That Lovin’ Feeling: How do you feel when you win?

MARCH 19, 2016 — Bethanie Lynn Mattek-Sands, a 30 year-old from Arizona, and Colleen “CoCo” Vandeweghe, a 24 year-old Californian, celebrate winning the WTA Women’s Doubles at BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Bethanie & CoCo’s embrace epitomized that amazing feeling of victory. Winning is truly magical, but that “oh, so good” feeling is grounded in science and has lasting effects on what we do next.

“Winning increases the dopamine receptors in the brain, which makes you smarter and more bold.” —Ian H. Robertson, cognitive neuroscientist

Eugene Sheeley explains “the winner effect” and what happens to our brain chemistry when we win: “When an animal, be it fish or human, wins a contest, there is a large release of testosterone and dopamine into their brain. Over time this changes their brains’ structure and chemical makeup, making them smarter, more confident and able to take on larger challenges than before.”

“Success and failure shapes us more powerfully than genetics and drugs.” —Eugene Sheeley

So playing tennis makes us smarter and bolder? Pretty sweet. With this focus on the power of winning, we asked our readers to describe that “lovin’ feeling”:

How do you feel when you win a tennis match?

“I feel lighter…as if I can skip around like a kid and nothing can go wrong the rest of the day!” —Mattie, US

“Suddenly my partner, who I was about to strangle a few points ago, is the love of my life.”Hannah, Australia

“When I win against a tough opponent…it’s ‘pat my back time’! I feel like I’m pretty awesome. I admire how I made the tough shots and used strategy.” —Ashley, US

“For that moment, it’s like nothing else exists… just pure exhilaration.” —Abigail, UK

“Superior. The best. Divalicious.” —Theresa, US

“I don’t consider myself a confident person. When I win, it’s like a shot of positive energy that boosts my confidence level to an all time high.” —Lauren, Canada

“It’s like getting a big tax refund, a pot of gold and an orgasm all at once.” —Susan, US

“I wish I could say that I play just for fun… but I REALLY love to win. There’s nothing like it…” —Janice, US

“Fist pump!”—Amy, US

“At that moment, I feel a sense of relief and satisfaction. But that only lasts a minute, and then I want to win again!”Sophia, Brazil

“High-five myself!”Daphne, Singapore

“No matter how I felt about myself earlier in the day, when I win I feel that I am the bees knees!” —Barb, US

“Even when I don’t win a ton of matches, I feel incredible when I win a game, a point or make that amazing shot. There’s so much to feel good about in this sport.” —Jackie, US

“Queen of the court and the world!” —Luba, Ukraine

“In doubles, winning gives me an instant connection to my partner. I want to play with her again and I respect her for her use of skill. Until we lose, and then it all balances out…the blame game begins.” —Jen, Canada

“When I win, I carry it forward and beat myself up a little less every time I lose.” —Shelly, UK

“I just can’t get enough and want to play again and again!” —Millie, US

This is why we love tennis, playing delivers those feel good moments like nothing else we do…Let’s play!


(Cover Photo by Billie Weiss/BNP Paribas Open)
References: “The Winner Effect: How Success Affects Brain Chemistry” by Eugene Sheeley