My Tennis Doubles Partner is Driving Me Crazy. Help!!!

Most of us have a list of things that push our buttons on and off the court:

  • The Lob Queens,
  • The partner who’s constantly “coaching” you on the court,
  • The Chatter Box,
  • The Exploder,
  • Kids forgetting their homework.
  • Partners not appreciating you…

Unfortunately, “button pushers” get a bad rap. They’re considered rude, inconsiderate,

disrespectful, intrusive, self-absorbed and insensitive. They are the difficult people in life.

No one wants to play doubles with them, teachers send them to the principal’s office,

team captains pull their hair out and bosses fire them.


I see it differently. I believe my job as a coach, a partner and a parent is to model and

manage when my buttons are being pushed. In addition, my job is to help those in

relationship to me to uncover their own buttons and manage their response. Handling

your buttons is a huge step in developing your mental tennis game.


I welcome my buttons being pushed. Why? I’ve found that the best at anything – tennis,

public speaking, sales or surgery, have the fewest buttons and the ones they have are

really hard to find.


It’s not to say that these folks never had buttons to begin with. More than likely the best

at responding unnerved an detached are those who have worked hard to find their

buttons, who’ve grappled with them, and have wrestled with them, have reflected on

them and have consciously worked to shift how they behave and respond to feedback.

The key here is “response.” In tough situations, lots of individuals react. Those who have

“worked on their buttons” respond to situations.


Attempting to protect ourselves (and our kids) from button-pushers is to do ourselves

(and them) a disservice. Our tennis opponents are all about pushing our buttons. The

more buttons we discover within ourselves and the more we learn how to manage them,

the better we will be under pressure.


So how do you know a button has been pushed? Here are classic signs:

  • Getting angry and upset at someone’s behavior.
  • Feeling annoyed by something.
  • Being rebuffed, spurned, made fun of, humiliated.
  • Feeling taken advantage of.
  • Feeling unappreciated, unimportant or devalued.
  • Feeling falsely or unfairly accused.
  • Feeling unnerved by a comment or action.

Typically when one of our buttons gets pushed it sends us down an unwelcome path of

anger, hurt or withdrawal. Unfortunately, these old patterns and reactions do not allow us

to learn about ourselves.


Remember, when a button gets pushed, you just discovered another area for growth and

that’s cause for celebration. So instead of reacting when a button gets pushed, stop,

breathe and reflect. Stay calm! Don’t get furious; get curious. Cool off before you say

anything and respond rather than react.


Imagine your team’s demeanor beginning with you. Your poise, your presence, your

posture and your response will model and set the tone for growth and reduce the impact

of their buttons being pushed.


My advice, welcome button pusher moments into your life. They can strengthen your

mental game for tennis and for life.