Well, we’ve continued with our Senior Tennis experiment in spite of our various anxieties alluded to in a recent blog. However, we can gladly report to you that some of these anxieties have gone down.
For example, we were initially quite concerned that playing tennis would lead to a case of the widely known tennis elbow. However, after a few weeks, we realized that no sign of tennis elbow has appeared in either of us. And it’s unlikely that it will. That’s because it requires one to actually make contact between the tennis ball and the racket in order to acquire a case of tennis elbow. No problem; that doesn’t seem to happen much.
As psychologists, we’re both also strongly inclined to avoid hurting, humiliating, or shaming other people. Once again, this issue has proven to be no problem. There isn’t a person on the planet who would feel intimated or humiliated by playing against us in tennis.
And we’ve often read about the actual value of learning humility. Tennis couldn’t be a better sport for teaching us that. We can definitely state that we never walk off the court feeling superior or having a puffed up self-esteem.
But you know what’s really funny about our pathetic tennis playing abilities? We actually love the process of running around like fools on the tennis court! Amazingly, we actually look forward to each new lesson. Of course, there is that Round Robin tournament coming up. Gulp…
So, we’re in the middle of a series on child issues and parenting anxiety. What does this blog have to do with that? Well, we play tennis the way a child learns to walk. Think about a 12 month old taking her first steps; she tumbles; she lurches; she grabs onto anything that will hold her up. Then, she takes a step and beams. She’s not embarrassed by her clumsiness. Her parents beam with every attempt and are proud about her small accomplishments. They don’t criticize her or push her too fast.
So as we stumble around the tennis court we feel like a tenacious one year-old balancing new ways of moving. The key for us and for parents is to encourage practice, persistence, and tenacity without judgment or criticism. So, parents, stay focused on what’s important—in other words, keep your eyes on the ball.
Photo by Horia Varlan, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.