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Needham, MA 02492




My 10-year-old daughter takes a mighty swing and miss at a ball that bounces five feet over her head.

She glares at me.

“Why can’t you not spin the ball?”


We’re taking tennis lessons together, and I’m hitting the ball too hard (too tall?) for her.

“Everyone else works for years to learn to spin the ball,” she says, “but you, you put spin on it no matter what.”

Funny thing – when I play against her I’ve been intentionally and consciously NOT spinning the ball as much – apparently not enough.

We start a mock game, me against her and Coach Pete.

Coach Pete lobs a few balls my way, and my daughter gets competitively indignant.

“Coach Pete, can you really play?”


She poked the bear.

Coach Pete’s next shot screams low over the net at an impossibly sharp angle that nicks the far line and embeds itself in the side fence.

I don’t bother taking a step.

He hadn’t even been trying.

I’m super competitive, so I’m ready when he hits that same shot a second time.

I sprint as fast as I can to my backhand, fling my racquet out in the best impression I can muster of the two handed backhand swing he’s been teaching me, and send a fairly decent shot back in his direction.

I start to congratulate myself, then realize I’m in trouble – deep trouble – and start sprinting as fast as I can back towards my forehand.

It’s a thing of beauty. The ball rises gently over the net, then darts down at the other impossibly sharp angle, skittering past the baseline still five of my running steps away from the scant two I’ve completed. 

I stop mid-court.

Coach Pete lobs me ball to start the next point that’s perfect placed for my forehand, and I attempt NOT to spin it too hard as I hit it towards my daughter.

And it gets me thinking about your Elevator Pitch.

Because your expertise is overwhelming.

Coach Pete played tennis professionally for years.

But he (usually) hits me balls I can hit.

He ratchets it up as I get better.

But he didn’t start by showing off his expertise.

You shouldn’t either.

Because it scares people off.

They don’t understand it.

Your Elevator Pitch should be easy and gentle and right in their wheelhouse.

Something they can manage.

Something they can talk about.

Something they can, yes, understand.

You can prove your expertise later.

Once they’re comfortable – once they know you can help them.

You can push them to be better – once you’ve established a baseline of working together.

So cut the jargon, and the passion, and the five year plan from your Elevator Pitch.

Stick with the basics.

Toss them a lob they can handle.

You can prove your expertise later.

2 comments on “Overspin

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