Zen and Tennis

Last night I played tennis and this morning I can feel it.

Joints and tendons, tweaked. I’ve not played for a few weeks and when you get to my age (still in my prime, obviously) – you just need to be playing a lot more regularly to keep the aches away.

I used to play a lot of tennis, in Huddersfield of all places. Sometime up to three times a week I’d be sliding around on some godforsaken shale in Meltham, or getting my arse kicked by a geriatric potato farmer in Denby Dale. But that was another time but I still get a real buzz from playing the game.

The one thing you realise about tennis is that it’s less about your skills and more about how sorted your head is. Obviously there is a skill level required to compete at a certain level, but it’s then about how you apply your mind to every match.

Someone once said to me ‘concentrate on every point and not the match score – don’t worry about where you are at with the overall score, just think about the point’. Now that’s easy to say. As a player, you’re always naturally looking forward to when it’s your turn to serve or even when you’re getting a serve on your forehand. This zen-like play is hardcore. ‘Play the point in front of you and forget everything else.’ Mmmn.

It’s pretty appropriate right now as I’m just reading (or trying to read) Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. All of the above and lots more besides are covered in plenty of detail.I feel like I’m on a bit of a journey actually getting to grips with the business of Zen and I was struck this week on how tennis is right at the heart of it.

We’re going to be talking about this book at the book club at The Victoria in Leeds on Friday night – I’ll let you know how we get on, I’m sure it’ll be all about the moment….

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