Crawling Out From My Comfort Zone Made Me Realise That The First Step Is Always The Hardest


With numerous “keep fit” campaigns all around us, there is no doubt that being physically active improves our health and our state of mind. Sadly, crawling out of our comfortable, sedentary lifestyle is a lot harder than it seems.

Having started a new office job recently, it is no surprise that I have adopted the sedentary lifestyle of being bound to my desk from 9am to 5pm. I then head home to lay ensconced on my lovely bed.

Having played tennis when I was still schooling, I missed the adrenaline rushing through my veins as I watch drops of perspiration make its way down to the rough flooring of the tennis court. Deciding to take a step out of my comfort zone, I booked a lesson with Joel.

Meeting Joel

At a young age of 26, Joel and his partner built their own academy, Banana Tennis, from scratch. Today, the team has grown to include more than 30 coaches. As business owners, there will be challenges that they have to face.

For Banana Tennis, it is the weather; Mother Nature may not always be so kind.

Stepping into court after months, I felt the blazing 12pm sun on my back. Admittedly, I was anxious and the idea of hitting with a stranger was daunting. However, upon meeting Joel, all my worries faded away.

He exuded positive and fun vibes with his bright yellow “Banana Tennis” tee-shirt which included an adorable drawing of a banana.

I was looking forward to what Joel would be introducing into the lesson to enhance my skills as an experienced tennis player. He started off the lesson with some warmups to gauge my standard and to know what to plan for the rest of the lesson.

Not That Simple

Soon after, he introduced a drill named “the traffic light”. I was to shout out “green”, “yellow” or “red” before hitting the ball over the net. Green meant that I was ready to attack the shot. Yellow meant that I would be placing the ball back in the court like in normal play; red meant that I was defensively hitting the ball over.

This exercise gave a new perspective to the way I play as it forced me to plan ahead, having to decide whether to attack or defend.

“Tennis isn’t just about hitting hard or getting the ball over the net. It is about strategizing your game plan according to your opponent’s strengths and weakness”, Joel explained.

For those unfamiliar to the sport, a volley in tennis is a shot where the player typically standing near the net, hits the ball. Letting your opponent play a volley shot is known to be a dangerous strategy in tennis matches as the shots are usually harder to predict and counter-attack.

As tough as it is to defend a volley, playing a good volley shot is equally challenging. Joel noticed that volleys are my weakness and decided to work on them.

Picturing A French Fry

Joel explained his teachings intriguingly – through food. After all, who doesn’t love food?

“Picture the ball as a french fry and let the french fry pass through your racquet through the holes between your racquet strings”, he explained. These are my favourite kind of analogies – the edible kind. It worked like a charm!

As an intermediate player, I felt that I had my basics covered – there would not be much that could be taught. To my surprise, I was proven wrong.

Joel introduced different drills and techniques that I could use to improve my gameplay and provided tips to enhance my attack shots. I was left with muscle aches after the tiring session.

Establishing A New Routine

In hindsight, the hardest step I took was deciding to get out of my comfort zone.

Throughout the lesson, I felt at ease and had lots of fun despite the hot sun. Joel was encouraging, attentive and jovial which, to me, is a major factor as to why I enjoyed my lesson. His mission for Banana Tennis is to guide his students to integrate tennis with fun. Similarly, the standard he trains all his coaches to be is: bringing smiles wherever.

Surprisingly, Joel’s journey did not start with tennis. In fact, he was in the table tennis team in his secondary school. It was not until the school decided to shut down table tennis as a co-curricular activity (CCA) before he switched over to tennis. From there, he became obsessed with the sport – eventually turning into a coach. He even coached his officers during his army days!

Crawling out of my sedentary lifestyle was indeed a challenge but I am glad I decided to get back into tennis. I left the court with my shirt soaked and muscle aching.

Yet as horrible as that may sound, it brought me a great sense of satisfaction.

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