Take the Cannonball On the Rise

Andre Agassi didn’t have the best serve in tennis.

But the Rebel from Las Vegas did have one of the best returns of serve. It’s an overlooked shot. The returner doesn’t start the point, so the chance of commanding it is reduced. With serves coming at well over 100 miles per hour, many players treated the return of serve as defense.

Mr. Agassi did not.

Before the serve came, he would look intently across the court, his body open and alert. And as the little yellow cannonball shot over the net, he went after it fast and early. Fast enough and early enough to take the ball on the rise, before it even reached the height of a full bounce.

And more often than not, Mr. Agassi returned a very different ball than what he had been given.

It’s worth trying. There are points when life serves us cannonballs; when the momentum’s coming at us, not with us; when all signs suggest we’re powerless. I know those times. I know what it’s like to give in to what seems inevitable, to accept the obvious outcome.

But we have other options. Because all signs are not always right. And outcomes need not be obvious.

We can be open and alert, we can go after it fast and early. Momentum can be interrupted and balance can be flipped. We see what comes to us as it is, but we don’t return it as it came.

It takes practice; Mr. Agassi worked at it for over 20 years. And we won’t always hit it in. That’s okay. Life doesn’t just happen inside the lines.

But sometimes we’ll take the cannonball on the rise. And we’ll rewrite the signs. It’s what any good Rebel would do.

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