How did you play?

I may have just had a game-changing tennis epiphany.

Although I am an extremely optimistic person and always “see the glass half full,” I just reread a chapter in my favorite little tennis book, The Best Tennis of Your Life. It says “don’t fall into the negative filtering trap.” By that the author Jeff Greenwald says too many players focus on the shots they missed and not the ones they made.


As an example, I was playing a high-level doubles match with my friend Bob Wilkie, visiting from New Hampshire. As we completed a 6-1, 7-6 victory over a good team, I was thinking about the four or five volleys “I should have made” when Bob and my opponent both volunteered, “Boy, did you volley well today!”

Here I was focusing on the (few) volleys I missed and they pointed out how many good ones I made.

It’s just like I frequently chide my brother, The Golfer, when he reports he shot an 82 and then always adds, “but if I didn’t three putt the ninth hole…”

So let’s see if I can take my “glass half-full mentality” onto the court and focus on the good shots and use those memories to reinforce good habits.

epiph•a•ny – a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure b : a revealing scene or moment

A tennis epiphany or just words? We shall see.

4 thoughts on “How did you play?

  1. You rang a bell with me, George – very often I’ll come off the court thinking about a shot or three that I could/should have made, and then be surprised when my partner, opponent or a spectator says to me “you played really well and made some great shots”. Since they were watching the same match I was playing in, it really points out the difference in perspective. Now that I have the “BOOK”, it helps to see it in writing also, and I am enjoying playing a lot more than in the past, am not so focused on the results as before, and maybe most importantly, I am really aware when the people I’m playing with get so out of focus that they’re not enjoying the game or having a fun just being out there. I played on our open team yesterday with a guy around my age, and we lost to two former college players, each about 6’4, but we weren’t embarrassed or blown off the court and walked away happy. I always wonder if these other guys will be out there like we are when they’re in their 60’s or 70’s.

    Lenny – yes, focusing on “the process” not “the results” is another lesson from The Little Book. geo.

  2. George, Thanks for the post on the importance of focusing on the positive, both
    on and off the court. It’s amazing how often things go well for those who have a
    great attitude. BTW, your post also provided a nice opportunity to teach my 9 & 11
    year old kids what it means to have an “epiphany”. When my daughter suddenly
    realized what I meant in explaining the word, she smiled and claimed to have had
    an epiphany — good use of the word!
    Best, Jimmy

    Jimmy – glad to be of educational assistance! geo

  3. An interesting phenomena. I just played my first tournament in almost two years due to a pulled hamstring and when we lost a close third match in the semi’s, all I could think about was the volley in the net and the forehand long. My partner had no problem with my play, thought it was just fine. I guess I’m okay with it, but if I had made those two shots……..ah the agony of it all!

    However, I think it’s unwise to put too much weight on what someone else says about the quality of your play. What are they going to say, that you suck? No, that’s not their place, unless of course you are paying them for their constructive criticism! So I don’t depend on someone else’s opinion. I think I still have to be the final judge of whether or not I should maybe practice those volleys a little more.
    Great topic!

    Mike – but didnt you make ANY good shots?! Think about those. geo.

  4. Are you saying that if I concentrate on the good shots, it will help my overall game? Now, that’s a really interesting thought! I’ve never approached it from that angle before. Establish a beach-head and branch out from there?

    hey Mike – can’t tell if you are serious or sarcastic; but yes, like a “video camera in your mind,” you can replay the good shots and “visualize” (that which we see the Olympic athletes doing) what you want to do. geo.

Comments are closed.