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Taylor Dent's Story Today....

I just got out of a USPTA workshop where former top 25 pro Taylor Dent presented about a few topics. The one that struck me was his story regarding his training with Pete Sampras. When Dent was a teen, he was the top junior in the same area that Pete Sampras trained at. Sampras would invite him to train with him. All Sampras wanted to do was play practice matches. To spice things up, Sampras made Dent bring $200 with him to bet on each match they played. They would do this for 3-4 years which was during the time that Sampras was dominating the circuit. The next thing might surprise you. Dent won every single match they played! While Dent was focused on winning (Sampras did a good job of enticing him to do that with the bets), Sampras would be working on things during those matches to improve his chances of winning when it truly mattered.

This reminds me of the discussions I have with some of the high school players that would train with me. They would celebrate winning points against me and when I would talk to them about winning wasn't my objective but rather improvement, they would think of it as an excuse for me to cover up losing. It was not. The idea is to improve when you do not have winning as the main goal for the day. Unless you are playing a tournament or a match that decides an outcome more than just bragging rights, improvement needs to be on the top of your mind.

So what does your practices look like? It's important to take the ego aside for a bit and consider that there needs to be moments of vulnerability to really get to a more focused practice that ends up both efficient and effective. So play as many matches with your friends as you want but have an end goal that is much deeper than simply winning the match.

Here's a video on how to land correctly on the jumping serve

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