Health is Wealth: Find Internal Strength in times of External Crisis

“He who has Health has Hope and he who has Hope has Everything.” - Arabian Proverb

Spring Forward 2020 Newsletter

I wanted to spend a bit of time to talk about Tennis as it relates in this time of the Coronavirus.

A few days ago, the BNP Open was canceled due to the global COVID-19 outbreak that has now impacted our international sport here in the USA. Today the Miami Open was canceled as well, leaving at least a 6-week gap in the Pro Tour schedule.

While disruptive and tragic, the safety and health of the fan are paramount to the game.
Without us the spectators attending events, the sponsors will lose money and drop. In turn, the prize pools at tournaments would shrink and all players would suffer. It is a vicious cycle. Protecting fans, communities and players should be #1.

Let’s take a page from Roger Federer’s playbook.
Invest in Longevity and Sustainable High Performance. Seek to create a lasting legacy. When his career was at risk from overplaying, he shortened his travel schedule and kept in tune with his body.

Last month, he announced he will be out for at least 3 months with his recent knee surgery. This summer he announced another surgery and plans to take the rest of 2020 off to give his future self another chance. He puts health in front of the long list of external demands for his time and presence.

He has awareness of the things he can control, the serenity to accept what he cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. Panic does not help and only robs us of our mindfulness; create a balanced plan and know that Stillness is the Key.

Only Roger knows how much playing is “enough”. For him, not his ego, that is the slim difference between retiring early or winning another Olympic gold or a grand slam.

Making use of an extended break
Top athletes take recuperating sabbaticals (Serena Williams), it is important to note only they know their own bodies and minds. Their limits and priorities. A few unique souls can push those limits past breaking several times (Rafa Nadal) and steeled their will so deep that we forget they need the benefit of Rest and Recovery too. There is no one right way to be. Step back today in order to better Spring forward tomorrow.

During this Tennis Sabbatical from the pro tour, I urge readers (we fellow “human” tennis player reading this at home) to seek some of this same reflection time to rediscover our own purpose. Find your inner child of the game and your reason to play. 

Hope Springs Eternal
With Daylight Savings, we all “sprung forward” as a nation last week together. We should all be enjoying that extra hour of sunshine. What a precious gift! Something money cannot buy.

Let’s not squander it glued on the news or social media.  I encourage all players to get outdoors, go for a short hike, and if possible, to get back to hitting those tennis balls!

If stuck indoors and cleanliness is your thing, pick a day to do some “Spring Cleaning”.
Open up some windows and let some fresh air in. Detox and de-clutter your room; even if that starts with just half of your desk – commit to removing those distractions in your view so you can maximize your performance are ready to go back to work.

Seek to become Anti-Fragile
We can build up better resistance and keep our homes/minds/bodies clean and healthy. Those are things we can control. When you are sick you cannot do much. So while you are well, make preparations. Be courageous and make your own health the paramount priority.

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men." - JFK

Deep Breath Challenge:
Take a long, deep breath in and hold it for 10 seconds, then exhale slowly for 20 seconds. Build up that extra lung capacity today. Go running or swimming. We can all inhale openly and store a deep breath of fresh air as you read this right now.

We take these little things for granted until we see an illness like COVID-19 rob victims of breathing. Is there ever a more universal yet basic human function. Because when you cannot breathe, literally nothing else matters. Think about this fact while you step outside today and treasure a few deep, conscious breaths to relax.

Don't just observe sports - go out and play it
Sure, it is a pleasure to watch tennis points on Youtube. But it is even better to play some tennis with a friend. Individual sports like playing singles in a tennis offer a way to minimize large group contact yet get in some critical socialization and exercise. You maximize your cardio in a very short period of time while being many feet away from your nearest opponent or even your doubles partner outside. Alternatively, you can opt for hitting against the wall a few times a week to groove your strokes.

Spectating any professional sport is too easy in our digital world. You have to experience that magic for yourself on your own racquet. That's how we live an active and fully engaging life. At some point, we cannot stay in passive mode – is living vicariously through our sports heroes really the only way we want to experience the joy of victory or the anguish of almost-winning?

Learn a new hobby or practice an old one yourself. We have to know sports kinetically to find ourselves and find true peace to escape our own busy heads. Just do it.

Look for ways to be healthier overall in small steps one day at a time.
Instead of seeking a 100 mph serve on day 1, try to get 1% more consistent on your groundstrokes each week. Add just an extra 10 mins to improve your footwork and cardio – it will pay off many times over down the road! Not only in your tennis game but your overall health.

Getting ready for the tennis season can be as simple as adding 10 minutes of extra power walking a hill or climbing a few more flights of stairs each day. Enjoy and savor your practices - that way you will be more eager to return again. Sweat, recover, and repeat.

We need to appreciate these small things during times of trial. Disease tests not only our immune system but our mental courage to be proactive.

Keep Good Hygiene while still Keeping in Touch
Even in this era of “social distancing”, we should seek to build closer relationships. Even if it is just one person. Find the time for that 1on1 chat or in-person meeting to connect. Without large group gatherings, we can still keep our close bonds strong and avoid becoming anti-social.

Think about the top 3 people you haven't spoken to in a while or miss the most. Send them a message or better yet have a chat with them to catch up. Then, remember to give your mom a call!

Be healthy, be happy, be safe.
- JC

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