Sometimes it's nice to step back and look at tennis in a different lens. Instead of the technical or physical side, I want to look at as how it can be therapeutic for us as well. It's nice to remember why we enjoy the sport in the first place. I have offered my two cents below to why I have gravitated to this sport since discovering it in high school. I hope you can relate to some of it!
It's Not Easy
In David Epstein's book The Sports Gene, he argues that some people are just born to dominate a sport. He uses many examples, including his friend that could easily out jump him even when Epstein was practicing for years. Although his arguments are very persuasive, I did not see one example of someone immediately dominating a skilled sport such as golf or tennis. Yes, LeBron James dominates basketball but many have said that with a 6'8" 240 pound athletic frame, he would have crushed football too. These sports are very difficult in their own way but a kid sees potential in sports that use locomotive movements (football, soccer, basketball) at a much faster rate than a skilled sport where their speed and strength does not matter until they acquire the skills as well. I see this as a tennis instructor all the time as kids who are used to doing well in other sports (lacrosse is a great example) but struggle in tennis because there is a lot of technique needed to hit a tennis ball compared to the other sports they play. I personally enjoy the idea that I am good at this sport because I wanted to be, not because I fit the build for it.
Rewards Hard Work
You can only do so much in sports that require speed, strength and/or size before you cannot compete with your peers as they get faster, stronger and bigger. Yet in tennis, if you work hard at it and try to keep improving your game, there is no limit to how good you can get. I have seen this personally with my own game but also with kids that were not traditionally good with other sports. They had a strong work ethic and soon found how rewarding tennis can be.
Life Long Sport
We have heard this before but it's very true for many reasons. First it's easier to organize playing on a regular basis as you just need one other player to hit with or three to play doubles. Playing team sports takes a lot of coordinating to get a game going. Also the wear and tear on your body is limiting, especially if your form is solid. I like to know that all the work I'm doing towards improving my game will allow me to keep playing for years to come!
Easy To Meet New Friends
As we get older, it's harder to find new friends outside of work. Finding a common hobby to enjoy together makes it much easier to connect. I have found some great friendships through tennis that I otherwise would not have. I have started my interviews with coaches and players all over the world and can already tell how well connected I can be if I just reach out to the wonderful tennis community!
Parallels To Life
Coaching tennis has allowed me to be a life coach to my students as well. Handling adversity is a skill that all of us need to develop. Tennis gives the environment to do just that. You are put in an environment that exposes your weaknesses and forces you to accept your inevitable mistakes. It also helps build character as you are in charge of calling your opponents shots in or out. During matches, I have learned how to control my emotions and accept that doing my best might not be good enough sometimes, and that's ok. The best thing about this sport is that there are so many opportunities to keep improving. No matter your age you can keep getting better by getting out of your comfort zone to try something new that will ultimately help you. Just like life, we want to keep growing and learning. I see this as a coach too. Being a mentor for kids is a responsibility I take seriously and want to continue improving my craft to provide excellent tennis coaching but also give them a role model to follow.
The Three Elements of a Tennis Player
Not only do you need to have a strong foundation of technical and physical training, your mental game needs to be just as strong. This forces you to be a complete athlete if you want to be as good at tennis as you can. Training each aspect takes a different approach and makes it easy to keep from being stagnant in your progress as a tennis player. One day I will work on my technique while the next I hit the gym to stay in shape. While playing practice matches I have a specific part of my mental game that I am trying to work on. Regardless there's always something new for me to try!
What Are Your Reasons To Love Tennis?
I know I have only touched on a few reasons for why tennis is such a great sport. If you have any others feel free to comment or message me. I would love to hear your opinion!
Here's how to work on the one two punch that all top players do well in: