Today was a special day for me because I had a chance to play a competitive match. Although I am on the court quite a bit, I do not get to play sets very often. I live in a very small town and it is difficult to find players who can push me.
I love competing because it helps me keep things in perspective. It is amazing how easily we forget the challenges of the game. It always looks so much easier from the outside. But there is nothing better for my coaching than a tough match: the ups, the downs, the tough shots, the easy mistakes, the lack of focus, the winners, the rushing, the bad decisions etc. I have been playing for more than 40 years and I still catch myself forgetting rule number one: Watch the ball. Amazing!
No wonder my students have a hard time!
If every parent could face the ups and downs of a competitive match they would be much more empathetic with their children. Unless you have experienced firsthand what your mind can do to your game under pressure, it is hard to believe it can happen.
It is not possible to forget everything you have been practicing! – but it is.
A major part of the game is learning to compete so if you truly want to improve you need to do three things: compete, compete and compete.