For many years I have been on a relentless quest for the secrets to developing great tennis players. My search has brought me all over the place, taught me many things, and allowed me to meet countless people. In fact, one man I met a few years back, Coach Chuck Kriese, shared with me the formula he uses for developing great players, and he has developed some great ones.
Ability + Desire + Opportunity = Athlete’s Full Potential
Ability, desire, and opportunity are the key foundational ingredients to developing a player to their fullest potential. Ability is basically a person’s genetics, it is what they are born with. Some athletes will be 6’2″, some have more fast twitch muscle fibers than others, and some see the court in unique ways. Desire is the “fire in the belly” that some players have. No one really knows why but some athletes just have high achievement needs, more passion and desire to put in the necessary hard work than others. The first two parts of the equation ability and desire are mostly centered around the individual, the last part, opportunity, is a little different. Opportunity mainly falls on the parents and coaches. They provide many of the opportunities for players to grow and continue growing. The opportunities can range and depend on so many factors. In fact, if you want to read a great book about opportunities and their effect on people check out Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success. The real magic happens when an athlete is fully prepared with their ability and desire to take full advantage of an opportunity. The equation sure does give context to this quote by Winston Churchill.
“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.” – Winston Churchill
Put all three of these things together and you get the athlete’s fullest potential. The key is maximizing all 3 areas to their fullest. An athlete with tremendous ability and desire with zero opportunities will leave something on the table. An athlete with tremendous ability and opportunities but no desire will never reach their fullest potential. Finally, an athlete with tremendous desire and opportunity will go far but will ultimately be limited somewhere along the line by their physical abilities.
I teach this formula to my athletes so they know they have some control of the equation. I want them to equate effort with success. I also think knowing how all 3 interact allows them to take full advantage of any opportunities that do come there way. As a coach, this equation is also why I am constantly on a quest to get better and learn as much as possible. I want to be able to give the athletes I am working with the best possible opportunities to reach their fullest potential.
For an athlete to reach their fullest potential its not all about fancy drills and high performance training, its about maximizing on their unique abilities, desire, and opportunities. Sure makes the old saying “hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard” make a whole lot more sense.
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