Fear of losing

Pete Sampras wrote in his autobiography that fear of losing is a terrible thing. Nelson Mandela has also been quoted with similar views paraphrased below:

'Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond our measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. Playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. And as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we our liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.'

Yes, fear of failure, fear of losing, is a terrible thing. Best effort is all we can give and when the race is done we can hold our heads up high and say, 'I gave it my all'. Was it Abraham Lincoln that put it this way?: 'Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor souls who live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat'

No nonsense response

A few years ago we had 'Play the game, no excuses!' printed onto our Academy T shirts.  Why?  Because if you step out onto that match court, you do so by choice - you know what you're getting yourself into and what the potential consequences are if you don't perform to your own expectations.  I doubt Nadal performed as he wanted to yesterday against Federer, but just look at his response: 'What I'm going to say and what I feel is I lost the match because I played against a very good Roger Federer on one of his favourite surfaces, and when he's playing like this it's very difficult to stop him.'  That's a quality no nonsense response from a great Champion.  Nil excuse, just got beat by a better player on the day.

Adult and Child Tournament in the snow!

50 players braved the snow and ice to play in the ever-popular Adult & Child Tournament at Halton on Saturday afternoon. Thanks to Halton's 6 indoor courts the weather didn't affect play – pairs were put into boxes according to the ages of the children – from Mini Red/Orange for the Under 9's, Green-ball matches for the Under 10's and yellow-ball matches for the older juniors. The format was 10-minute timed matches which added an extra edge to everyone's play. In the Red/Orange group brothers Ethan and Will Rose came out on top – Ethan and his dad Craig were runners-up to older brother Will and his partner Paul Henry. In the Green group father and daughter Mark and Anna Hosking won 4 out of 5 matches but were beaten by father and son Gary and James Fuller who were very consistent and won all their matches. In the yellow-ball group competition there were two groups and after the round-robin matches the 2 semi-finals were contested between Peter and Annabel Westermann who beat Sean Strong and Bridget Andreas and Rob and Thomas Pain who beat Olivia Ray and Andy Maclean. In the Final, the format was a match tie break and was extremely close with some excellent rallies, but Rob and Thomas emerged as the winners.

Everyball International Academy is a holding a free Mini Tennis Fun Taster Session this Saturday from 12 noon to 1.30pm for children aged 4-6 years old. To book just email Mike at mike@everyball.net or ring 07958 008312.

Tor Pisani wins Grade 3 event

Everyball player Victoria Pisani today won the Powder Byrne 16&U Grade 3 Event at the LTA National Tennis Centre in Roehampton. Tor beat Isabella Brown 6-2, 6-3 joining Roger Federer today on the winner's podium!! Great job Tor.

The deciding shot

In a Telegraph article on 22nd November entitled 'From Basel ball boy to king of the court' Roger Federer says, 'This is where you have to be particularly strong, when things are not going your way. Knowing when to hit the deciding shot is also a talent that you need to discover within your game. I think that is one of the true talents I have.' On two levels I think this is a particularly meaningful quote.

First of all, the idea of being strong when things aren't going your way. It's easy to maintain good routines, body language, self talk, attentional control etc, etc when things are going well. The true test of your ability in these areas, and of your character is how you respond when the chips are down, when the tide is against you.

And second, the notion of when to hit the deciding shot. Especially at junior level, there tends to be an attitude the 'every shot must be special'. Not so, just watch the next two days of competition at the O2. In nearly every point there will be a pivotal shot, the shot that puts one player in the ascendency, but for much of the time there will be a sparring and jostling between players to earn this opportunity. Check it out and see what you think.

'Yea, I know'

Ever try and help your kids/students in a particular area of their life or game and all you get back is a 'yea, I know'? Knowing takes on a particular meaning here because what they are really saying is, 'Yes I'm aware of that I but I'm not actually prepared to do anything about it!'. In this context, knowing is doing!

On a similar note is that of 'absolutes' - my two boys will often say, 'Daddy, you always say that....', 'Daddy, you never let me.....' My response to them is, 'always?', 'never?'. I heard it today several times on court during training. 'I never make that shot', 'I always double fault under pressure'. 'Never?', 'Always?'. As in Stop, Challenge, Choose (see blog of last week), it's really important to challenge irrational thinking and seek some objective reality!

Halton Calendar, Mini Tennis and Novice Taster sessions

Hi friends and practitioners of Everyball,

We are in the midst of producing a motivational 2011 Halton/Everyball Calendar. It should be ready for sale around the 10th of December with proceeds going towards a project called 'Keep the Dream Alive'. Our Dream is that one day we'll put an Everyball player onto Wimbledon's Centre court so funds raised through this will go towards supporting our top players at the Academy. It will be a great gift or addition to your desk next year so please hold on any calendar purchases! For further information closer to the time please e-mail haltontennis@btinternet.com or mike@everyball.net.

We are also holding an adult Novice taster session between 10.30 - 12.00 noon on the 1st of December, followed by a Mini Tennis Taster session on the 4th December between 12.00 and 1.30 pm. For more information please e-mail James Morgan at james@everyball.net.

Everyball Coach Pete Thorne is working hard to be a front cover contender!

Michael Shaw shows metal

Congratulations to Everyball player Michael Shaw who won last weekend's Grade 3 Winter Regional Tour event in Peterborough. In the semi-final he beat highly regarded Dominic West 6-3, 6-4 and then in the final he got the better of his training partner and Everyball player Sam Gough 6-2, 7-5. Michael said of his victory, 'I played as well as I could using all that I had on the day'. Nice competitive mentality Michael. Congratulations also to Sam Gough for a great run getting to the final. Sam said, 'I had some good opportunities in the second set, but Michael played a solid couple of games from 5-5 to close out the match.' Katy Dunne and Alex Clark compete today in the LTA British Tour event in Nottingham - good luck girls!

Stop, Challenge, Choose

Next time you are experiencing emotions other than neutral or positive (on-court or otherwise) - try this 2 minute drill.

1. Stop - step away (back of the court) and take 2 or 3 long, deep breaths. As you do this, center yourself by focusing on where your centre of gravity is and assume good posture, shoulders back, chin up. As a result of breathing and centering you give yourself the best opportunity to calm down and take on the role of an 'observer' rather than a 'performer'.

2. Challenge - in this new, detached role as an observer you're now in a position to 'challenge' any irrational thoughts relating to the current situation and your negative emotion. So often we 'make stuff up' rather than look at what the 'objective reality of the situation' is.

3. Choose - now is the opportunity to 'choose' a new response, one that is going to be helpful to you in achieving your desired result. Your new response may feel a bit 'phony' to begin with so it's important here to 'fake it until you make it' or act it out. The more you do this, the more you'll begin to believe!

Emotions/feelings can normally be summed up in one word - anger, fear, anxiety, excitement, etc, etc. If you have to take more than a word to describe an emotion, you're probably starting to define your 'thoughts'. Choosing a new response is likely to be linked to a new thinking pattern (self-talk). Remember, your thoughts drive your emotions and your emotions drive your behaviour. This then, becomes a hugely important mental skill, both in competition but also in everyday life.

For further reading on this please see 'Play to Win' by Larry Wilson (Chapter 10)

Increasing confidence

A key way to increase confidence is to put yourself at risk. In Mia Kellmer Pringle's Four development needs of kids she discusses 'new experiences'. New experiences take us out of the comfort zone, challenge and grow us - no matter what our age is. What 'new experience' can you have today to build your confidence?