A sense of ‘happening’?
Most of the time we are trying too hard on the court. Everything is an effort. This is especially true of club players who have no respect for their own athletic ability and feel the extra effort has to be put in.
Unfortunately, it is this ‘extra’ effort that creates tension in the body and it is impossible to swing freely when the body is tense. The extra effort involved to ‘watch’ the ball or to ‘find’ the ball. Or the extra effort involved to hit ‘harder’, or to play it ‘safe’.
The symptoms are many, but the cause is very often the same………tension in the body. Eliminate the tension and symptoms magically disappear.
The player is always ‘trying’ to do something because we believe that if we don’t, how can anything happen?
A few days ago, I was hitting some balls and a realization happened that when my racket went out to the side of the oncoming ball, ‘I’ was not doing anything. Somehow, my racket found the ball and each contact was sweet.
For the first time, I was aware of a gap, of ‘me’ just hanging out doing nothing, while ‘my body’ lined up the racket to the ball. It was an amazing feeling, a feeling of doing nothing, but just being a witness to things happening.
Can we choose to cut down on unforced errors?
Frustration and anger over unforced errors are clear indicators that we ‘think’ we are in control. The negative emotional responses imply that we need not have made the mistake, which in turn implies some sort of choice or control. Is that true?
If it is true then who would choose to make an error? Obviously, no one!
Consequently, it stands to reason that there is no choice involved, and therefore, we have no control over errors. No one chooses to make an error and yet they happen. To berate oneself, implies there is control, even when closer examination reveals that control simply does not exist.
If we can accept that we have no control over unforced errors, the ability to trust becomes easier.
If trust is there then ALL we have to do is to swing freely and let existence, or whoever determines these things, decide where the ball lands.
But trust is very rarely there. Do you trust?
Western psychology aims to ‘manage’ the emotions that arise during competition. If we look into this process of ‘managing’, you may see that this results in either suppressing or escaping from those feelings that make us so uncomfortable.
Obviously there is a tremendous feeling of accomplishment or victory if these feelings disappear, albeit briefly. Nobody wants to stay in discomfort and so there is a natural instinct to want to move away as soon as possible.
A more ‘wholistic’ approach would be to welcome all feelings with a view to understanding ourselves better. Many people seem to mistake a wholistic approach for a positive approach. Positive is only one side of the spectrum and as such incomplete.
Embrace all that arises in you and if there is no judgment within you, you will be better able to explore and therefore learn about yourself.
It is this awareness that can be transforming!
Conventional wisdom and logic views all emotional discomfort as negative phenomenon and therefore a problem to be solved as soon as possible.
A solution is deemed to have happened when discomfort disappears and ‘normal’ status quo comfort has resumed.
Is this true?
What if the discomfort keeps returning again and again and every ‘solution’ seems only to bring temporary relief, if that? Can we call that a solution?
It seems that most so-called solutions are not really solutions, but attempts at suppression or escape.
So what can we do?
If one can see that escape is not a solution; if one can see that suppression is not a solution, there is only one thing to do. Move forward and explore the feelings that are arising in you without judgment and see what that awareness and understanding brings.
Yes, stay in discomfort and make no effort to get out of it!
The discomfort was not something we asked for and any and all effort to move away from it will be suppression or escape. It came by itself and ultimately it will have to go by itself. However, in-between, there can be a journey of discovery that can reveal much to us about ourselves.
Allow this process to happen.
What’s the alternative?
‘Run with your hands, hit with your legs.’
Think about what this could mean and try it out on the court.
Hands see the ball and the legs follow.
Consequently, the hands track or ‘see’ the ball and the legs hit the ball.
What is wholistic tennis?
First of all, note the way we spell the word wholistic. Conventional wisdom spells it without the w, which seems to contradict the actual meaning.
We are concerned with the whole; the whole person. Not just the game, but also the individual. The irony is that by focusing on the person, the entire game changes.
‘Where ever you go, there you are’.
Most poor technique seems to be rooted in tension. Fear and anxiety results in the body doing things that are awkward and therefore much more difficult. When the body is relaxed, flow seems to happen and everything appears to be simple and efficient.
Our experience in competition is similarly rooted in our perception of self and the world around us. All kinds of fear and doubt exist within us and competition simply magnifies and reflects these feelings.
As we work on ourselves and realize a deeper awareness and understanding of who we are, our competitive experience will change without any direct attempt to change.
‘Any real change can only happen by itself, we cannot make change happen’.
I arrived back in the Hamptons on Wednesday, April 3rd and we have dived into getting the club ready to open. We were not able to finish all the work in the Fall because it started getting cold, but most of the big work was finished. Now we have to do the finishing touches, but the finishing touches are key because that is what everyone sees first and if the first appearance is not sweet, it kinda of ruins everything that comes afterwards!
Now we have finished the painting, so the club house is ready to be set up. The Har try will be delivered on saturday morning at 6:30am, which means that we will have some courts up and running the weekend of April, 20th. Lots of small things to be done before that.
Flew down to West Palm Beach in mid Feb and drove down to Fort Pierce (near Vero Beach) to visit a friend. Also, went down to see Kevin Cino at the Club Med Academy in nearby Port St Lucie.
Wholistic Academy helped sponsor Kevin’s year at the academy and I wanted to see how he was doing. My friend Scott Delmastro is one of the principals at the academy and it was good to see how Kevin was progressing and to see how the academy conducts its business both on and off the court.
After a few days Maggie and I drove down to Fort Lauderdale where we rented an appartment for 2 weeks at the Tennis Club of Fort Lauderdale. This was a smallish gated community with simple accommodations with the main draw being the excellent tennis with numerous Gold Ball (national champions) players among the membership. A great place for senior tennis!
We also got passes for the entire week to the Delray Pro Tennis tournament, courtesy of my friend and the 45th ranked doubles player in the world at the time, Treat Huey. Maggie and I went a couple of times and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
After that, we drove across to the west coast of Florida to visit our friends in Bonita Springs. After staying with our friends for a couple of days we found and rented a wonderful 3 bedroom condo for a month. This is where we are at this moment in time.
Hitting balls daily, going to the gym everyday also for a few hours and just relaxing, walking on the beach, just enjoying the sunshine, the nature and lots of down time!
I am getting to the end of a wonderful 4 month long trip.
In October, Maggie and I visited the Costa del Sol in southern Spain. We met there at Lew Hoad’s campo de tenis in 1983, almost 28 years ago. We visited with close friends and revisited old haunts and had a wonderful time. In early November, she decided to return to NY and play grandma, while I chose to go to India for 3 months.
I spent the first month in Delhi helping Vishaal with his Academy aand connecting with many tennis friends, while also finding time to hang with Vish when ever possible……needless to say it was a busy time.
After that I flew to Pune and stayed at the Osho meditation Resort for 7 weeks. I have been coming here every winter for the past 15 years, but for various reason, I feel this was my best visit ever. I met many old friends, made new ones and connected on a deeper level with myself. It feels good and sad at the same time to know that after over 35 years on the spiritual journey, I am still going deeper into myself.
Presently, I am back in Delhi for another week of tennis, visiting friends and family. On Sunday Feb 5th I will return to NY for some time, but hopefully not too long because there is still a couple of months before I have to be back in NY to start another season of Wholistic Tennis.