Spring training volume 2
Attitude - An Ode to Fred Earle
The weather is better in my neck of the woods, our club members are
playing early in the morning, middle of the day and late into the
afternoon, and so am I. And as you and I try to maximize the results of
our spring training, I am aware that some of us get more from the same
amount of practice than others. Some make the most of their time on court;
others practice but don't really improve. Over the years I have seen (with
old partners as well as current pupils) a special attitude that enables
certain of these players to improve more, to perform better, to somehow use
the same amount of training time as others, yet get more from it. But I
never really found an answer to clarify what this special attitude was.
Then a few years ago I received a special insight from a wonderful tennis
pro, Fred Earle. I had published an article on Pancho Gonzalez' serve, and
Fred had gone out of his way to talk with me about this at a tennis
conference. This was a little like Yogi Berra (Fred) interviewing a little
league coach (me), but I was honored to compare notes with him, and over
the succeeding years he inspired me with his curiosity as well as his
expertise. He taught me many things about the serve, about footwork, but
of most interest to me were his insights into the mental and emotional side
of the game.
Fred coached many tennis champions and championship tennis teams at Modesto
Junior College, but interestingly he had equal successes in basketball, in
soccer, in nearly every sport he coached. He shared the following "rules"
with me. In retrospect I see that the players who most improve somehow
embrace these rules, and those who consistently fight to get better but
rarely improve, are generally not in alignment with these 5 keys.
Building Self Confidence - by Fred Earle
One of the most difficult things for tennis players to acquire is
confidence in themselves and their game. It's difficult because confidence
is something that can't be taught. You have to risk and take chances in
order to gain a better feeling about your game. Confidence is something
that is built from success. So the key is how to define success. If your
definition stems only from your wins when you play, your successes may be
few and far between.
I put our 100 per cent effort today. I gave it all I had.
No matter what your sport or activity, there is a basic law with which
everyone is familiar; "You get back what you gave out." If you give out
50%, you will get back 50% worth of results. It's the law. Sometimes, we
don't give 100% to protect our ego. It's so important to remember, "all
out every time."
I maintained and sustained a positive mental attitude.
It's been said over and over again, that success in every endeavor is based
on attitude rather than technical expertise. A positive mental attitude is
one key ingredient for becoming a success and building confidence. Feeling
good about yourself and your progress is based on a positive attitude.
Smile and enjoy what you are doing. Avoid frustration as it builds
negative emotion and feelings. Remember, your thoughts control your
feelings, so keep your thoughts positive.
There is a tendency in all of us to want instant skill. (Un)Fortunately,
anything that's good in life takes time and effort to learn. Be patient;
avoid anger and negativism that occurs from being angry. Remember, easy
does it. A little at a time. As you become a better player, improvement
comes slower. Be patient.
I allowed myself to make mistakes.
Throughout our whole life, we learn more from our mistakes than from most
any form of learning, making corrections from our mistakes and forgetting
the mistakes quickly. You will always move towards that which you think
about the most. If we dwell on our mistakes, we actually move toward that
which we don't want. Learn from your mistakes, and then forget them
I accept full responsibility for me today.
What I did and did not do is a result of me and me alone.
Now take a moment and reflect on your inner performance the last time
you were on court. Did you give 100%? If so good. Did you sustain a
positive mental attitude? Were you patient? Did you allow yourself to
make mistakes? And did you accept responsibility for your performance?
This is really difficult to be able to say yes to all 5. But I see so many
players who aren't growing on court and in nearly every instance one of
the 5 components are unfulfilled. They are negative and pressing, or they
have little patience in themselves, or they abhor rather than learn from
their mistakes, or finally and worst of all they don't accept
responsibility - passing their shortcomings to the racquet, the opponent or
perhaps the court conditions.
Spring training is about getting back in playing shape, using these
upcoming months to sharpen the saw, and in the end it will be all about
maximizing our time on court - armed with Fred Earle's 5 keys to building
In closing what follows are a few of Fred Earle's quotes and sayings,
perhaps one will stay with you as he has with me.
Use the bounce hit when you are nervous. Be sure you are in sync.
You are a product of what you put in your brain and mouth.
Turn everything except your head on your first step.
You play like you practice.
Stay on the balls of your feet as long as the ball is in play.
You have a dream; a dream with a deadline becomes a goal.
Play the ball; don't let the ball play you.
Progress means taking risks.
The aim of a good player is to hit hard with control.
If you want to be a winner tomorrow, act like one today.
It's not what is happening around you, it is what is happening inside you.
Winning isn't everything, but courage is.
As always, we would love to hear your views on the subjects raised in this newsletter. Please click here to send your email directly to me.