We often hear players who become angry when they miss claim they do it because they are "perfectionists." They say their standards are so high that they simply can't accept the errors.
Let's take a closer look at the concept of "perfectionism," which I see as substantially different from the common understanding.
When people label themselves as "perfectionists" they usually do so with a hint of pride. There seems to be something admirable about being the type of person who will settle for nothing less than perfection.
More: The Golden Rule of Tennis
The reality is quite different. The "perfectionists" that I run into - the ones that are forever getting angry or depressed when they make mistakes on the court — simply suffer from an immature and distorted view of reality.
Of course they make mistakes, and of course they don't like making them. Nobody does.
More: 6 Ways to Gain the Mental Advantage
But they have not yet accepted the truth: They make mistakes because it's impossible not to make them, and it always will be. That's the reality of the situation, and it's a reality they have not accepted.
Calling the trait "perfectionism" turns it into more of a virtue than it is and allows them to continue getting angry at mistakes they can't help.
If they saw the issue as one of being simply immature and unrealistic (which are faults, not a virtues) they might have to take action to correct it, which they are not yet prepared to do.
My brilliant French team member
One of my later teams at Pepperdine included a young player from France named Charles Auffray. He had been a walk-on as a freshman and had a great deal of physical talent but was emotionally undisciplined and a "perfectionist" in the sense of the previous paragraph.