Will Skills

lion_gazelleChapter Eight


“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion that day, or it will be killed and eaten. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up and knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle that day, or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter if you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

– Anonymous

In order to attain that which you truly desire in your tennis life, you will be developing your will skills. Earlier I mentioned that will springs from desire. This is quite true, and the quickest way to make remarkable breakthroughs in your tennis game is by developing your will skills.

This is often referred to as ‘will power’. To some, the fact that will is a skill that can be developed is debatable. I believe that it is a provable fact. You can work on increasing your will skills and develop them so that they will serve you long after you think you are spent. It will not happen all at once; great things rarely do. However, consistency in your daily focused action plan is the one thing that will develop your will skills quicker than anything else.

Sweat Equity & Being True To Yourself

You may have heard the phrase “That which is gained too easily is esteemed too lowly.” Whether you’ve heard it before or not, it’s true. If there is no investment in that which you receive, then its perceived value is diminished. I would not have cared as much about my results on the tennis court if I hadn’t worked so hard to get them. If a person has put an investment into a certain activity, say perhaps improving their serve, that person will continue to make the investment in it, financially by getting good instruction, with sweat equity or whatever else, until one of the following happens.

1) They’ve gotten their serve to a level that they wanted, and have met their goal.
2) An unavoidable physical or emotional disaster occurs, and
they must cease playing tennis, or
3) They quit trying to improve their serve.

They get disheartened. Perhaps they have found that the work required to build the game of their dreams is not their cup of tea. Regardless of the reason, they have willed an end to their improvement. If that player does not face this fact, than he/she will be leaving the only reality that the journey toward tennis success offers; the ‘one-step-at-a-time’ mode. That person will flounder in the wayside, which is strewn with players who say things like, “I should have” and “I always wanted to”. But you are not of that ilk. You are one of the few, willing to keep on keeping on. I’m glad you have chosen to go the distance. You will be, too.

Sow an Action, Reap a Habit

As I said before, the one quickest way to develop your will skills is to take daily action in one thing you want to improve in your tennis game, and do it every day until you get the results you’re looking for. Choose one small step. You want that better second serve. You went out and found the knowledge you needed in order to improve that serve. You decide that you will hit 50 second serves a day after practice, or your league match, whatever. Record your results, and consistently look for areas where you can improve that second serve. You made the decision to do 50 a day. No more, no less. During the first 21 days your other self, who is 90% beaten already, will try to give you a subversive message, such as:

“C’mon, dude, take a day off. For crying out loud, you deserve
that much. You never hit that many serves in a row before
anyway, what’s one day of skipping it going to hurt?”

If you listen to this voice, and don’t do what you originally intended (you declared your intentions…right?), the enemy will come right back at you with this number:

“Good job, you lazy idiot. I said take a day off, not a week, idiot. Like you were ever really going to change in the first place. If you were going to do it, you’d have done it by now. Good luck gettin’ your second serve in during your next match,cause that ain’t my job. But don’t worry; I’ll be here for you if you need someone to complain to about it later…”

That is your other self, not your True Self. If you can hit those second serves, or whatever it is you chose to do, for 21 days, just 21 days, a remarkable thing will happen to you. On the 21st day, your True Self, via your subconscious mind will give you a message. It will go something like this:

“Hey, man, this is all good and well. Let’s keep going with this. In
fact, I’m getting pretty bored. Don’t you think we could push the
envelope and maybe squeeze out 50 serves plus 25 of those
backhand volleys you wanted to work on today? I think we probably

What has happened after just 21 days is that you have formed a
habit. In this case, a good one.

How a Bottle of Shampoo Can Change Your Life

Why does your True Self want to push the envelope? It has to. That’s what it’s designed to do. It knows that your tennis game is open to unlimited possibilities. Your will is getting stronger now. You have a little sweat equity built up and you have made an investment. You want to keep that investment and watch it grow. You are happier. The endorphins in your brain are being released much more often, and you are experiencing that ‘natural high’ you once knew as a kid, when everything was new and exciting. You have completed your 21 day commitment and are pumped up about it. Where do you go from here? Go read the back of your shampoo bottle and look at the directions for use. I’m not kidding. Go do it and come back.

One More Thing…

Okay, you’re back. The label said “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.” That’s it, right? The directions may have also said that “for best results, use in conjunction with blah-blah-blah daily renewal conditioner.” Whatever. Just know that all you have to do is repeat the process, with only one more thing. If you are still on the second serve issue, add one more thing that you’d like to improve. ONLY ONE MORE THING. It is imperative that you do this process exactly as I am outlining it. You are forming a new habit. You’ve already got one down, now you are focusing on forming a new one. Rome was not built in a day, and neither are habits. Perhaps your new goal is
upping your first serve percentage. Fine. 21 days after this happens,
look at what you will have accomplished. Your second serve is
awesome and your first serve percentage in noticeably higher. This
will motivate you to continue to improve in other areas of your game,
as long as your results are measurable. This will show you that you
are a success when you focus.

Your confidence is increased because you earned it. You earn confidence by doing and succeeding…over and over again. Then and only then do you have the right to claim the confidence you seek. After this process, it is a matter of choosing what you want to do with the other areas of your game. You already know that a strong first and second serve are key components of any well-rounded tennis game. Do you know what the key components are to improving your well-rounded tennis game? If that’s what you want, it would be to your advantage to find out. You need the knowledge if you want to ‘get it done’. That’s where you go from here.

In our next installment, you’re going to find out how to get it.


  • Stephen Salter

    June 28, 2015

    A good, fun habit to form is 50 serves a day!

    I’ll try it!

  • Norman

    March 10, 2014

    This philosohy applies t every area of your life and is an excellent methodology to follow.

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