In 2019 I very much hope to bring out a new edition of my book 'Everyball' Reflections, anecdotes and observations from a life in tennis aimed to tool you up for the game of life! first published by Panoma Press LTD in 2016. It would present a wonderful opportunity to extend my thinking, explore a few more ideas and tell some more stories, and particularly work on the bits that make me cringe when I read them over again now! I guess that's a writer's curse - never being happy with what you've done!
Anyway, driving home last night listening to some football punditry on the radio extolling the virtues of Liverpool player Mohamed Salah, the discussion touched on the nature versus nurture debate, what you can teach, what you can't, what God put in and what God left out.
This was a subject I explored in Chapter 19 of Everyball, 'Can you teach it?' and here is a short excerpt:
My own position is that we do indeed ‘arrive’ with a
certain genetic (natural) starting point and with the same
amount of quality practice and exposure to a sport, not
everyone will get to the same level, unlike the now well-known 10,000-hour rule might imply. By the way, Epstein
stresses it was never called a ‘rule’ by K. Anders Ericsson
in his paper ‘The Role of Deliberate Practice in the
Acquisition of Expert Performance’ and it frustrates me
when advocates of early specialisation in sport use this
argument to win business for their programmes. I also
maintain these different genetic starting points can be
both physical and mental and even the ability to practice
may have genetic influences.
But practice of course, makes what? Yes, permanent! Not perfect, so be careful what you practice! And I’m a great believer in practice and that with real persistence over time kids can indeed develop a high skill level and, at the very least, become the very best they can be, within their own genetic framework. There is also a very strong link here to passion, and my understanding that passion for a sport does not come as some lightning bolt out of the sky, but from a position of where a child is introduced to a game, struggles and wrestles with it and in persistently doing so, develops a love and passion for it.
As parents and coaches therefore, it’s so important to be aware what our kids are attracted to and what they in turn become passionate about, as before we begin any discussion on talent, ability, deep practice and the like, a love and passion for what you do must come first.
Look at Federer now at almost 35 years old and Serena at 33. Above and beyond all their gifts and talent, whether natural or nurtured, they love the sport, they love competing, they love the journey of continuous and never- ending improvement.
To support this we have posted the following quote
attributed to Roger Federer on an outside wall leading to
the courts at Halton:
Sometimes you’re just happy playing. Some people, some media, unfortunately, don’t understand that it’s okay just to play tennis and enjoy it. They always think you have to win everything, it always needs to be a success story, and it’s not, obviously, what is the point? Maybe you have to go back and think why have I started playing tennis? Because I just like it. It’s actually sort of a dream hobby that became somewhat of a job. Some people just don’t get that, ever.
Everyball, everyday, for everybody. Come on and join us!