Many years ago, when I was a manager, I taught Tai Chi lessons to my staff during the lunch break as a stress reduction technique. I used professional teachers and participated myself. We have learned to breathe efficiently and move in the slow, rhythmic movements of this martial arts exercise.
I was extremely embarrassed at first because I couldn’t pick up the movements. However, as I progressed I started to feel the stress release effects of Tai Chi and wanted to learn more.
The most surprising result for me was that my tennis improved, especially my volleys. As I researched further, I discovered that Tai Chi has helped me in two key ways.
1. Become centered on Tai Chi
Getting centered or becoming grounded is a key goal of Tai Chi. Some proponents encourage you to adopt the “horse” position when practicing this martial art and this is designed to keep you centered and let your energy flow freely.
When you are centered, you can focus harder and for longer. Your mind is at work and you are concentrating on your tennis game and your tennis strokes.
You will often see the momentum change in a game of tennis when a player loses focus, even when they win. It can happen even to elite players. They can be thrown out of center by a bad line call or a bad shot they played at a critical moment. The best players, like Federer, have developed ways to stay centered and stay focused for very long periods of time.
Tai Chi is very important for centering and maintaining focus – make it part of your indoor tennis game.
2. Improve your balance with Tai Chi
Tai Chi is considered a form of moving meditation and has a strong focus on balance and awareness of balance.
You’ve probably seen groups of people using the slow motion moves in the local park or by the sea and observed how well balanced they are when performing one-leg moves.
Tennis takes a lot of balance, preparing for the next stroke. You will frequently hear tennis commentators say, “It was a bad shot because he was out of balance when he hit the ball.”
If you have a sore ankle or leg, you will find it difficult to do proper volleys as you tend to protect the sore leg by removing your weight. As a result, you are not properly transferring your weight when playing your volley. The same goes for serve and groundstroke in tennis.
If you practice Tai Chi for even ten minutes a day, you can significantly improve your balance and your tennis game.
Tai Chi has many benefits, including stress release, improved breathing and circulation, and a healthier heart. The desire to improve your tennis game could provide the perfect motivation to embrace this martial art. In the process, you will improve both your balance and your ability to stay focused and as a result you will enjoy your game of tennis much more.