When the summer breezes begin to blow, they never fail to whisper “tennis” in my ear. I can’t wait for the first warm days, when I can grab my racket and bounce the luminous green ball on the deep sky blue of the court. The sunshine makes my ‘older than the hills’ game seem crisp and new, the boundary lines are fat and white, my shots spin and pop off the racket, my footwork is spry and hopeful. As I look forward to the upcoming season, I can’t stop thinking “I will be a beast this year!”
I also love the big tennis tournaments that are broadcast on major television networks – the French, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. I follow tennis players like teens follow pop stars – what are the popular shots this year? How are they conditioning? And, most important -what are they wearing?!! Yep, I have been a devout student of the game since I was fourteen years old, it’s in my DNA.
I especially love the French Open which is taking place now. The French is extra fun to watch because the clay surface is like a crumbly, chocolate, graham cracker crust. Players can chase after a ball and then finish with a graceful slide or dramatic chasse. On this type of surface, the athleticism of tennis closely resembles dance, with a little bit of the food network thrown in!
Maria Sharapova is a French Open favorite. Having won the tournament two times, she is the defending women’s champion this year. Recently, I stumbled upon this quote of hers, and for some reason it has stuck in my mind…
I don’t follow other players or the tournaments they play. I have my own schedule and do my own thing. I never really think, ‘Oh, I want to be or play like so-and -so.’ I just like being myself. -Maria Sharapova
When I first started playing tennis as a nerdy kid in grammar school, I would make a monthly schedule of shots I wanted to practice and learn. I would include days for serving, days for conditioning and days for whatever strategies Billie Jean King and Chrissie Evert were using. This helped me focus on specifics and kept my practices from getting boring. (What can I say? I was a nerd then and I am still *proudly* one today.) Eventually, I evolved into finding my own game. The schedule helped me find my own rhythm and kept me committed. It reinforced “my thing” and I was the boss.
If you find success in one week of planning, go out on a limb and try planning for one month. It’s amazing how good one feels checking off completed walks. Making a schedule just might move you through the summer without thinking or effort. Like Maria, you are happy being yourself in your own style!
The very best part of a preplanned schedule is when you need a sick day. We all need a day off every now and then. With a schedule, if you miss a day you can always get back into your routine – immediately. One day off doesn’t turn into a week off or quitting altogether. You give yourself permission to let go of one day and then…you resume the schedule! What a great way to prioritize your health.