Becoming a great player is incredibly difficult even when doing everything right.

Here are ten common mistakes many competitive tennis players regularly make without understanding the tremendous damage they’re doing to their tennis game.

1. You do not enter a tournament because if you lose it may hurt your ranking

What makes you a better player is not your actual ranking but the experience of competing often against players who may beat you. By protecting your ranking you may be better than some players on paper, but not for very long if you continue avoiding challenges.

2. You do not play the back draw because it is not the “real” tournament

Improving requires you to play many competitive matches a year, and your goal should be to try to play at least as many matches as your competition. So, if you lose early and stop playing, you will automatically end the tournament with fewer matches that those who kept advancing.

You do that often enough and you will never catch up. By not playing the back draw, you are literally watching the competition race pass you.

3. You think that doubles is not as important

Practicing and competing in doubles is one of the best ways to improve a whole different set of skills and make you a stronger and more complete player. If you are not taking doubles seriously, you are limiting your development.

4. You feel that you are wasting your time when you have to practice with weaker players

Getting hung up on who you are practicing with is one of the surest ways to sabotage your time on the court. The mere thought of not wanting to practice with someone is enough to lower your intensity and focus. You can always improve your game, regardless of who you are on court with. If you can’t do that, you are probably not that much better than your practice partner.

5. You get rattled if the conditions are not perfect

Everyone plays better when the surroundings are perfect, no wind, no sun, great courts, etc. However, the best players understand that in many matches it is not about playing well but only about playing a little better than the opponent. The right attitude is to welcome the opportunity to play uncomfortable. Only through these experiences will you be able to reach your potential.

6. You avoid certain opponents

We all have opponents that we’d rather not play against. They make us feel uncomfortable. It may be their game, their personality, or something we do not quite understand. Either way, the reality is that we do not have the tools to deal with them.

Avoiding them may feel better in the short term, but it does not solve the problem. Playing them as often as possible until we develop the necessary tools to beat them is the only way to grow.

7. You sidestep things you are not good at

It is human nature to like to do the things we excel at and avoid those things that we are not very good at. Unfortunately, the only way to improve is to do the things we need to do and not only the ones we like. Accept the challenge and make sure you include the things that you do not like to do but should do in your practices.

8. You avoid being uncomfortable

Getting better is usually painful and uncomfortable. The essence of tennis is solving problems and losing is nothing more than failing to solve the problems presented to you that day. If you are not willing to face adversity with everything you got and push yourself you will never reach your potential.

9. It is never your fault

The only way to improve is by taking responsibility. Understanding what you need to improve and focusing your energy on it is paramount to develop. Transferring the blame to others will prevent you from addressing your problems with the energy needed.

10. You are not willing to exchange short-term pain for long term gain

Improving is difficult. Change does not feel good and many times, changes hurt performance in the short run. However, by continuing on the wrong path, although more comfortable, you will certainly never arrive at the desired destination.

Competitive tennis is hard enough, do not make it harder!