I have always considered tennis as a combat in an arena between two gladiators who have their racquets and their courage as their weapons. -Yannick Noah
What does courage look like on the tennis court?
We can start with another quote, this one from Arthur Ashe: “You’ve got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing.”
Going for it takes courage.
Courage is the resolve, from moment to moment and from point to point, to be your own personal gatekeeper and bar all things negative from coming in the door. When I’m competing, I visualize my mind as a stainless-steel container with no doors or windows that contains only positive thoughts, and focus, and resolve.
Courage is the will to override any resistance you have to working hard and making a genuine effort. I tend to be a bit lazy. There’s a voice inside me, a young child’s voice, that regularly complains, “Mommy, I don’t wanna!” Courage, for me, is going ahead and doing it anyway.
Courage is wanting the ball, wanting the challenge, wanting the pressure and all that comes with it — the butterflies, the anxiety. Courage is the hunger to engage. Another quote, this time a famous one from Billie Jean King: “Pressure is a privilege.”
When you play doubles, do you actively want the ball, or would you rather rely on your partner? Only the first one is courageous.
Courage is persistence — the willingness to get up off the mat.
Courage is quiet — fear is loud.
Courage is the willingness to go from ‘this’ to ‘that,’ from your normal reality into the altered state that is competition, as well as into the altered state that is peak performance, also known as flow or the zone.
We tend to want to hunker down where we are and to resist change, even when it’s positive. Courage is the ability to let the future happen even if it brings in the unknown.
Courage is trusting the moment — trusting the magic of your timing, trusting all the aspects of the game that you ultimately can’t control.
Courage is keeping the faith and trusting yourself even when all the signs say: Don’t.
In what ways do you show courage on the court? In what ways do you fall short? How about in the rest of your life?