Live Life To The Fullest – Lessons from Tennis

Do you want to retrain your mind to live life to the fullest? Here are some lessons from my beloved tennis!

I can now say that I LOVE tennis, and to an extent, I always have. My aspirations were to become a professional tennis player. However, having played round the clock on the tennis circuit as a junior, it reached the point that tennis became a love/hate relationship in my teens, eventuating to the dreaded burnout.

But this isn’t just about hitting balls! I’ll explore with you the learnings gained from such an experience, which can be applied to any facet of life where you feel as though you are holding yourself back.

I was four when I first hit a tennis ball, racquet in hand. From the get go I took a massive liking to it. It was effortless to me. And soon in time, it became my thing; non stop full throttle – tennis training, tournaments, camps, coaching, personal fitness, circuit training – daily, weekends, travelling, the works. All for the love of the game.

Below, I am approximately 11 years old on court with Evonne Goolagong Cawley - Australian Former World No. 1 Tennis Player

My parents would rotate turns to support me. We travelled to many places in Australia. The tennis crew around the scene became regular, familiar faces – with many also becoming the same opponents faced in different settings time and time again. One of the first selective squads I trained in, presented me with an interesting relationship dynamic. The scenario was a tad Catch 22 like. In one aspect there was a natural inclination to connect like mates over our dedication to the game; but in actual reality, there was a need to beat each other when it came to doing the tournament rounds. I struggled with this, finding it quite conflicting and inauthentic.

Anyhow, for me, the burn of the game was electric – hitting the right ball, the feeling was a blissful release. But the burn I had for the game, the fire turned to… burnout. I was unable to get on top of my mindset to accelerate me further with the sport. Early on I discovered the unavoidable connection between the mind and our experiences in life. Tennis is a trigger that made me realise how important it is to work towards self awareness and the workings of our mind in order to apply ourselves fully to every experience in life.

Another learning gained still sticks with me today. When playing someone more experienced, my game would be on point, full of fire. Loaded with hard flat balls. And, my double handed backhand! But as soon as I played a ‘perceived’ downgraded player, my game would turn into a ‘safe’ one with lobs, less drive and less hard hits. It would become erratic. Let’s call it a flop. And I would lose. Almost give it away. That’s when it became undeniable as to how much of a mental game tennis is. (A little like life!)

I also learned about the power of observing ones own mind and being in control of it consciously. But the importance of nurturing it through rest and reinvigoration was also evident. For in this way we can better apply ourselves to passions, relationships or even daily tasks.

 

So here are some tips to assist you in retraining your mind in order to live life to the fullest:

  1. Accept the present situation.
  2. Learn your lessons and move on.
  3. Treat such lessons like a point – as soon as you remember any faults or mistakes, don’t dwell upon it for too long. This is to not get too caught up in any negative emotion. For sure, at first accept, process and release any thoughts or emotions. Take some time out for reflection such as through journaling. But dwelling upon negative thoughts or emotions for too long, can leave you in a ‘stuck’ state and hence make it difficult to create momentum.
  4. In doing so, you will create space to make the most of the present moment and take action in what you truly love doing.
  5. Remember, small steps are still steps forward! If you keep trying, eventually one door will open. And if that door isn’t the one you envisioned, know that it’s okay as well.
  6. Surrender to the process.
  7. Trust the process.
  8. Take the time out for rest. Get out there in nature. Nature heals, rebalances and recharges us! (Particularly important to help with avoiding burnout).
  9. Bring joy to the experience.
  10. Why? Joy always wins.