Consistency and Self-Expectation
A few months ago, I was playing in a badminton tournament and someone in the top-ranked group didn’t make it that day and hence I, an amateur, was asked to take his spot. Before my match started, I was watching these people play and as I was watching a few rallies, I thought - “I could hit that drop shot!” , “I could take that smash!” and “Maybe I could defeat these guys”.
I gave myself a small prep talk - “Give your 100% and let’s call it a win”. and started the first match. It was 2-2 in the first match and after a long rally, I sprinted from the left side of the court to the right and in full stretch, I hit a perfect cross-court drop shot, wrong-footing the opponent and thus winning the point. My confidence was sky rocket high now and after some good rallies I got to 6-8. I was playing at my best and I had the belief that I could win. However I ended up losing the match 7-21.
I shrugged it off convincing myself it was an off-match and decided to try again in the next one. However, in the next match the same thing happened - prep talk in the mind at the beginning, amazing rallies at the start of the match to come to 7-9 and ended up losing the match 9-21. After losing the next 3 matches in a similar fashion (8-21, 11-21 and 9-21), I was a little disappointed.
A couple of lessons from this -
Consistency - When it comes to any sport, consistency is the most important metric. This is why I believe Federer’s consistency records are the most hardest to break - the 9 consecutive Grand Slam finals, the 23 consecutive Grand Slam Semi-Finals, 5 consecutive Wimbledon titles etc. The only way to get consistent is through more practice.
Expectations - Initially I was asking myself the question - Can I hit that drop shot? and I honestly believed yes I could. However, had I asked the question - Can I hit that drop shot 10 times in a row or 100 times in a row?, that answer would have changed. And the minute I realized that, it was easy to let go of the high self-expectations!
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