One of my fave pop piano artists Ben Folds has a song called “There’s always someone cooler than you”, no matter how cool you are there’s someone out there cooler than you. The same goes for sport, unless you are No 1 in the world, there is always someone better than you. If you are no 1 in the world, well done, but everyone is out to beat the best, as in any level of sport and in life.
I was asked by a fellow coach while in NSW recently “why bring a group of kids here for tennis?” My answer was simple. WA is a fish bowl, kids almost know before they hit the courts almost everything about their opposition and how they will end up. The beauty of taking a group of athletes to a new Tennis Center, a new tournament, with international kids so they can problem solve (live), they can go out confident, they can enjoy new opposition, new challenges and be free-er on the court. Plus rocking up to 30+ tennis court venues where the hospitality is amazing, and you have Australian tennis celebrities like John Alexander, Margaret Court, Ian Barclay, Dianne Ballestrat etc at the courts, you know you’ve picked a great event. There are also practice courts readily available to hit on (Perth???) so players can have good warm ups, and players knocked out we can organize matches for them.
Things we always tell our athletes
- to enjoy your wins, no matter what level of win
- learn from losses
- set goals when you repeatedly play the same players
- don’t simply exist on court – own it
- we hate repeat mistakes
- there’s always someone out there better than you
A win for an athlete can be not only in the scoreline but in the effort and performance to get there. There are some coaches, parents and players out there who look at the score line and that’s it – time for our moto –
PERFORMANCE IS MANDATORY!
From as recent as last week we had a player lose 4 and 5 to a player much stronger and with a bigger serve. These two had to play each other again in the next event and with a smarter game plan and learning from the previous match, our player won the match 3 and 5 (one of the pure reasons I believe coaches should travel with players is to help them in situations like this) our player had the confidence in the coach having the right plan, had the confidence in his own skill and ability and to execute a plan.
Another reason I love travelling with kids and playing new people (and those with a good memory) is one of our juniors has a January birthday so goes up an age group every 2nd January. The player isn’t 6.4″ and 90kg and I am sure going into a match last week, the opposition was thinking “here comes another win – I crunched him last time” and I am sure this player won’t mind me posting this, but with determination and a belief that the hard work is being done and improvement is being made the following happened…
(Supacoach is always right – it was actually 2 years ago.)
Part of any sort of coaching is making a better person. You don’t have to hold a trophy to be a winner. If you improve yourself as a person and are constantly learning, you are winning.
Hard work always beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I’ve heard this from some of the best coaches in the world and used it myself.
At ATA we are big believers in creating a better person and a better player!
We receive a lot of messages, emails and photos of players doing well at lots of different levels of tennis. From club championships to AR events to AMT and ITF.
Check out these 4 stories
1. I received a txt from a Dad who was as proud as punch that his daughter player her first ITF event and even though she lost first round, was competitive and wow what a buzz, we have worked with her from a junior, and enjoyed a lot of early success in AR events and WA Teams and now, playing an ITF event, awesome.
2. I recently received a txt from my brother (a very capable a grade player here in Albany) saying he had won a club Championship with one of our b/c grade players, My brother took it in his stride (he is a cool cat), but his partner who I saw in Woolies 3 days later talked me through the victory, what he enjoyed and what he did well. Club Championships – not AR, not AMT – and the gleam in his eye and the pride in his voice and the enjoyment he had from winning was the reason we all play sport.
3. I also regularly receive photos of kids from their parents at local level winning events and the pride felt by the player and the parent is such that they want me to know – and I love to know. Not matter what level, a win must be cherished and enjoyed regardless of the level of event.
4. Similarly we had a player win qualifying conso last week. He didn’t qualify for main draw, he got bundled, but still had to win 4 matches to win the final. That win to our tour group was the same as our top female player winning the AMT conso and celebrated the same was. I told the kids at the recovery session that night at the park. Doesn’t matter what level of tennis you are at, there’s always someone better than you unless you are the best in the world. And for the record this boy, won through qualifying next round and won a round of main draw AR Gold.
We get a few emails and messages about the levels of tournaments. Tennis A used to have a very good Tournament pathway poster that I will download later. Till then here is our Tournament Pathway Poster and level of players playing for junior and senior.
No matter what level of player you are, from local club events open events to Country week AR and ITF, our advice is really simple. We all play at a level we are at, and when you win enjoy it, savior it. There is club rivalries, pennant rivalries, right up to Agassi and Sampras rivalries. Enjoy every win, learn from every loss and remember until you are world no 1 “there’s always someone better than you”!