Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Hollie Holcombe.

Earlier today, I spoke to about 40 young basketball players at Nick DiPillo’s Spring Break Skills Camp. A key point I brought up was that failure was inevitable. Everyone fails. It’s part of the process.

Michael Jordan got cut from his basketball team in high school, but he didn’t give up.

Thomas Edison failed over 10,000 times when trying to invent the lightbulb.

Babe Ruth hit the most home runs, but he also had the most strikeouts. And each time The Babe failed, he said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

How does this relate to you? Let me put it to you this way…


Bounce back today!


Recently, I was speaking with a club manager and he mentioned that many parents today are too protective of their children. Parents want their children to be perfect—they don’t want them to fail.

Is this really helpful to the child?

Is this the mindset we want our children to have?

First of all, there’s no such thing as perfect. In fact, successful people fail the most.

If you’re not failing, you’re not taking risks. You’re not working hard enough.

Remember Zeke Bonura back in Message #1268? If not, click here.

Zeke Bonura had one of the highest fielding percentages in pro baseball, but that was because he didn’t try for any balls that he might miss.

Is this how we want to live?

There is a reason why you didn’t recognize the name Zeke Bonura.

Henry Ford went bankrupt five times while trying to develop businesses…eventually the Ford Motor Company was built.

Soichiro Honda applied for a job as an engineer for Toyota Motor Corporation but did not get the job and was unemployed for quite some time…eventually he began making scooters out of his home and started his own company.

Bill Gates failed out of college, and his first business, Traf-O-Data failed as well…eventually he started Microsoft.

Ever heard of the name Walt Disney?…he was fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

So all of you parents, future parents, coaches and athletes…

Embrace failure, for it is where we learn the most. In fact, don’t even call it failure, call it feedback.

I hope you fail today.


The other day I was coaching on a court next to another pro. This pro used to be a top junior and collegiate player, so he obviously can play the game. But just because someone can play doesn’t mean they can coach, does it?

In education, there are many intelligent individuals, but does that mean they are great teachers? The answer is no.

From my court, I heard a mis-hit, a ball off the frame of the racquet, by one of this coach’s students. There’s nothing wrong with that. But then I heard the coach yell, “Great shot!”

I looked over to see who he was talking to, and sure enough, he was talking to the boy who made the error.

It’s important to be positive, but it has to be real. You can’t just say “Great shot!” for the sake of saying it. That doesn’t help the student. As coaches, perhaps we can change that and say, “Great swing, but make sure you watch the ball longer next time,” to maximize our students’ improvement.

I have a business partner who tells me how it is, regarding our projects, whether I want to hear it or not. Most people don’t like hearing the truth, especially if it hurts. But guess what? I love hearing the truth. I would rather hear it and learn from it than have someone just telling me what I want to hear in order to make me feel good.

And parents, focus less on telling your children how beautiful they are and start telling them how proud you are of their effort and constant improvement.

That’s how winners are made.

But that’s just my opinion.

Leave your comments below.


Let’s face it, most people play a reactionary game.

When they play well, they react positively.

When they play poorly, they react negatively.

The champions create how they play.

Here’s a great exercise to help you play your best game more often:

1. Think of a past great performance.
2. On an index card, write down what you did well during that performance.
3. Write down what you were focusing on.
4. Write down how you were feeling.
5. Write down what type of body language you had.
6. Keep that index card in your bag.
7. Read it before you practice or compete.
8. Then go out and duplicate that performance.


There will be a time in the near future when you will be stressed out.

The stress might come from the pressure of a sports competition. It may come from an exam. Or it may come from asking for a raise.

We can’t avoid stress.

But we can avoid being paralyzed by it.

There is a powerful technique I have the athletes I work with use when the pressure is on, and it can help you too.

Here’s what you do:

1. Take a deep, diaphragmatic breath, inhale through your nose for four seconds then exhale through your nose for four seconds.

2. Repeat.

3. Think of a game plan (no more than two things).

4. Visualize yourself carrying out that game plan successfully.

5. Just do it.


Many athletes and coaches focus on doing something until it’s automatic. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes this is bad.

I recently read about a study at McDonald’s restaurants. Researchers had many people in different locations go to a McDonald’s restaurant and ask for only an order of french fries. Not a very interesting study so far, but…

63 percent of the McDonald’s employees responded, “Do you want fries with that?”

Do you want fries with your fries?

The employees were conditioned to ask that question, even though it made no sense.

Sometimes automatic is bad.

What if you only practice under perfect conditions? What if you only practice against the same people?

You won’t be able to perform outside of your “vacuum.”

Be mindful when you practice.

When I train tennis players, I purposely hit them different types of shots, different types of spin and different types of speed. I even hit different types of tennis balls once in a while, that bounce differently, just to keep the players honest.

Training should be purposeful, not just so you “look good.”

Think about it.


We all get mental blocks. And we all need to overcome these blocks.

Imagine driving across the country from New York to California…with your emergency break on.

Many athletes go through their entire careers like that.

The problem is most people want to win, but they don’t want to get out of their comfort zone.

For all you athletes, amateur and professional, here’s my tip:

The best way to win more is to forget about winning.

During practice you need to THINK.

During competition you need to DO.

Play your game and trust your game.


My friend, Dr. Rob Gilbert is a sport psychologist who once asked the great boxing trainer, Teddy Atlas how he taught boxers how to overcome fear. Atlas said that boxing is like war. There are two types of soldiers: heros and the cowards. The difference between them is not fear itself, but how each deal with the fear.

The hero feels the fear and moves towards it.

The coward feels the fear and moves away from it.

The key is doing what you need to do, when you need to do it, whether you feel like it or not.

The more you move towards your fear, the more comfortable you will be with it.

Fear has no control over you, unless you let it.