Starting a new sport can be both exciting and scary especially for those of us that have spent a large time playing team sports. On one hand, the ending of a career that once brought structure, training, community and training partners can be overwhelming and bring out a sense of loss. There is no harder time as an athlete to transition out of the sport that they have given so much time, sweat and tears to but it doesn’t always have to be that way.
You’re now able to have a lot more time for yourself, to learn new skills, enjoy your days, afternoons and weekends as you please. You now open up space in your life to start figuring out what it is that brings you that drive, determination and joy from other areas of your life.
But for many former team athletes that want to exercise that competitive muscle, they are turning to tennis as it is one of the sports, a game that is not only physically challenging but mentally challenging as well. Where strategy, tactics and awareness come to play almost like a physical chess game.
The biggest challenge one may face when starting a new sport is starting at a beginner level again especially when you have been playing at a high level in other sports. But chances are you won’t be starting right from scratch, and that the hand-eye coordination that you’ve been training gets transferred over.
Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
Don’t let that stop you from picking up a racket and heading towards a tennis court. Here are some tips to make your transition into tennis easier:
Make contact with the ball.
As a beginner, your main focus is to make contact with the ball. The fastest ways to improve as a beginner get how the ball bounces and where to contact. This can be done by hitting against a wall if you are not ready to hit with another person, you can check out our Wall Ball Rallies which is a great way for beginners to start picking up the technique.
Ask a friend that would like to start tennis with you.
Tennis gets really fun when you’re able to hit with another person and get a rally going. Try finding a friend to tag along.
Watch tennis videos online.
Start observing how players hit, stand, move and play the game is a way for you to get the language of tennis faster. Slowly you begin to develop your own sense of “game-style” as well.
Stay with it.
Just like every new skill, it is not always going to be easy and some days you feel like you’re not making progress but the key is to stay with it and give it another go. If they are eighty-year-olds still active and playing on the tennis court you can too!
Get a coach or join a rally
Getting a set schedule to practice with a coach will not only give you the structure and consistency but the proper fundamentals for your stroke development. Once you’ve got some practice in and think you’re ready for the next level you can try to join our rally events, where we get you hitting and playing with other players to really start getting more competitive!
Given the current situation, we are seeing more and more team athletes turn to tennis to connect with their competitive side, have a community and get exercise. With the right mindset, training and goals, you can turn it into a sport you’d love to play for decades.
By: Ariez Elyaas (@ariezelyaas) is a former Davis Cup player for Malaysia and was ranked in the professional circuit for both singles and doubles. When he’s not on the court, he is a mindset coach helping athletes prioritize their mental health and perform better through conscious awareness.