How I use tennis as a metaphor for LIFE! (...but it's not really about tennis)
I have all kinds of tennis philosophies – that I refine on the court and try to bring to all aspects of my life:
- Tennis has hundreds of points and they're all worth the same (mathematically), except some points are worth MORE!
- I have found that if I don't see my daily tennis as a bunch of individual opportunities, instead of “winning or losing” that it is so much harder to get back on track if things aren’t going well.
- Each point has equal value, but some are worth MORE! Game points, set points match points are the most obvious. But I try not to underestimate points that shift momentum and points that just FEEL WONDERFUL! They might have the most “value” of all!
- Hitting that perfect shot or an amazing point, and allowing myself to really FEEL it!
- Do I say, “Finally, I've been trying to do that all day!” (almost mad at that beautiful shot) vs. “Yay!” or even “Oooh that felt sooo GOOD!” Beyond that, I high fives my partner… NOW that perfect shot + soaking it up– truly FEELING that JOY! THIS is the perfect metaphor for how am I are experiencing my LIFE! Do I allow myself to truly FEEL the small successes along the way? That ONE point in the grand picture of the hundreds of points, can seem “small/unimportant”. However if I take it in, and TREASURE it, it’s completely different. If I let myself feel: happy, proud, appreciated, enthused…! Even for just 5 seconds. You’d be amazed at how much MORE that 5 seconds of YAY adds to your overall experience!
- in tennis and in life there are plenty of opportunities to be mad at ourselves. So WHY would we add being mad at something that was awesome?!? So why ever be mad that we didn’t make that shot sooner?
- I find once I allowed myself to FEEL the good, then working on all those other disappointments and not being mad at those is the next important step. But I could not get there without valuing the best stuff.
- Each individual point and how I experience it is such a great microcosm for how I experience LIFE. It’s also uniquely measured, like tennis — into many many life moments.
- People often think that they don't have “time“ to appreciate or that it’s vain, or crap like that! I say, “FIVE seconds… give it a try!”
- What “they” DON’T tell us, is when we allow ourself to notice the beautiful moments, we also get much more skilled at noticing unhealthy patterns as well. When I allowed myself to soak up the good stuff, it brought me so much more strength to noticing and breaking unhealthy patterns and replacing them with a joyful or otherwise HEALTHY interpretations. It’s hard, yes, but it’s also deeply satisfying and often downright FUN – especially as we get better at it! (this too needs to be celebrated and FELT!)
- You work so hard for some points, and just pissed away others. Just like LIFE, it is broken down to hundreds of moments!
- When I figured out how to recover from a double fault that can feel so deflating… remembering that it happens, to EVERYONE (both on the court and in LIFE). How quickly and effectively could I let go of my mistakes, disappointments and become present in the current point/moment?
- I want to point out, it’s not just the double fault or missing an easy shot moments that I try to leave in the past, it’s the perfect shot as well! (AFTER the 5 seconds of feeling great!) Because in tennis, as it is in life – it you are thinking about the past or the future, you’re screwed. The only way to truly do well, is to be present, all the time! Not just every point, but every hit, and the moments in between are opportunities to be present! This is not a skill you learn over night, but each time you can catch yourself, and develop techniques for centering yourself into the current moment, the better you will get at this.
- Are there other factors influencing that “moment“? There was a match that if we won, would take my team to Nationals, and loosing meant it’s over for the whole team. It was match point against us, and I was serving. My first serve was out. As I prepared to serve the second, a voice in my head said, “Wouldn’t it suck to double fault NOW??“ I said to that voice, “SHUT UP! Do you think that helps?!?“ What did I do? I double faulted! It was heartbreaking! But THIS moment shined a light on “that voice“. That voice of sabotage… It allowed me to examine where it came from and how it sabotaged me on and off the court. This one took quite awhile to understand and replace the sabotage with belief, but I honestly feel like this very BIG lifelong influence has been replaced with belief and trust – but always requires that willingness to engage with it authentically when it does sneak in.
I find if I can truly practice all these things on the tennis court, there are so many things in LIFE, that are so parallel. Especially when I continue to explore and create things that truly matter to me. Things that stimulate me mentally, physically, emotionally and even spiritually – I always tell people it doesn't matter what it is, but if you have something that hit all those buttons, DO IT!! As much as you can! Make it a PRIORITY! The more we can steer our lives to more and more of that juicy stuff, the more meaningful and amazing life can become. The more we practice it in one aspect of life, the more we are confident and skilled at refining other aspects of life. Can we bring the same level of passion to that! This domino effect is a wonderful one.