Focus on Your Side of the Court
Updated: May 25, 2019
My boyfriend, Matt, plays college tennis. He went back to school in his late 20s to finish a Bachelor's degree and pursue a Master's degree.
Him and I often talk about his experience going back into the college and tennis environment after taking time off from school and from playing. While being the oldest member on the tennis team and one of the oldest students in his classes can be awkward at times (like when a song is mentioned in conversation that Matt danced to in middle school that came out before his teammates were even born or when no one else in his class remembers when blue MnMs became a thing), having more life experience does often put him at an advantage.
"Focus on what you can control, such as your own hard work and self-improvement, and worry less about what the competition is doing." -Coach Tiara
I do think being the most mature player on the team gives Matt a unique perspective. I enjoy being his confidant before and after his matches, helping him work through frustrations, contributing to the discussion of how he can improve, and being there to celebrate his successes. Most often, our conversations consist of ways in which he can adjust his mindset to improve his performance on the court. Most recently he articulated something that seemed game-changing for him, and really got me thinking about how this approach could be applied to life, not just tennis.
Matt said that lately, when he focuses on his side of the court, and less on what his opponent his doing, he notices that he plays his best tennis.
When evaluating how he played a shot, Matt asks himself these three questions:
Was I in position?
Did I time it well?
Was I balanced?
When he said this, I couldn't help but think, "Wow that's such a concise and excellent way to think about it. And... really, that could be applied as an approach not just in tennis, but all of life!"
Think about it this way: Whatever goal or problem you may have...
Do you know what it is you need to do?
Are you present and ready to take action?
Will you take action at the ideal time?
Are you stable enough to support the action and follow through?
Focus on what you can control, such as your own hard work and self-improvement, and worry less about what the competition is doing. Trust your gut on what you feel is right and best for you, and tune out the "noise" from everything and everyone else. Get yourself in position, focused, and balanced. Do this and you'll be much more likely to perform at your best and succeed than if you are trying to compensate for or work around other peoples strengths, weaknesses, experiences, ideas, or opinions.
I feel as though this could help in any area of your life...
In school, it'd be much more beneficial to you to study more, or put more effort into the material for your own knowledge and development than to stress about how quickly your classmates may be advancing, or how you stack up to them when it comes to your grades. Any time you spent frustrated about your peers' success will only be time that you didn't use progressing your own skill-sets.
In relationships, its always much better to focus on how you can improve yourself, heal and nurture your wounds, conquer your own fears, and address your own needs, than to look to the other person for blame, for answers, or for your needs to constantly be met. By doing so, the relationship improves. It relieves pressure off the partner, and allows them to focus on themselves as well. And in turn, the connection between the two becomes stronger, and less muddied... more pure, and more effortless.
At work, if you want to get a promotion, it would be more ideal and honorable for you to put in the extra work and demonstrate that commitment to your supervisor, than try to show how your coworkers don't measure up. Taking this approach would show the character traits more desirable for career advancement, and should be appreciated in the workplace.
Pursuing a passion because it is something that you feely deeply connected to, and doing it in a way that makes the most sense to you, is much more likely to keep you on a path to success, filled with self-trust and confidence, than getting discouraged and doing something completely different because your parents, friends, peers, teachers, or just plain old society, advised against it.
Taking responsibility for your own choices, education, self-development, health, success, needs, etc. is a much better approach to life than focusing on anything external, or outside of what you can control. Knowing that you have the power to succeed and progress if you harness your energy in a purposeful and focused way is an empowering thought. You are the biggest, most important, most influential factor in your life. Even if you have setbacks, even if you don't get the promotion, or you aren't the student with the highest grade, or you don't win the tennis match, at least you can rest assured that you took responsibility for your own happiness and did your part to produce the desirable outcome. If it didn't happen this time, I bet you it will happen one of these days if you keep this mindful, self-aware mentality.