TENNIS FROM THE HEART
Tennis is a wonderful vehicle for learning to live in an empowered way. The sport itself has so much to offer and is perhaps the most safe and interesting way to learn life lessons. Coaching or parenting a young tennis player is a wonderful opportunity to assist in the accelerated growth of a human being to become an independent individual, capable of dealing with all of life’s challenges with courage, optimism, and perseverance.
Too often this vision of tennis as a lifelong sport that provides joy as well as personal growth is overshadowed by the tendency to making winning the goal of the sport. Tennis From The Heart provides a philosophy, tools, and support to players, coaches and parents to move beyond the all-consuming focus on winning. The goal is to assist you in using tennis to enhance your relationships and learn life skills. When you play with freedom and joy you will automatically become a more effective player and end up winning more than if you play with fear and mental pressure.
Everyone is in need of love. Where you seek it often determines your success in life. Most seek love from outside themselves, initially seeking it from parents and eventually from teachers, coaches, and peers. This desire for love often turns into a need for approval from others. In many children the vehicle for seeking this approval is a sport. Even if there is no direct pressure from parents for children to compete, the child subconsciously hopes that by excelling in a sport the parent or coach will love them more.
This type of love is conditional love, as the child feels they must earn approval and love through their success on the court or field. Even when parents do their best to show unconditional love regardless of results the child often senses that they will gain more love if they win and less when they lose. This desire for approval and therefore love is often what fuels the child’s determination to practice hard and play to win.
Is there a more effective way to fuel a child’s desire for success in a sport? I feel that a more effective incentive is to encourage the child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn. Think of a young child. Aren’t they always exploring, asking questions, and trying to learn as much about their world as possible? It is inherent in every child. Unfortunately, most schools are not focused on developing this natural curiosity but rather on creating compliant, docile children who won’t interrupt the classroom flow. But that is another topic entirely that I don’t want to get started on now.
The initial attraction to most sports is the innate desire to express the child’s capabilities in a setting that is fun and socially rewarding. What would happen if their experience with a sport was truly geared toward unleashing their curiosity and eagerness to learn? If, instead of being told by the coach how they were supposed to stand, run, hit, and think, they were allowed to experiment and discover how their body feels and try to figure out how to be most effective at using their ability to succeed in their chosen sport? Wouldn’t that rekindle their spark of creativity more than making sport like the classroom, shut up and listen to the wisdom of the coach?
My goal with Tennis From the Heart is to help as many people as possible develop their love of tennis, not just to win or to try to gain approval, but to become a complete and truly fulfilled human being.