Tennis and Exercise: 3 Steps to Love More and Resist Less

I have always loved tennis.

I never had lessons when I was a kid though. I just used to goof around and play with friends every now and again.

Tennis wasn’t part of my childhood in any big way. Well…there was this guy in high school that I used to flirt with while we played tennis on the neighborhood tennis courts.

That’s about it though – nothing organized or routine. In fact, the most consistent activity I ever participated in was my competitive marching band and jazz band.  I played saxophone. Sports were never my thing.

But, for some reason, I did always like tennis.

And I was decent too. I had a surprisingly strong forehand shot.

The problem with tennis is that it’s one of those sports that you just can’t play anywhere. Sure, you can hit the ball against a wall, which I did plenty of as a kid. But you really do need a tennis court to play tennis. If you don’t live in a neighborhood or community with a free court, you’re stuck with a tennis club membership, which can be expensive. You also need special clothes and proper shoes.

After decades of “liking tennis” but not really “playing tennis,” I bit the bullet and joined a tennis club. I wasn’t having much success with regular exercise classes or exercising in the gym, so I figured, why not finally play tennis more regularly?

So, finally, 35 years after I first picked up racquet, I signed up for lessons and started playing tennis every week.

coach_sternerquote2_pinterestI call this taking advantage of a midlife opportunity. I live near a tennis club. I can afford to be a member. I love tennis. Perfect storm, right?

My love for tennis came right back. There’s something about the sound of the ball as it hits the racquet just right that’s intoxicating.  The “sweet spot” sounds like a cross between a “whack” and a “pop” and just feels so good.

After a few weeks of playing again, I got hurt. Tennis elbow, of course.

Followed by some pretty intense foot pain.

It’s really no surprise that I got hurt.  I mean, playing tennis really is like sprinting on concrete.  And I’m not known as the the queen of athletics.

I knew I wasn’t going to give up though. I waited decades to start playing tennis.  So I played through the pain, with the help of a tennis elbow strap, excellent tennis shoes and orthodics.

Somewhere along the line, though, I adopted a new thought. It goes something like this: “I can’t play too much tennis because I might I might get hurt.”

This simple thought, my friends, hasn’t “served” me. No pun intended.


Thoughts create feelings. When I think this thought, I feel apprehensive and unmotivated.

Then what happens?

I don’t play tennis more than once every two weeks (this doesn’t do much for my desire to exercise more in general either).

My result? As usual, the results we create in our lives prove our thoughts.  As you can see here, my result proves my thought that I don’t play tennis that much because I’m afraid I’ll get hurt.

The funny thing about thoughts is that sometimes, we don’t even know we are thinking them.

This means that we are completely unaware that the results in our lives are being created by our sneaky way of thinking.

So here I am.

-I person who has always loved playing tennis.

-A person who finally started playing tennis.

-A person who knows they can actually play tennis.

-A person who isn’t playing that much tennis.

-A person who wants to exercise more.

What’s wrong with this picture? Like many things in our lives, sometimes our behavior doesn’t make sense.

There’s no logical reason why I’m not playing more tennis, and yet, I’m not. It always goes back to our thinking. Thinking creates our feelings. My thought about getting hurt is creating fear and apprehension and that’s why I’m not playing more. Now that I understand my thinking, it’s easier for me to get on the right road to making a change.

One important question I need to ask myself is, how do I want to feel when I play tennis?

I want to feel excited, motivated, strong, capable. So what would I have to think to feel this way?  I can tell you it’s NOT “I’m afraid I’ll get hurt,” lol. That’s where I need to start doing the necessary thought work for lasting change, if I want to figure out my resistance once and for all. This type of thinking is a good place to start.

A useful thought for me might be something like, “Tennis makes exercising fun.” That thought makes me smile. And, when I’m really honest with myself, I am always in a good mood when I play tennis.

Are you resisting exercise? Here are some great tips to help you.

Think about the way you want to feel when you do what you enjoy. Do you want to feel competitive? Happy? Energized? Motivated? What would you have to think to feel this way? Don’t assume that the way you think about ALL forms of exercise will create the same feelings. All exercise is not created equal in this regard.

Find some type of exercise that gets you thinking thoughts that create the feelings you want to feel. For me, it’s tennis. For you, it might yoga, dance, or kick boxing. It really doesn’t matter what it is; the key is that it’s your choice and you have many options. We’re not children anymore with parents encouraging us to try new things and stick with them when we don’t want to. Identify what activity is a fit for your thoughts and subsequent feelings and then go for it.

Now bring it home! Actually schedule your activity into your calendar. I know this isn’t rocket science, but when you schedule things into your calendar, they have a better chance of actually getting done. Do it!

These tips will actually help you make a change in the right direction and get moving doing something you love. For me? More tennis and maybe even…. tap dancing! I loved it as a kid and have even contacted a teacher about upcoming classes.

Ready to make a change? Check out my FREE download, 10 surprisingly simple ways to bust out of your midlife funk!







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