Monday, August 11, 2008

Beijing: Can Phil and Todd find the nerve?

by Unknown at 1:24 AM

Todd Rogers and Phil DalhausserAfter losing in a huge upset to Latvia on Saturday, Todd Rogers told a TV interviewer that he wasn't nervous before their match. If that's true, then there's your problem right there.

Stage performers, for example, expect to get nervous before a show. They usually embrace it. When they don't feel the nerves - many will tell you - their acting suffers. There is a lack of energy. The actor chemistry isn't there. They don't connect with the audience.

A flat performance.

Yup, I'm drawing a parallel here, folks. Todd and Phil are known for their level-headed game strategy, never getting too fired up, maintaining that cool temperament on the court. That's all well and good, and maybe that's what's been working for them.

Like it or not, however, when you're playing in a professional match match, you're the performer. You're on stage. And without getting too Yanni on your asses here, you feed off the energy from your fellow actors, but especially the audience. Hi, ever heard of the home-field advantage phenomenon?

In this case, Phil and Todd are our thespians, and the audience is, oh, the entire United States of America. If that doesn't have your nerves tingling, then you need to find some way to tap into those 304 million people seeking vicarious national glory.

Phil and Todd also need to tap into each other (hold the gay jokes, please). Their communication on Saturday appeared nothing more engaged than Manger-Employee.

Sure, energy isn't everything - being good is important, too. But at the Olympic level, everyone is good. So limit the robot dogma and use some real, good ol' human fire when you need it - it worked for Latvia.

[Todd and Phil next play Switzerland today at 7:00AM PST.]

Hans Stolfus' post on this subject partly inspired this article. But, you know, I was going to write it anyway. I swear, I was.