As a former professional tennis player and the first African American to lead the United States Tennis Association, Katrina Adams knows the importance of mindset and mental health in sports. In this blog post, she shares about the power of positive thinking, focusing on the end goal, and teamwork.

March 12, 2016; San Diego, CA: Katrina Adams, President of USTA

First and foremost, you must be willing to Own ‘Your’ Arena. Own the courage that can take you places that you dream of going, Own Your Voice to allow you to speak up and speak out, sharing your thoughts and expertise, and Own Your Identity to exemplify your authentic self and offer a diversity of thought to the conversation and the solution. These are just three of my twelve winning match points from Own The Arena.

Having a winning mindset is not something that you can conjure up overnight. This takes experience in learning from one’s experiences. Although I do think it’s innate, it can be trained with a positive attitude.

The power of positive thinking is real

You have to believe it, to see it. But just believing that something will happen is not all that it takes. Research and preparation with intent is critical. If you truly believe in something, you must be committed to doing the research, having the conversations, gathering the data, and being repetitive in your approach to make things come to fruition. As a professional athlete, repetition was critical. Practice after practice after practice was critical. Constantly testing myself in the gym, on the track, and on the tennis court was critical to developing my skills. The same thing applies in business. We must update, enhance, and test our skills constantly. Only then will we know if we are prepared to test the waters in real-time.

Having an end goal is what drives me

Having a plan to focus on my daily agenda is what keeps me focused. Competing in tennis tournaments was about winning the biggest trophy. Well today, I can’t win the biggest trophy, the contract, the grant, the donor, the ‘prize’ without having a clear understanding of what it is that I’m trying to accomplish. I need to know who the stakeholders are, the vendors, the customers etc., to be able to offer the ideal product. Planning is everything.


That sense of working together as a team towards something greater than ourselves was amplified when I became the leader of an organization. My role was not to take credit or control but to collaborate and give people all the support they need to be successful. Not every mindset is the same but finding a common ground to work together, provides a greater opportunity to be successful. I thrived on inspiring to empowering others to be their best selves. That takes a certain mindset to achieve.