What I Learned from My Tennis Coach

Katherine Flahive

Tennis, among other sports, requires training, skill, practice, repetition, mindset, conditioning, focus and awareness of your partner and opponents. It also requires a positive attitude, positive self-talk, being present in the moment and watching the ball, having a tool kit of strokes and moves, court movement, footwork, speed, agility and a great deal of letting go of the last shot or the shots missed.

Likewise, when you are centered emotionally, you can perform emotionally with flexibility, strength, responsiveness, and resiliency. One of my favorite tennis coaches would share reminders of what is important to focus on: Accelerate through the strike zone, Compete with integrity, Pressure is a privilege, Courage through fear, Simple game plan executed with excellence, Charge like a bull and hit like a flower, and Focus on improvement and on what is working!

When my son tragically passed away in 2011, I found tennis a sanctuary and life saver!  It was the one place I could be and not think about anything else but the ball, while focusing what’s happening on the court. In tennis, being present on the court, watching the ball, focusing and how I respond to the game is vital. When I think too much and don’t trust my ability to play, it shows. Being a humble winner and gracious loser, I’m grateful and fortunate to be able to play tennis.

These principles also apply to my life. Being present to reality and what is, being aware and focused, taking care of my whole self so I am flexible, resilient to the challenges that may present themselves requires recovering to the middle, resetting, and responding versus reacting. Being able to let go and focus on the next stroke helps me to live in the moment and be ready for what is next. Don’t overthink and feel it in my body. The body knows and remembers. Remember to breathe, move my feet and be grounded. Trust takes faith and knowing that someone is pulling for me on and off the court is invaluable.