Three Words with ...
We were fortunate enough to be able to sit down with tennis great, shoe icon and all-round nice guy Stan Smith, who shared some valuable insights into what he believes it takes to be successful.
First up, you have to have commitment and you have to have a passion for the game. A love for the game. All the great players have been passionate about trying to get the most they can out of their talents.
I had four goals when I was 16: To become a member of the US Davis Cup team, be number one in the United States, win Wimbledon and be number one in the world. I refer to them as dream goals, because at that time I was just a very average, young player.
Those helped drive me along the way. From that point forward, everything I did was about trying to reach those goals.
Preparation really involves learning the technique of the sport and then, obviously, being physically prepared. Another goal I had when I was about 20 was be fitter than the other guy on the other side of the net in the fifth set of the finals at Wimbledon.
Everything I did was to prepare myself for that moment. I did more running, I did more sit-ups, I did more rope jumping. I practiced my serve more. I was motivated to try and get the very most out of my ability.
I finally got to the finals at Wimbledon. I got to the fifth set, playing against John Newcombe and I lost, but I didn’t lose because I was tired. The next year I got to the finals of Wimbledon again and again it went to the fifth set, playing against Ilie Năstase and I won that match.
Either match could have gone either way. The point is that physically, I was prepared because of those goals I had from when I was very young.
The mental side of the game is also affected by the physical side. If you are as fit as you can be, then you’re not going to panic if you lose the first sets in a Grand Slam event. You know that you can hang in there.
You just have to change your game plan a little bit, but physically you’re able to do it.
Finally, I’d say that you always need a balance in your life. I have faith in God, and my family and friends are so important to me. Tennis is important to me, too, but it’s not my whole life.
Whether you’ve won Wimbledon, become world number one, your shoes have been selling or the book has been selling, all these different things are parts of your life.
If you’re totally one-dimensional and focus too much on just one of these things like being a player, writing, or being number one, then you’re going to be disappointed down the road. Perspective is key.