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Using The 'Excuse Box' To Reduce Excuse-Making

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Peter C. Scales, Ph.D., is internationally known as one of the world’s foremost authorities on positive youth development (, having conducted studies on youth well-being in more than 30 countries. Coach Pete is also a U.S. Professional Tennis Association-certified tennis teaching pro who serves as the head JV tennis coach for boys and girls at Parkway South High School in Manchester, Missouri, and is a PCA-certified Double-Goal Coach.

In this excerpt from his book Mental and Emotional Training for Tennis: Compete-Learn-Honor (available on Amazon and, Scales writes about the Excuse Box.

If players are in the habit of making excuses for how they're playing, this usually means blaming everything and everybody but themselves. Winners are those who take personal responsibility for their game, win or lose.

The Excuse Box is a great way of reducing excuse-making. I got so frustrated one season at all the excuses the players were inventing for how they were playing that I took a little box and wrote "Excuse Box" on it, and placed it outside the fence around the courts. The players were told to drop all their excuses in the Excuse Box.

Either literally write them on a piece of paper and drop them in, or just imagine and pretend doing that, because the court should be an oasis from excuses, and a place where players take responsibility for what happens. And if you really want to go back down into the muck and mire of the excuses after practice, by all means take them out of the box and suffer some more after practice, if you must. But don't bring them onto the court.

The Excuse Box won't eliminate all excuse making by athletes, but you might be surprised by how much it will cut down on them!

To download the PDF about the Excuse Box, click below.

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