It totally bugs me to say that I’ve done this once --or maybe twice --in the early stages of my tennis career. I’m typing slower...and slower...wishing- I –could- do -it – all- over again! Simultaneously, an icky feeling washes over me. Okay, here goes:
I’ve played ‘scaredy cat’ tennis before!
Now that just makes me mad!
I’m serious! I consider myself a fairly decent high-level athlete who formerly played collegiate tennis on scholarship and whom had dreams and goals of both pro tennis AND pro football (yes, I typed that correctly). I still have dreams in sports to this day!
‘Whatever! I’ve let the cat out of the bag now!’
(my eyes are rolling as I type the above recollection)
Luckily this feeling has NOT been ingrained in my tennis game; it was only fleeting and when younger. So I suppose while I’m being candid, October, the month of Halloween, is as good a time as any to discuss ‘letting cats out of the bag’ AND…
…playing UNAFRAID in sport!
From junior athletes, to adult and to the pros, athletes have these doubtful moments-- these ‘afraid’ moments. And playing ‘unsure’ in sport is NOT exclusive to tennis players. It happens to golfers, NBA players, racecar drivers, etc.
We remember watching Bethanie Mattek Sands and Lucie Safarova in the finals of the US Open this year as they started sluggish and seemingly a bit tentative with their game. Their opponents actually served for the match in the second set! Then, it ALL CHANGED!
This image (below) marks the point where we could visibly see Bethanie adjust and tap her reservoir of tennis confidence to resume playing UNAFRAID tennis with Lucie:
Why does this happen to all levels of athletes in all sports? I really don’t know because here’s a shocker: I’m NOT a psychiatrist! But I know my personal unsure moments happened when I was in junior tennis. My mom watched me play some tentative matches (knowing I was the better athlete on court) but stood back and let me find my own truths to the mental and emotional side of tennis, and life.
When did it CLICK?
When did I begin playing UNAFRAID tennis?
So, I just began trusting my hard work, tenure on court, and skill and learned to consistently play BIG UNAFRAID tennis! It's my belief that solid athletes and centered people don’t worry about what others say about them- if they are playing BIG and working from a good decent place within themselves, they are playing UNAFRAID in all aspects of life!
You owe it to yourself to tackle the tentative play that may occasionally creep up in your game! Life is too short! Hit your serve HARD sometimes! Go to net and sweep a volley off court! And be YOU in your daily walk that will take you the furthest!
P.S., We employed this very principle when starting Wristpect Sport! We could have 'thought' about how to create cool wristbands. We could have researched it and labored over the perfect business plan. BUT we didn't! We went for it! To this day we still feel the need to design and create, UNAFRAID for our fashionable accessories!