Coach Slezak’s Crystal Ball

I literally have a crystal (possibly glass) tennis ball.  My girls tennis team got it for me as a gift last season.  They had no idea how useful this gift was going to end up being for us all.  The story I am about to share with you is one of the greatest long-term motivators ever and it all has to do with gazing into the future through a crystal tennis ball…

Coach's Tennis Crystal Ball

Coach Slezak’s Crystal Ball

Everyone who has ever set a goal and worked tirelessly to accomplish it knows that is takes a lot of sacrifices along the way.  Regardless if the goals are academic, athletic, or otherwise they will undoubtedly require a person to make sacrifices along the way in order to achieve it.  Kind of like paying a toll on the highway to proceed to your destination.

So where does the crystal ball fit in?  Well I pull out my crystal ball in front an individual player or the entire team.  I swirl my hand around making some magic and I tell the player I am gazing into the future….  What is that I see?  I see you years from now winning tournaments and achieving a high ranking, a college scholarship, or a team championship.  Then I see all the newspaper and tv reporters wanting to interview you asking, “How is it that you achieved this great accomplishment?”  The player answers, “Well I stayed focused on my goal, listened to and trusted in my coaches, learned from my losses, hit extra serves, did extra running, did extra technical work, and studied matches on the tennis channel.  I worked relentlessly hard to achieve it.”

After I go on and on with this story I ask the player, “Would you be willing to do all that extra work if I could guarantee those results?”  The answer is always, “Yes!”  I then go on to explain that most people are willing to commit to pay the price for a guaranteed result.  Do this, this, and this and you will get that.  If this was the way it was in tennis more people would be doing it, believe me.

I then go on to tell them that in life there are no guarantees and the same is true in tennis.  I wish I could gaze into my crystal ball and guarantee specific results, but that is not how it works.  However, what sets great players apart from the rest is a willingness to commit to the unknown.  Most people are not willing to take a risk and commit to an unknown or to no guarantee.  You see all that can be guaranteed is that doing the work will get you closer to your goal.  It doesn’t mean you will reach your goal tomorrow or even 4 years from now.  Players have to be willing to commit to the unknown and when they do great things usually happen.  Committing gives them the daily motivation they need to do all the extra work just for the chance at an opportunity to reach their goal.  It it typically those who commit to the unknown who become truly great.

I would like to thank my mentor Coach Chuck Kriese for teaching me the now famous “Crystal Ball Motivational Method” with me.  I used this exact story today in tennis camp with the advanced players to keep them focused, intense and motivated to train in the almost unbearable heat.


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