Tennis, like many sports, satisfies our human needs; making it fun to keep pursuing and improving upon. More specifically, there are six needs that all people value. It is worth noting that how you prioritize these needs determines the direction your life goes. These six needs are obtained through many different avenues, with sports being one of them. There has been a lot of writing on these six needs but not through the lens of a tennis player. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that tennis can satisfy all of our needs through the different complexities the sport offers. Let's take a look into each need to find out how that can happen.
Need #1: Certainty
Certainty is something we all need to have at some level to function. We like to know when and how things happen. Certainty allows us to focus on other things and keeps us from worrying about everything. Without certainty, we could not be productive nor build meaningful lives as we would constantly be questioning the world around us. Tennis satisfies this need with the basic understanding of what will happen when you step on a tennis court. We know what we are getting ourselves into when we play. There are rules and ways to play the game that we are familiar with. It's no wonder many of us use this sport as a stress reliever!
Need #2: Variety
Variety keeps us from being bored. We crave variety when things get too predictable. Tennis allows this to happen as the actions and outcomes are not scripted. You can try different strokes and strategies while playing while the outcome of winning and losing keeps us on edge. The word "play" relates to imagination, which is what tennis gives us. We can do so many things on the court and that feeds our need for variety.
Need #3: Significance
The need to feel special and that our lives matter is deeply rooted into our blueprint. Tennis can cover this need through the great shots you hit in a match. Every time you end the point while doing something great, you get a feeling of significance. This happens especially when your opponent and/or teammates and fans cheer you after your shot. Winning matches and tournaments as an individual gives you the feeling of accomplishment and that you are unique/special as you stuck out from a group of competitors. Being on a team gives a feeling of being needed and fills our need of significance.
Need #4: Love and Connection
Tennis is an intimate sport. Similar to boxing, you are trading blows with someone who has the same purpose as you, to win. Competition, in it's true sense, means to "strive with." Maybe this is why players embrace at the end of their matches? After watching a great match at the pro level, you will see a warm embrace (most of the time anyways!) between the two players. This is a reminder to what the sport offers. A connection between humans that goes deeper than what most sports allow. The constant battling between you and your opponent can (if you allow it) draw you closer to that individual. I can say that a lot of my good friends have come from this sport where we can share a great connection together as we practice or compete with one another.
Need #5 and #6: Growth and Contribution
In my opinion, these two needs are the most important. They feed our soul and keep us loving life. These two needs keep us working towards something. Even after retirement, people feel unfulfilled without filling these two needs. Maybe that is what makes tennis so special. The hope that we can keep improving our game. When we see that we are improving, we want more; making tennis addicting to play. We practice more when the practices pay off. We keep getting in better shape when we see that fitness helps us win our matches. All of this feeds our need for growth. I notice that when I do find something that helps me improve my game, I want to share and contribute to other's quest for improvement as well. What better way to do this than through the tips we've picked up on our way of self improvement? This feedback loop of growing and contributing makes tennis a life long sport.
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