Thank you for all the questions that you asked me last few weeks. I got over 1,500 questions to look at.
Two genre or questions stood out.
- How to play better under pressure?
- How to deal with various partner issues?
The good news is that I am in the final stages of releasing a Free Mental Toughness Workshop that will help answer a lot of the questions related to playing better under pressure.
The other category that had the most questions was related to what to do with your partner. That is not surprising given that we are a community of doubles players and our partners are critical to our success. Whether they are having a bad day, saying rude comments or not helpful things or just flat out not willing to communicate with you, having a partner that is not “on board” is probably one of the hardest situations to deal with. So what can you do?
The first thing is to realize that there is nothing you can do to make your partner play better, but there is a lot you can do to make them play worse. When my partner was having a bad day, the best thing I could do for her was encourage her with positive words, but then let her be.
Some of the things I would say would include these phrases:
“it’s ok, don’t worry about it”
“stick with it”
“try moving your feet”
“keep battling, it will come” (or it will get better)
In the end, they have to figure it out on their own, and sometimes giving them a little extra space when they are not playing well is exactly what they need.
So while your partner is having a “bad day” and “blowing it for you” your job is to stay positive and keep doing everything you can to keep up your end of the stick. If they continue to battle, their level of play should come around. The last thing you need is for them to “come out of their funk” only after you have completely given up.
I want to share with you a section a the Complete Partnership Guide, which is a bonus with the mental product I am releasing in January. Here is the section about what DOES NOT work in partnerships. Next month, I will talk about what works.
What doesn’t work
A good way to determine what works about good partnerships is to discuss what doesn’t work. Here’s a look at a few concepts:
There is no “I” in Team
Doubles is a team sport – very different from singles. If you are only thinking about yourself and how to win points in doubles, then you are missing the point – both figuratively and literally. Good doubles players are constantly thinking about how to set up their partners to finish points for them and to make them look good. They don’t hit shots that expose their partners to getting burned by the opponent and they aren’t constantly trying to hit winners on their own. Most certain, they don’t take credit for the team’s wins. A team wins together and losses together.
Playing the Blame Game
I am sure we have all been there at one point or another. We come off a match and tell anyone who will listen (even a supermarket clerk) about how our partner blew the match – how she missed the easiest sitter on top of the net at 4-5, 30-40. But what about the shots you missed and the other opportunities your team had? If you are thinking of blaming your partner, I promise that you will never become a very good doubles player. You can never, ever blame your partner for bad play or a loss. It’s always a team thing. If you lose, it’s not because your partner played bad, it’s because the team played bad. The same applies to a win. The team wins and loses…not the individual.
Bossing your Partner
Few things are worse in life than being told what to do. This probably starts back in childhood, when we rebel against our parents telling us what to do. Even as children, we seek independence. Most adults don’t want anyone bossing them around. Unless your partner has specifically said, “Tell me what to do and I will try to do it”, then you should err on the side of not constantly telling your partner what to do or bossing them around the court. Instead, use plural pronouns such as “we”, “us”, “both” or “neither”. Examples include:
- We should try to be more consistent
- This would be a good strategy for us
- We should both move our feet
Next month, I will share the section of the Partnership document that talks about how to be a good partner.
In the meantime, stay positive and encourage your partners.
Remember, there are 2 ways to get up a hill, pulling up or pushing down.
Which do you do?