Monthly Archives: January 2014

Hate to Lose

Chris Everet Quote

I was reading a book and the quote above was in it.  I read it over and over again…  What a powerful quote by 18-time grand slam champion and world #1 Chris Evert!

You see champions love to win.  Champions relish in the pressure, rising to the occasions in the big moments, and arising victorious.  However, as much as champions love to win they hate to lose even more.  The pain of losing is the greatest motivator of a champion.  When a champion trains or prepares for competition they are not motivated by the pleasure of winning, instead they are motivated by avoiding the pain of losing.

I have seen some real tantrums after tough losses in my time.  I understand the pain of the loss and the pain is important because it is a great teacher.  However, it is important for players to understand that all great champions hate to lose, but those who are truly great do not make a poor public display after a defeat.  Champions like Federer and Nadal certainly hate to lose and I am sure it burns them up inside but you never see them throwing a fit after tough losses.

Read and reread the quote above and let the power of it really sink in…

How Deep is Your Desire?

I saw this video earlier today and to put what I saw into words does not do it justice, so just watch it…

I wrote about the 3 ingredients necessary for success (Ability, Desire, & Opportunity) before.  The man in this video Dustin Carter is amazing to say the least.  He reminds us all that desire, which is controlled by the individual, is the most critical piece of success.  When you have a burning desire to “Want To” accomplish something, figuring out “How To” accomplish it falls right into place.  Thank you Dustin for the reminder that it takes desire to maximize the abilities we are born with and the opportunities that are afforded to us.

Internal vs. External Motivation

AppleTVI bought AppleTV for my wife over the holidays but I it turned into more of a present for myself than her I think…

If you have AppleTV go to the “HBO to Go” app and watch the 1981 classic Chariots of Fire while it is available.  I have watched it a few times and I did so again this morning, which led to the inspiration of this post.

Chariots of Fire is a deep movie that tells the true story of two athletes, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, who both achieve a gold medal for their sprinting at the 1924 Olympic Games.  The interesting part of the movie is what drives each to compete.  Harold is driven externally by a need to win and Eric is driven internally by expressing his inner-self through running.

So how does this all relate to tennis?  When a player makes a decision to commitment to put their all into tennis they can do so by being motivated externally or internally.  Either means of motivation is necessarily better than the other.  Champions athletes have both been motivated either externally or internally as is the case with both gold medalists in the movie.  However, there are distinct differences that arise when an tennis player is motivated externally versus internally.

When a player makes a commitment through external motivation they are driven by a product such as winning or playing #1 on the team.  Often times what can happen when a player is driven by product is that they validate who they are based on their results.  They wrap their entire self-worth up in winning and losing.

In the movie Harold was so obsessed with winning the gold medal when it came time to compete the fear of either winning or losing was tremendous.  Preparing for the competition was filled with stress and anxiety.  The whole process was filled with the feeling of burden.  These feelings all make sense when you look at how Harold’s self-worth was wrapped up in the future results.  When he did win the gold medal it was not very fulfilling,  In fact, winning was more of a relief and feeling that a burden was lifted than a joy.  These same feelings can happen to tennis players as well who are driven by the product of winning.

On the other hand Eric Liddell was driven by internal motivation.  Sprinting was not a way to validate himself, instead it was the means of expressing his inner-self.  Training and competition were fun and joyous experiences.  Winning the gold was an incredible satisfaction and filled with happiness.  Losses were certainly disappointing but the joy came from the process of training and competing even when the product was not attained.  These same feelings can happen to tennis players who looks at tennis as the means with which to expression themselves.

If you are a player go watch Chariots of Fire and I bet after reading this you will see the depth and brilliance of a movie made 32 years ago.  If you are a parent sit down with your children and use this movie as a great teaching experience.

Developing Leadership in 2014

Some of my reading list.

Some of my reading list from 2013.

If you know me personally you get how deeply I reflect on my coaching, the impact I have on the lives of those I teach, and am downright obsessive (my wife’s words, not mine) about learning and personal growth.  In this post I want to share with you one of my coaching goals for 2014, developing leadership.

For me sports have always been a metaphor for life.  All those little cliches and motivational phrases ring so true to me.  Wining is certainly nice but victories are short-lived and many times unfulfilling.  In fact, I think winning is really just a by-product of a deeper process of a growth mindset.

Let’s be real for a minute and face the facts that it is difficult to make a living playing professional tennis and college scholarships are not even a sure thing as competition with international students is fierce.  I believe most parents know this and do not get their children involved in tennis, at least initially, for the fame, glory, and scholarships.  I believe parents get their children involved in tennis because it teaches them so many valuable life lessons.  I wrote about this many times before and most of the parents I talk to think it is true as well.  What I find interesting is that my reasons for getting into coaching was to teach the very same lessons parent’s initially were seeking.

Do not get confused, I certainly have the knowledge and skills to help players develop on the court, turn into better athletes, and achieve performance goals.  However, in the process of developing those attributes I find deeper lessons are taught that are invaluable in the lives and performance of young people.  I truly believe that if the work I was doing had no effect on a young person’s life besides just improving forehands and conditioning my passion would fade very quickly.

I saw and still do see a tremendous opportunity to use sports and tennis in particular to develop leadership qualities in young athletes.  In my relentless quest I have spent the better part of this past year studying leadership, in particular the works of Dr. Tim Elmore and a non-profit called Growing Leaders.  Dr. Elmore has an elegantly simple manner in which he uses word-pictures to get complex and profound messages about leadership across.  And if you know me I am all for analogies!

An example of one of Dr. Elmore’s images is that of an iceberg.  10% of the iceberg is above the surface of the water and is what everyone sees.  90% of the iceberg is below the surface of the water and is the part that no one sees.  Take that image an explain to a young athlete that they are the iceberg and the 10% that people see represents their skills.  The 90% people do not see is their character.  It is character that makes up the biggest part of who they are as an athlete and a person.  There are many athletes who have the skill that everyone sees but are missing the character that keeps them grounded.  It is pretty easy to turn to any professional sport and find examples of athletes with tremendous talent and little character and integrity.  In fact, an iceberg with little under the surface is known as a “growler” and is very easy to push in any direction because it lacks mass.

This is just an example of one of many lessons and images I plan to incorporate into my coaching in 2014.  I have found that a combination of great coaching of the technical skills and fitness brings a player along very quickly.  But when a coach begins developing a player as a person real magic happens.  First, players realize very quickly that a coach cares about them as a person and as the old saying goes, “no once cares what you know, until they know you care.”  Second, players begin to look at their whole life differently, including why they play the sport to begin with.  When a young athlete finds a deep personal meaning in why they play a sport  good things are going to happen, regardless of the win/loss record.

I’d love to know what you think in the comments below.  And if you are an athlete, parent or coach interested in learning more about developing leadership I strongly recommend the Habitudes Series by Dr. Tim Elmore.  The books are very easy to read yet profoundly meaningful.