Monthly Archives: May 2004

fluid event

Before each point I mentally rehearse my next stoke. At one point today, the mental picture of my forehand came together as one fluid event. I was not thinking twist, bend, step, hit through and up and catch the racket. I was mentally experiencing a fluid windup and swing that felt comfortable and strong.

Practice and Competition Report: hit with Michelle for an hour and a half.
Solutions Analysis: looking for solution to elbow pain. Possible solution: I have lost forearm strength because I have not been doing my forearm strength exercises. I’ll start doing the exercises every day for two weeks and four times a week after that.
Success Analysis: we had some very good rallies. We were able to consistently hit forehands and backhands deep into the court.

ignore the score, especially if it’s a perfect game

Lanny Bassham tells you to ignore the score. He can do that because he is shooting a rifle. I have to keep the score. No-one else is going to do it and the only marks I leave are skid marks.

So how do you ignore the score? The more you try not to think about something, the more it becomes the only thing you can think about. Think about Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch when they started having trouble at second base: the harder they tried to throw the ball to first base accurately, the more the ball sprayed all over the field. You have to occupy your mind with something else and since you’re playing a tennis match it’s probably a good idea to occupy it with thoughts about your serve or service return. One of those two strokes is likely to be the next thing you have to do.

You should have a mental process for every point. Before the point, relax, feel how great it will be to win the point, think about where you want the ball to go and rehearse the next stroke you’ll need. After the point, congratulate yourself if you won the point. If you didn’t, just go on to the preparation for the next point.

Last night Randy Johnson threw a perfect game. There have only been 17 perfect games in Major League history. Johnson said that his focus was exceptional. Of course he knew the score but his mind was totally focused for 27 batters on the pitches he wanted to throw and all of the adjustments he needed to make throughout 9 innings. After he threw the last pitch, he looked calm next to his ecstatic teammates. Mental focus will do that to you.

Practice and Competition Report: practiced for 40 minutes, played with Daniel for one hour, played two rally games: 17-15, 15-13.
Solutions Analysis: looking for solution to rushing to the net and forgetting to go into a split step when my opponent hits the ball.
Success Analysis:
1. even though my forehand wasn’t going very deep, I was able to win both rally games. I thought about where I wanted the ball to go instead of getting caught up in technique and I was able to come back from 2-7 in the second game to win it.
2. I played the important points well.

globalize the Olympics

The International Olympic Committee announced the five cities who are finalists to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. The Olympics has become such a bloated affair. It’s time to change the format. The concentration of events in one city and country causes immense handwringing and stress over construction deadlines and huge security problems. The effect can be a shockwave to local inhabitants who can be completely forgotten by local organizers in their push to bring dazzling Olympic recognition to their city.

Think back to New Year’s eve at the millenium, 1999 became 2000. The event was celebrated in a cycle of local pageants from Apia (Samoa) to Nukualofa (Tonga). I remember sitting on the couch watching Kiri Te Kanawa sing Maori songs in the Official Dawn Ceremony, I watched the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball fall and finally, at midnight, I wandered next door and watched the Hollywood sign light up as I stood on a terrace with my neighbors and friends. I was ecstatic, I felt like a true global citizen attending every one of those incredible ceremonies.

I think the Olympics should go global. Break the event into small parts and hold events throughout the world during the same timespan. Small countries would then be able to compete as hosts; they could afford to build an arena for one event. The Olympics would reach much farther around the world and competitors would experience something outside the usual collections of world capitals that make up the usual closed cycle of Olympic host cities.

Practice Report: worked out at the gym for 1 1/2 hours.
Solutions Analysis:
1. if I go down only halfway when I lunge and twist, I don’t feel any knee pain.
2. arm raises: I need to use my abdominal muscles to lift my arms and keep the arms straight throughout the exercise.

one hour with a good instructor equals six months with a bad one

O.k., remember what I said about the Lakers being down two games to none to the San Antonio Spurs? Damn if they didn’t pull it off, four straight wins over a team that had won 17 straight games. That is a prime example of ignoring short and long term history and concentrating on the present and future. It helps to have a lucky shot with .4 second left but then Tim Duncan’s shot was lucky too.

It also helps to have possibly the best NBA coach ever, Phil Jackson. I have made it a habit to track down the best teachers. I moved to Santa Fe to study with Kumar Frantzis when I studied Taiji. I went to an Alexander Technique school for two years so I could study with the best teachers when I severely injured my back. And I sent an email to Tim Gallwey, he wrote The Inner Game of Tennis, when I was looking for a tennis instructor. He directed me to Sean Brawley. Sean teaches you how to teach yourself. He may cost more but you save bigtime in the long run because you learn how to learn and you can apply this learning to anything, not just tennis. And it’s cheaper than trying to undo the bad thinking of a bad instructor.

Practice and Competition Report: practiced for 45 minutes, hit with M. for 1hr 15min.
Solutions Analysis:
1. looking for a solution to the problem of rushing my approach shot.
2. when I hit a volley, the ball goes much further if I think about putting it near the baseline. When I concentrate on proper technique only, the ball often goes into the net. Once you get into a shot, it’s way too late to think about technique, just think about where you want to ball to go and let your body take over.
Success Analysis: I hit my ground strokes very solidly.
Injury Report: I have continuing tendonitis in my knee. Time to see Andy Choi again. Sigh.

nervousness the affirmation

Remember learning how to lose? The idea is to use losses as clues to what you need to change so you can improve. Once you figure out what to change, how do you change it? Lanny Bassham uses directive affirmations. A directive affirmation has a time limit, a goal – whatever it is you want to change, the payoff, and your plan to reach the goal.

I get nervous during a match and then I speed up and then I forget what I’m doing and then… the match is over. Here is my affirmation for nervousness.

6/7/04 Once the match starts I feel comfortable because I have prepared as well as I can. As a result, I am relaxed and perform better. I rehearse everything that happens on the day of the match, I practice 3 times a week, I record my performance analysis and read and visualize my Directive Affirmation daily. Once the match starts I feel comfortable because I have prepared as well as I can.

By June 7 (21 days from now), I expect to feel relaxed when I compete. Optimism never hurts. It’ll be worth it because nervousness is hardly optimal. And my plan is to rehearse everything that could possibly happen. Notice that I’ve left something out here. If you have a poor image of yourself then you have a big problem. Sorry, not sure I can help you with that.

Bassham tells you to run this affirmation for 21 days and then take a break for 9 days before starting another one. I’ll tell you how it goes.