Starting in my late teens my sport of choice was tennis. I was a Tennis Counselor at a few summer camps and later was on the Tennis Team while at Pace College. Admittedly, I was the weak part of the team, but I was on the team and got my Tennis Letter upon graduation.
Watching the round of 16 at Wimbledon last week I realized that playing high level tennis shares many of the same attributes with successful stroke recovery. A cynic may scoff at this but stay with me.
In both cases a:
- disciplined and devoted mentality is needed to be a winner. Practice sessions in tennis are all about perfecting your strokes while a similar repetition process is what is required in physical therapy to maximize your recovery.
- hard work is the order of the day for both activities. Each player who was interviewed after their match spoke of their hard work to achieve their success in the Tournament. So too, with stroke recovery, though a TV camera may not be present.
- playing tennis at a high level with big money and TV commentators watching every step is no walk in the park. So too, with stroke recovery! None of this is easy.
In every case, each of the players after their matches in the round of 16, the quarters, the semi’s and in the finals spoke of their appreciation for their support team, saying that they could not succeed without their team’s help and support. In many cases the TV cameras would jump to watch the support team’s reactions to the match action.
The players each had a tennis coach, yes, a tennis coach, and a fitness coach. Some also had a mental coach, an agent or businessperson, and in some cases, other support team members.
Though singles tennis is a singular sport, a team is required to facilitate a winner!
And that got me thinking – stroke recovery is also a singular activity. It’s all about you! But dare I say realistically, that to be a winner you also need a team. How do you do this alone, particularly after reimbursed therapy terminates?
Thinking about my experience recovering, my newly minted wife, Debbie, (we only had been married for 18 months) was very important but she like most caregivers was untrained at that skill set. She was a teacher.
My therapists were my primary team, but unlike now I had out-patient therapy for over two years, five days a week, 4-5 hours per day. My therapists became my friends, they coached me, encouraged me, helped with coping strategies, and we socialized together. And when they each wanted to move-on with their careers I helped them attain new, more senior positions.
In the challenging health care environment of today what I had simply does not exist, except perhaps for the very wealthy. Survivors get 3-4 months, sometimes less, sometimes a bit more – maybe 6 months of therapy, which is the exception. And mostly 2-3 hours per day, 2-3 times per week. That’s nothing like I experienced. And nothing like the tennis players have either.
That’s why our Foundation created our Life Coaching for Stroke Survivors. Each of our coaches is themselves a survivor, each has ‘walked the walk’. And each truly understands the travails of a survivor. They have been there. We have found that survivors love that we are survivors, ourselves. It’s an immediate bond!
The mission of our coaching service is to maximize each survivor’s recovery, given the residual deficits. We want to create a Roadmap to Success. But realizing that each situation is different, we have no set program. We personalize our work to each situation. Some survivors just need knowing patient encouragement, others a life after stroke structure, others with their fight with depression, and others with help developing coping strategies or help finding appropriate resources. For some discipline is an issue to maintain progress. The list goes on!
Let me end with a simple question going back to the beginning of this post – if successful tennis players think they need help succeeding in a singular activity, respectfully, don’t you agree that it would be worthwhile for you to also get some support and assistance?
Just click on the Life Coaching for Stroke Survivors blue button on the home page of the website and follow it down to the Next Step and Donate button.
Good Luck, and we are here to help you succeed!
Bob Mandell – Founder