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JAK'S NEW ESSAY SERIES: Achieving Your Personal Best

The Focus

May 2021

Players don't care enough about it. They take it for granted. Some are oblivious regarding it, actually have conversational catch-up chat sessions during their warm-ups, instead at focusing on the impending tasks at hand.

Some choose to not warm-up at all uttering nonsense like, "Let's not waste any more time warming-up, typically followed by, "FBI?"

Q. Exactly what triggers that counter-productive behavior?
A. Four (4) error prone players attempting to warm-up with three (3) balls… without ball kids. Ambitious at best. Unrealistic for sure.

Yet, it is a necessity in having a good first few games and then a good overall outing, whether it was a winning one or not (winning is not everything!). This is paramount over the long haul in becoming a truly good, rock solid tennis player.

Of course there are the required mechanical/technical shot making skill developed over many hours, days, weeks, months, years. The sweat equity. But that's not it. There's also the athletic ability to motor full-on, alien to the less physically gifted, or, more likely, the less physically motivated whatever your chronology. But that's not necessarily it either.

It is the awareness of a deep focus that's required to manage those myriad mechanical, physical, mental, and emotional tasks at hand. That's what separates eager participants from the exceptional at every level.

Those players are the cool, the calm, and the collected. They are intense, but still relaxed. They always give their best physical effort. They practice patience with themselves. They maintain realistic expectations — not too high, not too low.

Embed from Getty Images

A quieting of the mind that eliminates all unwelcome noise, clutter, and especially self-doubt is a must. A serene state of being of self-belief in the midst of a tornado of flying yellow spheres coming and going. All the while staying can-do positive in the face of any adversity.

Some of us get it, understand it, and exude it. We happily embrace it. We seek its elusiveness and camp out in it for as long as possible with no sense of time, in the moment. We trust it. We bet the farm on it. Everything becomes not only possible but doable.

The game slows down. You're in the "zone" playing out of your conscious mind. Dumbed way down.

It's the commitment to the process, a letting go, that's the path to your best performances, and ultimately the resulting "winning" too.

On court with lesson clients of varying levels, I've lately referred to it as the Tom Brady Effect; quarterbacking a long standing up and down mediocre team of mostly the same players – perhaps analogous to your tennis game at times - into Super Bowl champions [better players] in one season.

That's team [game] management.



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Past Essays

  • May 2021 - The Focus
    [read more]
  • April 2021 - About Your Butt Cap
    [read more]
  • March 2021 - The Essential Forehand and Backhand
    [read more]
  • February 2021 - On Being a Doubles All-Courter
    [read more]
  • January 2021 - Same Grip Volleying Myths
    [read more]
  • December 2020 - On mechanics and style
    [read more]
  • November 2020 - THE BIG 3: The Glue That Keeps Your Best Game Together
    [read more]
  • September 2020 - Protocol and Game Tradition Revisited
    [read more]
  • August 2020 - As Good as Your 2nd Serve
    [read more]
  • July 2020 - Shot Shaping
    [read more]
  • June 2020 - Getting a Point in Jeopardy Back to Neutral
    [read more]
  • May 2020 - A Positive Mind-Set: On and Off the Court in Today's C-19 Reality
    [read more]
  • April 2020 - The Zombie Tennis Creed – Top Ten
    [read more]
  • March 2020 - A Roadmap Into "The Zone"
    [read more]
  • February 2020 - The service toss: myths and realities
    [read more]
  • January 2020 - Shot Gazing
    [read more]
  • December 2019 - The Dreaded High Bouncing Moonball Dilemma
    [read more]
  • November 2019 - Chalk Flew: Troublesome Line Calling without Hawkeye in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2019 - In the Spirit of Don't Drink and Drive… Don't Think and Hit [read more]
  • September 2019 - Old School vs New School [read more]
  • August 2019 - Getting the Ball Where You Want It [read more]
  • July 2019 - Taking Points Off…What? [read more]
  • June 2019 - Confidence Is Confidence: Take It Wherever You Can Get It [read more]
  • May 2019 - TENNIS INNOVATION IMPLODES [read more]
  • April 2019 - Defending the Court with Older Bones: A Club Player's Guide to Saying "Nice Shot" Less [read more]
  • March 2019 - Do You Have Doubles Rally Tolerance? [read more]
  • February 2019 - I Knew Jimy Van Alen: A Historical Look Back [read more]
  • January 2019 - The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Mental Toughness Skills [read more]
  • December 2018 - Less Bling is the Thing [read more]
  • November 2018 - Anatomy of a Doubles Serve Return…from the Inside Out [read more]
  • October 2018 - Older Dogs and New Tricks: Still Improving at Any Age [read more]
  • September 2018 - The All-Important Dynamic of Gripping [read more]
  • August 2018 - The Cinemascope Syndrome: Undermining Your Ball Watching [read more]
  • June 2018 - Serving and Returning Better with a Quiet Eye [read more]
  • May 2018 - The Man Who Breathed for Two [read more]
  • January 2018 - Rituals Anyone? [read more]
  • December 2017 - Why Serving is so Difficult in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2017 - Managing your body and mind in tennis space [read more]
  • August 2017 - Why Bother Breathing to Improve Your Game [read more]
  • May 2017 - The "Maintaining" One's Game as One Ages Fallacy [read more]
  • February 2017 - Punta Gorda Tennis Clubs: Setting the Bar [read more]
  • January 2017 - State of the Club Game: The Growing Death of Sportsmanship [read more]

Check back often for more essays.