I just finished a 30 day program with 50 tennis enthusiasts just like you (feel free to join as I add daily tips throughout the week on the 6 pillars of tennis success).  Each day we dove into the importance of one of the pillars and how to try it out on your own.  Sometimes these new ideas do not pan out how someone would want them to and say that “it just didn’t work.”  Before throwing ideas out for good, consider having a beginner’s mind.  A beginner’s mind is something we all had when we try something new.  It’s fresh and fun to learn whatever it is you’re trying.  Failure is not an option but rather a necessity in learning and we embrace this whole heartedly.  As the Author of Zen, Beginner’s Mind Says, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Here are 5 tips on having a beginner’s mind: 

1. Are you automating?

Studies show that people in professions tend to peak and stay level in their degree of expertise.  Doctors, teachers and even the everyday driver all tend to automate their work.  This is a natural action for us to do as it allows us to focus on other, possibly more important, tasks to perform.  However it doesn’t allow us to keep improving unless we focus on the actions we are trying to improve upon, including tennis.  To see what this focus feels like, try to do everything with your non dominant hand throughout the day.  You will see that such trivial tasks we automate will need a lot of focus to perform.  This is what it feels like when you’re hitting tennis balls in a deep state of focus to allow for improvement to happen.  The next time you get on the tennis court, have that level of focus and you just might notice results you never had before.

2. Do you think age is your barrier?

Sometimes, as Author Ryan Holiday says in his book, “the obstacle is the way.”  Most likely, we make obstacles the excuse rather than the way. We are too busy, too old, too out of shape, etc.  Try putting “not to improve my tennis game”  at the end of any of those excuses.  Instead of thinking of reasons why you can’t improve you’ll think of reasons to give you permission for improving.  Sometimes you just need to get out of your own way to allow progress to happen!

3. Being uncomfortable is key

Learning is dirty, tiring and repetitive. If these are things you like to avoid my guess is that learning won’t come easy for you.  By accepting the uncomfortableness of learning we can welcome the chores that are required to improve our game.  Nothing worth doing came easy so how could improving your tennis game be that way?  Yes, you will fail and yes, it will be repetitive.  If you stick with it though, you will be glad you did as the results will be there.  Be patient and embrace the challenge!

4. Never give up 

Imagine a baby learning to walk and just saying, “to hell with this!  I’m going to stick to crawling.”  It’s laughable but relatable to what we do when faced with difficult situations.  Use your child instincts to forget your mistakes while learning something new.  Mistakes are necessary to learn from but you must be able to forget them.  You must keep your head up and believe you can make the changes you want.  Confidence will be your shining beacon to keep you on course.

5. Get fresh eyes on a certain shot you want to work on. 

Have you ever talked to someone about a problem you’re having and all of a sudden they think of something you haven’t had?  Getting a second set of eyes on your game can pay off with some third person perspective you might never of thought of. Do this with a training partner or someone you play matches with. You might get insight on their take on what you could work on. Take it a step further and ask for an expert. Getting a certified tennis pro to work at your game can work wonders and expedite your learning process.

Regardless of what you do, have a learners mind and you just might find what you’re looking for!

Here’s a video on the difference between pushing the ball and striking the ball with spin and power: