Today I was able to hit a tennis ball against the wall for the first time since my latest incident of tennis elbow. My backhand was fine but I had a difficult time changing my habit of bringing the racket back with my arm to bringing it back by twisting my body. How do you change an ingrained movement habit? Well, you could take 14 years of Alexander Technique lessons as I have and continue to do. You could also use mental practice. It’s cheaper. As you see many times in my posts, this stuff is all in the book With Winning in Mind by Lanny Bassham.
Here might be a good time to admit that I use mental tennis practice as a meditation. I was once given a melting mediation by my tai chi teacher, I have practiced various types of mantra meditations including Transcendental Meditation, I’ve asked my spirit guides for guidance (there were lots of nuns floating around me). But none of them lasted. I don’t like to meditate or, really, to sit still at all. But I do like to practice tennis. A big part of any athlete’s practice is mental rehearsal so I decided that I might as well use tennis as a focus for meditation. With apologies to Patanjali, the second sutra of the Yoga sutras says that yoga is the ability to put your attention on an object and keep it there regardless of distractions. He doesn’t say what the object is so why not tennis?
I mentally practice tennis when I go to bed if I have no better offers. I give my thanks for another wonderful day then dive into a mental simulation of practice or a match as if I was out there on the court.