By Emilio Sánchez Vicario, CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy.

#15 Mastery of your habits will give you confidence.

It’s August. 6am in the morning in Naples, Florida. Alarms start to go off in the players’ dorms. Sleepy faces emerge, excited about starting a new day of their new life at the Academy. There’s lots of emotions, worries and news… Thoughts like, ‘Am I going to like it?’, ‘Are the practices going to be really tough?’, ‘Who’s going to be my coach?’, ‘Who will be in my class at school?’, ‘What will the teachers be like?’ They are also excited about this new stage of their lives. A stage, which for almost every athlete at the Sanchez-Casal Academy, is hugely influential on their development as a person.

At 6:45am the players have to be eating breakfast, so they can be on the tennis courts at 7:10am to warm up. They play tennis until 10:30am, shower, and at 11:00am start school. They study until lunch time, go back to the classroom, and then finish the day with more tennis and fitness. At 6:30pm, they have dinner. After eating, they have study hall until 8:30pm and then go to their dorms to relax with their friends and the supervising coach.


River Hart enrolled at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona 11 years ago. She and her two sisters have been ASC student athletes at two of the three sites: Barcelona and Naples. They have developed both as people and as players whilst studying at the Emilio Sanchez International School.

Just like other players at the Academy, they have been learning about the healthy habits and values that life and sport require. Discipline on and off the court, respect, managing time and energy, self-control, social abilities, solidarity, perseverance and commitment, among other things.


The first few days are exhausting for the players. Indeed, the first few weeks can be very difficult until they get used to their schedule and responsibilities, the sensation of freedom from being away from the family home, living with other people, the code of conduct on court and the school rules.

Every player takes around 4 to 10 weeks to adapt. The technical-tactical, physical and mental demands are tough at the beginning. At the Academy, we carefully analyze this process and allow for a little more flexibility as we understand that the adapting to this new life is different for every student. Young players bring their own personal habits from their homes and cultures which differ from the routine at the Academy. Any doubts and insecurities at the start turn little by little into feelings of confidence and belonging. For us, it is very important to understand that this is all part of the process, so we never ask students to do everything perfectly in their first few weeks with us.

River had to adapt to the Academy rhythm, the new rules, the system and structure. It wasn’t easy for her, but just like the others, she adopted new habits that gave her feelings of security and self-confidence.


At the Sanchez-Casal Academy we help students to adapt and feel more self-confident in a number of ways:

  • Creating and maintaining a task-oriented climate. This means being focused on the goals that depend 100% on you. It is easier to learn new habits by following and respecting the process.
  • Introducing the Student Ambassador role.
  • With a Motivation program, where the points that are graded are aspects included in the players’ training: tennis, fitness, mental, school, ASC family and ASC facilities.

We create an environment of improvement and self-centered performance, allowing students to steadily adopt new habits and routines in a safe environment with support from the coaches, tutors and teachers. The players assimilate the Academy’s structure and routine that will be the base of solid self-confidence.

River has almost finished her time with ASC. Eight years have passed. She will leave behind the place which has provided her with the learning and experiences which will be hugely beneficial in her next step. In August 2017 River will be starting college, studying Architecture at the University of Minnesota. Thanks to these years of work, dedication and effort studying at the Emilio Sanchez International School, River has been awarded a scholarship for tennis and studies.


There she will continue her path and her training process that began long time ago with us at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona.


Thanks to Eva Borrás, co-author of this post.

Emilio Sánchez Vicario
CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy


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