Zen Out: Two Northeastern Tennis Retreats To Try

by: Ed McGrogan | May 05, 2010

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Now that winter is behind us and you’re back on the courts, are you feeling rusty? Instead of making yourself crazy by trying to cram in extra practice time, why not try working on what could be the bigger problem: your mind. Even when you play on a regular basis, bad habits can creep into your game; trying to resist them can be a frustrating experience.

This spring and summer, two Northeastern health and wellness centers are offering programs that help eradicate those bad habits through an emphasis on the mental game. The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, N.Y., offers two tennis-related programs this summer. The first, Tennis Without Tension, is a three-day program being held July 2-4. Designed for intermediate and advanced players, Tennis Without Tension teaches you to calm your nerves and tough out even the worst case of the yips by employing Eastern techniques such as Japanese aikido and Chinese tai chi. The instructor, Gary Adelman, also focuses on stroke improvement through the optimization of natural body rotation and alignment.

We all want to experience “the zone” when we’re playing a match. Unleashing the Tennis Player Within, the second Omega program, slotted for August 8-13, will try to help you play at your highest level while keeping your focus—effortlessly. Intended for players of all levels, the program focuses on mind/body awareness, relaxation and maintaining concentration. Tai chi, yoga and on-court practice help players learn how to “stay in the now.”

Both programs at Omega include optional yoga, dance movement and other classes as well as swimming and kayaking. For details including cost, housing and meal plans, check out Omega’s website.

Located in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains, the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health offers a weekend program based on Tim Gallwey’s best-selling book, “The Inner Game of Tennis.” (Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is a Gallwey disciple.) Designed for advanced beginners, the June 25-27 clinic is taught by former pro Sean Brawley. Over the course of the three days, players get 12 total hours of on-court instruction on maintaining a consistent level of play while breaking patterns that lead to frustration and loss. Kripalu recommends that participants read “The Inner Game of Tennis” before attending. Students can also take advantage of Kripalu’s hiking trails, yoga classes, fitness center and three organic meals each day.

Though I’ve never taken a tennis clinic there, last summer I did spend a few days at Kripalu over Fourth of July weekend for an Anusara yoga retreat taught by Elena Brower. Although much of the schedule focused on yoga with Brower, I also took a number of other classes with Kripalu teachers, and found them to be very challenging and enjoyable. If you’re concerned that “good food” and “yoga retreat” are mutually exclusive, don’t worry—the meals were delicious and varied.

In addition to the classes, I hiked and swam, had a great massage (for an extra fee) and overall found myself feeling relaxed and refreshed. That isn’t to say I was completely cut off from my life. Without a television set or my computer, I was forced to text with a friend during the men’s Wimbledon final between Andy Roddick and Roger Federer. Even while sitting on a bench overlooking the Berkshire Mountains, I could feel the stress started building within me as the match went deeper and deeper into the fifth set. I missed my final yoga class because I couldn't tear myself away from the updates. Next time, I’m leaving my phone at home, too.

David Rosenberg is TENNS magazine’s photo editor and a frequent contributor to The Daily Spin.

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