Sometimes, it's really not about winning

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 19, 2012, 11:33 PM | comments: 0

I've often felt that people who say, "It's not about winning," are losers. As a coach, I can at the very least tell you that losing sucks, especially when it's a habit.

There are times, however, when we compete without regard to the outcome. I'd like to think that any sport with very young kids, this is true. In fact, at that age, losing builds character. It's also true when you're an adult and starting to learn a new sport, or are engaging in it just to get a little exercise. That's me and tennis.

I've now taken two six-week group classes, and four individual lessons. It has been expensive, but in many ways I'm pleased with how relatively fast I'm getting up to speed. I certainly won't be joining the tour any time soon, but I'm really pleased with where I'm at coming from a dead start.

I decided I'm going to try playing in a competitive league, for about ten weeks. I have almost no expectation beyond getting better than I am now. I don't care at all if I win or lose, though obviously a few wins would be OK. With a few weeks before starting, I also hope to get in a few more lessons. Beyond that, I need to find a way to play less expensively!

At the end of this last six-week session, our instructor actually had the balls to say that he didn't recommend playing in a league because we weren't experienced enough. What the hell is that about? If he had to preface it by saying, "no offense to anyone," that should have been his first clue not to say it. But more to the point, it goes against everything I believe as a coach about getting better at a sport. You can practice indefinitely, but it's not a game until you keep score. While I started this in part for the fitness and social aspect of it all, I also did it because I like engaging in a little competition now and then. And, in this case, it doesn't matter if I win or not.

I'm anxious to see how it goes. It could be a disaster in terms of win-loss ratio, but that's OK. It took me years to get any kind of progress in volleyball.


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