Learning to Compete

Learning to Compete

Mental tenacity-

I remember years ago I got roped into coaching high school tennis. The kids were drilled and schooled and looked great in warmups and practice. In the match however, when the going got tough, they went South. One particular match I had had enough.

They played a team that was favored over us. That team was not that good but their uniform and their skill intimidated my guys. For lack of better words, I have to say we quit on that match and got killed.

Well as fate would have it we played that same team in the league tournament two weeks later.

On the bus before the tournament I just went all Bobby Knight on them. (For you youngsters, he was a basketball coach famous for his nasty temper!) My main point was I wanted them to compete every rally. I told them I did not care if they scored no points-all I wanted was a team that competed and contested every point! I remember getting off the bus with the team and the bus driver whispered to me, "I didn't know coaches talked like that any more these days!"

The results were spectacular. We beat that team (we had never beaten before) and the kids were amazed, especially because that team was in first place.

My team did not know how good they were. They saw themselves as bottom feeders because they had always been before the new sheriff rode into town to coach them. Point is how many times have you heard an opponent say, "You wanted it more than me?" That is a great compliment and one you want to strive for!

My team learned that lesson. Step back from your game and be objective. How many players out there have a pre-conceived expectation of winning (or losing)?

The phrase if you believe it you can achieve it is popular but remember that phrase works both ways!