Talk, Talk, Talk ...
by Dave Mullins, 13 February 2017
Special from DaveMullinsTennis.com
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I recently heard a statistic claiming that roughly 70% of what Donald Trump presented to the American population during his presidential campaign, was, in fact, false. There is a lot of debate about what President Trump truly believes and what he just put out there to grab headlines in his bid to win the election.
This serves as a reminder that we are all guilty at times of some delusional dialogue about ourselves and our goals. Throughout my years of collegiate coaching, I listened to many bold statements from players, and I learned to become increasingly skeptical when I would hear these lines from recruits or players on my team. Like the head scratching remarks from Mr. Trump, I would try to decipher whether these players believed what they were telling me, or if they were just selling me a line to get what they felt they desired. Here are a few examples of statements that would be voiced to me on a semi-regular basis:
"I want to play professional tennis"
"I am a really hard worker"
"I want to play higher in the lineup"
"I like to be criticized"
"I am really tough competitor"
It was not just players who expressed these thoughts; parents and coaches voiced them, too. I listened to a lot of talk while witnessing a great deal of inaction. Usually, the players who loved tennis worked extremely hard, embraced criticism, were tough competitors and played high in the line-up. They rarely spoke about possessing these traits - they just lived them. It was like the ones who openly voiced these statements were constantly trying to convince themselves, their parents, or me that they were something they were not. I tried to remind myself that it is not solely the fault of the young athlete. Most of them have been bombarded with all sorts of confusing feedback and advice from coaches, parents, and social media throughout their junior careers. These players were once that big fish in a puddle, and they innocently believed their own hype. They often lacked a level of self-awareness and knowledge of what actions they should be taking to back up their goals.
You should think critically about what it is you want to accomplish - and have a sense of when you are being overly influenced by your peers, coaches, parents and even social media. Ask yourself if what you are saying is truly what YOU desire.
COLLEGE COACH REALITY CHECK # 1: You don't have to be the hardest worker, the most coachable player or the toughest competitor at your club, academy or team - and that is okay! Those titles are not for everyone. Stop comparing yourself to others, and focus on maximizing your own potential. College teams are hopefully made up of a group of hard workers and tough competitors, but not everyone can be the hardest worker or the toughest competitor.
I will work through a few more of these statements and give you some brief insights into what college coaches actually hope to see and hear from potential recruits.