I was in tennis boot camp last week. Granted, much easier than the military’s SERE school (and thankfully less deadly) since I made a huge mistake when I approached the net. All summer, my coach had been trying to teach me to split–take a small jump step–before hitting the ball for a winning shot. This requires perfect timing and, to both of our frustration, I couldn’t seem to implement grabbing my balance before I grabbed the shot. I knew it was a mental block and I tried to compensate by reading everything I could on how to do an ideal split step to no avail.
Friday, I was in a must-win point and against a team of players on a higher team. My partner and I were about to win when I rushed the approach shot and tanked the ball into the net. In my head, I heard my coach’s frustrated yell, “SPLIT!” Finally, all he had been trying to teach me made sense. I had wasted my opportunity through haste and it was a bitter teachable moment.
I apologized to my partner and she was generous enough to tell me to relax and to take it as a good learning experience. It reminded me of a line Mr. Parks said in SUNDIAL, “there are no mistakes only lessons” and it also reminded me that great teachers live on through the minds of their students.