athlete mentality

Shoes on the court
Trickles of sweat
Taped thumbs and ankles
Racquet in my calloused hand
The stickiness of a new grip
The sound of fresh strings on the ball
The connection to the concrete

Bounce the ball like that’s all there is
Play with the chain on my neck
Start the swing I’ve swung a billion times
Watch my mind go into automatic

Play the point
Reset the moment
Memory gets deactivated
Stillness gets ignited
Chase another ball
Step up to the line
Repeat it all a million more times

Competition is so hard to explain
But it pulls something out of you
I sense her across the net
I watch her play little games
My alarm goes off
I find the tiger within
I break the chain
Let her out
Forget sensing her across the net
Sense the moment instead

There’s always a choice
A choice to raise and pull ahead
Or a choice to let it get to you
Mind gets a little talkative
Feet start to bounce a little more
Score becomes heavier
The dopamine rush knocks at the door

I hear all the voices that have ever built me up
I see all the times I fought for my grit
I feel the fire inside, the one I learned to light
And that’s when I know, I’ll walk off the court with the balls


Author’s Note – Walking off court with the balls means you won in tennis :-). I usually like to keep my two worlds separate…being an athlete (tennis) and being a writer. But I just came off a big tournament win and I thought I’d let my worlds collide :-). Competition has been a journey for me, but in so many moments this weekend I realized it’s a journey I will look back on with a smile inside and out. To show up for myself in the heat of the moment is the true victory, beyond the trophy.

High level tennis is hard to make relatable, it’s much more than what is portrayed in the public eye…it’s an intensity like no other and requires the highest level of mental toughness. I could write a million pieces on tennis and competing, and that wouldn’t be nearly enough to describe every aspect of it all. But for this piece, just remember “that choice” is a choice we make not just in competition but in everyday life.

47 responses to “athlete mentality”

  1. What an amazing poem…the perspective that you have…the zone that you create…the movements on concrete…the battles that you face…the choice that you make…the knowing that you share…the wisdom of you, Grace…many congratulations on winning the tournament, dear friend 👏✨💟💫🎊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great poem Grace 👌. It describes the moment of a game very aptly.
    Congratulations on your win 😇
    Stay happy and always be the fearless free soul you are sis.😁
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is excellent! You really created a charged atmosphere from the beginning, and it drew me right in. I could sense you were in that “flow” state and the “choice” you pinpoint is so interesting, it definitely is something we need to be mindful of, especially when it can be gone all too fast, and we missed the chance to pull ahead. My son loves tennis, I wish I were better at it, I’m just a lazy butt writer! 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww thank you, dear Tricia! I’m so happy to hear you say “charged atmosphere” because I was hoping to bring that competition feeling to this piece. Yesss, definitely in the flow 😊, thank you for thoughtfully reading! And I love what you say about the “choice” here, that’s exactly right. Omg how cool your son loves tennis…you’re not “just a writer”, you’re an incredibly talented one!!!!! Appreciate your support, always 🤍🤗

      Liked by 1 person

    • Aww Cassa, thank you for this most precious comment! Australian open is always exciting, how cool you’ve been watching! I’m so happy to hear that, the mind of a player is rarely talked about so I’m glad I could share here. Thank you for your thoughtful words, appreciate you 🤍🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this Grace and these lines:
    “Competition has been a journey for me, but in so many moments this weekend I realized it’s a journey I will look back on with a smile inside and out. To show up for myself in the heat of the moment is the true victory, beyond the trophy.:💞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, dear Layla! Glad you loved the note, I love adding those behind the scenes words when the piece needs it. You always inspire me with your imagery, so thank you for your kind words on mine! Appreciate you 🤍🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  5. First of all, congratulations, Grace, on your well-deserved victory. It’s really so pleasing to see how you blend your writing and playing so beautifully. The imagery built around this great game is truly mesmerising. This will remain with me.😊💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww thank you, dear friend!!! Aww I appreciate that so much, it was a new type of creating for me. You are too sweet!!!!! Your special comments and thoughtful reads of my writing today have honestly made my week. Thank you for supporting and encouraging me, you’re the BEST 🤍🤗🤍🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Alf Mabrook-1000 Congratulations Grace!! You are our WordPress Champion too. I love this insider piece on your experiences as a tennis competitor and your wonderful way with words! Your footnote tied it all together beautifully. Loved this, “The dopamine rush knocks at the door” Ahhh we learn what needs to be done by us on our end, to have this illustrious visitor ( Sr. Dopamine) pay us a visit:):) I almost felt like I was on the court facing my adversary..great writing always puts us there,,front row center!! Such a wonderful glimpse into another big part of you Bravo Grace!! 🎉🎾🌟🌹❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awwww Karima, you are the sweetest!!!! Thank you for thoughtfully reading and commenting in such an encouraging way! I love how you call “dopamine” a visitor. Awww I’m so happy to hear I took you to the moment with this piece, that was my goal! It was such a vulnerable experience sharing this part of my world, but I’m so happy I did – these words will stick with me for a while. Thank you for being such a dear friend and for bringing a big smile to my heart. Grateful for you!!!!! 🤍🤍🤗🤗

      PS – I’ve been on the road all day but I am setting aside time this weekend to watch the other cinematic experiences of yours and Dale’s…so excited 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Grace this is fantastic. I love reading about your world in tennis. You brought us right there with you onto the courts so we could experience it. Congrats and much love. Thanks for sharing with us. 🙏💓🎉💐

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww Lia, thank you so much for this special comment!!! You are such an amazing friend, I’m so lucky to be read by you. Aww yay, so glad to hear that…it was my goal to make this one feel especially alive 😊. Appreciate you and your kind support 🤍🤗🤍🤗


  8. Congratulations on your tournament win! Your poem really expresses the visceral physicality of playing at such a high competition level, but with such a feeling of controlled focus in a high pressure situation – wonderful write! Love this poem, Grace ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww thanks so much, dearest Sunra!!!! I’m so happy to hear that, the detail you describe was exactly my goal in writing this. So lucky to be read by you, thank you for your always thoughtful words 🤍🤗

      Liked by 1 person

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