Keep Your Eye On The Ball

I know what you are thinking. Sports metaphors are a cliché and you are not a sports fan, so you figure you can skip this post.

But keep reading anyway.

This past weekend I was playing in a big tennis league tournament (Sectionals). The top doubles teams from my island were pitted against the top doubles teams from the other islands. The winning team(s) would go to the National tournament this November in Arizona.

In these kind of matches, I’ve learned it is easy to let your nerves get the best of you. When I am nervous, I tend to hold my breath. If I hold my breath, I don’t move as well. My legs will start to feel heavy and I will run out of energy fast. It was a hot and windy day and the rallies were long. I made a concerted effort to focus on my breath and watch the ball.

My doubles partner and I won the first set. The opponents won the second. We played a 3rd set tie-breaker, but ultimately we lost by 3 points. While we were disappointed that we didn’t make it to Nationals, we felt proud of how well we played and how close we came to winning.

On my drive home, I thought about what cost us those last three points.

A large crowd had formed and I remember looking over to see if our other teammates were there. Due to the gusty wind conditions, tennis balls were flying over from the other courts. Officials were walking on and off the courts to referee the final rounds. There was a lot going on. And when we were down to the final points, I think both my partner had simply taken our eyes off the ball and started watching our opponents.

It cost us: Game, Set, Match.

It got me thinking about how this metaphor truly applies to other things in life.

When I sat down at my desk this morning to write my blog, I found myself doing a million other things. Yes, obviously, I went to finish the weekend laundry first.

Then I found myself emptying the dishwasher. Responding to emails. Reading my horoscope. And then, of course, there was the rabbit hole of social media.

Some of the news was important. There was another brush fire on the island today. The fourth one in the past two weeks!

But it was also actress Betty White’s 97th birthday, so I had to read that article. I met her a few years ago, and she claimed the secret to her longevity was vodka and hot dogs… which she eats daily. She is a unicorn, I do not recommend following that dietary advice.

Then, there were the baby bulldogs posts on Facebook, and the koala bears at the zoo, and some of my friends had posted new vacation pictures on Instagram.

You get the picture. The next thing I knew, it was afternoon and I had not started writing.

I took my eye off the ball… again.

Monday is my writing day and we know what happened two weeks ago when I didn’t write. Not posting a blog led to a week of self-doubt and questioning everything else because I was focused on the “weeds not the garden.”

So, just a reminder. It is easy for us get distracted by the opponents, those rooting for us, those rooting against us, household chores, or the social media rabbit hole of celebrity birthdays, and adorable animal videos.

But if you want to be successful in your day or in sports:

  • Show up.

  • Be on time.

  • Do the work.

  • Watch the ball. YOUR ball.

And, of course, don’t forget to breathe!