by Darrin Schenck


by Darrin Schenck


Here is something to consider for yourself:

The degree to which a person can grow is directly proportional to the amount of truth he can accept about himself without running away.”               LeLand Val Van De Wall

I am going to have to say that this is a harsh reality, and one that most people would struggle with.  It is difficult to hear about your own weaknesses; the ones that are blatantly apparent are tough enough, but when you start to hear things about yourself that you were unaware of, well…  Allow me to expand using yet another racquetball analogy:

When I trying to compete at the highest level of the game of racquetball, I was faced with a career-altering choice.  I reached a crossroad.  I was faced with admitting that I had maxxed out my own level of knowledge and physical ability, and was as good as I was going to get.  I hit my own ceiling.  I got this far by aggregating as much knowledge as I could from a multitude of resources throughout my climb up the proverbial food chain of the sport.  This eclectic approach served me well until this point, and my game style was crafted around what I thought was the “best pieces of knowledge from a variety of players with successful track records.”  Without any real formal coaching of any kind since first beginning in the sport, it was the next best thing to do.

Then I met someone with a radically different approach, and a former number one ranking to prove this approach was viable.  Oddly enough, Andy and I were physically about as opposite as you could get.  He was six feet two and a big, solid build.  He was one of the hardest hitters on tour, and by no means the fastest.  Was five seven and super quick, and certainly one of the slower hitters on the Tour.  And in the end, this turned out to be the best reason of all to start to play the game the way Andy played.  Coming up through the ranks, it never occurred to me to look at the big slow guy and emulate them.  I always watched the guys that were my size and very fast and tried to play the game the way they did.  Seemed logical, but I missed an important piece of the equation.

See, the difference Andy brought the court is why he was able to defeat players who were more athletic than he was.  And this is exactly what my game needed to become.  And here comes a significant amount of truth about my game that I made myself listen to without running away from…

I did everything the hard way.

Ultimately this was my biggest limiting factor and why I was stuck at #70 in the world, unlikely to move up much from there.  I had flashes of brilliance, but they were unsustainable against a top level player.  I could not put enough good rallies in a row together to win a game, let alone a whole match against the top level players.  Andy sat me down and told me this, and it stung to say the least.  Then he proved it in two very distinct ways, and I had three choices from that point forward:

  1. Do nothing different, and deal with having reached my peak.
  2. Be unwilling to do the work to change, and quit.  Step away from the game.
  3. Swallow my pride, take two steps backwards for the chance to go five steps forward.

I knew that tearing down and rebuilding my game this late in my career would be difficult.  Turns out that was an understatement.  It was a MAJOR undertaking, and it took a while to really get my feet back under me.  I spent a summer of working just on my footwork patterns alone.  I went to tournaments stuck in the awful gray area of not understanding what I should be doing, but too far along to go back.  I felt like I had stumbled into a dark tunnel and I just had to keep feeling my way forward in the darkness.  I committed to not going back, and following this new path to wherever it would take me.  It was difficult to say the least, and I had some of my worst losses on Tour during this transition.  I got laughed at, ridiculed by my peer competitors at times.  In retrospect, I was probably doing something that to a large degree was not done before, or at least not attempted often.  It came down to this: Did I have the fortitude to stick it out?

I did.  I stuck it out, I went through the hard times, and I kept myself from running away every time  another dose of truth was dispensed.  Every time I went to Memphis to spend time with Andy I had to face the harsh truth that I was not a complete player.  He would smash me in every practice match and then we would go back to his house and watch the video of it, picking apart everything I did wrong.  It became obvious why he was able to beat me so easily.  There was a game where I hit what I considered 7 perfect lob serves and still lost 11-6.  But then I watched that game on video and realized that I could have hit two dozen perfect serves and still lost.  My strengths did not hold up at the highest level, and that is what I ultimately wanted to change.  I wanted to be among the very best, uncommon even among uncommon men, as David Goggins would put it.

Because I made myself hear the truth about my game without running away, I was able to reach the top 20 in the world.  I never would have done this without Andy’s help, and I am eternally grateful for this.  I have written other blogs about more of this process, so I am sticking with the theme of this blog.  I am proud of myself for sticking this out, as it changed the trajectory of my life.  Being able to hear uncomfortable truths about myself has had amazing benefits for other facets of my life as well.  I cannot stress enough how important this is, a skill you have to cultivate if you really want to progress.

Now keep in mind, you must align yourself with someone that truly knows what they are talking about when they are giving you advice.  You need to ensure you don’t end up a cult member or the victim of someone who is taking advantage of you.  Do your homework.  But if you can find yourself with a mentor willing to open the door to the next level of whatever you are pursuing, go all in.  It could be the shortcut that you never could see on your own.  If you can teach yourself to handle more and more truth about yourself without running away, you will be better for it.

Being willing to sacrifice who you are, for who you may become.


I wish you luck in your endeavors.


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