"Oh, it's so nice to get advice, it's oh so hard to do." JoeJackson
Learning to accept a tip seemed the best tip with which to "tip" off my series of columns. I mean if no one is listening why waste your breath? I speak with no little authority on the subject both as a student of the game most of my life and a teacher as well. I've seen and heard it all. I've taken tips, resisted tips, ignored tips, taken tips I at first resisted, offered tips and had my tips resisted and ignored. What makes us closed to information that we sought out to improve ourselves? Fear to change, leaving one's comfort zone for the unknown is a factor. Pride rears its ugly head as well. Although we want to improve, learning we have been doing something wrong is difficult to accept.
"Don't you feel like trying something new?" Joe Jackson
As the new pro at the tennis house, I was offered advice from Dave on teaching methods. I found myself resistant as so many others do. Why? Here I am, having played even longer than the one giving me the advice, faced with information contrary or at least new to how I had heard all along. Fortunately I wised up quick. Dave's been my friend and a practice partner for nearly ten years, and I have nothing but respect for the dedication he has shown at mastering his profession. So I listen now without hesitation. I question-yes. Contemplate the whys and why nots of the new idea. What I don't make my own after a time, I file away, to come back to later or to pass along to someone for whom it may work better. I stay open to learning and find myself a better teacher, player and person as a result.
"Change will do you good." Sheryl Crow
I offer this to you from experience and the hope we can all keep improving on and off the court. The next time your pro shares a tip, allow yourself a chance to try it, to experience it. Lower your defenses and let change begin. Remember it took a long time to build the habits you have, and it may take sometime to learn something new. Be patient. The pro can share his/her piece of knowledge to help you, but ultimately it is up to you to accept and integrate the tip into your game. Who knows? You just may surprise yourself at how fast you can improve. And that's what you are here for. - Nick Sousanis (fall 1997)
NEXT: There's always a tip for service with a smile.