Sunday, August 20, 2006

D.F. Wallace on Federer

I played some tennis in high school. I never made the varsity squad (I was robbed), and I lost a lot. But as with my golf game (now abandoned for political reasons), my enemy was myself. To explain: I always felt that I only rarely achieved my potential as a player, and therefore when I lost , it (usually) wasn't that my opponent bested me, but because I had not played at my peak level. I enjoyed the game for the moments at which I was playing well, a feeling sweetened by every game lost on an unforced error. Potential achieved contrasted with potential hinted at, I was driven by an urge for self-actualization. Perhaps my fatal flaw was that hypersensitivity to my errors which often rattled me. I've said it before: I only get mad when I play tennis and golf.

It's a psychological can of worms that I'll likely spend time on away from here, but in the meantime, check out David Foster Wallace's article on Roger Federer (and the modern tennis game in general) in the NYTimes. He's one of my favorite authors, and his genius is on display here, footnotes (there are 17 of them) and all. Nothing less than a joy to read, and more inspiration to focus on reducing those unforced errors.


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