Having played and coached tennis for much of my life, I am always amazed how people’s first reasons and real passions for playing tennis often get kicked to the side when competition, politics and comparison with other players happens. When I listen to the chatter, I hear less and less about the love of the sport and more and more about how this person let me down or that person doesn’t deserve to play on that team. What is the real reason why you play the sport of tennis or why you do anything in life? If it isn’t a passion, don’t do it.
I grew up competing in tennis at a young age, playing national tournaments in my teens, playing Division 1 College Tennis and Challenger circuit tournaments. When I quit playing after my junior year in college, I had lost the real reason that I began playing; I didn’t enjoy it any longer. It wasn’t my passion and didn’t hold any excitement for me. I have never regretted the decision to walk away from competing and I have thoroughly enjoyed my 14 years teaching the sport. In teaching the sport, I try to instill my love for the game to others; it is about exhibiting a passion for the gift of tennis.
While you hear about stories like mine, you don’t always hear about the stories of recreational players. Having taught tennis for the last few years in a country club environment, I have seen and heard many people who seem to have lost their real reason for playing. Instead of loving the sport for exercise, competition, the social aspects or fun, they have listened to the chatter around them. Like anything in our lives, when we have discontent or unhappiness doing it, remember why you love it. Forget the negative chatter and politics. If you don’t love it, don’t do it! Follow your heart and your passion. You can do this on a tennis court just as you can in a career, relationship or situation.
List at least two to three reasons why you play tennis. Do your reasons echo any of the following sentiments? When things get tough, reread your list. As a recreational player, it is not all about winning (although winning is great). Remember why you are playing. Are your reasons in line with any of the following?
- Tennis is great exercise. Every time you read an article or listen to a health show, exercise is mentioned as a key contributor to health. The world today is focused on exercise. Not only does tennis help keep you in shape and lose weight but it also can help lower stress.
- Tennis quenches a passion for learning. Many of us want to continue to learn on a daily basis even though we no longer attend school. A sport is an opportunity to excel at something in an ongoing way. While each of us is on a different level in the sport, the goal is to excel to your personal best. It has absolutely nothing to do with others who are learning.
- Tennis is a passion. I know so many players who believe tennis is their passion. They take lessons, learn new shots, and develop their game because they believe in what they are doing. They love the sport of tennis. If and when you are unhappy with your circumstances surrounding tennis, forget what others say. Forget the negative comments. Enjoy and relish in your passion on a daily basis.
- Tennis is a mental challenge. Like all athletics, tennis is based on a skill set, knowing the strategy, and being strong mentally on the court when the pressure kicks in. Many people thrive on the mental challenge because of past athletic experiences in a different sport, business experience, or simply the love of the challenge.
- The love of competition. If you are one of those people who love competition, tennis is a great sport because it combines so many unique challenges including technique which you can continually work to improve, strategy, and the chase to get better. Having said all of this, tennis is just a game in the end. It is not your career or how you make money so treat it as something fun that you enjoy.
- Tennis is a great social game. People call tennis “the sport for a lifetime.” That is true. You can play with your spouse, partner, and friends until very late in life. Most social players love tennis because they can always play with friends and family.
If you answer yes to at least two or three of the above reasons, you clearly love the sport of tennis. When a tough time arises at your club or on your team, remember the reasons you play the sport. If you no longer feel the reasons are valid, you have the right to change your mind. Play tennis because it is your passion! Life is about loving what you do and making a contribution to the world. Find the passion in your life!
Allison E. Turner is the founder of Pathway to Mind and Spirit that offers the tools and resources to drive you towards your passionate purpose. Through a long career of playing and then coaching tennis, Allison found that her true passion was encouraging and coaching individuals to feel that anything was possible on a tennis court and in their lives. It became less about the winning and losing and more about the mindset of each person.