I play tennis about four times weekly in leagues, clinics and hitting. In clinics, tennis balls are all over, and that means you need a ball hopper to pick up balls and dump back into the coach’s wheeled cart.
The balls are scattered; like stars in a galaxy. There’s no rhyme or reason how to pick up tennis balls efficiently. As I gaze around the courts, I deduce the best strategy to get the most balls in the least amount of time so I can resume drills.
Stay with me here…
1. If a single ball has landed all alone off to the side, I ignore it. I see some players use their racquet to flick all the balls into the general vicinity of other balls grouped in back corners. I’d rather head to the area of highest concentration to pick up the most balls in a grouping. If I flick all the balls toward a corner from other areas of the court, it’s like playing marbles — there’s no guarantee the ball rolls nicely to land next to its cousin. And, why waste my energy flicking balls with my racquet? That’s expended fuel I need for playing time!
2. If some balls are off to the right and some are off to the left at the back of the court, I select a logical division point and pick up one ball and proceed towards the grouping with most balls together. As I play with a variety of ages of women, some don’t have enough arm muscle to carry a heavy ball hopper, or turtle speed is preferred when picking up balls because they just don’t like it.
3. The ball hopper is steel with open gaps in the bottom. When you push the handles of the hopper down on top of a ball, it squeezes into the hopper and pops up into the bottom. Here’s the rub…I’ve tried to pick up three balls at a time with the hopper, but invariably something goes awry. Three just isn’t efficient because I add an extra step to capture the ball that squeezed away. Picking up two at a time is perfect; goes smoothly, and I can get into a rhythm and be done faster.
Tennis Balls and Your Business
When you read the items above, did you begin to see a correlation with tennis balls and your business? Let me help:
1. When you try to rush through an exercise without methodical planning and execution, something will become chaotic or a crisis which sets you down an unplanned path.
Do use thoughtful strategy when planning a campaign or growth goals.
2. Is your team handpicked with high energy? Do they contribute to your business with the same level of knowledge and expertise so you can realize your growth goals?
Do examine your human assets and ensure they’re right for your business longterm.
3. How frequently do you permit yourself or your team to get pulled off track to an interesting tangent that looks juicy until you dive in?
Don’t waste time on programs that take you off goal. Stay the course and only add additional programs/tasks when they directly benefit your opportunity.
4. Think about how you approach a problem; better yet, think about the solution you execute to solve that problem. If the balls are scattered in all directions (like so many balls in the air), think carefully how you will approach each ball to address it independently or as a grouped situation.
If one situation, person or ball is screaming loudly, step back and assess the situation and see how best to manage it in a streamlined fashion.
Business owners, whether startups or 10-year-old companies, need to remember that how you pick up a tennis ball provides a thoughtful look at how to grow a business. Can you see that analogy?