What Can Football Teach You About Tennis?

Being from Pittsburgh it is impossible to escape the Steelers and in fact we can learn a great deal from what plays Coach Tomlin calls and when he calls them in order to gain momentum for his team or stop the other team from getting back into the game.

So to really simplify things lets look at the two options a coach has in football, they can either pass or run.  Passing is a risky play but has greater rewards.  Running is a safer play but has less rewards.  So what does Coach Tomlin call when his team is behind in the score?  He calls a pass play in order to try and make a big play and change the momentum of the game.  What does Coach Tomlin call when his team is ahead in the score?  He calls a run play to be safe and keep any big plays from happening and giving momentum to the other team.

Smart tennis players can apply this same concept to their own games.  When they are behind in a game say 0-30 they should try to attack and take bigger risks because they must try and switch the momentum back on their side.  At the same time when they are ahead say 30-0 they should have a safer shot selection and try to keep their opponent from making big shots to switch the momentum in the game.  This is a very simplified version of the concepts I teach my high-performance and varsity high school players because they have to learn how to coach themselves and make the right decisions in a match.  By the time I get to talk to them at a change over during a high school match its already too late.

Tennis is very different from football and most team sports because there is a head coach who calls the plays.  The coach tells the quarterback when to throw and when to pass and all they have to do is execute.  Tennis is unique because players must not only be the athlete performing the task but also the coach calling the plays.  In my opinion this combination of athletic ability and thought is what makes tennis the greatest game in the world.


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