One of the elements I have noticed over the years from observing children’s tennis is the incorporation of competition through elimination. There is a winner and a loser. If you miss, you sit out. If you lose, then you pick up balls, you do push-ups, or you run a suicide. What are we teaching our kids? We are teaching them that failure is bad. We are teaching them a mindset of duality. This or that. We are teaching them that picking up balls is a punishment and fitness is a punishment. I always thought picking up balls was something everyone did as a part of the group. It was a way for everyone to work together. It is a form of group work.

Exercise is not punishment. It is a means to keep us healthy, pliable, and sane.

I saw this word “Coopetition” in an article and I know this defines everything we teach at Ten and Under Tennis Lessons. What I am trying to do is to get the student to focus on their performance. Usually this will get them back on track. The key was in my wording.

I wanted to focus on what his performance can do for him, not whether or not his performance is causing him to be bad.

The biggest thing I see with competition is that really it is not about winning and losing. How many great sports stars have never won a professional championship? Too many. What they did have was the ability to excel in an area that gave them a platform. They were able to excel in an area that provided for their family and maybe many others as well. That is a winning situation. When we teach our students to compete, we are teaching them to be friends with the ball. We teach our students to focus on how many times they can get the ball back before they have to start over. We teach our students how they can give each other a great challenge to try to keep the ball in play. The truth of the matter is, winning is about coopetition.

Are you at one with your activity? Are you calm and peaceful and dedicating to doing what you can that day? If you are, you are winning. I really see a shift coming in sports in the near future. The day is coming when we will start emphasizing total points instead of who won the match. We will emphasize a tie more than the win or loss. The focus should not be on the duality, but the coopetition. The moment.

How can your being out there give you a platform for a cause or provide for your family? For kids, the moment should be focused not on “I won or lost,” but on, “look how many times we hit the ball in a row, look how many times I served the ball in, look how many times it did my loop forehand or backhand and it went in.”

Awareness to the little things. This same attitude applies to the high performance player as the recreational player. If I would have been able to adopt this attitude as a college player, I would have enjoyed myself so much more. I would have played better, instead of playing tight like I was in a win/lose situation. Today, I am fighting that battle and working on the process of understanding how to change that duality thinking into understanding working with the person by trying to make each of us better. It is not the result that matters, but the growth that comes from it.

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