I was listening to Kris Soutar, one of my co-tutors on the LTA SPC course in Nottingham, present to candidates last week. He mentioned that in figure-skating the very best of the best fall more often in training than their competitors. Why? Because the top skaters are constantly challenging themselves at that sweet spot on the very edge of their ability where reach is continually exceeded by grasp. Learning really takes off when we understand the value of making mistakes - our emotional response to them as being helpful and providing direction as opposed to them being a challenge to a fixed view of our ability/talent. A toddler learns to walk by eyeing up the sofa on the other side of the living room and makes those first tentative steps into the unknown. At the first fall she doesn't think, 'Oh, I'm no good at this!!', she just gets up, re-sets her sights and tries again, somehow learning from each fall until mission is accomplished. At what point then did we start to link errors with failure or lack of ability?

Everyball players make their mark in 'home' event

A number of Everyball players made their mark on the LTA Grade 3 Event held at Halton between Christmas and New Year.

Congratulations to the following players: Alexa Wilson (Winner, U8 Red event), Daniel Dean (Finalist, Orange), Imogen Scarles (Winner, U10 Girls), Oscar Glenister (U12 Boys semi-finalist), Jake Williams (U12 Boys semi-finalist), Jack Malloy (Finalist, U12 Boys), Sam Gough (Winner, U12 Boys), Alex Fage (Winner, U14 Boys).

Special mention to Alex Fage who had a couple of great wins in the semis and finals and in doing so demonstrated that solid, disciplined tennis combined with a great attitude and competitive spirit can take you a long way. The U12 Boys final was also of the highest quality with Sam Gough and Jack Malloy both playing towards the top of their games with some enthralling points.

Well done to all players taking part. Pictured below - Sam Gough and Jack Malloy receiving their trophies (great creative trophies by '5 star trophies') and prizes kindly donated by the Royal Air Force. Thanks very much to Sarah Tricks, Camilla Hayward, James Morgan and their helpers for such a well organised event.

Absence of adversity?

With best wishes to each other for a New Year, it's that time when we turn our thinking towards 2011 with hope and anticipation - resolutions, new commitments and goals, health and happiness. It would be worth noting, however, that the 'abundant' life we hope and wish for will not be characterized by the absence of adversity. Abundant life is in fact growth in the midst of adversity, and what better tool do we have in life to help teach us this but sport.

We only need to look at the current plight of the Australian Cricket team to demonstrate this, and through the pain and adversity they are currently in will no doubt spring the green shoots of growth and recovery. That's why we love to identify with the ground level struggle of fighting for every ball - it's through that struggle and our mistakes that we learn. I got a text message last night from one of my players that read: 'Hey Mike - I won that match 3-6 7-7 (5) 10-8. Felt so ill for the whole match it was crazy. Played mediocre.' There's a good example of a little adversity and clearly a great response to it.

So as you think about the New Year, don't only look towards what you might be blessed with, but also what you are going to be challenged by and how you are going to grow as a result.

Happy Christmas and New Year!!

Here's to a happy Christmas and New Year! Many thanks for all your business, support and encouragement over 2010 and here at Everyball we look forward to working with you again in 2011 with great anticipation and excitement.

Core beliefs

Hi friends of Everyball,

Please take a look at our revised set of core beliefs for the academy that underpin our mission to 'Educate, Motivate and Inspire'. They are posted on the home page of www.everyball.net - just click on the green heading on left-hand side. The value of posting these? To hold ourselves accountable towards striving to meet them day to day, but also to share with you and other interested parties our thinking - much has been 'creatively adapted' (rather than slavishly adopted!) from other sources, so it's only right that we continue to make our contribution to the never-ending 'coaching' debate which no doubt you are part of if you read this blog.

Quote for today

'....but to understand the risks, perhaps even to flinch at first, but then summon the strength to face them down - that is the most commendable form of courage.' (Robert Harris, Lustrum)

Behaviour change

I was on court this week playing some points against 16 year-old Alex Clark, one of our full-time players here at Everyball Halton. As a consequence of having spent many hours with her on court, her shot-making has become predictable to me and I have a very good idea what she will do with the ball in most situations and therefore I'm already one step ahead of her in my anticipation (now all the coaching secrets are coming out of the bag!). Points continued in this fashion for some time, until a moment arrived where Alex managed to execute exactly what we had been practicing for some time, and it caught me totally off guard and left me stranded nowhere near able to track her shot down. I was thrilled at losing the point in this way - these are the great coaching moments, the ones that make it worthwhile, the ones that suggest the work that both player and coach are putting in is making a difference.

But it has to be the same in all walks of life - as you seek to change and improve, are people noticing? Very often, it's not until you make an external impact with your behaviour that you know change is taking place. Not that this should be the motivation in itself, but it's a very powerful indicator as you seek to move forward in whatever area you have identified to work on. A new year is of course the time to think about change and setting new goals; rather than outwardly declare what you're going to do, why not 'just do it' and see who notices the difference. Could be fun!

Katy edges closer to world's top 100

A big congratulations to Everyball player Katy Dunne who today won her second ITF title in Botswana in as many weeks, bringing her 2010 haul to 4. This will bring her current ITF 18&U Junior World ranking ever closer to the world's top 100 and victories in the heat, rain and altitude of Gaborone will provide a great platform as she pushes into 2011 with the goal of making a serious impact in the very top grade ITF events. A major thanks to LTA Coach Jane O'Donaghue who has guided Katy over these past two weeks. Thanks Jane and great job Katy or as Halton coach Jemima Hayward put it, 'team Dunneaghue'!! Pictured below is Katy receiving her winners medal/trophy. Katy also picked up the doubles title as well.