Sunday, December 13, 2009

Book Review: The Winner's Mind

"The Winner's Mind" is a Winner
Is tennis primarily about "winning" or "having fun and learning"? Or both, or something else, or all the above? And how about matters beyond tennis, such as life itself?

Ultimately, that is, of course, probably for you to decide...

Meanwhile, this book, The Winner's Mind, by Allen Fox, Ph.D., and as stated by the publisher: "acknowledg[es] the conventional wisdom that "winning isn't everything," [but] takes the position that winning is still eminently preferable to losing and lays out a step-by-step plan for succeeding at any of life's endeavors." In short, while fun, learning and growth are indeed critical to our games and our life, this book goes on to present a well-thought argument about the value and reality of "winning" and a formula for most of us "non-champions" to better achieve it.

Fox, a psychologist and former successful business executive, is a former world-class tennis player, ranked No. 4 in the world, and a Quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, and later a coach at top-ranked Pepperdine University. In crisp and pointed language, rich with historical and recent examples, he lays out a case why we all have a genetic and learned need to compete and advance, and what factors typically block or restrict our path to "winning".

In a stunning example at the beginning of the book, he mentions a revealing study made of World War II fighter pilots which revealed that only about 5% of U.S. fighter pilots were responsible for shooting down enemy planes. What were the other 95% of our pilots doing? They were, of course, being shot down by the 5% of the enemy fighter pilots. The point? Only about 5% of us in the population possess an exceptional level of the "winner's" competitor's fire and formula.

He then goes on to study and outline the common characteristics of people he calls "habitual winners" in tennis and other walks of life...what do they share in common?

And in the heart of the book, Fox argues how all of the us, namely the rest of "non-champions", can model or employ many of these characteristics to better attain victory in our own games and lives.

This is a self-help book with a tennis flavor, but with valuable insights into ideas and strategies such as goal setting (short-term and long-term), the power of boundless energy - mental and physical, the assumption that all problems have solutions, and the value of constantly evaluating, adjusting and changing what we do.

Highly suggested.

Best, Gary

The Winner's Mind, Allen Fox, Ph.D.,(2005) on

1 comment:

  1. Nice review Gary. I'm so glad you decided to do this blog. You truly have much to contribute to the tennis community.

    One more seems that some people would suggest that not making winning on the tennis court (at least by conventional standards of scorekeeping) the only priority somehow diminishes a person as a competitor. Probably much like you, I have been a competitor in the workforce for over 30 years since no one ever beat a path to my door and asked me to work for them. I have "competed" in three different careers and have been relatively successful in all. I would hardly say that my somewhat cavalier attitude towards the final score in a non-relevant tennis match tags me as a non-competitive person.

    Again, great review. So many books to little time.