Identifying your unique personality profile provides a greater understanding of how you navigate the world. Each personality profile shares common modalities which correlate to common on court playing/competitive traits. Although exceptions shadow every rule in life, within each personality profile category, a dominate personality trait will be revealed. Knowing this information helps you better identify your strengths and weaknesses and improve your ability to maximize your potential.
Here is an Example of Common On-Court Personality Traits:
Introverts: prefer to retaliate versus initiate the action. This makes them wonderful tacticians and crafty counter punchers.
Extroverts: prefer to initiate action. They prefer shorter points and excel with pattern development and repetition versus rallying for hours on end.
Sensates: prefer to analyze data before making a decision. They need detailed rational along with their instruction.
Intuitives: prefer to act first… analyze later. They get bored with too many details. They often say “just show me and I’ll copy it.” Regarding doubles, they are natural born poachers!
Thinkers: prefer to focus on the technical components and are usually self-critical. They prefer private lessons over loud groups.
Feelers: prefer harmony and have great issue with gamesmanship tactics. They’re particularly sensitive to conflict. They put the needs of others above their own, which of course stunts their growth.
Judgers: prefer order and need to control their environment. They typically come to a lesson with a list of components to improve. They prefer to master a task and find closure before moving on.
Perceivers: prefer to multi task and are often found mentally making grocery lists after building a lead. Focusing on the match for the duration is difficult. Their brains focus on the future which makes the act of closing out sets and matches challenging.
We are all born with a unique learning preference (known as nature.) This preference is influenced by our environment (known as nurture.) How you’ve been nurtured by parents, siblings, teachers, coaches plays a secondary role in your development. Nurturing a person against their basic genetic predisposition will generally lead to disinterest and failure to progress. Coaching without intently including the student’s personality profile is a receipt for disaster. Here is an interesting scenario to ponder regarding a forced nurtured environment:
What if Serena Williams was nurtured on the slow red dirt of Spain with coaches who demanded she play 15 feet behind the baseline, while not allowing her to utilize her natural genetic attacking style of play? My bet is that we most likely would have never heard of Serena Williams.
Maximizing potential doesn’t start with improving a singular stroke or strategy, it starts with respecting one’s preferred personality profile and designing a developmental plan accordingly. Assessing one’s preferred learning style provides the foundation to customize improvement within each tennis component: athleticism/fitness, primary and secondary strokes development and repetition, strategies and tactics, match play rehearsal to name a few. We all have strengths and weaknesses in each of these components, knowing how we “tick” will help us design our very own customized developmental plan.