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10 Good Things About Playing Against People Who Are Worse Than You (In Tennis, Chess, Etc.)

I love taking tennis clinics because the time and place are already set and there will be other players. The downside is that you don't know who will show up. By now I am good enough to see that playing with better players gets me to play better - I hit harder and play more aggressively. But I also see that I hit softer if I know there are worse players than myself. Then, once in a while, there would be a quiet anger built up if the ball didn't get rallied once in fifteen minutes.

Today, 3/5 of the players in my clinic were newer players. Usually I would roll my eyes figuratively, but today I decided to look at this as an opportunity to improve my game.

    1. Perfect your technique

    A forehand is a forehand. It doesn't change depending on who you are playing against. Take the slower pace as an opportunity to check your technique and fine tune it every time.

    2. Test your reflex

    Beginners have less control over their strokes. So the speed and direction of the ball will be less predictable. What better way to test your reflex than unpredictability.

    3. You get to play more

    If you are partner up with a newer player, cover the court more. Your side of the court can be a little bit over the center line, rather than strictly sticking to your own side.

    4. Try out new skills

    Are you always afraid of volleying or doing an overhead during a match? Now is the perfect time to hone those skills. When else would you have the opportunity to practice volleying in a match without being afraid of getting hit by a super fast ball?

    5. Test your analytical skills

    Every player plays differently. Newer players might play drastically different from one week to another. How fast can you study your opponent's style for the day?

    6. Fix your own mistakes

    If you are hitting the ball into the net or out of the court, maybe it's the way you're holding the racket or you are hitting the ball late. See if you can figure it out and fix it.

    7. Learn from other people's mistakes

    These may or may not be mistakes you make too. Sometimes it's easier to spot what cause the mistakes and see how to fix it when someone else does it right in front of you than when you're the one making those mistakes.

    8. You move faster

    A lot of the shots from newer players end up just over the net. How fast can you get there?

    9. Learn that you can only control yourself

    Every time you hit the ball is a distinct opportunity to focus and control the way you perform. If you missed, then do better next time. Just that some people don't play well, it doesn't mean you shouldn't play well.

    10. It's an opportunity to learn to appreciate situations you didn't like

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