Difference between fighting and competing.

Are you a fighter or a competitor?

A fighter is someone who hates to lose and will shout, scream and go nuts in many ways if he or she is losing. This person is out of control and as a result makes a constant stream of ‘bad’ decisions, both tactically and shot selection wise.

Good competitors are not overly-affected by the imminent prospect of winning or losing and remain in the ‘battle’. They are aware of the score and what is happening in the match and they are planning and scheming to find a way to succeed.

Certainly, fighters are highly motivated to succeed, but they are unable to see a clear path forward and that hinders their ability to succeed, although sometimes, they may be able to pull through on sheer grit.

Good competitors are always focused on competing and problem solving, while fighters are more focused on themselves and often whining and complaining about how poorly they are playing.

Fighters are often looking for a reason for why they are losing. They will constantly make excuses and will very rarely take responsibility, beyond saying ‘I played terribly’, which is more of an escape than taking responsibility.

Good competitors are generally more comfortable with themselves and that allows them to compete until the match is over, while fighters are insecure and looking for a way out.

My understanding is that you do not choose to be a competitor or a fighter. Your actions and behaviour reflect who you are.

If any change is to happen, we must first be able to clearly see the games mind plays to protect ego. We need to clearly feel what is happening to us as we play.

There is a chance of change only if we bring more awareness to our experience as we compete and then have the ability to be brutally honest to ourselves about that experience, without judgment.

It may not be easy to admit that we are constantly making excuses for losses or poor play, but to go deeper and see the role that these excuses are playing could help.

It may not be easy to feel the pain of anger, frustration, nervousness and all the other symptoms that fear reflects, but to recognize them and see what these emotions are doing for us can be helpful.

The journey of self-discovery is an arduous one, but can be truly ‘enlightening’ for those who embark upon it!

Explore, experiment and enjoy!


Tip of the week: the desire for certainty

At the root of a great deal of the tension and nervousness we feel during the execution of our swings in match-play stems from the desire to be certain or sure.

In practice, the desire to be certain is less powerful and so we are more cavalier with the way we swing the racket. It looks like we trust more, but the reality is, we care less if the ball goes in.

In a match, we want to be certain the ball is going to stay in and as a result, we almost invariably slow down the racket speed and often end up pushing the ball or moving awkwardly around contact.

Is that your experience?

If it is, we need to give up this desire for certainty. The future is always uncertain and that is its nature, regardless of our needs and desires. If we can accept that reality, it will be easier to swing freely and see what happens!

Are you ready for the adventure?

July 11th tip of the week: Absorb and grow!

Every year for the past 23 years, Wholistic Tennis Academy has given out and sold t-shirts with sayings on the back.

This year’s t-shirt is ‘absorb and grow’.

Words are like art. The artist can paint something that he sees in one way, but everyone is free to interpret ‘his’ painting anyway they wish.

So please feel free to choose to understand these words any way you wish.

I am simply sharing with you some thoughts.

What I love about the word absorb is that it is so feminine and yet so powerful. Normally we think of the male, yang, energy as being powerful.

So, how can absorbing be such a powerful act?

For me, it is powerful because I have found it to be transformative!!

Look at your own experience. Perhaps you have been fighting anger, fear, doubt, frustration or nervousness for many years.

How has the fighting or escaping helped? If fighting has not helped, why not try absorbing? See what happens?

So, the next time any of these emotions come up, instead of seeing it as something negative to be gotten rid of, perhaps we can just quietly live our experience of the emotion.

Then, when it comes time to execute, we can focus on the physicality of our movements and swing with abandon, despite what we are feeling.

In other words, our feelings, such as they may be, need not change our swings, often they do, but they need not.

Absorb, Experience, Experiment and Explore!



July 4th Tip of the week: getting the most out of every situation

It seems almost everyone wants to play with players better than themselves. The fallacy is that if I play with players better than me, then, by osmosis, I will also get better.

This is simply not true. In my understanding you can improve regardless of who is on the other side of the court in most situations.

The wise man learns from every situation, the fool blames everyone else and learns nothing, and it is never his fault!

Consequently, this week’s blog is about finding a way to learn and enjoy the game, even if you find yourself on the court with someone who does not play as well as you!

I would like to start with a funny (and sad anecdote!). I once put a group together and two different people came to me after the game and said, ‘please do not put me with that person again because she is much too weak a player for me’. They were talking, not about a third party, but about each other!

So, it is always good to keep in mind that our assessment of ourselves or others may not always be spot on. You may need to ask for an honest second opinion (not always easy to get!).

Regardless, the topic is how can we get the most out of every situation that we are placed in.

It is quite simple really, we just have to think a little outside the box or turn off one of the many minds (voices) floating in our heads.

Let us assume that your assessment is correct and that you are playing opponents that are much weaker than you. Once you recognize that, you have to turn off your competitive mind and now focus on how you can enjoy this experience and make it productive.

The first thing is if their backhand is weaker than their forehand, hit to the forehand! If they cannot move, hit to them! If they cannot handle your most powerful shots, hit at a pace they can handle!

I think by now, you get the picture. In this way, both you and your opponent can enjoy the game. They will get a chance to play and you will have a chance to hit more balls.

In addition, you can always try tactics you are uncomfortable with or try to hit shots that you are not proficient at.

Again, in my experience, my game only really jumped levels, when I was able to work some things out in me and was completely unrelated to my opponents or my hitting partners. As I got more comfortable with myself, I was able to execute my shots better; and the person on other side cannot help me get more comfortable with myself.

In short, in my opinion, there is a great deal of growth possible in YOURSELF in every situation.

Or you could stay the same and just blame the game-arranger!


July tip of the week: Drop the beginner’s mind!

For thousands of years, in the zen tradition, nurturing the beginner’s mind was something to be admired, a goal to be strived for.

What the heck happened?

In ancient India, the beginner’s mind was described as one of awe, one of wonderment where an openness to all that exists was implied. The potential of such a mind seemed limitless.

Today’s beginner’s mind seems to be something completely different. Today’s beginner’s mind is very judgmental. It is convinced that it ‘knows’ nothing and is basically incapable of doing even the simplest of tasks. It is always thinking the worst and it is has adopted an entire set of beliefs that make us feel safe, but are COMPLETELY wrong.

The beginner’s mind of old nurtured trust and in that trust anything could be accomplished. Today’s beginner’s mind is rooted in a sense of ‘I’m not good enough’; it is much more logical and creates numerous obstacles to accomplishing anything.

How can we drop the present day beginner’s mind and move into the trust that arises from dropping all knowledge without being paralyzed by the reality of not-knowing and yet being open to Life being revealed to us.?

Knowing nothing allows us the opportunity to discover amazing things. The fear that can arise from not knowing can make us cripples, incapable of accomplishing even the simplest of tasks successfully.


Enjoy the journey…………….