By Rene Heger – PTR/USPTA High Performance Tennis Coach
That really isn’t a contradiction and please don’t misunderstand.
As a coach I thrive on developing players of all levels and turn them into the best possible player. However, tennis is about so much more than that – it is actually supposed to be similar to an attitude for life – an outlook so to speak.
You have all the components that could help someone become successful in life – respect, focus, resolve, teamwork and not least of all work ethic and overall attitude. Sports in general has that effect, but tennis really stresses those particular attributes.
It starts with respect; respect for the game, respect for your opponent/teammate and respect for yourself. These very simple steps will help develop one’s character – we can’t control our surroundings, but you can make sure that you’re doing everything you can to be there on time and this will form a desire to be punctual.
Doesn’t matter if another player isn’t on the same playing level, not as fast in the warm-up, etc. everyone deserves the same level of respect. Too often we see kids taking verbal stabs at each other, criticizing missed balls instead of supporting each other. There is a clear lack of respect. As coaches we always promote respect and support for each other.
Next is focus, which can also translate in many different ways. I have had clients with severe focus issues unable to get through the first few 30 min lessons. Through very specific drills and conversations they are now able to pull through a whole 1 hour session without dropping focus. They will not seek out a college tennis career, but they have learned how far focus can take them – not just in tennis, but in life.
Resolve, the firm determination to do something or to firmly decide on a course of action, is such a helpful tool not just for strategy-sake in a match, but again, for life. Kids/teenagers these days are so distracted and driven by social media, it’s easy to lose sight for them of what is really worth pursuing, or maybe they haven’t chosen a goal worth pursuing to begin with.
In order to succeed in life you will soon find out that you can never fully do it alone – you need a teammate, you need help. Doubles is a wonderful learning experience for exactly that. You cannot win the match without your partner. So, when these kids try to set sail with their “I’m changing the world” banner, they really should know that it won’t be possible alone.
And that brings us to work ethic or your overall attitude towards life. In tennis, kids will learn that you don’t have to be the most talented player on the court in order to win. A lot can be compensated with how much work you put in. How hard are you willing to work? We try to make it clear to the kids that nothing comes from nothing.