victorious against something as challenging as a worldwide pandemic!

Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years’ experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.

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