If only life was as simple as cracking a fresh can of tennis balls, hitting the court for hours on end to repeat identical swings of the racquet day in and day out all the while feeling the heat from all your would-be competitors.
Well, that doesn’t actually sound so simple.
Tennis is a complicated game filled with tension, intrigue and political manoeuvring. Every player is trying to gain the upper hand on the competition, and often they’ll do whatever it takes to achieve success.
Sound familiar? Climbing the corporate ladder in any industry involves much of the same. Before one enters the workplace, however, there’s school to content with. Most universities still grade their students on a bell curve, meaning as long as you’re better than someone, you’re good enough.
It might not seem as such in the moment, but tennis is a game that can prepare our youth for the real world of tomorrow, and as parents and educators it’s up to us to ensure their eyes are opened to reality.
There’s always someone better out there. And even if that challenger isn’t visible in an given moment, it’s best to prepare as though they’re waiting behind the next curve in the road, racquet in hand.
This could be said of tennis or the real world (minus the racquet), and it serves as a reminder to athletes, students and people in the workplace to give credit where it’s due while also being dedicated to one’s own personal process.
Countless hours of practice is a grind for young tennis players. It’s difficult at times to see the payoff in the middle of another gruelling skills practice.
This is why we have coaches, to push the right buttons in order to extract the best possible results. Sometimes players won’t like what the coaches have to say, even if they’re telling the truth.
Wait, especially when they’re telling the truth.
And that’s ok. At some point the child will have a boss they don’t particularly enjoy, but their livelihood and future will depend on their ability to deal with the situation.
The best way to prepare our children for reality through tennis is to extract and talk about the day to day responsibilities placed on their young, one-track brains. There’s a difference between focussing on specific skills like serves, ground shots and returns and focussing on the skills required just to get to the court.
Life skills such as:
The skill we use to win a tennis match is secondary. It’s not the hardest thing a young tennis player will achieve in their life.
No, being present every single day (or simply making the attempt to be present) in body and spirit, that’s more difficult than practicing your serve. For most athletes, being on time is the main challenge, because after that they’re left with nothing but the game, and it’s easier to work on something you love than it is to wake up for something you love.
Tennis isn’t an easy game.
But neither is life. Seems like the two are a perfect match.