“Don’t Worry. Be Happy”


Your partner is playing poorly and you are losing the match.  What should you do about it?  From the 1988 Bobby McFerrin song title, I suggest, “Don’t Worry.  Be Happy.”

“Accentuate the Positives”

And from the 1957 Johnny Mercer song lyrics…

“Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”

Here is what I mean, consider these positives …

  • (If you are in a warm climate) you are outside in the sunshine, getting valuable, life-extending exercise,

  • You are playing a game and socializing with friends (also, clinically proven to extend your life span)

  • And if you don’t lose focus, you are probably playing well enough to be happy with your own performance.

So just accept the fact that your partner is having a bad day and still have a positive experience.  Try not to make faces, make grunts, or admonish them; but be as supportive as possible and tell them to “keep swinging.”

And always remember, you can only control two things: what YOU think and what YOU do.

What do you do when your partner is playing poorly?

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12 thoughts on ““Don’t Worry. Be Happy”

  1. Well said George! It’s only tennis! If your partner is a friend or just a nice person, IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER. There are many more important things in life to worry about. I’m much more unhappy when I’m not playing well than when my partner isn’t, but if they’re trying their best, just keep encouraging them and do the best you can do.

    Steve, exactly. thanks, george

  2. Nine years ago at age 68, I decided to really get in shape and play tournaments, including some national ones when I turned 70. My doctor advised me that if I started playing at that level, I would end up needing surgeries on my knees, hips, shoulder, etc. I decided it wasn’t worth it. I tried to go back to the way I’d been playing, but my ego could no longer take playing at that level. So I quit the game for eight years. Now at age 77, I’m back playing, having abandoned my ego. I’m playing very well. My serve and volley are the best they’ve ever been, although some would say that’s not saying much. The important thing is I’m enjoying tennis more than ever.

    Peter, great self-realization that leads to happiness (on and off the court). thanks, george

  3. Completely agree with both Spike & Steve and their comments above. We are so lucky to even be able to play tennis, and to play tennis in Naples…..just doesn’t get any better. Scoot

    Scoot, especially on Mondays at Spike’s! thanks, george

  4. I play in a group on the weekends, mostly with guys 20-30 years younger, and there’s one partner I play with (we rotote around) who is actually a teaching pro, but whenever he’s having a bad day or misses a ‘critical’ shot, always says to me (or whoever is his partner) “bail me out”, thereby shifting the burden to his partner. I would advise against that line of thinking, because then it falls upon you to save the day, and even if you’re playing well, if you don’t “bail him out”, you start to feel like you’re playing crappy. Concentrate on your own game and don’t ruin the day for your partner if you’re having an off day.

    Lenny, great point. As they say in management training, don’t let them put the monkey on your back! Thanks. George

  5. im a much better partner over the last 10 years because of what spike gonzales taught me through example when we played together. he could teach master classes on the subject. there is no one better. “don’t worry, be happy!”

    Joe, enjoy the northern holidays and we will see you in the New Year. George

  6. In a competitive environment, when my partner is playing poorly (or if it’s me), I suggest that we change sides after the set and even change the end we’re serving from. For whatever reason, that has worked for us several times.

    In a non-competitive round-robin environment, the saving grace is that after this set we’ll probably change partners, and I can play against him the next set.

    Either way, no need to get upset. Life is too short.

    Terry, right, “change a losing game”. thanks, george

  7. The September 5, 2018 edition of the New York Times had an article about which sports lead to longevity. Tennis was number one. The reason being the camaraderie, as well as the aerobic activity.
    Whenever I play, I try to keep things light on the court and never take it too seriously. If I see my partner getting down on himself I try to reassure him, that it just doesn’t matter about a particular point, or the score, as long as you enjoy the playing.
    As has been said, life is too short for nonsense so “don’t worry, be happy”.

    Michael, you are a great example of keeping a positive attitude! thanks, george

  8. On Thursday I was playing for 2 hours with our groups’ bully. I thought I was playing well, but he spent half his time yelling, or correcting me. A few of the guys won’t play with him. I stayed in for the 2 sets because there was no one to replace me (there were 4 guys on the adjacent court), and then the other 3 would have had to quit also…so I stayed the course. After the second set I took my bruised self esteem home! There was one other ‘girl’ playing & she felt very bad for me…I felt like a punching bag! Please open a discussion on what to do with playing with bullies. Thanx, George

    Caroline, my first course of action is … i choose NOT to play with them. Once you get stuck tho, i think it is best to look inward, recognize your own self worth, i ignore their stupid comments (yes, easier said than done). thanks, george

  9. gotta have a sense of humor about it all. I once saw a guy wearing a tee shirt on the court that read” I don’t normally lose at doubles, but when I do, I usually blame my partner”

    Jim, i have a friend who doesn’t wear the tee shirt, but practices that philosophy! thanks, george

  10. Saturday, after my partner, whom I had just met, double faulted for the third time in a row to lose the game, I gave him a hug.

    Kevin, you da man. george

  11. And to add to the above words of wisdom… as far as mixed doubles(trouble) goes…. if you don’t want to sleep on the couch with no dinner keep your lips zipped!

    Terry, or, don’t play it at all! thanks, george

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