Let me start by saying that I would like to explore timing, which means I am not saying I know what it is or that these are the definitive thoughts on the subject. I am just starting the discussion by sharing my experiences.
It seems to me that timing is the most essential quality in hitting a tennis ball. Would you agree?
Yes, technique is important, but you can have poor technique and yet succeed if your timing is good. However, regardless of your technique when timing falters, which it often does when we are tight or nervous, then good technique cannot help. Is that your experience?
Did you ever notice that when even top players get tight and they miss-hit balls they are often early and hardly ever late? Many shanked backhands from Fed come to mind immediately. Why is that? Is that simply the inability to wait?
For me, the key to timing and the hardest thing in tennis is the ability to wait and do nothing.
Our minds are active as all minds are. To wait requires some stillness. However, since this stillness is not available to us off the court, it will also be difficult to produce on the court, especially at key moments.
Is it possible to nurture this stillness?
The first thing to realize is that it has nothing to do with tennis per se. Of course, everything is ultimately integrated, but the ability to be still and just wait is not limited to the tennis court, consequently, it can be practiced and nurtured in everyday life.
In a world where multi tasking is considered a quality of the highest order and a prerequisite to achieving the success everyone seems so desperate to have, what I am suggesting is seemingly taking us in to the opposite direction.
And yet, it seems to me, success without this quality is impossible.
How to do this we can discuss next month. But first and foremost we have to be on board with the value of stillness and waiting and it’s relevance to peak athletic performance.