“Mens sana in corpore sano”
When I first heard that in school, I thought that was a good way to approach life in general. For some unknown reason for me at that point, I felt drawn to explore different aspects of myself.
Tennis is an excellent place to practice many different dimensions of what it means to be “YOU”. We tend though to reduce tennis to strokes and mental aspects and I believe it offers far more than that.
Certainly we need to use different aspects of our physical body to execute strokes and move with all its particularities and details. And that is great as your body is what interacts with the world outside. Getting to be in close contact with your body and understand your own behaviors is a big asset for life.
We also have the mind, the intellectual cognitive mind that is very important when you need to create and develop all sorts of plans, strategies, decisions and so forth. The mind is also necessary to help you understand your own emotions. Knowledge will impact the way you talk and communicate, putting into words what you feel and helping you understand those feelings.
The state of flow or being in the zone is a connection between your body, your feelings and one pointed focus of attention. This requires that all of yourself is present. You can access these states as a young kid as well intuitively, without the use of the cognitive mind, but if you don’t know how to do it, they will appear and disappear randomly. The key to performance is being able to access these states at will.
There are ways to take care of the mental dimension outside of the court as well. Reading, strategizing, also in form of games, reflecting about something specific, writing and meditation which also touches your spirit and faith in whatever you choose to believe.
Looking into your less skillful areas is also necessary if you want to improve your performance. There are aspects of ourselves that we don’t see, the so called “blind spots” and we need someone who gives us the gift of making us aware of them. You can only change and improve what you are aware of and see.
Nowadays the dimension of ethics in the game has become more and more exposed, and showing us the importance of being clear about the ethical values you want to develop for yourself and your participation in the game. Sportsmanship and its definition is at a different moment in history. Nowadays is not only about the honesty of calling a ball in or out, but also about being honest with regards to your conduct outside of the court. At the end in one way or another, everything has a degree of impact in our performance.
The way you practice can start to develop your preferences on how to go about your work. You can see the effectiveness and efficiency of your style of work. How you interact with other players, coaches, trainers, officials will stretch your ability to create relationships. The complexity of the game is so large that it is not possible to make it alone, you need to partner up with people and build relationships based on trust and respect.
Finally, you can see that the areas you are interacting with are much more numerous than you thought, but we are mostly not consciously aware of them. I invite you to try and see them, work on them and try to understand how they can help not only your game but also yourself. If you grow, you will certainly become better at what you do and also a great and positive contribution to whatever your circle of influence is.