More than a Game - June 21, 2021We must play our best tennis in the worst of situations—in other words we need to be able to ‘perform in the storm.’ The question is, “How do we do that?” I firmly believe that the key is training virtues into our games. Virtue then brings power to perform in “storms.” This is what we need to be our best when the situation is at its worst. Some of these empowering virtues are focus, patience, encouragement, perseverance and wisdom. Some of the destructive vices are anger, discouragement, lack of focus, apathy and foolishness.
When athletes know the power of virtue, and apply it in their life, they are able to have more of an impact on the situation than the situation has an impact on them. They seek out virtue as a drowning man seeks air. It becomes a vital tool towards their internal growth.
Virtue must be trained the same way we train proper stroke mechanics. We seek to execute proper thoughts and emotions just as we seek to execute proper strokes. Poor stroke techniques lead to strokes that are inconsistent and often fail us when they are most needed. The same can be said about proper thoughts and emotions to an even greater extent. Strokes are only as good as the player using them.
The goal of becoming the best you are capable of becoming does not see defeat as failure, but rather as an opportunity to learn. We can learn about ourselves as well as evaluate where we are in our training. Losing is a refining process whereby setbacks lead to growth. It is in this way that iron is refined; only by intense heat can iron be purified and the impurities burned off. Losing is not to be feared, but used; it is to be gleaned and reflected upon.
As we talked about last week, our goal is to reach your full potential. The means of reaching your full potential are also the ends of evaluating your match performance. This will lower stress, decrease the seduction of cheating and cultivate internal growth in players. Training will then become more meaningful and productive, while at the same time winning will be seen in a different light. Winning is an ends in tennis not a means; this must be understood for players to continue to improve throughout their career.
Tennis is a great sport but many players don’t realize just how far it can reach and all it can do. When the “why” you play establishes the “how” you play, deeper and longer lasting skills are developed. You will also find these tennis skills you develop on court will become great assets in life as well. You will gain life skills from tennis skills as a bonus.