Hit It Baby One More Time

It’s referring to the ball, a tennis ball to be precise. I chose this quite funny and unusual title for today’s article because if I think about it I am training tennis since the song first came out- so probably I have a couple of hundred hours of tennis under my belt. Did you see me playing in the US open? Didn’t think so, although I would look good there, appearance-wise, tennis dress and all…

Well what a shame I didn’t take tennis seriously when I was younger; back then I was too lazy to run and refused to help my coach to pick up the tennis balls after a lesson- not an attitude of a champion you would imagine! Training was tough the better some kids were playing the less time they had to do anything else but tennis. Dedicating yourself to tennis is like choosing to seriously dedicate yourself to a religion- for every prayer, fast, convention and pleasure neglect there are the hours of running, perfecting technique, exercising, fixing your emotional problems, going to bed early and hanging out with people who, like you, lead a ‘quiet life’. This is the reality of professional tennis and every other professional sport for that matter.

Although what I just described is not a life many of us strive to live there are important lessons we can learn from professional athletes. For one what distinguishes an athlete from a non- athlete is not the hours spend executing tough physical exercise regimes but the mental effort invested in perfecting those regimes. While everyone is allowed to have a bad day occasionally, a bad day in an athlete’s life can potentially destroy his entire career; hence adequate training in handling crises and meltdowns is paramount because it is precisely that which distinguishes a winner from a loser.

Children are malleable- great and not so great news. On the one hand malleability means that positive habits are built more easily and bad habits are easily fixed. On the other malleability causes confusion, the skills of talented children lead a constant battle with social influences. All children would rather play video games or surf online rather than run and pick up the tennis ball when they are told to do so. How can we teach them? By maintaining a balance between direct intervention and learning to listen and appreciate their opinions.

Regardless of our childhood, which is fading away in the past, all of us should look up to athletes because they are examples of once malleable children who, with the help of parents, friends and coaches build a thought and emotion regulating structure for all scenarios with the purpose of perfecting their skill and expelling potential distractions.

My suggestion is the following: no matter how busy or tired one is, he or she should make a commitment to a sport that they love and enjoy playing. I will always love tennis and although I didn’t take it seriously as a kid today I appreciate the sport very much and feel a rush of adrenalin after every point I score. I enjoy playing tennis so much that I haven’t even paid attention to accumulated progress over the years! My point is that the discipline we acquire when regularly committing to a physical exercise will spill over to other areas of our life, making us more confident and resilient against social routines that don’t fit with our lifestyle.


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