During our off-court discussions at Marcy last weekend, we talked about Friendship, a topic that perfectly complimented our first class dedicated to rallying. Our chat about Friendship was actually inspired by the previous class’ talk about Values. Noticing that the students gave little prioritization to friendship in the Values Ranking exercise, we decided to lead an entire discussion about the people we call our friends. We got the kids talking about what makes someone a friend. They identified two important features of friendship: having common interests and being able to trust one another.
We also helped the students to distinguish between their friends and best friends. The kids overturned the idea that a best friend is someone who is simply physically close to you all the time. One student, Brenda, proved this by explaining that her best friend goes to a different school than her. Although they’re not by each other’s side everyday, their frequent communication keeps their friendship afloat.
So, what does this have to do with rallying? Until Saturday, our lessons had kept the game of tennis entirely “one-way”: focused on hitting forehands and backhands over the net or at a target, never returned by a fellow student to initiate back-and-forth play. Our groundstrokes drills—with balls fed directly to students to improve their form—explored tennis only from the standpoint of the individual player, without considering what the game really is: hitting with another person or people, sustaining a rally.
Rallying is easily likened to friendship. Like maintaining an exciting rally, keeping a good friendship requires effort and responsiveness on both sides. A life with strong friendships is definitely more meaningful and than one without them, all alone—just like tennis is much more fun with someone else on the other side of the net, playing against you!