ETI 051 | Reality Therapy – Facing the Truth on Court

Facing the cold hard facts – as in the TRUTH

Accurate self assessments of our (meaning your) game can be difficult.   It is possible to play poorly and win, it is possible to play well and lose narrowly because of bad luck or a few close calls

But as a teacher and player, I see most overlook their “weak spots” because they can be so hard to change/improve, and because rarely to opponents consistently focus on and expose the shortcomings.

Play a tournament to experience your version of reality therapy – then do something about it.


  • Al Smith

    Reply Reply January 19, 2017

    Jim – fear of change or maybe (as you put it) not facing the reality of the problem. Wanting is a desire but doing is a behavior – and I think you are correct in stating if you want behavioral change forget the fears, cognition, etc. – just commit to behaviors and outcomes will come. Reality Therapy suggests that change is ultimately a behavior problem that takes commitment (not just hope). For example, you give many great tips but “us players” need to do the 10,000 hr (or lower equivalent) to attain mastery. I wonder how many great lessons and tips you provide only to fail because of the lack of rehersal. In sum, you suggest “face the reality of your weaknesses” but that reality is also the commitment it takes to make a behaviral change.

    Alternatively, just to complicate the psychobable, I heard an interview with Federer recently who suggested that he only focuses on strengths vs. dedicating time toward weaknesses. His belief is in a strengths perspective which is another version of positive psychology (i.e, Strenghts Quest). He stated that too much time dedicated toward weaknesses only gets marginal gain vs. the upside of making sure your strenghts are stronger.

    In the end – disregard my digressions – I agree with you – be realistic about how to build your game and commit to imrprovement.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply January 21, 2017

      Al – not really psychobabble, I like the concept “wanting is the desire but doing is the behavior” and to commit to behavior and (hopefully) the outcome will occur
      thanks for your point of view

  • Noushin

    Reply Reply January 19, 2017

    Many thanks for sharing your invaluable knowledge!

  • Al

    Reply Reply January 19, 2017

    Jim – since you invited comments about Reality Therapy, the following is listed to support your theory….(and apply toward tennis)

    The foundational belief of Client Centered Therapy (or what you/others sometimes call Rogerian Client Centered Therapy) is that people tend to move toward growth and healing, and have the capacity to find their own answers. Thus, it is non-directive, prescriptive, or even about delving into one’s deep seeded past – unless that is where the client chooses to go. If you applied this to tennis instruction – the belief is that the “client” knows their truth and the tennis instructor’s goal is to provide a supportive environment for the client to address their goals for improvement (vs. the tennis instructor is the expert and needs to diagnose the problem or that the real problem with your tennis game is that you were dropped as a child when you were two and thus refuse to hit a backhand).

    In contrast, Reality therapy is a therapeutic approach that focuses on problem-solving and making better choices in order to achieve specific goals. Developed by Dr. William Glasser, reality therapy is focused on the here and now rather than the past (in a way that similar to Client Centered or Rogerian Therapy). The reality therapy approach to counseling and problem-solving focuses on the here-and-now actions of the client and the ability to create and choose a better future. Typically, clients seek to discover what they really want and how they are currently choosing to behave in order to achieve these goals. If you applied this to tennis instruction – the real problem with the “instructee” or client is that they are not behaving (in tennis behaviors) in ways to meet their core needs. For example, they have a core need to be more competent but are not acting in ways to achieve that need (i.e., not practicing what they were taught by the coach, or other).

    Although your definitions are slightly off – your core analogy is accurate. Thus, if applied to your podcast it would mean…

    “A tennis player must come to the self-realization that something must change, realization and acceptance that change is, in fact, possible, leads to a plan for making better choices—plans that are at the heart of successful reality therapy. The therapist (or tennis instructor) helps the client create a workable plan to reach a goal. It must be the client’s plan, not the counselor’s (or tennis instructor). The essence of a workable plan is that the client can implement it—it is based on factors under the client’s control (i.e., the 3.5 player can execute it). Reality therapy strives to empower people by emphasizing the power of doing what is under their control. Doing is at the heart of reality therapy.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply January 19, 2017

      Al – thanks for this – if I am understanding your comments there is hope for those who will do what is under their control – but if so why do so few actually get to that special place? Is it the fear of change?

  • Sam

    Reply Reply January 18, 2017

    Don’t wish to be repetitive so I wont say much except….. Great Message, and you may have heard this one………”How many engineers it takes to change a light bulb”? Answer…….It depends on if the light bulb wants to be changed…..Best Wishes

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply January 18, 2017

      Sam – have not heard that one, but will use it on our courts at the club

  • Gary gonzalez

    Reply Reply January 17, 2017

    Excellent message we all know our weaknesses but we look the other way and keep playing Not anymore or me

  • kwok

    Reply Reply January 17, 2017

    Many players, at least at the club that I am playing, tend to over-estimate themselves. They fail to have an honest evaluation of their games. For an extreme example, but it is a true story, a friend of mine at the club who would and still does change his racket from a heavy to a lighter one or vice versa when he misses a few shots, hoping that will change the outcome of his shots. He took lessons form different coaches but he did not follow the coaches’s instruction and practice diligently. But when he lost a match, he would tell everybody that his coaches were no good and it’s a waste of money. And of course, he blames it on the strings too. And he’s been doing that for at least as long as I know him – at least six years.
    Being a friend of his and has a big mouth, I’ve been telling him that he has been barking at the wrong trees. Sometimes he did stop his “bad” habit for a little while, but eventually he will go back to his old way. This story kind of fascinates me because why some people have a hard time to see the truth even though it is so obvious to everybody else ? Stubbornness could be a virtue when we envision a path that can benefit our goal – successful people are stubborn to a certain extent, but our stubbornness should be tamed by constant revaluation of the path that we are taking.


  • arthur quinby

    Reply Reply January 17, 2017

    If you so choose! It all goes back to what your objectives are. If you really want to get better, you will by addressing those weaknesses in your game.

    I’d ask the person taking the lesson to really tell me, “what they want to do?”

    Sometimes, just hitting and no talking is simply ok! “I just wanted to get some exercise and hou were available!”

    In business we alway ask,

    1. Where are you now?
    2. Where do you want to go?
    3. How are you going to get there?
    4. Are you getting there?

    Thanks for listening.


    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply January 17, 2017

      Q – thanks, especially for “how are you going to get there”

  • Pat Moore

    Reply Reply January 17, 2017

    Great Message.

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