My friend B. is a very good archer who competes in the Boston area. We spent a few hours on the phone last night talking about what makes a winner. I told him that I play tennis because I want to feel like a winner. Evidently I have this completely backwards. You can’t win in order to feel like a winner, you have to first feel like a winner in order to win.
This is a basic tenet of manifestation. By manifestation I mean getting the results you want: reaching your goal, hitting for the triple crown, winning a gold medal, beating your 7 year-old sister at chess. It’s the difference between setting the goal to be an Olympic athlete in your chosen sport and watching the Olympics on TV. It’s the difference between a wannabe and an is.
Am I a winner? Obviously not, my record this year is 2-6 and I yell and scream, under my breath of course, in frustration as the points slip away and I fall further behind. I guess I was under the impression that if I practiced hard enough and developed enough skills, winning would take care of itself, but that’s not quite right. If you don’t feel like a winner and you play against someone who does, you will lose.
I had a slight feeling of being a winner today while I played. It felt like calm confidence. Kind of like Kobe Bryant in the 2000 NBA playoffs against Portland when the Lakers were down by 15 points in the fourth quarter calming the crowd as if to say, “Everything’s cool, we’ll be all right, don’t worry,” followed by the biggest fourth quarter comeback ever in a game 7. That kind of feeling. It’s the oppposite of getting flustered and yelling and hanging your head because you know that you have the skills to win the game at hand so why worry, it could only make things worse.
Practice and Competition Report: played four hours: three sets with M. and practiced my serve: 2-6, 4-6, 6-2
1. I am pointing further towards the deuce court when I serve so I can get the serve out wide.
2. I have to snap across and over the ball on the serve else it will go into the net.
1. I’m hitting my ground strokes consistently deep.
2. I improved in each set by staying confident while uncovering and taking advantage of my opponent’s weaknesses.
In Zen Golf, Robert Parent makes a very good point. If a golfer thinks to themselves, “don’t hit the ball into the lake,” their mind sees an image of a lake. It doesn’t, however, see an image of “don’t” – what might that look like I ask you? A lake with a cross through it? Jaws taking a lazy afternoon swim in a lake on a golf course? Not likely. We are more likely to quickly latch onto an image of a lake as the thought races through our mind and our body carries out the instruction perfectly by dumping the golf ball directly into the lake no matter how difficult it might have been to get it there.
Have you ever tried to be quiet while someone is sleeping in the next room? Sure enough, the pots going flying and the plates fall on the floor and you accidentally step on the cat. First of all we are taken out of our regular rhythm by trying to be careful. Second, all we can think about is the noise we’re not supposed to be making so we make it.
What has this to do with tennis? When you get nervous during a league match, say you lose the first two games, you start thinking, “Damn, I hope I don’t get bageled here, what will my teammates think?” The image that comes to mind is the disappoinment on your teammates faces and that’s what your focus becomes and that’s the likely result.
Today I had my strategy all prepared to play the number one, hard serving, undefeated player in my level but he didn’t show up. Instead, I played a substitute with an average serve, no court coverage and very soft strokes. I was completely unnerved as he stood on the baseline and softly hit the ball wherever I was not. I forgot my mental preparation and got so upset at one point that I yelled to myself, “I hate playing junkballers.” I am totally missing the point here. The point is not to serve hard or have a good net game or put a lot of slice on the ball or hit the ball deep, the point is to win the damn game. The “junkballer” knows this. He just gently puts the ball where his opponent is not and wins. His image is winning, my image is John McEnroe yelling at the referee and himself and whoever else is watching.
Practice and competition report: practiced for an hour, played league tennis, one set of doubles and one set of singles: 5-7, 2-6.
Solutions Analysis: Looking for a solution to the problem of forgetting my mental program for each point.
1. I played doubles agressively and made good decisions.
2. I served well getting some winners and an ace.