October 17th, 2021
Yesterday I lost a tennis match for the first time in a while.

It made me think again about what Harry Dry once asked me about tennis: “do you love to lose?”

I think about that often... I don’t love to lose, but I do believe that losing leads to more progress than winning - especially if you want to get better, faster.

Novak Djokovic’s all-time record is 978 wins, 198 losses. That means he still loses around 2 of every 12 matches.

Denis Kudla’s (the #95 tennis player in the world) all-time record is 61 wins, 107 losses. That means he loses almost 2 of every 3 matches.

But Denis Kudla has still won over $3.5M in his career purely from tennis matches.

The Pusher

Yesterday, I lost to a pusher

In tennis, a pusher (also called a grinder) is an opponent who always hits the ball back in the court, but without any power and speed.

A pusher hopes for a long match. They can get to every ball. And they get most balls back. They grind and wait patiently for you to make the mistake.

After I lost to the pusher, I searched YouTube for strategies on how to beat pushers. This comment made me stop and think:

Pushers are like the gatekeepers to becoming a strong player. Once you’re good and have a complete game they are easy to beat. But as you are learning they are extremely tough.

I love this way of looking at it. Pushers are actually the definition of mediocrity. Their strategy works and they can win matches, but they will never reach the next level.

To Get Better, You Have To Get Worse

Pushers are the type of people that believe success comes purely from hard work and a “grind” mentality.

They’re not willing to take a step back and focus on fundamentals. They’re not willing to fix the holes in their game. They’re not willing to fix their backhand.

I think tennis is like a lot of things in life. 

To get better at something, you have to get worse at it, first. Whatever you're trying to learn or improve - you have be OK with sucking at it for a temporary period of time.

Most people are too scared of that idea and they won't even get started

The Mediocre Backhand

For example, if you have a mediocre backhand. 

The pusher won’t fix his mediocre backhand. He’ll cover it up, hide it, and protect it with hacky tactics. The pusher avoids his weaknesses.

The balanced player will fix it, and embrace it. He’ll get lessons, watch videos, hit backhands for hours, and will be OK with losing 10+ matches while developing his new backhand. 

The balanced player embraces his weaknesses. He loves losing. 

And in the end, he wins.