22 April 2015

Hooray for Tennis!

Tennis is the balls, no seriously though. There is something therapeutic about the concentration needed, to stay in the moment and focus all your attention on the ball. It’s the only way to really master the game, and yet most players take their eyes off it just before they’re about to make contact. It’s not unlike life. People often give up before they’re about to make a “hit”. We often give up, sometime right at the last moment. Success is all about staying focused intently on the target.

Eyes on the Ball…

In tennis the tendency is to look at where you think the ball is going BEFORE you actually make contact. The problem here is that you’re getting ahead of yourself. While it’s very important to have a target of where you want to hit it, the odds of doing that drop the more you take eyes off the ball. Even if you watch many of the pros in super slow motion, you’ll see that they lift their eyes just before making contact. They can get away with this because they spent so many years practicing the proper form, preparation, not to mention being in amazing shape. But if you watch the great Roger Federer, you’ll see he keeps his eyes glued to the contact point until long AFTER contact, and the ball is often already over the net before he looks to see where his opponent is going to hit the next shot.

Roger Federer

This is one of the reasons he is considered by so many to be the greatest player of all time. We could learn so much just from this one specific idea.

Trust, vision, belief

How does this work? Well, he has already picked the target of where he wants to hit the ball. Now he stays focused on actually hitting the ball with total confidence and belief that he will make the shot, and by doing this, he increases the odds exponentially. He has trust in his ability, with a vision clear in his mind, and the belief that he can and will make the shot. If we can apply this same technique not only in sports, but to anything we want to do in life, we will surely increase our success rate.

Everyone makes mistakes…

In tennis, as in life, even the very best often make “unforced errors” or mistakes. The difference between the great players and just the very good ones, is the mind power and discipline of quickly letting go of the mistake and not dwelling on it. Very often you see amazing players with tons of talent tank a match because they made a mistake at a key moment. Rather than staying focused, they get flustered, lose concentration, or worse, get very agitated. Then everything can start to go wrong, and soon they’ve lost the match. The take away is this: One of the major keys to success is not to avoid making mistakes, but rather to have no fear of them, and bounce back quickly, staying focused on you next opportunity which is often the very next shot, point, game, set, or match!

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