Mental Tennis Tip: by Roger Haeske, with insights
from Mike Abrams, Sports Psychologist
© 2001 Roger Haeske
To play your best tennis you should be thinking in pictures not
Psychological studies of top athletes brain waves during competition have
provided some very interesting information. First of all they found
interesting readouts in the two hemispheres of the brain. The left brain or
the logical, analytical and language processing part of the brain was very
calm and in an alpha or meditative brainwave state. The right brain or the
creative and more visual part of the brain was found to be extremely active.
The conclusion that Mike drew from this is that to play your best tennis you
should use visualization instead of thinking with words and language (a left
brain function). Instead of giving yourself mental commands, you should
picture yourself having successfully made the shot. Donít break the shot
down into parts, instead think of the whole shot. That is how to program
your subconscious mind to do what you want it to do.
Try this experiment the next time you go out to play. First try giving
yourself verbal commands before you hit your shot. Say for instance that
your working on your backhand. Tell yourself to bend and swing low to high.
And do it just before you hit the ball. What you may find is that it is next
to impossible to think about mechanics and successfully hit a tennis ball.
There are literally millions of computations that your subconscious is
making in order to hit a tennis ball. By giving yourself verbal instructions
you are trying to hit a tennis ball with your conscious mind, which is
something the conscious mind is not very good at.
Next time try picturing the end result. Picture having hit a successful shot
with lots of topspin, power and great placement. Imagine that you were able
to hit it easily and you were in balance. Feel the joy of a great shot and
the confidence of a champion tennis player. Put it all into one image and
feeling. Then trust your subconscious to send you the FEELING necessary to
produce your visualized results.
Iíve found my game really improves by picturing the end result as opposed to
trying to instruct myself with step-by-step mechanics. It really almost
seems illogical and you have to trust in a power that is more intelligent
than your conscious mind. In fact it almost feels like your not really doing
it. Like someone else is hitting the shot for you. For more info on this
topic, I recommend you read the classic book, ďThe Inner Game of Tennis,Ē by