Do you play tennis or are you a tennis player? I think there are some distinct differences between the two. In my opinion, those who play tennis are focused mainly on participation goals. I should note right here that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG with having goals like being a part of the team, using tennis as a means to exercise, or playing socially. In fact, I think participation goals are wonderful for children and adults in more ways than I can count. However, participation goals should not be mixed up with performance goals that a tennis player is striving for. Performance goals are what make tennis players, well players, and include things like starting on the varsity tennis team, winning a particular tournament, or striving for a certain rating or ranking. Becoming a tennis player takes a deeper level of commitment, work, and sacrifices than just playing tennis.
To conclude this post I want to let you know that playing tennis or being a tennis player are both very valuable things. I have coached people who are focused on simply playing tennis for exercise and other participation goals. These people have learned a ton of life lessons through the sport of tennis and then applied them to different areas of their lives. I have also coached players who focus heavily on performance goals. These players have improved and also learned valuable life lessons.
Neither is right or wrong, in fact, they are both wonderful avenues to pursue the world greatest game, at least in my humble opinion. Knowing the difference between the two, the choice is up to you whether you want to simply play tennis or train to become a tennis player?