Analysis

The Secret of Being Great

TN guest contributor, coach and analyst, Evan Gaudreau is back with another one. It’s called The Secret of Being Great.

Check out Evan’s other pieces here.

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The Secret of Being Great – by Evan Gaudreau

There are certain qualities you need to be successful. Not just on the court but off the court too. Without them, you won’t make it. At least not as far as you’re dreaming.

Your outside life mirrors your inside life and if you don’t understand that, then work on understanding what makes you tick and if you don’t understand that, there’s no need to read further. Some you can control, some you can’t.
To be Frank!
May I be frank?
Who is Frank?
Anyway.

I’m going to start with work ethic. Everybody has some form of this. At the pro level, they have a lot of this. Even at the junior level, they have a lot of this.

It’s funny, all the information that’s out there and the studies done. The 10,000-hour rule, for example.

Is that all you need to do?
“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Practice! Practice! Practice!”
Really? Is that all?

If that were the case, Midtown Manhattan would be flooded with wannabes.

Work ethic is a layup

Work ethic is a layup. We’ve all heard that before, yet many players or athletes who don’t make it to the professional level probably have practiced just as much as the current pros, and in some cases, probably even more.
So, what happened?
Let’s shift to Parents.
We can’t control that.
But, Parents can have a significant effect on how far you go in life. Is there a right set of parents?
Not really!
Great people and great athletes come from all kinds.
Good and Bad.
Absentee parents, Divorced parents, single parents doing it on their own, but not helicopter parents (maybe…).

What about having brothers and sisters? That can help in some ways, and it can hurt in others.

For instance, I don’t mind when my kids fight. I let them hash it out. How else are they going to learn? Sometimes, this can be OK, but if it’s the norm (like it has been in my household), it can cause resentments…Between each other. Between the parents. From the parents to the kids.

Now I try to do something different. I’ll get to that soon.

Can family have a stake in the game?
Sure.
Strong family.
Strong bonds.

For sure, but it’s just another piece that keeps the negativity away. Like Toni Nadal. Rafa says in his book Toni was challenging, sometimes over the top, yet he says neither would be successful without each other…AND the robust and tight family and friends that surround them.
That’s rare.
Rafa, with his background, probably would have been successful doing whatever he wanted.

What is success anyway?

If you view success as monetary, you don’t get it. Yet, money can go a long way.

But in the end, after you feel empty inside, and your character sucks, drugs and alcohol, or whatever you’re into by that point…hopefully you’re not Epstein-esqe, the Reaper will come to collect. He always does! Have you never watched Scrooge?

Money can only buy you short-term success. It’s a cheat code that makes you feel like a cheat at the end of the day.

Just ask Lance Armstrong. About cheating, not about money. He worked his butt off. When he was winning the Tour De France, I watched every minute. And I don’t care about the EPO, because he was just evening the playing field…like playing a cheater in tennis. Isn’t it only fair to make the court on your side the same size as the court on the cheaters said?
Half-joking, but if you make bad calls VS me, be prepared. Kidding!

Funny story

In college, I was playing a match in which the other player was cheating…A lot! We had won the doubles point and were up a set in most of the singles matches. My Coach walks over on the changeover and said,

“Hey. You’re hitting good shots and he’s calling them out. That last shot was in.”
“I know,” I said. “He’s been doing that the whole time.”
“What are you going to do about it?”
“What can I do?”
“Win. Do what you have to do.”
“We’re going to win the match. If I lose, I don’t care. The team is going to win.”
“You should care,” he said and walked away.

At the changeover, I was down a set and 1-4. What the coach said to me ignited something in me, and I started to work for every point. I was able to get it to a tiebreaker, and at 3-2 me, my opponent was serving.
He hit his first serve. I called it out. It had hit the line. Actually, it was inside the line.
He never said a word and got ready to hit his second serve.
What I did next, I’m not proud of but…
He hit a second serve kick that landed in the middle of the box. I caught it with my left hand and said, “OUT.”
4-2.
I yelled over to the roamer (umpire) who was two courts away.
“I need a line judge over here!”
He was pissed and put up a fuss over the call. I just let him get worked up and tried to stay focused.
I won the following 3 points.

At this point, the match was already clinched. So, we played a breaker for the third also. I won that too.
Oddly, he wouldn’t shake my hand after. I didn’t care. But I walked in his direction and said,
“So, it’s OK for you to hook me 6-8 times, and I take one back, and it’s not OK.”
His teammates were blocking me.
“Have fun on the ride back,” I added. “Don’t kill anybody,” I added for good measure.

I was a kid. I had a lot more maturing to do and lessons to teach.

Creativity

Let’s talk about creativity. Do you need it?
Maybe when it comes to workouts and training sessions.
That’s more of an intangible.
But it does help a little.

Do you need a cerebral brain?

Like Medvedev? Or Djokovic? It helps, but unless you want to be #1 it is not entirely necessary. Usually, these players think and plod their way through matches. They can’t live on their skill set alone.

Circumstance

Circumstance can play a role. I would have never played tennis if it wasn’t for two things. My neighbor, who played 4-5 days a week, needed a hitting partner and there was an indoor tennis club built five minutes from my house.

It also helped that I could do “errands” at the club for free court time because my parents were blue-collar. And tennis isn’t cheap. I’m like a usurper. Mucking it up with the mucky-mucks.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone wrote a book on How to become an 11 or 12 UTR without a coach? Wink. Wink. Hint. Hint.

Parents, coaches and mentors

Coaches and Mentors play a big role.

Think Brooksby. He has that in one guy throughout his tennis life, which worked out OK.
Oh Yeah! And Nadal.

Parent/player combos don’t seem to work too well.

The parents being involved help also…when they know when to back off when it relates to things they don’t know about.
(This is a huge factor. Parents who can’t let go, can hold the player back. Especially when they brainwash the kid into thinking Mommy and Daddy know best. Sometimes they do).

(Same for the pros. Picking a pro isn’t easy. Like I said, there are a lot of charlatans out there).

Compassion

Do You have it and does your kid have it? If you answered no, how can you get it? Maybe you can learn it from the back of a Fruit Loops box.

Do you know what bothers me? I wish I had learned that a long time ago, not necessarily for me, but to be able to teach my kids. And I’m still working on that.

Do you know what else bothers me? They still haven’t found the Oak Island Treasure. They keep stringing us along. So annoying! Right?

Humility

I want to etch this word into a wood board and smash it with a hammer. Not really!

Humility is tough. Growing up, I hated to lose, even in board games. It would ruin my day until my neighbor and I controlled the $$ in Monopoly. One of us would be the banker and “sneak” a hundy here and a 5 spot there. It was no surprise we would be the last two standing. The Devil made me do it.

Man! This was a tough one. To learn it was OK to lose and have fun. Fun to me was winning. I actually had to teach myself how to lose and it was agonizing.

I’m reaching my word limit.

This next one is hard to write. I feel like Jim Carrey in “Liar. Liar” when he can’t tell lies and he chokes himself jokingly.

Love, Unconditional Love.

Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Not enough can be a death sentence.

Without it, Good luck! All the stars have to align and you need plenty of $$$ to overcome…but like I will echo, it comes with a cost. You pass on your crappy-ness to your kids or your friends and the cycle repeats itself, like every July 25 when I put a used toilet in my buddy’s backyard while he’s at work. That’s more of a tradition, I guess.

The last thing, and I probably missed a couple of minor things, that I will end with is Hugs.

Hugs

Seriously!
My family is not Huggers.
No way.

Yet, it has been brought to my attention that that is weird. Comedians joke about it, but I’m sure they understand it. I thought this last one was a joke…but the joke was on me. At first, it was weird to hug, everyday….man!
Get away from me…creeper.

But I was surprised…something so simple and easy…You can call it intangible if you want. It’s not like you can say, “If I was hugged more, I would have been pro.” That’s cuckoo!

Here’s the deal! There’s not one thing! There are multiple. And I’m sure you can add a thing or two I missed…

But here’s the real DEAL.

Tiger Woods is about to Tee off at the Masters, and I need to go.

Good morning, good afternoon, and Good Night!

Evan Gaudreau

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