Simon Ramo, a scientist and statistician, wrote a fascinating little book that few people have bothered to read: Extraordinary Tennis Ordinary Players.
The book isn‚’ fascinating because I love tennis. I don‚’. In the book Ramo identifies the crucial difference between a Winner’s Game and a Loser’s Game.
Ramo believed that tennis could be subdivided into two games: the professionals and the rest of us.
Players in both games play by the same rules and scoring. They play on the same court. Sometimes they share the same equipment. In short the basic elements of the game are the same. Sometimes amateurs believe they are professionals but professionals never believe they are amateurs. But the games are fundamentally different, which is Ramo’s key insight.
Professionals win points whereas amateurs lose them. Think about professional games. Each player, nearly equal in skill, plays a nearly perfect game rallying back and forth until one player hits the ball just beyond the reach of his opponent. This is about positioning, control, spin. It’s a game of inches and sometimes centimeters.
In his 1975 essay, The Loser’s Game, Charles Ellis calls professional tennis a “Winner’s Game.”While there is some degree of skill and luck involved, the game is generally determined by the actions of the winner.