As a coach, I am constantly trying to get my students more interested and excited about playing tennis.
This is not an easy task.
Tennis is a very difficult sport with many ups and downs. There is no greater feeling than walking off the court after winning a match, but when a loss occurs, it often feels like someone punched you in the stomach. I still truly enjoy playing tennis. My game is still pretty good (for an elder) but the thing that keeps me going is the challenge of being able to win points with less physical attributes (youth). The mental aspect of the game combined with the strategies that I have learned seem to keep me close enough to most players even when they are hitting the ball harder and better than I am.
I never understood this as a young player. Even when I figured it out there were still many times during a tough match, or when I walked off the court after a loss, that I would try to analyze my serve, my footwork, or my forehand, instead of focusing on my head. I did finally improve my ability to think about how much I love to play the game during my matches. I often remind myself of great shots that I've hit in the past and big wins over players I should have never beaten. Sometimes I even go outside the tennis aspect and just reiterate how great it is to be on a tennis court hitting balls, running around, and enjoying the outdoors. This also helps me enjoy my role as a coach and teacher, and I am extremely happy and thankful for the opportunity to "work" in this rewarding environment.
I always think back to this quote from Roger Federer:
“Sometimes you’re happy just playing. Some people, some media, unfortunately, don’t understand that it’s okay just to play tennis and enjoy it. They always think you have to win everything, it always needs to be a success story and if it’s not, obviously, what is the point? Maybe you have to go back and think, why have I started playing tennis? Because I just like it. It’s actually sort of a dream hobby that became somewhat of a job. Some people just don’t get that, ever.”
Consider focusing on ways to develop a love for the game and pass it on to all of your tennis friends, practice partners, and opponents. This will help you understand why tennis is truly "the sport for a lifetime".
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis (http://www.annaconetennis.com) and MyHamptonsPro based in Sag Harbor, NY (http://www. myhamptonspro.com) and Tennis Professional at Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club in Tucson, AZ. For details on lessons, clinics, or coaching, contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 865-300-7323