How a Marshmallow Predicted Success

In 1984, there was a now-famous experiment conducted that involved 4-year-olds that were all given a marshmallow.  The researchers left the room but before they did told the kids that if they would wait 15 minutes each child could have two marshmallows instead of one.  The wait was too painful for 80% of the kids as they downed the marshmallow right away but for the last 20%, they enjoyed an extra one when the researchers came back.  12 years later, things got interesting.  The same kids in the experiment that was now in high school were tracked by the researchers to see if there was any difference between them.  Believe it or not, there was.  The kids that 12 years ago showed more self-discipline to not eat the marshmallow right away scored an average of 210 points better on the SAT.  Overall, their involvement in after school programs, sports, and academic success was all higher as well.  This is a great example of how one habit can lead to others working as well.

Why New Workouts Don’t Work As You Think

We have heard it many times.  A friend or colleague boasts about a new workout plan they do that has helped them cut out weight.  This is incorrect.  The only thing research has concluded about workouts and losing weight is that you eat MORE than you did before, which basically cancels the calories you burned in the workout.  So what gives?  What people fail to see is that a workout plan is more than just a workout.  It’s called a keystone habit.  A keystone habit is one where if done regularly, can impact other habits as well.  For example, if you workout on a regular basis, you are more opt to sleep and eat better which are key components of weight loss.  As you can see, workouts do not directly make you lose weight but they help institute new habits that will be the foundation of good health.

How a Keystone Habit Can Change Your Tennis Game

As tennis players, we are always looking for tips to use on the court to ensure a better performance.  Instead of having a huge “toolbox” of tips, try to have one habit you always do when playing tennis.  For example, an instructor that I taught under who coached top women tennis players in the world would make his players count each skip while jump roping up to 500 before they would even hit a ball.  The players would complain and not see why but in the end they realized what it did for them.  The focus and attention needed to count your skips to 500 is the same degree needed when playing a match.  When you start working out with that intensity, you can transfer it easily to the tennis court.  Focusing leads to better shot selection, strategy, and overall awareness of the game.  Try to pick something that will allow this type of “domino effect” to happen in other important aspects of your tennis game.  By doing this, you may be surprised of some other positive “side effects” that transpire off the court as well!