JAK'S NEW ESSAY SERIES: Achieving Your Personal Best
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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