3 Key Life Lessons from playing Competitive Tennis
1. Believe in yourself:
Playing competitive tennis thought me the importance of self belief whether it was to win a close match or acquire a specific skill. Early on in my tennis career I lost against many tennis players who were higher ranked then me. However that was not because they were better tennis players than me, I played a good match but didn't really believe I could win. I went into the match expecting to loose. And the obvious happened. I lost even though I played a good match, I didn't play to win, I played to compete. However, once I started changing my attitude and went into the match with a stronger believe in myself and the expectation to win is when I started beating players that were higher ranked then me. The change took place not because my game changed but my attitude did and I started focusing on winning instead of loosing. I believe this mentality can be applied in every area of life. Once we develop the belief in ourself we will try even harder when things get difficult and realize we can actually do it.
2. Power of Focus
In life as well as on the tennis court it’s easy to take our blessings and that which is working for us for granted and start focusing on that which which we don’t have or which is not working. In other words our brain has a negativity bias and tends to stick to the negative easier.
To give an example of a Tennis match: we start making easy mistakes, get frustrated and focus on all the negativity and all our bad shots. In that moment, we forget that whatever our brain focuses on we do more of and repeat. If we don’t take a step back, we will find ourself in a negative cycle. If that happens I learned the importance of taking a few deep breaths and start asking yourself: “What is working? Where am I winning? What am I doing well?” We find the positive and focus on that. If we can’t find anything in the moment or in that particular match, we remember a time we played well. This will help our brains to redirect the focus and gain new confidence.
Applying the same attitude in life has enormously helped me to improve my attitude as well as well-being. Instead of focusing on the negative, I started asking myself: “What is going well in my life? What good things happened today? What am I grateful for?” Simply asking those questions raised my well being and helped me to switch my focus from a negative one to a positive one, win a match I started off badly and even turn a bad day into a good day.
3. Live one day at a time
Another key life lesson I learned from playing completive tennis is the importance of doing your best each day. Similarly, on the Tennis court we want to give our best on each point and play that point to the best of our abilities. If we do that consistently we will play a good match. I believe the same concept can be applied in life.
Often our minds start to worry about what can go wrong in the future or are stuck in the past. However, both don’t serve us in the present moment and no matter what happened yesterday we have to try our best today and more specific moment to moment to moment! The same applies on the tennis court; we might have lost an important point, however the only thing that matters is how we do on the next.