How to be an elite competitor

Aaron King (00:02):

Welcome back to the modern old school training podcast. I'm Aaron King. And today I'm joined with Dick Stockton and this is a special moment for me because you've got a history with the B K and a lot of the training


Dick Stockton (00:15):

I do back, you were probably in diapers when I first started training with your dad. And you know, I, look, I look back on that. So fondly, because I, I look at right now cause I, I still do the exercises that he and Kevin taught me 30 years ago. I do a little program. I literally do it every single day. And I look back on my, my, my playing career in tennis and, and, and I wished that I had known that stuff 40 50 years ago when I was playing. And, and cause I, I honestly feel I'm in better shape now than when I was playing as a professional tennis player. And it's all because of your dad. How


Aaron King (00:58):

Did you guys get into it again?


Dick Stockton (01:00):

A friend of mine in Dallas who was a member of T-bar and racket club came to me one day and he said, you gotta come with me and, and meet coach King. And I said, who's that? And he said, well, he's, he's a strength coach for the Mavericks and assistant strength coach for the, for the Cowboys. And, and he's, he's got me on a great program. And I said, I thought I had no interest in lifting weights or doing, he said, just come with me and meet him and see what he has to say, which I did. And now I'm still doing all that same stuff.


Aaron King (01:31):

Back in the day, there were a lot of unknowns about training. Even with the Mavericks, there was confusion about whether or not it would mess up your shot. If you did bench press and started lifting weights, guys thought maybe your shower would be off and basketball. I'm sure a lot of that happened in tennis, especially with tennis elbow and some of the stressors that you guys have on your bodies. It was, it was a big


Dick Stockton (01:53):

The issue in tennis. Really when we first started, when I was a little kid and hearing about, you know, work, you know, lifting weights and, and, and the consensus was that a tennis player would never do that because you don't want to bulk up. And so nobody ever did it though. And the only thing we would do as tennis players was, you know, you would run maybe some long distance, you would run sprints. The thing I always did more than anything else was jump rope. I always, I love that more than anything. I was, I hated running, but jumping rope, I would do. And the person who changed there was one person who changed that, that stigma about that. And that was Martina Navratilova. She was the first pro that I ever heard of who got into the gym and got herself.


Dick Stockton (02:43):

Cause she was kind of a dough girl when she first defected. And she, you know, she lived at McDonald's basically. And, and, and all of a sudden she had this coach from Fort worth named Mike [inaudible] and he got her in shape and, and in the gym basically forced Chris ever to do it. And then everybody else was doing it. And then the guy started doing it. And now it's if you go to a, a major, especially on a major championship and, and all the facilities have gyms there now and ended up players or are in the gym all day, they're there, you know, when they're not playing a match, they're working out and there, you know, not, they're spending more time in the gym, I would assume than they are in the tennis court. And that's not the way it used to be.


Aaron King (03:25):

It's changed so much over the years and not only the performance side but the technology, the rackets, you guys played with a totally different racket as they do now. What's something, you know, I, I played with it a little bit as a kid, you know, my mom playing tennis and teaching tennis with a wood racket. Do you, do you still hit much these days and what do you use and what do you think kind of,


Dick Stockton (03:48):

Yeah, I do hit for the past few years I would say I play at least three or four times a week. And you know, I had a hip replacement done about almost 11 years ago and, and you know, the first thing I asked them, I said, will I still be able to play tennis? And they said, Oh yeah, you'll be able to play doubles, but you won't be able to play singles. So when I play singles four or five times a week, I don't play many troubles. Yeah. And but the equipment has, has changed the game. Number one that is really cheap. And the other thing that's changed the game is the fitness off-court that the players do. And a lot of it you know, and I take this back to your dad because, you know, I was nervous about it.


Dick Stockton (04:36):

And, but he said, no, you don't, you know, it's going to be fine. And you'll find that you're going to be in better shape. Hopefully, we will be able to avoid some injuries because of what you're going to do here. But I'm going to design a program for you that is completely different than that guy, across the room who happens to be a football player. You are not going to do the same exercises or the same weights that he's doing, because it's not going to help you. We want to tone your body. We want to make it a little stronger and hopefully help you avoid injuries. That's it. And, you know, I don't know that I look any different than I did 40 years ago when I started working with him, but I know I feel better. I, you know, I feel stronger. My weight is actually, I actually weigh less now than I did when I was playing. And, you know, that's not the norm, but you know, it's, in my case, it's all because of a guy named Bob King. That's awesome. So don't let this go to your head, Bob. Yeah.


Aaron King (05:34):

Well, you'll definitely see this I pinged them earlier. We'll have to get them on a call or something to say hi. So you're currently coaching at a college, correct? Yes. So what kind of things you think you do that maybe give you all kind of an edge or something that you really put an emphasis on?


Dick Stockton (05:53):

Yeah, that, that is a really good question. And, and I know I'm coaching at a, at a small D three school in Northeastern, Georgia. It's called Piedmont college. Very, very good academic institution, but being D three, there are no athletic scholarships being D three. You cannot, I can't force my kids to do anything I can suggest, but you know, if you, if you suggest too much, they're just as likely to say, coach, I'm quitting the team. I, I don't want to do all that stuff. I don't have time to do it, blah, blah, blah, academics come first, and rightly so, it should come first. So when I interviewed for the job, I will never forget this. I was in my last interview with a day about four people in the, in sitting around a table. And, and one lady said to me, why, why are you the right person for this, for this job?


Dick Stockton (06:46):

And I said, to be honest, I don't know that I'm the right person for this job. Cause I have no idea who else has applied and what their credentials are. So all I can tell you is that I'm a good candidate for this job. I bring a lot to the table because of my experience as a player at the collegiate level, having been part a, of a national championship team, having been an NCA champion individually myself, and I've already coached at the Done level at the University of Virginia. So, you know, I have experienced that. I don't know whether anybody else has that kind of experience, but what I do with the kids more than anything else. And you know, and I do this on a daily basis, I don't really get on the court with them and try to correct their technique because I don't know what the correct technique Nick is anymore.


Dick Stockton (07:35):

They play a different game than I played. Hmm. They use different equipment. They use different grips on the racket that I wouldn't can't even imagine how I don't even how you even hit, make contact with the ball when you're holding, but, but they do it and they do it well, you know, I, you know, I look at the game and I think, you know, I've seen some pretty strict change what I would say, awkward techniques in my life. But yeah, but I feel that if, if you do anything long enough, it doesn't, it doesn't matter how you hold the right. You're going to get proficient at it. If you do, if you stick with it and you'll be okay. So I can't tell them that it has to be done this way, or it has to be done that way. I don't do that.


Dick Stockton (08:15):

But what I do on a daily basis, as I talk to them about the mental aspects of the game. Mm. Because I've been through it, right. There's nothing I haven't seen. It doesn't mean I was successful at it, but I've seen it. And I, and I know if you think about this, or you think about that, that that might help you be successful. And that's all I'm trying to, I'm trying to, as any coach, any coach's job is to put his players in a position where he has a chance and chances the keyword here, a chance to be successful. It doesn't mean it's going to work, but you're giving yourself an opportunity to succeed. And you know, some of the things I tell them as an example, I would say that you know, the best, the better tennis player doesn't always win. Right? Yeah. It doesn't happen.


Dick Stockton (09:04):

It doesn't because nobody's ever gone undefeated. I mean, as good as Roger Federer is, he's never gone undefeated for a year. Nobody has that I've ever seen. So how does he ever lose? Well, some days maybe he doesn't feel great or maybe some days the other guy's in the absolute zone against him and just can't miss a ball. But I said the only thing that really matters is can you compete? Can you be maybe a better competitor than your opponent? That if you are, that will give you a chance to maybe beat the guy who's higher right. Then you are because you out-competed him that day. And some days things are going to work out fine. And some days they're just not so deal with it, but you know, you gotta be a competitor. And, and it's so funny because literally just earlier this week, I was talking to them about that.


Dick Stockton (09:53):

I said, you know our nickname here, we're the Piedmont lions. I want our team to be warriors. I want each of you to be a warrior. Every time you go on the tennis court for your mat for a match, you know, can you compete so hard that you're a warrior. And then two days later at the Australian Open, Serena Williams, the greatest tennis woman, tennis player of all time lost a match where she was up five, one 40, 30 in the third set. Right. And I said to him, how many of you know what happened the other night? And they all, they all knew. I said, plus give a beat Serena. And I said, yeah, but how did she do that? She, you know, you know what she was that day? I said she was a warrior because she didn't quit until the umpire said, it's time you're done.


Dick Stockton (10:41):

Right. She didn't care that she was down five, one 40, 30. She hung in there. And I said, do you think that might have, if they were to play next week and Serena is up to five, one 40 30, and the third set, do you think Pliska is really going to come back and beat her again? Probably not, but you never know. The point is you never know unless you just compete from beginning to end. I said, listen, in my career, I've lost matches as Serina lost. And I've won matches like Pliskova wine. Not very often, but the point is you just don't know that's true. And until you just, you just hang in there and think about something else. I said, dude, you know, I tell him, you know, find a way to stretch out a match. If you're, if you're down six, one, two love in 35 minutes, can you find a way to just bore your opponent, but for lack of a better term and keep that match going a little bit longer, one rally a little bit longer as the fighting chance, the longer it goes, the better the chances are that you're going to win because things change.


Dick Stockton (11:50):

If you give yourself a chance. So I'm more into the, you know, I wish I had known that stuff when I was playing, you know, I just hit balls. I didn't think that much, but there's a lot you can do. I say, I say to people, even amateur players, as I said, I will say to them, you know, how, how, how much can you play above your head shoulders instead of from your shoulders to the ground? Meaning can you use your head for something, but it hadn't rack out here because that might win for you. Yeah. You know, play smart tennis, be willing to hit one more ball in the court because you never know what might happen if you do. And I don't know whether I'm going to get through to them, but I'm trying, but that's my whole philosophy is, you know, let's, let's think about the game a little differently than we probably ever thought of it before.


Dick Stockton (12:40):

I love it because I've seen that. I know that's the stuff I know. And so that's the stuff I want to do, right. In part to them and, and, and try to get them to see the big picture instead of trying to knock the cover off the ball, because the other players doing it, you know, I've got one kid on my team. It was a little guy, and this is it's just happened 24 hours ago. I pulled him aside and I said, I said, and he's a senior. So, and this is going to be his last year of playing tennis. He's not going to be professional. He's going into the business world. I said it's your last year? Would you ever consider thinking about this game a little differently? And he said to me, what do you mean? I said, well, you're not the big strong guy on this team.


Dick Stockton (13:24):

No offense. You're a little guy. And I pointed to his shoes and I said, those two things down there are the best part of your game. Meaning his kicking run anything down. He's got the speed of foot that the big guys don't have, but he doesn't have the power. So I said to him, I said, what if you were just to maybe, cause he gets out there and he plays with these guys and he tries to hit as they do. And it just doesn't work. He hits one or two really good balls. They get everything back. And then he misses. Cause he's trying to hit the way they play. I said you need to play the way you play. Right. Don't try to be Joe blow. Cause you're not going to talk at work. Try to be who you are, know your own game, and play within your own limits.


Dick Stockton (14:11):

My wife uses the term cause she teaches the game. She sells sweeper. No, your lane, which I think is a great phrase. I have, I tell people the same thing, but I use different terms. I say, play within yourself. Right. If you know what that means. Some people will, some people won't. But the point is that that's so that's what I bring. I think that's what I bring to the table for these, for the kids on my team who are not going to be professional tennis players. They know that. I know that everybody knows that. That's why they're a D three. They're not Done tennis players and that's fine. Yeah. They're still very good at tennis. It's amazing how good the level of tennis is in division three. Yeah. But it's not professional level. They'll play till they graduate and then that's it. So, but you know, I think that that's, that that's what I can offer them because of my experience in the game, what I have seen cause I've been playing for, I hate to say this 62 years. Wow. And I've always said that I would quit the game when I feel that I finally understand it completely and I'm still at it. So I'm still learning too, you know, it's amazing how you can still learn at my age.


Aaron King (15:23):

That's great. Now that, that experience and that, that I think it's when you said that the experience you have is what kind of separates maybe what you can give as a coach, the approach to just practice the approach to competition is something that I don't think a lot of athletes get with it. It's hard to get without a lot of years. And so having someone that can tell them how to approach practice and those quality reps and hitting your game and staying with yourself because I'll work with my skillset as long snapping and football and so same type of mentality of you don't have to snap a hundred miles an hour, you know, but be on point every time within yourself, but practice quality reps, you know, get extra reps, but good reps and stuff like that. And it, it reminds me part of the reason we're here right now is that the NFL and PFR PA we're here at the super bowl, Tom Brady, you know, in the fourth quarter that he's never out dink and dunk and finds a way to win.


Aaron King (16:20):

Right. That's, that's kinda what was going through my head, as you were talking about just finding a way to win in that competitive spirit. And at times when a 41-year-old quarterback out there doesn't even look like he doesn't move as quickly as he used to yet here he is in the super bowl. That's great. Another thing, one of the main reasons I want to talk to you is what you're doing now with wounded warriors and that whole program. I want to give you a chance to kind of just share with everyone what you guys are doing there and kind of what started that and the mission there. Well,


Dick Stockton (16:54):

This is a program that my wife and I started together back in the fall of 2012, actually, it's me. After I heard an interview by Kurt Warner on the radio where he was they asked him, you know, basically, same question, what are you doing now? And he talked about that. He was promoting a touch football game in Arizona. That was a fundraiser for the wounded warrior project. And, and I, you know, that's specifically for wounded warriors, but I, I thought, geez, what a, what a great idea and why are we, or somebody, or is somebody in the game of tennis doing something similar because it's easy, it would be an easy thing to do. So I started talking to my wife and her brother who happened to be a Colonel in the army at the time. And, and we've thrown around ideas.


Dick Stockton (17:42):

And we came up with the idea of trying to take the game of tennis to a military basis. So we could be right there where they live and work and offer free tennis clinics to active personnel, spouses, children, veterans, whoever might want to come on a tennis court and have some fun. And when we were an entity to try to find, and we're not in it to try to find the next great American tennis player, right. That's not, that's not what we're at. We're, we're, we're just trying to provide a service to them in a way to thank them for the sacrifices that they and their families make every single day of the year for the rest of us. So we started the program and it's the program is actually called boots on the court, which I love that name. It's a good name.


Dick Stockton (18:34):

And I'll tell you a funny story just last December. So two months ago, it was only last month. We were at a base in South Florida called homestead air reserve base. And what we do is we schedule three clinics. We'll do one for kids, ages four to eight for about an hour and 15 minutes. Then we take a 30-minute break to, to give, get all those people off the court and give the other next group a chance to register and come on the court. And then we do one for the ages, nine to 15, and then we'd do one for the ages, 16 and above. And it was in between clinics. And we're just the rest of, all of our staff were just kind of standing around. And, and this, this Lieutenant Colonel a woman came up to the courts and I knew who she was cause she was, she had been my contact.


Dick Stockton (19:25):

So, and she's in her fatigues. She'd just come from a meeting and she's got six or seven of her team with her and they're all in their fatigues and they're just standing there. And I said you guys want to hit some tennis balls? And they said, well, we're not, we're not dressed for it. I said, Oh, you are dressed for it. This program is called boots on the court. And you're the first group we've, this is the first time we've ever really had boots on the court. They came out in their fatigues and it was the most fun, 15 minutes you can imagine. And the, you know, they had a blast and, and so, you know, and that's all we're trying to do is, you know, they were smiling, you know, kids smile when they, when they're out there and they, they, they have a lot of fun and, you know, they, you know, most of them have never played tennis before and they don't have rackets.


Dick Stockton (20:10):

So we, we, you know, we bring all that stuff with us and, and whatever we might need and, you know, they provide rackets for them and we give them all t-shirts and hats and blah, blah, blah, the whole nine yards. And, and you know, it's just, yeah, it's just, you know, it's just a way they've put, try to put a smile on their face and, and to thank them for what they do. And all they do is thank us for coming. And that's not why we're there, but at all. So it's a current act, currently active, everyone just retired. Yeah. We've had them as most. The biggest group we usually have is, is the four to 10-year-olds. We've them, as young as three we've even taken, which is hard. And we've had them as old as 87. Wow. So, you know, that person was not active in the military.


Dick Stockton (20:56):

I don't think, but yeah. But you know, the idea is that you know, just come out and have some fun and hit and giggle and, and we, you know, we, as an example, we have kids, especially the kids will have a tendency. Some of them will stick, stay around all day. Yeah. And you know, we don't tell them they have to leave, you know, one time we're getting ready to do an adult clinic. And this little six-year-old kid came up to me and said, yeah, excuse me, sir. Can the rookie still play? So I kind of went along with it and I said, Oh, who were the rookies? I say, Oh, you know, no kids like me, the little kids I said, of course, you can still play. If you want to play some more, we will make it work for you.


Dick Stockton (21:37):

So he went off on his bike and he brought eight of his little friends. So we have another junior clinic going on during the adult clinic. But you know, who cares? I mean, it's not, we're not going to say no. And somebody comes as though I didn't register. Is it okay if I participate? We're not going to say, no, you need to register. I mean, we'd like to know we have a ballpark figure idea of how many people might be there. But a lot of people don't show at the last, because things come up in their lives and you know, and you know, with the, you didn't register, okay, come on out and play anyway, we don't care. And it's just, it's so much fun. And it's been the most rewarding experience of my life. I've been involved in a lot of stuff, but nothing ever like this.


Dick Stockton (22:21):

And, and we've tried to make it, you know, we've had people, including my brother-in-law, who was a Colonel at the time, who said, listen, why don't we take this? He said, the courts here, Fort Bragg, or really, really bad. And he was right. They were horrible. But he said, why don't we just go down? Oh, there's a mile down the road. There's a park with 10, really, really nice courts. Why don't we do it there? And I said Frank, no offense. We don't want to do it there. Part of the idea of this thing, we want to make this so simple for you and your friends in the military. Yeah. That they're going to want to participate. And you know, so the courts are bad. We don't care. What, what if I said, what if somebody drives by which, and this has happened and they drive by and they see this going on and they say, what, wait, wait, wait.


Dick Stockton (23:12):

Nobody's ever on these tennis courts, what's going on here today. Right. And they stopped. And they come in and they say, can I can absolutely. You can participate. And we've had that happen so many times, but the few times where we've been off base for one reason or another, those have been our least attended events in six years. And you know, so we're just trying to make it easy for them. And we've had several times moms will come up to us and we had one in at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, who said, thank you so much for coming. He said you're welcome. You know, it's no big deal. And she said, none at all, but thank you for having it here. He said, my husband is deployed. I hate to leave the base. Just the fact that you're right here has made it so easy for us to participate. So he said, well, there you go. That's why we do it where we do it. And you know, we've gone as far West, as we're based in, in South Florida. We've been as far West, as San Antonio as far North, as West point New York and, and bases in between. And it's just, it's really, really been an issue,


Aaron King (24:17):

Incredible ride. That is awesome. And tennis is such a pure sport. You know, you're talking about the age ranges. I mean, it's, it really is one of the purest sports where everyone can play. You can compete with each other there are games. You can play within the game. Right. It's, it's a perfect way. Like it's the perfect vehicle to really be able to do something like this.


Dick Stockton (24:36):

It is. And you know, and I remember when I was a kid, I was, I was a pretty good tennis player at a young age, but I used to, I used to play with adults and, you know, they were, it was so nice of them to play with me. And you know, they didn't have to do that. You know, they were doing to try to help me. And, and, you know, we're, we're just doing this to as our way to try to help these folks, give them something different, get them, you know, you know, they live rough lives. They really, really do. They don't have much, you know, you know, some of the bases are pretty nice and, but still, you know, they don't, they don't have many opportunities to do something like this. And, and, you know, we've had, you know, people come up to us all the time and said, God, our kids had so much fun today.


Dick Stockton (25:19):

You know, how come, what do we need to do? How do we keep them in tennis? Yeah. And that's the hard part. That's a hard question to answer. You know, the very first event we did at Fort Bragg that year, the very two days later, I got an email from a woman who said my kids had so much fun in your clinic. Is there any chance you could come out this Saturday and give them lessons? And I responded, I said, I would love to, except I lived 700 miles away. She thought we were local. Oh. So, but the point is, how do we, how do we answer that question? You know, we've tried to get the United States tennis association involved. And I hope they're listening to this podcast because they have let us down terribly. They have said they would do this too, to create some kind of ongoing tennis for these kids. So maybe it's once a month, you have a two-hour clinic in a Saturday afternoon, you've got pros all over the country. It can't be that difficult, but it just hasn't happened. And that's been, that's a hard question for us to answer because that's out of our, that's not, our responsibility would love to help, but we need help from other people to do that. Yeah.


Aaron King (26:32):

We have lots of coaches. We have lots of organizations. I've had great emails and responses from episodes we've done. So what, what's the, how can people help? Like what is the kind of your heavy hitters


Dick Stockton (26:44):

People can help in? The easiest way is to go onto our website, which is blue sky blue sky foundation is the name of our foundation. Our not for profit foundation created boots on the court. So it's the blue sky And you can help with financial donations. You can help by contacting me through the email address on the, on the, in the site to say, if you're at, you know, I, I live in wherever I live in Columbia, South Carolina, if you're ever in this area, you know, I'd love to help out in some way. And you know, when we're there at Fort Jackson, we would certainly contact you. And you know, we never can have too many volunteers. It's just cause you know, sometimes we'll have 60 participants. Sometimes we'll have a hundred. Sometimes we'll have, you know, a West point, we might have 130, right. And you know, you, we don't want these clinics to be the types where people are standing around waiting to hit a tennis ball. We want them to be active the whole time they're out there because otherwise, they get bored. They don't, you know, they're new to the game. Most of them, we need them to be doing things. And we can't do that if we just have one person on a tennis court with 10 participants and it's all


Aaron King (28:07):

Over. So people from all over con yes,


Dick Stockton (28:09):

Absolutely. And, and you know, we, you know, we're hoping to, to have the resources, to be able to continue to grow the program, take it to more bases around the country. We've had, we've had interest from the overseas basis and you know, that just hasn't happened yet because it's just right now,  the travel is too is prohibitive, but we would love to get there. We've had England Germany the far, far East contact us about going there. And, you know, we would love to do that. We want to get this through to as many people as we possibly can. That's great.


Aaron King (28:46):

All right. Well, hopefully, I'll put all this information and the description and the video, and then thank you. And the newsletter and everything, because hopefully, we get hopefully someone can, you know, reach out. No excuse at all. Be right there. Well, thanks so much for joining me. This has been for me, it's a personal pleasure just cause I grew up hearing your name all the time. You know, just the,


Dick Stockton (29:07):

I dropped some, some barbells on your head. One time,


Aaron King (29:11):

That's probably what's wrong with me, but yeah, we, he goes way back. There are those early nineties were special time with all the the Mavericks, the Cowboys, the tennis, the golf, there was this just athletic development. It was, it was pretty special.


Dick Stockton (29:25):

What was that day? Bring, remember him? The golfer. Yeah. Yeah.


Aaron King (29:30):

And then Lanny Watkins who was around, of course, Dreiling and company, the Mavericks, but you just never knew who would show up either to the house or to the, where you're at athletic


Dick Stockton (29:42):

Development center. The other gym I already in would not go to that gym. It might've been later, but it was kind of the next, it was like a V2 if you will. It's just two racquetball courts that were converted into a weight room and you'd be sitting there Inwood Soccer Club probably. Yeah. And then would road just South of BeltLine. Yeah. That started as it started as a tennis club, then it became endorsed, turned a lot of those courts in the indoor soccer and yeah. Oh yeah. That's yeah. It's not a seamless soccer center, but we had, yeah, you would never know who would be coming in there. It would, Ken Norton Jr. Would walk in, you know, Maverick's whoever. So it was good times, but those were special times. So this was great. Thank you. Well, thank you so much. My pleasure. Thank you.




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