In Episode #5 of the Peak Performance Podcast, I interview former world #7 tennis player and Olympic Silver medalist, Tim Mayotte. In this exclusive interview, Tim and I chat about:

  • State of US tennis
  • The pro tour
  • The mental game
  • The worst thing that he ever said to himself
  • Is education important?
Twitter: @timMayotte
I don’t know about you, but I loved hearing Tim talk about the mental game.  Share below!


My good friend, Bob Ryland (above) was the first black professional tennis player, and Arthur Ashe’s hero. When Arthur Ashe was 14, he said, “I only want to be good enough to be able to beat Bob Ryland.”

Whenever I speak to Bob, he compliments me on all the good work I’m doing, and I say, “I’m just trying to improve every day and make a difference in the world.”

Then he yells at me.

“Stop ‘TRYING,’ just do it! You ARE doing it! Eliminate that word from your vocabulary.”

He’s right.

There’s no such thing as “trying” to do something.

You either do or you don’t.

Thank you, Bob Ryland.


Speaking with Bob Ryland at Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education in Philadelphia

As we close out Black History Month, my thoughts are with a good friend of mine, Bob Ryland, the first black professional tennis player.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Bob was Arthur Ashe’s hero. In fact, when Arthur Ashe was 14, he said, “I only want to be good enough to be able to beat Bob Ryland.”

Bob has taught tennis to the Williams sisters, Barbra Streisand, Bill Cosby and many others in his career. I recently had lunch in New York City with the living legend and every time is like the first time. What impresses me about Ryland is that even though he lived through segregation, he stays one of the most optimistic people I know.

You think it’s hard to play tournament tennis nowadays?

I remember when Bob told me about a time when he got accepted into a tournament in California because of his high ranking. But once he arrived, and the tournament director saw that he was black, Ryland was told to “Go get some lunch and come back.”

When he returned, the tournament director said that his opponent showed up and Ryland wasn’t here, so he was disqualified. Of course, this was intentional because of the color of his skin.

Ryland also frequently was pulled over by the police for no reason. There were blacks strung up on trees and also dragged down the street when he was a young boy. He lived through hell.

Bob Ryland could easily be bitter and angry at those situations, but he isn’t. According to him, “It is what it is.”

Much of life is not what happens to us, but how we react.

I am proud to say that Bob Ryland is a dear friend, hero and role model. Bob will be 91 years young this June 16th and you can be sure he will be around the Central Park Tennis Courts once the weather warms up.

Many people say, “Be like Mike.” Today, I say, “Be like Bob.”

Thanks for reading.


Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Nancy Johanson in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Magic is pretty simple: It’s practice, it’s training and it’s experimenting while pushing through the pain to be the best I can be.”

Magic is not unlike sports, or life, for that matter.

David Blaine was not “born” to be a magician. He was “trained” to be one. As a young boy, Blaine was intrigued by Houdini. Magic became his passion. Then he got to work. He began training.

Blaine took the time to practice, he trained, he experimented and pushed through the pain.

Whether you’re a tennis player, chef, or business owner, you need to do the same.

Last night I spoke with my good friend Bob Ryland, who was the first black professional tennis player. He was also Arthur Ashe’s hero and coached the Williams sisters. Bob told me that the first time he saw the Williams sisters, he didn’t think they were talented.

But guess what?

They worked hard.

Harder than anybody.

And they got results.

And you can do the same.


MESSAGE #1016 BE INFLUENTIAL (If you want)

I am currently reading the latest issue of Time magazine, entitled, “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”

I like to think that I will be in that issue one day; not because I want to say that I have that title, but because I truly want to make as big of a difference in the world that I can.

And you can too.

I know what you’re thinking, “What if I don’t want to be an influential figure? What if I’m happy with what I have?”

Then by all means, continue with what you are doing.

But the wrong mindset is that it is not possible. It is possible.

It won’t happen overnight, but if you figure out the right strategy, put in the work and truly have a passion for it…the sky’s the limit.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a tennis player, musician or accountant; you have unlimited potential.

My friend Bob Ryland, the first black professional tennis player used to coach the Williams sisters, and the first thing I ever asked him was, “Were they more talented than everyone else?”

“No, in fact I didn’t think they were talented at all at first, but they worked harder than anyone else (from 6am-6pm, with breaks of course).”

Yes, talent and physicality help, however, they are not the determining factors.

Remember, ANYBODY can count the number of seeds in an apple; NOBODY can count the number of apples in a seed.

Your potential is unlimited.


So today I went into the city to spend some time with my friend, the great Bob Ryland, the first black professional tennis player and Arthur Ashe’s hero. We had a great lunch with tennis pro Fred Weiland and then Bob and I walked over to the Central Park Tennis Courts and talked to some people, including Caroline, who runs the courts, about Bob and me giving a talk there.

On my way up to the city, I got a message on Facebook from Ben Sturner, CEO of Leverage Agency, one of the top sports and entertainment agencies in the world. Ben invited me to his gorgeous office, filled with sports memorabilia on Fifth Ave. My schedule allowed, so I stopped by.

Ben and I were sitting in his office talking about when I could talk to his team about goal-setting. And then he said, how about today?

“Let’s do it,” I said.

I didn’t have anything prepared, but I have spent my whole career preparing.

As a speaker, the last thing I want to do is rely on my notes. My goal is to speak from the heart and as a result, I know the material better and can give impromptu talks like today in New York City.

How can this help you?

1. Know your stuff.
2. Be brave (and flexible) enough to perform in a moments notice.
3. Give it your all, whether you feel like it or not.
4. Never turn down an opportunity to share your knowledge and improve your craft.
5. Help others.

Thanks for reading.


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“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.”

Last night I attended “BID TO BUILD UGANDA,” a silent auction and WARDANCE film showing in Princeton, organized by Yoga for Unity, and its founder, Kristen Boccumini. Boccumini has already raised $20,000 for this cause and plans on going to Uganda in February to help out.

In Uganda, there has been a civil war going on for 20 years.

“They live in conditions unimaginable to us always living in fear. Rebels come in the night and steal the children away, forcing boys to join and kill even their own family members while the girls are forced into sex slavery.”

The film, WARDANCE told us about five year old boys raising their three year old sisters. And babies born with HIV and dying soon after.

But luckily the children have a distraction – music and dance.

This moving film shows one tribe’s quest to become the best performers in all of Uganda.

Their instructors kept talking about “mood” and the importance of smiling. When they are playing music and dancing, all of their troubles vanish. Life is good.

They worked hard. “We are going to show them that we are giants.”

Remember David and Goliath?

The competition consisted of eight categories and they, the Potango tribe, ended up winning the Traditional Dance category. They were the first ones to ever bring home a trophy.

Nobody expected them to win, but they worked hard and believed in themselves.

“Even though we live in the war zone, we can still do great things in life.”

You may not live in the war zone, but you may have some adversity in your life. You may face challenges. The right attitude will determine what type of results you get.

Bob Ryland lived through segregation. He thought, “It is what it is. You can’t do anything about it.” But Ryland is one of the most optimistic people I know.

You should have seen the smiles on the children of Uganda when they were singing and dancing.

If Bob Ryland and the children of Uganda can smile in adverse situations, I think we have it pretty good. I know I will never complain again.

Don’t count the days, make the days count.

Thanks for reading.


“Everyone faces mental challenges on the court. The key to overcoming them is to zero in on what is within your ability and ignore the rest.”
-NICK SAVIANO, author of “Maximum Tennis”

Back on June 10th, I did a radio show, entitled “Sport is Life” with Bob Ryland (the first black professional tennis player), Carling Bassett-Seguso (former world #8 WTA tour), Denise Capriati (mother of Jennifer Capriati), and Linda Courier (mother of Jim Courier).

During that show, Linda and Denise talked about a sports psychologist that helped Jim win four grand slams and also worked with Jennifer. This sports psychologist worked with Joe Montana, Whitey Ford and all the greatest athletes of the past century.

I was intrigued and asked Linda who this was. It turns out this sports psychologist was the late Father Joe DiSpenza. So I did some research and couldn’t find anything about this supposed mental toughness pioneer. No books. Very little trace. But then I saw that the great Nick Saviano, one of the top tennis coaches in the world, wrote about Father Joe DiSpenza in the acknowledgements of his book, “Maximum Tennis.”

So I called Nick.

Nick and I had a great conversation and he told me about Father DiSpenza. Supposedly, the deal was that Father DiSpenza would work with you, so long as you didn’t tell anyone. He didn’t want any publicity. And he didn’t accept payment. Travelling all over the world, Father DiSpenza was a sought-after speaker making a lot of money, most of which went to the charities that he founded. He lived a modest life. He just wanted to help others.

But here’s the sad part. When Father DiSpenza became sick and eventually passed away in 1992, he had all of his information destroyed.

I totally respect the fact that Father DiSpenza did not want any publicity or payment for his work. But why burn all of the research in your life’s work? Why not write a book and share it with others? I don’t know, perhaps he wanted others to figure it out on their own. I’m sure he had a good reason.

The principles in Chapter 7 of Nick Saviano’s “Maximum Tennis” is a direct influence of the late, great Father Joe DiSpenza.

13 Psychological Secrets of the Champions

1. Focus only on those things that you can control and disregard the rest.
2. Winning is not the number-one goal when you are competing.
3. Emphasize performance goals to achieve outcome goals.
4. Cultivate intrinsic motivation and de-emphasize extrinsic motivation.
5. Stay in the present.
6. Project a powerful, positive presence.
7. Engage in positive self-talk.
8. Breathe.
9. If you can’t visualize it, chances are it will not become a reality.
10. Maintain your routines.
11. Don’t make it personal.
12. It’s okay to be nervous; just don’t be afraid.
13. Practice under pressure.

The greatest athletes in history used some or all of the principles above. Your physical skills will take a while to develop, but you can instantly become better by using the same mental secrets that the champions use.

Thanks for reading.