This past week the athletic club we work out at hosted a large tennis event.  Some of the best players from throughout the region were in town to compete.  If you are a fan of tennis you know the meaning of the term “service break.”  This is when the returner wins a game when their opponent is serving, which can often prove as a huge momentum shift in any match.  The goal in tennis is to win all the games when you are serving (“hold serve”) and to find a way to win a game or two when your opponent is serving (“break serve”).  If you can do those two things you will win the match.

If you are not a tennis fan, a service break is akin to a defensive touchdown in football, a game tying home run with two outs in the ninth inning, or a breakaway dunk.  Breaking serve can turn the match in your favor very quickly.  This got me to thinking……

What would be a service break in our industry, or better yet, in our lives?

This week is a tough one for nearly every American.  Thanksgiving is often a series of gatherings with family and friends, big meals, a few beverages, and all in all, the start to a month of gluttony.  For me, this week can pretty easily result in a five to eight pound weight gain.  Given that I have 5-6 pounds I already want to lose, if I don’t pay attention this week it would be easy to fall well behind the chains (using a football analogy).  So here is what I’m going to try to do…..

Create a service break.

This is a food and beverage version, but holds the same principals.  Do something positive to turn the tide.  So I’m going to take a week where gaining weight is almost guaranteed, and I’m going to go on a diet.  Instead of adding pounds, I am going to try to remove them.  A dietary service break if you will.

Of course it’s going to be tough, but the sheer effort should at least allow me to hold off the weight gains that are inevitable this week if gone unchecked.  So today this experiment begins.

Going a bit further, how can we apply the concept of the service break to our organizations?  What can we put in play that will take a negative and turn it into a positive?  Here are a couple ideas…..

  • During our time in Tulsa, if you needed a day off to run errands or take care of some personal things, you had to take vacation or “play sick” to get the time away from the office.  Our CEO realized this and how negative the staff was about this process, so he implemented a half day off a month for each team member.  Want to run errands, play golf in the afternoon, or just stay home and come in late?  No excuses needed, just take your half day.  This turned a negative into a positive (a workplace service break).
  • Close the office during the first two days of March Madness.  Most people would rather watch games than work anyway, so productivity will likely be down quite a bit.  So turn the tournament into a sort of office in-service day.
  • Employee moral down?  Add free snacks to the break room.  Surveys show that employees are 11% more likely to say they are happy at work when snacks are provided by their employer.  One survey even noted that 48% of respondents said they would consider changing to a new job if snacks were offered.
  • Staff meetings stale?  Change the format and venue to something more interactive and fun.  Move from a board room sit-down to a stand up meeting outside.  Move the meeting to a favorite spot of the staff, a coffee shop, a restaurant.  Changing the format or venue will change perspectives.  During our time in Denver, once a month a member of the staff would choose a Friday spot for a staff lunch followed by a program of their choosing, after which we would close up shop early.  It was a great team builder for us and helped the team stay connected.
  • Having trouble getting people to open your e-newsletter?  Offer your readers the chance to win a prize for taking a survey on what they want to hear from you and when.  You may be surprised by their responses.  Asking for feedback is almost always viewed positively.

Service break.  Changing the momentum from negative to positive.  On the court, in the office, and during challenging (calorie counting) times.  Find something in your world that is not going so well and break serve.

Wishing you and your families a great holiday!

About the author:

Jon Schmieder is the Founder of the Huddle Up Group LLC, a sports industry consulting company led by award winning executives.  Schmieder has over 20 years of experience in leading sports tourism and events organizations through strategic growth and increased community collaboration.  The Huddle Up Group has worked with more than 75 sports organizations and destinations on over 150 strategic projects.  In 2017 the Huddle Up Group was given the Superior Service Award, the highest honor a consulting firm can earn from the National Association of Sports Commissions.  We can be reached at or 602.369.6955.  To receive the weekly “Monday Huddle Up” visit or sign up at