How tolerant are you of differences?

I wonder if Dojokovic and Nadal would be able to find social games in many clubs around the world?

Dojokovic bounces the ball a lot of times and Nadal has so many quirks before he serves and takes a long between points!

After 50 years at clubs in numerous countries around the world, I am still amazed at how intolerant we are of those who are a little ‘different’ from ourselves. I am not sure if this was always the case or has simply intensified in the recent past.

This does not bode well for the world we live in because as technology makes our world ‘smaller’, we will come face-to-face with differences more and more and intolerance will make for volatility!

So, how tolerant are you? Perhaps, we could all make an extra effort to see differences, but not judge them negatively.

How much does it really inconvenience us in the big scheme of things if we have to adjust to others that we come across?

And please don’t forget that people’s nuisances are not designed specifically to piss you off, but to overcome their own discomfort.

Nadal has his numerous clothing adjustments not to gain a competitive edge, but to get comfortable within himself to play and I think the same is with Djokovic and his numerous bounces of the ball before he serves.

While waiting, instead of judging the other, perhaps you could experiment with focusing on your own breathing or some how connecting with your own body and see what happens.

Just a moment with yourself could center you and allow you to play your best tennis also.

Experiment, explore, enjoy!

 

 

Tip of the week: the choice between comfort and growth

Whenever I play doubles, I ask my opponent which side they prefer and when they tell me their preference, I often surprise them by saying ok then, why don’t you play the other side.

These comments are almost always greeted by some sense of disbelief, but it makes perfect sense to me.

If you play well from one side and feel uncomfortable on the other, does it not make sense to play one’s weaker side and try and improve it, especially in practice?

This is a dilemma that we are faced with almost every day of our lives in almost every aspect of our lives. In the choice between comfort and growth; it is very tempting to choose comfort, which begs the question, do we really want growth?

The reality is that when we choose comfort, we are saying no to growth, whether we realize it or not.

In a friendly conversation, if you asked people if they choose growth or comfort, I think the vast majority would say growth. It seems like the ‘right’ thing to say.

However, if we are committed to more than just the ideal of growth, then we need to seek out discomfort.

Question: who in their ‘right’ mind would seek out discomfort?

Answer: anyone interested in growth.

In tennis I see this all the time. In a clinic or lesson, individuals will run around their weak shot in order to hit their strong shot. Why is that? Surely a lesson would be the perfect time to move into discomfort, but this just does not seem the approach of most people.

Too many young players, especially today, when faced with adversity or a breakdown of a particular shot will use anger and frustration as a way of avoiding oneself and the ‘problem’.

Instead of trying to explore the situation and see what is happening, the immediate response is to extricate oneself from the situation as quickly as possible. Giving up seems an easier option than fighting or just being in that space and seeing what happens.

So, what does your behavior reveal to you, do you choose growth or comfort?

 

 

Consistency!

Consistency is the foundation of our game. If you cannot keep balls in play, this game is not as much fun and success will be difficult at any level.

Recreational players mostly understand this and do anything to get the ball regardless. The result is not always pretty!

Advanced players, especially juniors, do not understand this and they try and hit as hard as they can and the result is very rarely pretty!

As always the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Yes, consistency is important, but only after the swing is in place. To focus on consistency immediately and before other foundational things are in place, such as contact, movement and a somewhat relaxed state of mind, is a recipe for disaster or certainly stagnation and arm injuries.

So recreational players need to first focus on themselves before they focus on what’s going on ‘out there’. In other words, get comfortable making contact with the ball and moving around before paying too much attention to where the ball is going.

More ‘advanced’ players need to focus more on ‘out there’. Once, you have a fairly decent swing, instead of jumping straight into trying to hit the ball like the pros, spend a ‘substantial’ amount of time hitting down the middle of the court and 3 feet over the net.

This step in the developing process is often missed altogether. I think, depending on how often you play, this step could last as long as 6 months to a couple of years.

Who has the patience? As this step is progressing you can still play matches and enter tournaments, but just keep balls in play and maintain your good swing and allow it to develop in a natural way. Avoid elaborate tactics and strategy and run everything down and focus on consistency, with a good swing.

In my understanding, this will lay a solid foundation for players and where they go from there will be limited only by their talent, determination and desire.

Enjoy the journey!

Tip of the week: establishing a baseline

Tip of the week: establishing a baseline

Many players when they get tight or nervous rush towards the ball and this makes timing difficult and it also makes it impossible to swing freely at the ball.

Every player should understand and be aware of their own baseline.

Nadal’s baseline is different from Fed’s. There is no one right baseline for every player and your baseline may vary depending on your opponent.

The sense of waiting that arises when you have a baseline can be uncomfortable at first, but when you connect to the waiting and become aware of it, it will change the way you feel on the court.

Instead of constantly feeling rushed, you will feel you have so much time and that will help to produce much better shots.

Explore this on the court as you play and see what happens!

Tip of the week: the role of emotions in competition!

The role of emotions in competition

Emotions, specifically ‘negative’ emotions, have always been considered a hindrance to peak athletic performance. As a result, there has always been an attempt to suppress, escape or move to a more ‘positive’ mindset from the chaotic emotional experience that often arises during competition.

While this makes complete logical sense, does it work?

Keep trying it to see if it works and if, in your experience, it does not, perhaps then you will be ready to try a different approach.

Another approach would be to look for the role emotions play? What is their purpose? They are there for everyone and must be fulfilling some purpose.

The only way to know the answer to these questions is to live the experience fully when the emotions arise. This is more difficult than it sounds.

What sane person wants to be remain in the discomfort we feel when we are in the grips of anger, frustration, fear, nervousness, etc?

It seems quite logical to want to get out of the discomfort the moment it arises.

And yet, we don’t invite these emotions, they come out of nothing and it is our job, perhaps, to discover what purpose they are fulfilling and see where that takes us.

In order to do that all we can do is to live these and all emotions fully and explore whatever arises for us.

enjoy the journey………….

 

Difference between fighting and competing.

Are you a fighter or a competitor?

A fighter is someone who hates to lose and will shout, scream and go nuts in many ways if he or she is losing. This person is out of control and as a result makes a constant stream of ‘bad’ decisions, both tactically and shot selection wise.

Good competitors are not overly-affected by the imminent prospect of winning or losing and remain in the ‘battle’. They are aware of the score and what is happening in the match and they are planning and scheming to find a way to succeed.

Certainly, fighters are highly motivated to succeed, but they are unable to see a clear path forward and that hinders their ability to succeed, although sometimes, they may be able to pull through on sheer grit.

Good competitors are always focused on competing and problem solving, while fighters are more focused on themselves and often whining and complaining about how poorly they are playing.

Fighters are often looking for a reason for why they are losing. They will constantly make excuses and will very rarely take responsibility, beyond saying ‘I played terribly’, which is more of an escape than taking responsibility.

Good competitors are generally more comfortable with themselves and that allows them to compete until the match is over, while fighters are insecure and looking for a way out.

My understanding is that you do not choose to be a competitor or a fighter. Your actions and behaviour reflect who you are.

If any change is to happen, we must first be able to clearly see the games mind plays to protect ego. We need to clearly feel what is happening to us as we play.

There is a chance of change only if we bring more awareness to our experience as we compete and then have the ability to be brutally honest to ourselves about that experience, without judgment.

It may not be easy to admit that we are constantly making excuses for losses or poor play, but to go deeper and see the role that these excuses are playing could help.

It may not be easy to feel the pain of anger, frustration, nervousness and all the other symptoms that fear reflects, but to recognize them and see what these emotions are doing for us can be helpful.

The journey of self-discovery is an arduous one, but can be truly ‘enlightening’ for those who embark upon it!

Explore, experiment and enjoy!

 

Tip of the week: the desire for certainty

At the root of a great deal of the tension and nervousness we feel during the execution of our swings in match-play stems from the desire to be certain or sure.

In practice, the desire to be certain is less powerful and so we are more cavalier with the way we swing the racket. It looks like we trust more, but the reality is, we care less if the ball goes in.

In a match, we want to be certain the ball is going to stay in and as a result, we almost invariably slow down the racket speed and often end up pushing the ball or moving awkwardly around contact.

Is that your experience?

If it is, we need to give up this desire for certainty. The future is always uncertain and that is its nature, regardless of our needs and desires. If we can accept that reality, it will be easier to swing freely and see what happens!

Are you ready for the adventure?

July 11th tip of the week: Absorb and grow!

Every year for the past 23 years, Wholistic Tennis Academy has given out and sold t-shirts with sayings on the back.

This year’s t-shirt is ‘absorb and grow’.

Words are like art. The artist can paint something that he sees in one way, but everyone is free to interpret ‘his’ painting anyway they wish.

So please feel free to choose to understand these words any way you wish.

I am simply sharing with you some thoughts.

What I love about the word absorb is that it is so feminine and yet so powerful. Normally we think of the male, yang, energy as being powerful.

So, how can absorbing be such a powerful act?

For me, it is powerful because I have found it to be transformative!!

Look at your own experience. Perhaps you have been fighting anger, fear, doubt, frustration or nervousness for many years.

How has the fighting or escaping helped? If fighting has not helped, why not try absorbing? See what happens?

So, the next time any of these emotions come up, instead of seeing it as something negative to be gotten rid of, perhaps we can just quietly live our experience of the emotion.

Then, when it comes time to execute, we can focus on the physicality of our movements and swing with abandon, despite what we are feeling.

In other words, our feelings, such as they may be, need not change our swings, often they do, but they need not.

Absorb, Experience, Experiment and Explore!

 

 

July 4th Tip of the week: getting the most out of every situation

It seems almost everyone wants to play with players better than themselves. The fallacy is that if I play with players better than me, then, by osmosis, I will also get better.

This is simply not true. In my understanding you can improve regardless of who is on the other side of the court in most situations.

The wise man learns from every situation, the fool blames everyone else and learns nothing, and it is never his fault!

Consequently, this week’s blog is about finding a way to learn and enjoy the game, even if you find yourself on the court with someone who does not play as well as you!

I would like to start with a funny (and sad anecdote!). I once put a group together and two different people came to me after the game and said, ‘please do not put me with that person again because she is much too weak a player for me’. They were talking, not about a third party, but about each other!

So, it is always good to keep in mind that our assessment of ourselves or others may not always be spot on. You may need to ask for an honest second opinion (not always easy to get!).

Regardless, the topic is how can we get the most out of every situation that we are placed in.

It is quite simple really, we just have to think a little outside the box or turn off one of the many minds (voices) floating in our heads.

Let us assume that your assessment is correct and that you are playing opponents that are much weaker than you. Once you recognize that, you have to turn off your competitive mind and now focus on how you can enjoy this experience and make it productive.

The first thing is if their backhand is weaker than their forehand, hit to the forehand! If they cannot move, hit to them! If they cannot handle your most powerful shots, hit at a pace they can handle!

I think by now, you get the picture. In this way, both you and your opponent can enjoy the game. They will get a chance to play and you will have a chance to hit more balls.

In addition, you can always try tactics you are uncomfortable with or try to hit shots that you are not proficient at.

Again, in my experience, my game only really jumped levels, when I was able to work some things out in me and was completely unrelated to my opponents or my hitting partners. As I got more comfortable with myself, I was able to execute my shots better; and the person on other side cannot help me get more comfortable with myself.

In short, in my opinion, there is a great deal of growth possible in YOURSELF in every situation.

Or you could stay the same and just blame the game-arranger!

 

July tip of the week: Drop the beginner’s mind!

For thousands of years, in the zen tradition, nurturing the beginner’s mind was something to be admired, a goal to be strived for.

What the heck happened?

In ancient India, the beginner’s mind was described as one of awe, one of wonderment where an openness to all that exists was implied. The potential of such a mind seemed limitless.

Today’s beginner’s mind seems to be something completely different. Today’s beginner’s mind is very judgmental. It is convinced that it ‘knows’ nothing and is basically incapable of doing even the simplest of tasks. It is always thinking the worst and it is has adopted an entire set of beliefs that make us feel safe, but are COMPLETELY wrong.

The beginner’s mind of old nurtured trust and in that trust anything could be accomplished. Today’s beginner’s mind is rooted in a sense of ‘I’m not good enough’; it is much more logical and creates numerous obstacles to accomplishing anything.

How can we drop the present day beginner’s mind and move into the trust that arises from dropping all knowledge without being paralyzed by the reality of not-knowing and yet being open to Life being revealed to us.?

Knowing nothing allows us the opportunity to discover amazing things. The fear that can arise from not knowing can make us cripples, incapable of accomplishing even the simplest of tasks successfully.

 

Enjoy the journey…………….