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Monday, 8 March 2010

Potential downside of having successful role models

Particularly in a relatively small tennis community like Adelaide, it is easy to have contact with local stars like Lleyton Hewitt & Alicia Molik – they can be seen practicing or working out at Next Generation or in Lleyton’s case playing the Australian Mens Hardcourt.

The emergence of players like Lleyton & Alicia tends to lead to a belief with certain people that similar success is therefore very achievable. It proves that it can be done.

“See what Lleyton has achieved!”
“I remember when he was playing here as a junior, he wasn’t that special.”
“If he can do it so can you!”

  • The problem with this belief is that Lleyton & Alicia are special – they are the highest ranked players in the history of SA – the possibility of other players becoming as good is quite remote – we are literally talking 1 in millions!

  • The whole concept of believing that if you want something badly enough you can have it, is fundamentally flawed! One can think of an endless number of situations where this is simply not true.

    An example I often use is the challenge of being able to jump high enough to clear the backstop at the end of the tennis court – in theory possible but in practice clearly not possible – it would require the existing world high jump record to be broken by a metre or two – there will always be limitations to what someone can achieve regardless of “how badly they might want it”.

  • As coaches then please let’s get away from this line – by all means encourage pupils to strive to improve, to be inspired & motivated by the great players & therefore ultimately to become as good a player as they can be. However, at the same time let’s keep the whole thing in perspective – the best they can be will probably fall way short of what they see on TV & maybe even shorter than what their parents expect having watched TV.


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