A new way of thinking about things....

Sometimes we need a new way of thinking about things.

A new way of thinking leads to a different set of behaviours.

Is today a day to challenge our thinking habits?  Is it a day to challenge how we fundamentally talk to ourselves because we are listening!!

Incremental daily progress

Are you progressing, improving, moving forwards?

Seth Godin writes: The thing is, incremental daily progress (negative or positive) is what actually causes transformation.  A figurative drip, drip, drip.  Showing up, every single day, gaining in strength....

You've got to keep treading the path, 'laying track' as he calls it.

Day after day.

Session after session.

Ball after ball.  Keep showing up, not just physically but being there 100% mentally with effort, fight and courageous purpose behind every ball.


Getting to know our 'Everyball' players....William Mottram

In the second of our 'getting to know you' posts meet 12 year old Will Mottram, the No. 4 12&U player in Bucks!

Your Dream goal?  Play in the Davis Cup!

Favourite meal? Pizza

Favourite player? Andy Murray

Your individual coach and his/her quirkiest habit? Jemima and insisting on playing 'Killer'

When you're not playing tennis? Football, cricket and basketball.

Favourite/least favourite lesson in school? P.E/R.E

Your quirkiest habit? Pushing my fingers through my fringe even during a rally!

Your favourite part of being a tennis player and what makes you such a formidable opponent?  Playing matches and chasing down every ball!! (yes, Will!)

Football team? Chelsea

Learning to deal with 'injustice'

Great phrase used yesterday by colleague Kris Soutar as we delivered module 5 of the LTA Senior Performance Coach Award together in Loughborough.

Players need to learn to deal with injustice.

Yep, perceived injustice is everywhere in our sport from a bad line call to a referee changing match times to a let-cord winner by your opponent on your match point.  The list could be endless.

Depends on how you see it of course.  See these things simply as 'events' rather than unjust events and you can begin to exercise some responsibility (the ability to respond).

Great group of candidates on the current course including Everyball's Roy Knight!

Getting to know you....Natalie Bell

Over the next weeks we'll be getting to know some of our junior players a little better, and start today with Natalie Bell!, aged 12 and current Buckinghamshire 12&U No. 1!

We asked her a few questions and Nat's answers in italics:

Your dream goal?  Win Wimbledon!  

Favourite meal?  Spag Bog

Favourite player?  Jo Konta

Your individual coach and his/her quirkiest habit?  Jemima and always winning!

When you're not playing tennis? Hockey, Trampolining, Volleyball, Badminton 

Favourite/least favourite lesson in school? PE, Music

Your quirkiest habit?  Singing out loud

What makes you such a formidable opponent?  Coming to the net

Footy team? Liverpool

When you're really throwing a stinker.....

We've all been there.  Throwing an absolute stinker.  Prepared well, plenty of sleep, fuelled and hydrated, hitting well in practice and then....it all goes badly wrong.


It doesn't mean you gotta lose.

It doesn't mean that you throw your hands up in the air and say, 'just isn't my day.'

You dig deep.

You find a way.

Your compete with whatever is working on the day.

You get over yourself and your 'be perfect' expectations of how a match will run.

You battle for one point and once you got one you battle for another.  You hang in, look for small 'wins', you make balls and drag it out, slowing down between points, wrestling momentum out of your opponent's hands.

You adopt a mentality that the scoring system in tennis favours the player down in a match. 

Lose the first set 6-0, you start 0-0 next set. 

England have won twice in as many weeks in the Six Nations whilst largely underperforming.  First against France at Twickenham, then against Wales on Saturday in Cardiff.  Ok, maybe they weren't throwing total stinkers but they weren't playing well that's for sure.  Read these 3 lines from Tom Fordyce, Chief sports writer in Cardiff (taken from BBC Sports app yesterday).

Believing you will win when all around see a match that's slipping away.
Coming back for more when all game you have been turned over and picked off.

Finding precision in the critical moment, having been imprecise in so much of what has gone on before.

That's being a winner.  Winning when you're not 'hot' or in the zone.  Winning when it's downright tough, the timing is off, and all about you have lost belief.

Except you of course.

Do they play outside the formal coaching & competitve environment? That might be a measure of their passion for the game...

As a Dad to two boys now aged 12 and 14 I wrongly assumed that they'd become tennis players.  I didn't have any great ambition for them to do so but I thought it would be a likely outcome bearing in mind my background.  However, they seemed to be far more attracted to the team environments of football, cricket and basketball and perhaps didn't want to be constantly compared to Dad and measure up, and so they've made their choices.

My sporting experience then with my sons has been supporting their development and growing passion in the aforementioned, having always remembered the advice of an old friend Billy Milton who once said to me, 'Mike, just pay attention to what your kids are passionate about.'

So how do you measure passion for a sport?  It doesn't always come of course as some lightning bolt out of the sky (the first time they try it for example) but can grow over time. One measure worth looking might be the intrinsic motivation shown to simply master something that's important to them, regardless of external measures of success - rating, rankings, results.

So the next obvious question is how do you measure intrinsic motivation? 

Well, for me an obvious answer is to observe how much time a young athlete spends outside of the recognised formal coaching/competitive environment, simply in play, experimentation or observation. 

How much time spent mucking about, trying stuff?

How much time watching the sport on TV/You tube etc?

How much time spent hitting against the bedroom/garage wall at home, or down at the club?

How often are you the parent dragged out to kick, feed, hit, throw, or shoot a ball with them? 

How many baskets of serves are hit without prompting, how many practice sets are played without parental/coach organisation.....?

How many games of 'pick up' played at the rec ground in the village?

How many hoops shot in the snow?

Messy and loving it

Enjoyed observing and being part of some messy practice today during our Mini Red sessions at Everyball Tennis /Halton. Coaches overcoming the fear of their sessions having to look controlled and ordered (with children having "success") for watching-on parents. Learning to 'play a game' never controlled and ordered - need to allow for experimentation, mistakes, fun and creativity!

Blocked practice v more open/random practice

The ultimate criteria of the success of these activities is the extent to which those skills transfer into the fluid, unpredictable environment of games. The more limited, static and prescribed a practice situation is, the less effective any transfer will be. The more open ended and dynamic the practice, the more chance there will be of skill transfer. However, the practice will look less neat and tidy, and there will be a greater level of error and failure. The irony here is that the practice that looks less effective, and messier, may well turn out to be developing a higher level of transferable skill.
- From Neil Rollings article 'Is Coaching overrated?'

Does this have implications on how you'll coach today?