What do we really want from playing tennis?
Of course, the immediate response is that we want to win, but is that the most important thing?
When I look around at club players and even some very good junior and college players, I see many players who have managed their game in a manner in which they can be successful, but the strokes look awkward and the body is not at ease.
Not every one is sensitive to this lack of ease in the body, but it is clear for someone watching the body from the outside.
So what is the goal in Life or tennis? Is it to be successful (however we define that term) or to be comfortable (a body, which is relaxed, fluid and flowing)? I know many players will try and opt for both, but unfortunately, how we answer this question will determine the quality of our strokes. Result is something that comes afterwards and is irrelevant to the ultimate choice.
For many players because winning or getting the ball back is more important that being comfortable and swinging freely, the quality of their strokes will be affected and the lack of comfort will always remain. Of course, success can still come, but comfort will never be there.
For me, growth is the most important component of Life and in tennis that translates into swinging freely without fear on every single shot. Of course, every shot may not go in or be a winner, but to be able to swing freely without fear is more valuable, for me, than getting the ball over the net any which way.
Please do not misunderstand me, in an emergency situation sometimes we are able to get racket to ball without looking pretty, but I am not talking about those isolated situations. I am referring to our regular neutral swings when the ball is right there for us to hit.
For me, sports have always been an art form and the result has always been secondary. That does not make me any less competitive that anyone else, especially if we define ‘competitive’ as someone who gives everything they have to win the game. However, awareness of the art form inspires me to ‘go for my shots’ over and over again, regardless of the score or situation of the match.
Some may view this as a bail out, but I do not. Going for your shots does not mean over-hitting or not making adjustments to find different ways to win. Instead, it means committing to one’s strokes and not being affected by the fear of missing.
So, how can we play freely and trust the body. The initial and most important step is first to realize that growth, both personal and tennis, is more important than winning or getting the ball in play. Once this realization has permeated into one’s core being, change will happen automatically.
On a physical level, one needs to create space in one’s strokes and trust the body enough to just swing. The more practice one has in doing this, the better the strokes will become. However, the trust of the body will not be easy to attain because the desire to control the ball or keep it in play appears on a deep cellular level that will affect the freedom of movement of the body unconsciously.
Enjoy the journey……………………..