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The Unathletic Athlete

Have I mentioned that I love tennis?

Even though I am a pretty decent player, I don’t consider myself an athlete, which people find confusing. How can you play tennis and not be an athlete? That makes no sense.

Well, when you say it out loud it doesn’t! That’s why you go to therapy. Because the mere act of saying something out loud helps you realize that some long-held belief has no logical basis whatsoever.

Nevertheless, there are certain things I believe an athlete should be able to do:

  • They should be able to catch a ball with their non-dominant hand.  All of the tennis players who were once softball players can do this.
  • They should be able throw a tennis ball over the fence and onto the court when they are fetching a ball for a player on the court.
  • They should have an NTRP rating of at least a 4.0 or higher.
  • They should be able to play multiple sports.
  • As a child, they were chosen early in the team member selection process during gym class.

However, there is some evidence that disputes the validity of my criteria:

  • Tennis does not require being able to catch or throw the ball without the aid of a racket.
  • There are players at the 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5 levels that win national championships.
  • Michael Jordan was not a very good baseball player.  I don’t think he was that good at golf, either.
  • When Michael Jordan was in high school, he didn’t make the basketball team.
  • Even athletes vary in how “athletic” they are.

The problem is, feelings don’t have to be logical, so reason isn’t always useful in changing my mind (see Positive and Negative Feedback post). In cases like this, I often tell clients that sometimes believing in yourself requires a leap of faith.

So I’m working on my jumping ability, and it’s getting better. Maybe I’m an athlete after all.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

2 responses »

  1. As a child, I never thought I was a very good athlete, probably because all my friends seem to be so much better at sports than I was. I think my skills developed when I got older, perhaps along with some self confidence. I came from a very athletic family, everyone was good at sports: my dad was a very good athlete in many sports as a young Japanese American man, my sister was a phenomenal volleyball player, and is now a great golfer, my brother excelled at every sport he played. And luckily these athletic genes were passed on to both of our children – both who played NCAA college sports. So I will say that I was an excellent Swim Mom, Hockey Mom, and
    Tennis Mom. When I could no longer watch my kids compete after they finished their college sports I went through Mommy sports withdrawal. I still miss it.


  2. Pingback: Why I Love Sports | Normal in Training

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