Hitting The Line

If you’ve ever played  or watched tennis, one thing you know is that the players seem to approach each point with a plan.

tennis

(Photo credit: Marc Di Luzio)

To a certain extent they play the points backward – what shot do I want to set up, which positioning and speed of the serve will let me do that, and where do I want to hit it?  Part of the equation involves moving the opponent around, far away from your intended target.  Ideally, you can hit it just next to a sideline or the baseline depending on your plan.  The nearer to the line the shot lands, the more likely it is to be a winner.  There’s also an increased chance you lose the point by hitting it out.

Often when one watches high-speed Motorsports, the “high line” is the one that many drivers choose on an oval course.  Generally, the racing groove nearest the wall allows the cars to go faster even if they’re travelling a slightly longer distance (think of concentric circles – low vs. high).  It’s better to go faster and generally the high line is way to do that.  It’s also the line closest to the wall.  Hit the wall – go over the line – and you’re done.

There are similar analogies in golf (aiming for a target along a preferred line with a hazard line along the same flight path) and baseball (bunting very near a base line almost always works better for a hit than closer to the pitcher but it’s just as likely to be a strike for a foul ball).  What each of the athletes involved needs to do is to develop a plan that revolves around their tolerance for risk and the availability of a reward.  You might get spectacular results and you just might cross the line, crash, and burn.

Think of those athletes as you approach your business.  What’s your tolerance for risk?  Is the value of the reward worth going over the line?  I think most great athletes hit those lines – the places where very few can put themselves consistently and win.  To me, that sounds like a pretty good business plan if you can tolerate the risk.  You?

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1 Comment

Filed under Thinking Aloud

One response to “Hitting The Line

  1. Jeffrey Wong

    In a 2009 softball tournament, I helped won our championship game with a two-out two-RBI double down the left field line. I’m usually 100% up-the-middle kind of hitter, just like I am a midde-of-the-road kinda guy in life, never pulled any ball even between shortstop and third base, and in that tournament, second foul ball on a third strike is an automatic out, so the risk is higher than usual softball/baseball rules. I purposely pulled the ball to surprise the defense, and I won the MVP (I did other things well also) for that championship game.

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