Tip of the week: Make Up-and-Coming Players Your Rivals – and Stay With Them!
(By Larry Hodges)
Here’s a little trick that will give you both incentive to improve, and lead to real improvement. Next time you are at your club, pinpoint someone who is perhaps a little weaker than you, or perhaps your level, but is practicing hard seems “talented,” and is likely to improve beyond his currently level, and beyond yours. Often an up-and-coming junior would be your choice.
Then make it your goal to 1) play this player as often as possible, and 2) keep up with him. Turn it into a mini-rivalry. You’ll be surprised at how this will narrow your thinking down to what’s needed to stay with this player, and you’ll find yourself developing your game as you try to keep up, week after week and month after month. By playing him regularly when you are still better you will likely get him to keep playing you, even when he’s caught up or (NO!) passed you, meaning you get to continue playing him and battling to stay with him.
Much of improvement is mental, and if you truly turn this into sort of a rivalry (a friendly one, of course), you’ll find yourself striving to play at levels you might not have considered before. Next thing you know you’ll be practicing the shots you need to stay with him, thinking tactically, and you’ll be dying to get to the club to continue this rivalry.
And guess what? All of this will develop your overall game, and so you won’t just keep up with this player (at least as long as possible), your whole game will go up. This means you’ll be playing against better and better competition, which will drive your level up even more. So find that up-and-coming player, make him your rival, and stay with him!!!
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