What is your Game Identity?!
When you watch top players, one thing becomes apparent. Each player has their own unique 'package'
Imagine your opponent has no face...however their play, their attitude and body language give away who they are. They have a distinctive "game self"
Their strategies may be modified against different opponents or on different surfaces, but their game self remains the same. When they don't play well it is often because they got away from their game self. When they perform well, you will often hear them reflect on how they maintained their game self eg "I played my game today"
The game self has a number of components that make it up:
1. TACTICAL IDENTITY: The tactical identity describes how the player likes to play the game eg baseline counter puncher/aggressive baseliner/All court player/Net rusher
2. EMOTIONAL IDENTITY: These are the attitudes they bring to a match eg "positive" "aggressive" "calm" "resilient" "fighter" "tough"
3. MENTAL IDENTITY: This is how the mind operates in match play eg "focused" "smart" "analytical" "creative" "intense"
4. TECHNICAL IDENTITY: These are their stroke strengths eg "big forehand" "excellent timing" "mixes it well" "consistent" "big serve"
5. PHYSICAL IDENTITY: This is their physical strengths eg "big" "strong" "quick" "chase every ball down" "great endurance" "powerful" "good hands" etc.
When working with players under the age of 14 years old or less than 5 years competitive tennis experience in my opinion it’s important that they do not set their Game identity in stone yet.
As this can hinder and real choices they make later on in their tennis journey. Developing players need to be exposed to a contrast of shots and game situations allowing the children learn the different tactical and technical skills. Once they become competent at many different skills(diversification) they can focus on their particular strengths (specialisation). For example become a baseliner because that’s where you like to play rather than be a baseliner cause you cant volley!!