….or run the trees, hills and 4 stair sets. What’s this all about?
My son, Matt, has just begun taking 1-hour tennis lessons several days a week. There are many lessons taught on the court that go well beyond tennis.
Matt practices with beginners and intermediate players to sharpen his basic skills. However, the 1-hour sessions seem too short. As we were leaving practice, I noticed another program that runs 1.5 hours three days a week with focused drills. This is for more advanced players but will stretch him and help his development.
I had unknowingly chatted with the head coach earlier that day. Upon asking about the advanced program, he graciously asked Matt to stay for the session. I was candidly warned that I must be prepared for my son to lose until he becomes a stronger player. Fortunately, Matt understands and embraces the concept of playing against stronger opponents to improve your own skills.
Lesson 1: If you want to get better at anything, you must meet the challenge at hand. Raise your own bar to new heights. If it’s too easy to win, you are not growing. You are hurting yourself with complacency. Strive to improve at whatever you do. Surround yourself with stronger, experienced players.
The players completed some match play drills. Winners rotated toward center court while losers rotated away toward the outer courts. Matt had early success, moved up one level, then ended up on the farthest court. This was expected. He was undaunted, confirming he could handle the challenge. Matt wants to play better and is willing to work for it.
Lesson 2: The ultimate win is in having the courage to work even when the odds are against you. Swimming against the current makes you stronger and pays big rewards. Try some contrarian tactics rather than following the crowd and surprise yourself with greater results.
Lastly, players were paired based on number of wins. Of course, Matt was paired with a more skilled player. They were instrusted to play to 10 points or until the coach called time. The loser had to run around a long stretch of trees, a couple of hills, and 4 sets of stairs bottom to top and back. When the coach called time, Matt had 8 points and his opponent 9 points. Matt’s opponent was instructed to immediately start running. Why? Matt’s opponent had far better skills and the point spread should have been significant. The score indicated his opponent was not playing to full capacity prompting the appropriate penalty.
Lesson 3: Always bring your ‘A’ game. No matter what your opponent’s skill level, you must bring and play your game. Failing to do so hurts your since you are not exercising your skills. You should be raising you own bar. It also disserves your opponent. If he never sees the real strength of his competition, he can not improve and rise to the challenge. Both parties miss the opportunity to grow. Both are ultimately weakened.
Success is based on our willingness to try(and fail), consistency of effective effort, and focus on our end goals. As T. Harv Eker says, ‘The way you do anything, is the way you do everything.’ So rise to your occasion, surround yourself with stronger, experienced players, and go against convention for greater results.
As Sir Winston Churchill stated, “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
And I say….Always, always, always….bring your ‘A’ game!