An Idea That is Practiced Leads to a New Way of Being 9


An Idea That is Practiced Leads to a New Way of Being

Buddha said, “an idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”

I came up short today in my match, losing to four-time World Champion Larry Turville, 6-4, 6-2. No shame losing to him on the clay where he has been just about unbeatable for the last ten years. Last month I had played great against him and lost 6-3, 6-0.

Knowing that I might be playing him again in this tournament, I spent the last month working on a strategy adjustment.

I got on the court today thinking that I was ready to play differently. I was ready to give up the security of my regular game, one that has been effective against many players for many years. I was going to serve and volley more. I was going to take every short ball and approach the net. I was going to stay away from rallying backhand to backhand with him.

On the very first point, I served and volleyed and won the point. I did it one more time in the match. I approached on short balls about six or eight times and won a few of those points.

But as the Buddha said, if you don’t practice enough, the idea just stays an idea. That is where I came up short. I thought about what I was going to do for weeks. I just didn’t practice it enough.

There is no shortage of good ideas, whether it be to play better tennis, to be a more engaged friend, to manage time more effectively or to exercise. Ideas, alone, without practice, eventually just dissipate into thin air, leaving no traces.
Just one more plan that doesn’t give us what we want.

So I am ok with the loss. When you compete a lot, you learn to take the losses. They come with the games we play. If you can’t take the heat, don’t go near the fire.

I am disappointed that I didn’t practice my idea.

My tennis mission includes that every match is one in which I learn. Where I grow as a player and person. The gift from this match is the reminder that if I want to serve and volley or do anything differently in order to be a better version of myself, I need to stay committed to the practice. When I practice something enough, eventually I will become what I practice. It will be part of who I am.

Another part of my mission is to forgive myself for those things that I do less than perfectly.

So I can forgive myself for having an idea that simply stayed an idea. But I will follow the Buddha’s advice next time. My next good idea will include the practice that will lead me down the road of personal success.

Thanks to my practice partners over the last couple of months: Jeff Snow, Todd Ehren, Spencer Feldman, Brad Thurman and Jimmy Malhame. Thanks to Jo Ann who supports me and continues to push me to be the very best version of myself both on and off the court.


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9 thoughts on “An Idea That is Practiced Leads to a New Way of Being

  • Irwin Shorr

    So meaningfully written, Bob, as always. I would be interested to hear how the scoring went for the first set — did it go to 4 all or were there any early breaks? What did you think about doing AFTER the first set? Were you able to collect your thoughts and implement something differently? As you well know, we are served by both losses as well as wins, thereby making the losses ‘wins’ in reality; the only difference is that you may not see the result of those kinds of ‘wins’ until sometime later.

    With great respect and appreciation for your candid transparency and thoughtful insight, Irwin…

  • Ivo Barbic

    I just send a thought to my son in NY who play tennis and try to be a competitor….There is a WILL and there is the POWER to implement this WILL. 3 things will improve your game: SPIN, MOVEMENT and POWER (to hit a faster ball)…..to keep your opponent 10 feet from the baseline…that should be your goal! You are not going to beat your opponent by “thinking” but rather by “doing”..by feeling CONFIDANT that you can hit your ball harder.
    Consequently: practice TIMING, BALANCE and ANTICIPATION.
    It is not too late to have FUN!
    IVO

  • Amy Eddings

    Hey Bob, congrats on staying open to the gifts in this match, and every match. Your strategy worked, even at the level you DID practice it. You won three more games against Larry. You doubled your wins from last year! That’s quite a feat.

  • Suzanne Kingsbury

    This was so important to see and to send to some of my writers. Practice becomes the match. Or the book, as it may be for me and mine. How beautiful to have something to look forward to. To move toward. You are such an inspiration because of the constant fact of your growth. Thanks!!!!!

  • mel di giacomo

    YOU KNOW I’VE BEEN PHOTOGRAPHING TENNIS SINCE LAVER,NEWK,ASHE & ROACHE.I SINGLE THESE FELLAS OUT AS WELL AS BILLI,ROSIE,MARGARET AND MARTINA SINCE THEY WERE THE BEST SERVE AND VOLLY PLAYERS I’VE SEEN.LATER THE TWO BEST WERE RAFTER AND SAMPRS.AND IN YOUR GROUP THE BEST OF THE LOT WAS JIMMY PARKER.A FEW THINGS THAT THEY ALL HAD IN COMMON WAS SERVE PLACEMENT.NEWK’S KICK SERVE HAD HIS OPPONENT GOING IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS ESP. IF HE SERVED INTO THE BODY.NEWK TOLD ME THE BEST SERVE HE SAW WAS NEALE FRASER.HE NEVER CHANGED HIS BALL TOSS SO HIS OPPONENT COULDN’T TELL WHAT TYPE OF SERVE WAS COMING..PATRICK AND PETE WERE THE SCARY GUYS.NOT ONLY WOULD THEY COME IN ON THEIR 2ND SERVE THEY’D COME IN ON YOUR SERVE.PARKER WAS AWESOME AT COMING ON YOUR SERVE.
    I’M NOT A TENNIS COACH NOR DO I PRETEND TO BE.IT WOULD HOWEVER APPEAR TO ME AFTER ALL THESE YEARS WATCHING THE BEST AND WORST THAT CONCENTRATING ON BALL PLACEMENT, SPEED AND SPIN MIGHT BE WORTHY OF CONSIDERATION. SERVE AND VOLLY ON CLAY IS A CHALLENGE FOR ANYONE HALF OUR AGE.
    IMAGINE HOW MANY MORE MATCHES VENUS WILLIAMS MIGHT HAVE WON HAD SHE DISCIPLINED HER BALL TOSS AND KEPT HER HEAD FROM JERKING DOWN TO THE LEFT,NOT TO MENTION LEARNING TO SERVE AND VOLLY.HER WING SAN IS EQUAL TO THAT OF THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR.SHE’D RARELY BE PASSED IF SHE SERVED PROPERLY.
    I GIVE YOUR PASSION TO ALWAYS IMPROVE 5 BRAVOS. UN GROSSO ABBRACI. P. S,STOP THINKING ON THE COURT.ALLOW YOUR CONSIDERABLE INSTINCTS BE IN CHARGE.

  • tom rosenthal

    the great ashtanga yoga teacher Sri K Pattabhi Jois was fond of saying “99 percent practice 1 percent theory”. David Williams, one of his early students, is fond of saying,” before practice theory is incomprehensible, after practice theory is obvious”.