“Players learn to win only up to the level they cannot stand to lose down to.” – Chuck Kriese
That quote up above is something my good friend, mentor, and hall of fame coach, Chuck Kriese taught me and it has profound meaning that requires a whole entire blog post.
Winning and losing is a part of the game of tennis. When you walk out on the court it really is like stepping into the gladiators arena where you are going to do battle and one person will come out a winner and the other a loser. The scoring system of tennis is amazingly complex because points must be grouped together and their is no clock to run out and do the dirty work in finishing off an opponent.
The feeling of winning a match and the pain of losing a match are tremendously important to the development of a player. Winning should feel really good and losing should hurt. These feelings are certainly there when a player truly makes a commitment, investing significant time and energy into their game.
So back to Coach Kriese’s quote… You see when players cannot stand to lose they figure out a way to eventually win and it fuels their growth. Players who cannot stand to lose will hit extra balls, study professional matches, get in better physical shape, and basically do whatever it takes to figure out a way to win. At the same time players who can stand to lose will hit a glass ceiling in their development. When a player loses and they are ok with losing they will stop getting better. Let me explain why. When a player is ok with losing they basically become satisfied with their level of play and quickly lose motivation to put in the extra work necessary to raise their level of play. In essence, players only learn to win up to the level in which they are satisfied with their game.
The performance expectations players set for themselves play an enormous role in how good they become. I am not saying everyone who plays tennis wants to be a USTA Gold Ball National Champion. Some may just want to make the starting line-up of their high school team. What I am saying is that players will only learn to win up to the level they cannot stand to lose down to.