When Someone Plays to Help
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
Throughout my teen years I had a good family friend with whom I occasionally played tennis. He was a fantastic tennis player and helped coach our town's high school team. I hadn't played many sports and found tennis enjoyable. I found I was naturally good at it.
Or so I thought.
Imagine my consternation years later when I went to play tennis with a cousin confidently thinking "This will be fun!" even though I hadn't played since those high school years.
It wasn't that much fun.
The times playing with my hometown friend were nothing like the sweating, chasing, jelly-legged hour with nary a smack to the ball with my cousin. She was about as good as I was. And apparently that was kind of terrible. We ran ourselves silly chasing exuberant green bouncing spheres that teased us without mercy, our rackets tripping up our exhausted feet.
Looking back some years later I see that when I played with my coach friend he allowed me the chance to get a lot of backhands in, or to feel the power of my strong right arm connecting with the ball at the correct place on my racket, to sense when to swing and when to run . I didn't realize what he was doing at the time. He was getting me excited to practice, to play more, to not give up because I tasted some victories.
He was playing to help.
If I had stuck with it I could have gotten much better and eventually been able to play with others who weren't good, like he did. Or with others who were, like he did. I want to take this lesson with me, it's playing to win but even more satisfying.