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Monday, 8 March 2010

False Desperation

My observation suggests that adults teach infants to behave on occasions in a dramatic & exaggerated manner. Behaviour is rather loud & extravagant as young children are encouraged to develop an ever increasing range of physical skills.

Initially, walking is a major conquest – but there is no shortage of assistance – numerous people willing to hold each hand in order to support weight that the infant is struggling with.

Every gain (or every attempt) is greeted with raucous applause – every child (maybe more so in really caring families) is led to believe that they are performing feats of enormous magnitude – running faster, jumping higher or throwing further than any other human being on the planet.

Tennis provides a whole new stage for performing – a whole new range of skills to dramatise. Result: young children generally playing on a full size court, logically having enormous difficulty covering the area become desperation machines – diving to short balls & wide balls, jumping in vain to anything & everything that flies over their head but in fact reaching very little.

Question: Is the effort genuine? ie Is it the best effort possible to reach that particular ball or is it often an example of “false desperation”? ie In the mind 100% effort but in reality an action that can’t possibly be successful.

Example: How many times do we see, not just young children but often quite skilled adults, lunge desperately (often associated with a very audible groan) only to be passed, when a couple of controlled steps would have created the opportunity to play a relatively easy shot.

My experience suggests that once the player is made aware of the above, they quickly realize the inefficiency of many of their actions & immediately set about making more genuine attempts.

The most obvious examples of this “F D Syndrome” tend to occur on anything that is hit out of reach – eg quite a friendly lob can be missed completely (smash) only to be followed up by an attempt to turn, run backwards & retrieve the ball with a back to front over the head hook shot. Surely if the lob was good enough to beat a genuine desperate attempt to smash then it could not be possible to recover from the attempt & then go & successfully retrieve the ball.

Short balls provide another excellent opportunity to exhibit “FDS” – dozens of times a day I see players battle unsuccessfully to “dig up” a half court ball when a simple skill test with a much shorter ball proves that the player is easily physically capable of chasing down the original ball.

I frequently find myself talking to players about how I trust them to “intend to put in 100%” to reach a challenging ball while at the same time challenging them with the concept that with a 100% planned & structured effort they may well have reached that particular shot comfortably.


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