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Can Tennis Help You Grow Up? The Wisdom Of Emilio Sanchez.


One of the world’s greatest champions looks back at a life in tennis, how he got into the game (by accident) and how he has progressed to become a coach and mentor to young hopefuls attending his academy in Barcelona. Emilio has a few surprising insights to share about winning – and losing. Sometimes it’s hard to say which we should value more. Watch him explain in his own words.

Which Is More Character Forming, Winning Or Losing? The Answer Isn’t That Obvious.

We recently interviewed world tennis champion Emilio Sanchez at his tennis academy in Barcelona. He brought up the very real issue of losing an important game and what we should do with that.


Emilio SanchezEmilio Sanchez


You win some, you lose some and that is just the nature of a game. A bet wouldn’t be a bet unless someone could lose something. You can’t be a stakeholder in something unless you actually have something at stake. These are the simple, obvious truths known to any sports person who walks out on the tennis court and begins to play in a competition. It’s wonderful to win. It’s not so wonderful to lose. But is that actually true?


Emilio believes that tennis, like any competitive sport, can teach us a lot. Not only do we progress physically and mentally, we also have an opportunity to develop emotionally. “Tennis is a university for life, it teaches commitment, endurance and a capacity to bounce back’.

Emilio Sanchez playing TennisEmilio Sanchez playing Tennis


You cannot win every game, every time, constant success is a fantasy. But it’s interesting to look at how some of life’s greatest setbacks can incite enormous gains. As Albert Einstein once remarked, “failure is success in progress”. It’s a difficult concept to grapple with when we live is such a perfectionist culture but it’s worth recalling Michael Jordan’s story of his own progress in his career. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots, lost 300 games, been trusted and missed the game’s winning shot 26 times. I’ve failed over and over – and that’s why I succeed.” In other words, if we replace the word losing with learning, we begin to see a greater purpose in defeat.


Emilio Sanchez celebratingEmilio Sanchez celebrating


For those with the soul to grasp it, losing an important match is awful, but it also builds character, resilience, determination and helps us to empathise with our opponent, the next time we win. Losing sucks, but it’s a great coach.


“All life is in tennis,” Emilio, observes. We think he has a point. What do you think?

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