I picked up my first tennis racquet when I was 4 years old. It was heavy and made of wood, not like today’s composite graphite and fiberglass racquets. On some weekends my family and I would play at a tennis club, and on others my dad and I would practice against a backboard at a park. As I improved, I played for my tennis club and intermediate school. Today, I’m more of a recreational player. I like to practice with my boys and play the occasional pick-up game . . . nothing too competitive.

With proper practice you can develop quickness, balance, timing and coordination; these are attributes that enhance the performance of an individual’s daily activities. In addition, there’s consistency and mental toughness. Serving one hundred times in a row or hitting one hundred backhands forces you to focus and relax at the same time. If you are distracted or tight because of nerves, you’ll mishit the ball.

One aspect of the game that I really like is the mind game. The top tennis players exude confidence. They’ve put in the practice hours on and off the court and they’re ready for the big matches. They look relaxed and focused. Their belief level is super high. As a result, they’re willing to go for the big shots: a kick serve out wide, a drop shot from behind the baseline or a cross court backhand with lots of action on the ball. So what happens when their opponent sees this? Some are able to step up their game, and others implode. What do I mean? Their emotions get the best of them and they are filled with self-doubt. As a result, their timing is off, movement is slow, and they make poor shot selection.

So where am I going with all this? If you want to improve your physical performance and add creativity to your workouts, pick up a tennis racquet. And don’t forget the importance of mental toughness. This will help you stay on track, make adjustments and persevere.

Photo of my brother, Ken.