Perfection...

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Ash_Smith, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Watched a programme last night about Claridges (the hotel in London) - was very impressed by their attention to detail and culture of perfection...

    So, coaches - what are your pillars of perfection and how do you instil that culture in your players?

    Cheers

    A
     
    #1
  2. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    To make everyone understand the concept of perfection, I carry around a life sized naked photo of myself.
     
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  3. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I went to their web site now and tried booking a room for tomorrow. It starts at 570 pounds per night, inclusive of taxes.
     
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  4. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Interesting topic.

    I'm not a coach, but I'll tell you that it's a double edged sword for me as a player. My desire for perfection is one of things that attracts me to tennis, and one of the things that drives me to improve. I actually enjoy drilling a stroke on the wall and getting that perfect set-up and execution. That perfect hit, or a perfect point, is such a high.

    OTOH the drive for perfection can totally mess with your head, especially in competitive situations. Lack of perfection, which is most of the time, has taken me out of points, sets, and matches more times than I care to count. It's hard to let it go.
     
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  5. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Very good points you make and why I handle it this way...

    Yes, you drill for perfection in your technique and movement, but play with
    a focus on making certain shots for the situation...even if it doesn't lend itself
    to a perfect stroke.
    I use this also in working out, where you train to be strong and in shape, but go
    with timing over strength and move in efficient ways during play, not looking
    to use the strength or stamina unless pushed.

    The idea for me is that the benefits of the drilling and training related to perfection,
    tend to spill over and augment the game play priorities where they can and
    where they are needed.
     
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  6. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Watching bits of the programme again, the thing that struck me was that, at least in a hotel sense, there is no perfect, as each individual guest will have their own reality by which to judge perfection. However, those running the hotel chose their version of perfection and their attention to detail and their adherence to their vision of perfection is unquestionable. All their staff buy into this vision too. To the average person it probably doesn't matter that the cutlery is exactly one inch from the edge of the table, but that is the Claridges way and so that is the way it will be done.

    Made me start to think how many coaches have such principals (their own vision of perfection) and actually stick to them without compromise. Are these coaches the most successful in pro terms, but maybe less successful in recreational/club terms for example?

    What are your pillars of perfection 5263?

    cheers

    A
     
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  7. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I'm not a big believer in the perfection idea, though it works for some. The problem with striving for perfection is that it can lead to stagnation and pushing.

    I like Lansdorp's idea of discipline better. At some level, you need some discipline in your practice, and most people have too little, which is why they rarely improve.

    But I also think that people need to push limits and try things which are currently impossible. So, now that I've contradicted myself, I think that most players need to push their limits but in a disciplined fashion and not give up too soon. What is impossible for me to do today can become easy tomorrow, or at least at some point in the future.
     
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  8. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I try to remember that "the perfect is the enemy of the good."

    In tennis, I try to play in a way which is natural to my level, not above my level. That does not mean I will not try to run to get a wide ball if I can, but I will not hit try to hit better shots than what my natural ability can come up with. I go through the motions of moving, hitting, and recovering, and let the chips fall where they may.

    After having been a perfectionist at work for many years, I don't believe in the idea any more (except in safety-related or mission-critical situations).
     
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  9. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    There definitely seems to be a personality component to how we interpret things. As a kid, when pushed to be perfect, I'd freeze up. On the other hand, I had a lot of natural talent but not much discipline in terms of training.

    I'm a juggler and jugglers often argue about the best way to train. The performing professionals tend to push perfect form. They want to be able to repeat the performance in adverse settings at will: so "perfect practice makes perfect." However, I've found that to learn advanced techniques I end up repeatedly failing. The brain copes with failure and eventually adapts to perform complex patterns and higher number without effort or much stress.

    This is my worry about pushing perfection. If you aren't willing to repeatedly fail, you're probably going to get stuck at a low level. However, if you don't also have some bread-and-butter that you can perform at will at some point, you'll never be very good.
     
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  10. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    .......................
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
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  11. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    First, I'd use Ideal instead of perfection, but not sure that matters too much.
    Just a term that feels better to me.

    The ideal I strive for and seek to share is
    probably more about working to do the things that help us to execute at a
    high level. Things like keeping a focus on the contact point, seeking good
    balance, timing, and striving for movement that can put us in excellent position.
    Looking to have a keen awareness of where we are on the court and knowing
    how that plays into our game style.

    I like to work for ideal swings on soft toss and focus on Ideal technique there.
    Then more or less let that that flow into matchplay as it does.
    I often use the term "trending" as a way to describe moving in the right direction,
    opposed to "being" or having arrived.
    Trending towards ideals within the context of what we are doing is what seems
    best imo.
     
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  12. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    You're posting on the wrong Forum. Tennis is the opposite of perfection, it is a game of percentages, neither of which are 0% or 100%. Tennis is the rare game where you can win fewer points yet win the match.

    If you can hit groundstrokes in 55% of the time, but you can make your opponent's return percentage only 45% because of placement, pace or spin, then you are going to win the match.

    You win by playing smarter, not harder.
     
    #12
  13. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    ash, I believe it's all about adherance to the rules and the quality of those rules. in your cutlery example adherance to the rule is fantastic but I'd question the quality of that rule. tradition is tradition but it may not be the best way to do things in terms of competitiveness. for example, if another high end hotel offers unquestioned money back satisfaction guarantee, I would see more value in that than such attention to detail. but maybe some people find their satisfaction in those details. what I'm trying to say is in tennis these principles cannot be fabricated without solid reasoning behind them. because only those principles that work in increasing competitiveness should be called principles. but there are many tiers of competition levels so not all coaches might have only universal principles. such advice to use more wrist would be taken very differently by top juniors and club players.
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    The pursuit of perfection is a futile search....
     
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  15. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    I think it really depends on the person. Trying to achieve perfection can make some people really frustrated or cause them to stagnate because they're too afraid to fail.

    I think it's much more important to be able to shake off imperfection than to achieve perfection.
     
    #15
  16. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    I personally enjoy tinkering around and striving to improve technique. For some reason, it really relaxes me and rarely (hello serve) frustrates me. Of course it is all geared towards improved match play, and I understand that all the technique in the world won't help a weak mental game. It's all a balancing act for me.
     
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  17. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    I'm impressed with some of the responses thus far. When I spied the title of this thread and read the OP, I thought that I was going to the lone dissenter/heretic. However, it appears that several posters have already beat me to the punch. Perfectionism, for most, is not an ideal approach to playing and improving one's tennis game. In tennis and in life, in general, it is far better, in most cases, to strive for excellence rather than demand perfection of oneself.

    While some may think that there is little or no difference in these philosophies, upon closer examination, it becomes apparent that the distinction is an important one. Earlier in my life, I considered myself a perfectionist -- I still consider myself a recovering perfectionist. As a perfectionist, I would almost never be happy or satisfied with my endeavours. There were many projects in school & work that I never completed because I felt that I could not do it perfectly. There were other projects that I would not even attempt for the same reason.

    At first, perfectionism may appears to be a very worthwhile approach/philosophy. While it does have a positive aspect, the negative aspects usually outweigh the positive. The perfectionist is really only satisfied on those rare occasions when perfection (or near-perfection) is achieved. Most of the time a perfectionist does not enjoy the process and is not happy with the end result if it is not perfect. When perfection is not attained, it sets the individual up for a considerable amount of frustration and, sometimes, depression.

    Another problem with this idea of perfection in tennis is that there is no single, best or perfect way to hit a ball or to play the game. There are a number of excellent ways to do these things as well as multitude of inferior ways.

    I have been preaching the gospel of excellence vs perfection for nearly 2 decades now. It is something that I try to instil in my students and is something that I continue to develop in myself. Quite a while back, I came across poem on Excellence. Since that time I have added quite a few verses to the original poem. I initiated a thread with my version of the poem in this forum more than 6 years ago = Excellence vs Perfection <-- click here for original thread

    [FONT=BibleScrT,Arial]Excellence[/FONT]

    Excellence is willing to be wrong,
    Perfection is having to be right.


    Excellence is enduring,
    Perfection is fleeting.


    Excellence is spontaneous,
    Perfection is control.


    Excellence is risk,
    Perfection is fear.


    Excellence is striving,
    Perfection is demanding.


    Excellence is acceptance,
    Perfection is criticism.


    Excellence is powerful,
    Perfection is anger & frustration.


    Excellence is freeing,
    Perfection is stifling.


    Excellence is giving,
    Perfection is taking.


    Excellence is confidence,
    Perfection is doubt.


    Excellence is flowing,
    Perfection is pressure.


    Excellence is journey,
    Perfection is destination.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
    #17
  18. vil

    vil Semi-Pro

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    I like that bit of philosophy above:).
    In my way of thinking, if you hear perfection in tennis, you kind of stumble. There's no such thing. It's a very abstract way of describing ,say shot, because if something is perfect, it cannot be any better. Yet, we know there is always room for improvement. As 5263 mentioned, a better word is "ideal".
     
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  19. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Very well said, Systemic.

    It's my personal belief that it is not success that is most important, but being able to accept failure. You have to be content knowing that you dared to fail.
     
    #19
  20. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Yup, agree with Systemic Anomaly 100%

    And I am enjoying the journey :)
     
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