Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pressure is a privilege

Thanks to Pat Williams for passing along a copy of Billie Jean King's book "Pressure is a Privilege." A couple of good takeaways:

Tune up your awareness: "I've always said that a trait that differentiates champions from the good players is that champions are a big on awareness -- they pay attention to every little detail, and they prioritize.

In tennis, for example, the little things like the direction and strength of the wind, the areas surrounding the court, or the weather, the sun, the blue sky (it's harder to see the ball in the blue sky), the time of day, or the feel of the surface of the court can completely change your game.

A champion will notice the details and adapt. In whatever you're doing, when practicing awareness, you'll notice more of the minute details and are more likely to take advantage of the opportunities that others might miss."

Don't shy away from pressure: "'Pressure is a privilege'" is one of my favorite sayings. It is something I have believed since I first stepped onto the tennis court as a competitor. I know it may seem odd to call pressure a privilege, but every success comes certain pressures that go with it. Like many people who succeed in challenging fields, I seem to embrace the privilege and thrive on it. As the pressure mounts, I get calmer and more focused."

Know when you're ready: "There's a saying in sports - 'Don't leave it in the gym.' It means that you can sometimes overdo things when you're preparing by making yourself over-tired or too tense; you don't want to play the match before you even get out there.

As with all things, balance is important to preparation. The key is to really know yourself, your needs, and your limits. You want to train well and wisely, and bring your best to the match itself."