Listening to Advice

listeningA friend wrote me thanking me for advice I had given him on playing a certain opponent; and I wrote back saying “Intelligence is contagious (except for those who are immune to it).”

Words of Wisdom

There are many players who don’t want to either know about the style of their upcoming opponents OR how they could improve their own game. I am just the opposite… I want to know as much as I can on both counts.

At Fantasy Camp one year, I was standing next to my good friend Willy Hoffmann while Legend John Newcombe was telling him how he should change his service motion to improve it. “Ja, Ja.” Willy said as Newk walked away and I said to him, “You’re not going to change, are you?” And he just smiled.

Winner’s Advice

There are certain top level players like my almost-partner Hank Irvine and Fred Drilling who, after beating you in singles or doubles, are very willing to give you advice on how you can improve your game – and both have been very generous to me that way (lots of room for improvement, you say??).

Years ago after he beat me easily in singles, Hank told me that he could read my backhand to know whether I was going down the line or cross court; so I immediately practiced hitting both shots with the same setup.

But there are many players who feel that winners giving advice is pretentious and are so wrapped up in their loss that they don’t want to even ask. And many who don’t want to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of upcoming opponents.

Thus, “Intelligence is contagious (except for those who are immune to it).”

Are you a listener, a sharer, or don’t want to know?

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5 thoughts on “Listening to Advice

  1. I have had three pieces of advice that so dramatically helped me I would have been an idiot to not listen. One was on positioning and motion of the racquet on return of backhand serve from Spike Gonzales which was the most important ever, one from Doug Welsh on the speed of moving in on return of serve, and just yesterday from another Master of the game, Howie, on standing closer to the net while my partner is serving especially on poaching (as long as he is covering the lob). I am continually grateful to these people because it helps with every time I play.

    Dave, “Listen and yee shall learn!” George

  2. “There are many players who don’t want to either know about the style of their upcoming opponents OR how they could improve their own game. I am just the opposite”…So am I George!
    Some guys that I play with have zero interest in improving their game. They continue to make the same mistakes (unforced errors often) over and over again. ..Doesn’t the definition of insanity come into play here?

    Jim, i can never understand how people can invest so much time PLAYING a game and not care about improving. thanks, george

  3. george. i wish you had this site 35 years ago when i just used athleticism to play the game, rarely thinking about technical changes. i used to just play matches competing to win, never just “practicing”.
    the interesting thing is that i became more analytical about my tennis around 7/8 years ago, when i started to play golf (can i say the word “golf” on your site?). golf is all about technique, so in this “abstract expressionist” brain of mine, something clicked and i started thinking about improving my forehand, my volley, etc.
    i guess, as they say, better late than never!

    Joe, some of my role models are guys in their 80s who are still working on their game! thanks, (how is the school project going?) george

  4. I have always felt that info was the key to improving at any endeavor. I have been known to ask my opponent questions. If the other guy is clearly better and a decent sort why not benefit? My dad was fond of saying the only dumb question was the one you didn’t ask!!

    Ron, i agree! george

  5. As the late, great Vic Braden once said, “if you start tennis when you are 60 years old, there is a 90 and over division now, so you have 30 years to work on your game. It is never too late! I have made major changes with people who are 91-92 years old!”

    Greg, count me in! george

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