Interested in communication?

Malcolm Gladwell in his book 'Outliers' has some really interesting thoughts about communication - see Chapter 7, 'The ethnic theory of plane crashes'.

'The typical accident involves seven consecutive human errors.....These seven errors, furthermore, are rarely problems of knowledge or flying skill. It's not that the pilot has to negotiate some critical technical maneuver and fails. The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication.......What was required of Ratwatte was that he communicate, and communicate not just in the sense of issuing commands but also in the sense of encouraging and cajoling and calming and negotiating and sharing information in the clearest and most transparent manner possible.'

Of course we all have our own potential plane crashes (in the metaphorical sense). How are we communicating either in them or to avoid them?

Perhaps Gladwell's 6 keys here will help:

- encouraging (to give courage!)
- cajoling
- calming
- negotiating
- sharing information
- being clear and transparent

National title for Halton Team and Everyball International Academy players

Halton 12 and under boys team were crowned National Champions last month at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, after confirming their status as top seeds at the Aegon Team Tennis Finals.

Halton qualified through the initial stages of the competition beating clubs in the South-West group from Oxstalls, St Peter's Tennis Academy, Coombe Dingle and David Lloyd Bristol along the way.
This unbeaten run then continued at the finals in Roehampton where they faced Hallamshire in the semi-final, winning 4-1 and then beating David Lloyd Raynes Park in the final by the same margin.

The team of Barney Smith, Michael Shaw, Sam Gough, Jack Molloy, Alex Chan, Oscar Glenister, Sebastian Harris and Jake Williams all played their part towards the title. Team captain James Morgan commented 'This is a
tremendous achievement for Halton Tennis Centre/Everyball International Academy and our team of boys. They have represented themselves admirably through the whole campaign and showed great fight and team spirit along the way.'

How we see the world

We see the world according to certain paradigms - broadly speaking philosophical or theoretical frameworks of any kind - ways of seeing our world and the things around us. Paradigm shifts originated within the scientific world, but the term has spilled over into many areas of our lives and refer to those moments where we thought one way about something and then, through some intervention or other, take on a completely new view.

Take the picture below. What did you see first? Duck or Rabbit? How do you respond to someone who sees the Rabbit first? The Duck? Are we open to possible paradigm shifts in our lives or are we so busy protecting those we have (in some cases) unwittingly adopted?

Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers looks at a major paradigm shift in personal computing:

'If you talk to veterans of Silicon Valley, they'll tell you that the most important date in the history of the personal computer revolution was January 1975. That was when the magazine Popular Mechanics ran a cover story on an extraordinary machine called the Altair 8800. The Altair cost $397. It was a do-it-yourself contraption that you could assemble at home......For years, every hacker and electronics whiz had dreamt of the day when a computer would come along that was small and expensive enough for an ordinary person to use and own. That day had finally arrived.....If you're too old in 1975, then you'd already have a job at IBM out of college, and once people started at IBM, they had a real hard time making the transition to the new world....Why screw around with these little pathetic computers? If you were more than a few years out of college in 1975, then you belonged to the old paradigm. You had just bought a house. You're married. A baby is on the way. You're in no position to give up a good job and pension for some pie-in-the-sky $397 computer kit.'

3 men were at the perfect age, time and place to take on the new paradigm in 1975 - Bill Gates, Paul Allen (Founders of Microsoft) and Steve Jobs (cofounder of Apple) - all born between 1953 and 1955. Fascinating read if you get the chance.


I was inspired earlier this week by the word courage. It can be defined as the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation. Ernest Hemingway famously defined courage as 'grace under pressure'.

When a soldier prepares for battle, what does he require most of all? Courage! Courage to put his life on the line, courage to make a stand and not be moved.

Sometimes we forget that stepping on court is like stepping onto the metaphorical battle field, and what we require most is that same forever-old quality of courage. Courage to put yourself, your game, your reputation on the line, courage to make a stand and dig in when things are not going your way, and courage to simply not yield or be moved until the day is won.

I think I'd like to be known as a courageous competitor - the guy who simply would not back off, who would always make a stand and not be moved, who would battle on to the final ball.

How about you?

Set-up to rip a backhand

Want to rip your backhand? Work at your set-up then.

3 things we need to set up - feet, body and racket.

Notice the neutral stance (feet side on to the target) in the picture below with weight stored on the back leg - Katy is ready to drive right through the ball towards her target with excellent weight transference . Upper body is coiled - with chin over her right shoulder looking down the court. Notice shoulders have rotated more than the hips leading to what the white-coat brigade call 'angle of separation' - this is good as it creates a load of energy which will be unleashed into the shot. Racket is prepared in-time behind line of incoming ball to allow contact to be made in the strike zone.

Focus in on your set-up and you'll be ripping your backhand in no time!

Waiting for the fear to subside - Seth Godin

My brother Steve is a big fan of Seth Godin who writes a daily blog. Here's one from this week forwarded on to me:

Waiting for the fear to subside.
There are two problems with this strategy:

A. By the time the fear subsides, it will be too late. By the time you're not afraid of what you were planning to start/say/do, someone else will have already done it, it will already be said or it will be irrelevant. The reason you're afraid is that there's leverage here, something might happen. Which is exactly the signal you're looking for.

B. The fear certainly helps you do it better. The fear-less one might sleep better, but sleeping well doesn't always lead to your best work. The fear can be your compass, it can set you on the right path and actually improve the quality of what you do.

Listen to your fear but don't obey it.

Katy moves on with bright future ahead

I'd just like to update you on Katy Dunne's progress and future with us here at Halton and the Everyball International Academy. As you may know, Katy has been with us now for the best part of 5 years. During that time we have helped her to a U14 Tennis Europe ranking of 8 and two years later she is now on the verge of breaking into the Top 100 in the World (18&U Junior ITF World rankings). She has been given wild-cards into the Main Draw of the Wimbledon Junior Championships these last two years and she is determined to qualify by right next year with the goal of breaking into the Top 50 and  beyond.

During the last year we have encouraged Katy to develop her relationship with the LTA's Jane O'Donaghue who has been traveling extensively with Katy around the world. Jane is part of the team of National Coaches based at the LTA and Katy has been spending some time accessing hitting and training opportunities there in addition to her work with us. We feel that the time is now right for Katy to move to the National Tennis Centre on a full-time basis and have encouraged her to pursue that goal. Following her exit from Wimbledon on Monday we have had several very positive meetings with the LTA and I am pleased to announce that Katy will be training under Jane's full-time guidance at the NTC with immediate effect.

I say 'pleased' with mixed emotions of course. We believe whole-heartedly that this is the right move for Katy, but with the ending of any relationship such as this there will be some sadness. She has been a delight to have with us and has had a very positive impact on the Academy and club as a whole. The LTA will be building in her TEAM AEGON contract an ambassadorial role with us here at Halton whereby she will continue to be involved with us over the next years to help support and encourage all the work going on with our younger players and of course with the membership as a whole. She will continue on as a member and will be down for the occasional club session with us and perhaps to play the odd match or two - in that sense we will continue to be her 'home' club.
It is important to recognise at this stage that this will in no way effect our LTA High Performance Status now or in the future. Our accreditation as an HPC is built around the strength of our player base across all ages as well as our strength and conditioning staff, coaching staff, competitive offerings and financial management capability.

A big thanks to all of you who have been so closely involved in supporting Katy over these years - to single anyone out would be misleading as so many people have played their part in demonstrating that we have at Halton the expertise to help develop a player from a national top ranked 12&U junior into a true world class contender.  All of us here at the club would like to wish Katy all the very bestin her future goal of becoming a top professional. Perhaps soon enough she'll be signing autographs as a competitor in the Main Draw Ladies event at Wimbledon! She's pictures below at Wimbledon last week with some enthusiastic youngsters.

Katy ready for Wimbledon Juniors

Everyball's Katy Dunne (Junior ITF World ranking 110) gets ready to take on Japan's Nao Hibino (67) in the first round of the Wimbledon Junior Championships. Katy will be playing on Monday 27th June, 5th match on after 11am which ought to mean a late afternoon/early evening match.

Great article in The Times yesterday by Simon Barnes on the Andy Murray Ivan Ljubicic match. A few quotes:

'Tennis is the most emotional game of them all, and every player who wants to achieve great things must learn to use emotion to raise his game at the right moment. You cannot be unemotional and a great player; emotion is as important a part of your armoury as your second serve.....But the ability to ride high emotion can work either way; if you can exploit the emotional upswing to find your best, how can you avoid the emotional downswing that follows? It's probably the case that you can't ; that you must just find a way of getting through it without letting it cost you.'

'But Murray is not the thoroughbred artist, not the artist through and through. Somewhere along that pedigree, a bitch got over the wall. There is the mongrel in Murray that makes him relish the fight and relish the opponent's discomfiture. He is perfectly prepared to go slumming into the dirty parts of his nature to summon up victory.'

'He allowed Ljubicic back in, was broken and had to take us all through the added agony of the tie-break. That's when the mongrel was unleashed and Murray simply refused to have anything to do with losing it.'

Best of luck Katy - seek out the mongrel in you and unleash!

Long-term focus

Maria Sharapova was recently quoted as saying: "You don't get from the first step to the 30th step in one jump. I have always said it's a long journey, and there's going to be.....there have been tough moments. There's going to be good moments ahead, plenty of good ones that I'm going to cherish - I really have no doubt in that. That's why I go out and I keep working.'