My Passion for tennis (2) - THE INNER GAME OF TENNIS - Gallwey

The problems which most perplex tennis players are not those dealing with the proper way to swing a racket. The most common has to do with knowing HOW to do something but not doing it. "When I am practicing, I play a match I fall apart", "I know exactly what I'm doing wrong, but I can't break the habit", "In a match I get so nervous I lose my concentration"

Images are better than your favorite pros, how do they hit the ball, move their feet or concentrate on the ball. They watch the ball so closely that they can read the print on the surface i.e. Penn, Dunlap, Match Point.

You tell yourself exactly what you want to do and then do your best to do it. But, sometimes trying too hard ends up with negative results. Then you chastize yourself, "you idiot, why did you hit that ball out", "Oh rats, that was a dumb thing to do" or "why don't you just hang up the racket and take up bowling" These remarks are usually said loud enough for your partner or bystanders to want them to KNOW that you don't always blow that shot and that you are actually a pretty decent player.

They may not hear, but YOUR mind then says to itself...."Yep, you're a lousy player and can't hit a forehand to save your soul" So, you then blow the next two forehands plus a backhand just to prove yourself right.

Think about the state of mind of a player who is said to be "hot" or "on his game"...Is he thinking about how he should hit each shot or better yet, why his serve is 100% "on". Atheletes know that their peak performance never comes when they are thinking about it. Someone "playing out of his mind" is more aware of the ball, the court and his opponent.

He is conscious but not thinking, not over-trying. He's immersed in the flow of the game and mentally guides where he wants the ball to go. This "hot streak" usually lasts until he starts thinking about and TRIES to maintain it. As soon as he attempts to control it, he loses it.

Want to test this theory? The next time your opponent is having a hot streak or is serving like Andy Roddick, simply ask him as you change sides...."You have a great serve...what are you doing to put so much spin on it"

Wham! if he takes the bait (and 95% of them will) he'll begin thinking about what he IS doing...stiffer wrist, tossing the ball lower, etc. and, suddenly it disappears and his streak will end.

NEVER make this particular comment/observation to your partner in the middle of a match. He or she may be playing "in the zone".

"Good shot", "nice lob", "good thinking" are OK.....your partner knew it and doesn't need to think "what did I do to make them good????"

My first model train

Hey there, I'm Ken, the other member of the family!

Christmas morning, 1948 will always be one that I won't forget....under the Christmas tree was my first set of model trains.....a Lionel engine and 5 cars!

For an 11 year old boy, that was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I loved trains but to really have a set of my own was too good to be true. Money was tight in our house. Although Dad had a good job in the office of the Armour Company in Omaha, NE, money was not something that was usually spent on toys! Especially something as EXPENSIVE as an honest-to-goodness set of Lionel trains!
Dad and I built a table out of scrap lumber and we set up the train layout in our basement. Both of us enjoyed running the Lionel and making scenery, mountains and anything else we could think of (and could afford the materials for).

Keeping my little brother out of the layout was a problem....once we found him sitting in the middle of the layout. He wasn't doing anything, just sitting there. I think he climbed up onto it and then was afraid to move. I was a lot more upset than Dad was....

The Lionel setup was my domain, I was the master of the controls, and my world was complete. UNTIL, I went high school (age 13 at that time) and discovered cars and GIRLS! My Lionel went into the box for nearly 40 years.

I have been retired for 8 years and 7 years ago joined a train club....the Nebraska-Iowa Railroaders. We meet monthly at either member's homes or at our club meeting place at Nebraska Crossing where we have some large permanent layouts set up.

The club is contacted frequently by shopping malls, train shows and other events that want to attract visitors. What little boy (or his father) can resist looking at model trains...they will stand for hours watching the ice loader push plastic ice cubes into a train car, a saw mill that cuts logs into wood slabs, and Mel's Diner where the car hops come out on roller skates, bringing food to the cars.

Our portable modules can be transported to the mall or wherever the display will be located. One of our favorite places is Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE.

Lauritzen is a beautifully landscaped flower garden and is also the home of two huge retired Union Pacific engines. Big Boy 4023 along with Centennial 6900 are happily living out their lives in the garden spot of Omaha.

Big Boy 4023 - Omaha, NE .....................Centennial 6900 - Omaha, NE

Our model train club has a free exhibit at
Nebraska-Iowa Railroaders Club

Lauritzen Gardens Train Exhibit - Omaha, NE

Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

My husband’s hobby is model trains and we never pass up the opportunity to see train set-ups. In November we drove to Chicago to visit the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry….it’s not only machines but contains exhibits that were unexpected.

I had expected rows and rows of machines….wonderful for some guys, but not me.

But, we were surprised to find ourselves ingrossed in “the Baby
chicks Hatchery"– we actually saw a chick peck it’s way out of the shell and tumble into the world. Hmmm, wonder what they do with all the chicks that hatch?

Our grandsons had a great time....most of the exhibits were "hands on" and they played with everything from the Idea Factory to robots and flight simulators.

There were three displays that we particularly wanted to see…the U-505 Submarine, the Coal Mine and the Great Train Story. We saw them all, plus everything else we could possibly cram into in an 8 hour period. (wear your walking shoes, it’s a BIG place.)

The Great Train Story has a huge layout with 34 HO scale train engines and cars. The layout takes you on a cross-country journey from Chicago to Seattle through very realistic terrain and cityscapes. My husband was in heaven! He spent hours examining the buildings, bridges, mountains and tunnels as the trains chugged past.

“Ron, one of my club members has a train like that!” …”I had that engine but sold it”…”look at that Silver Zephyr!”

Speaking of the Pioneer Zephyr , the actual engine and several cars are housed in the museum. We took the free tour and sat in a passenger car (with lifelike statues) while the tour guide told us about the train's background. Our grandkids loved sitting next to the models -- they talked!

I HIGHLY recommend the museum to anyone who is visiting Chicago with youngsters....they (and you) will have a ball! Plus, they have some GREAT desserts in the museum lunchroom!
It was a day well spent!

31 clues to a lasting marriage

How many of these promises do you keep? When you stood at the altar before God and all those witnesses, you promised to love and honor your spouse.....but sometimes the little things get lost in the daily shuffle of life.

1. Start each day with a kiss
2. Smile often
3. Touch
4. Talk about dreams
5. Select a song that can be "our song" (ours is The Twelfth of Never )
6. Laugh together
7. Listen to his or her ideas
8. Encourage
9. Do it his or her way occasionally
10. Give a compliment twice a day
11. Call during the day if you are away from home
12. Hold hands in public
13. Cuddle
14. Ask for each other's opinion
15. Show respect for his or her opinion
16. Welcome the other person home
17. Look your best
18. Wink at each other
19. Apologize
20. Forgive
21. Be positive
22. Be kind
23. Talk about your love
24. Reminince about your favorite times together
25. Treat each other's friends and relatives with courtesy
26. Admit when wrong
27. Be sensitive to each other's sexual desires
28. Watch sunsets together
29. Say "I love you" frequently
30. End the day with a hug

31. Remember that unkind remarks can wound deeply and may never be forgotten

We've been happily married for nearly 50 years... I can honestly say that we keep almost all these promises. And... he's still my best friend.

My Passion for tennis (3) - THE INNER GAME OF TENNIS - Gallwey

Listen to the way players talk to themselves on the court. "Come on Marie, hit the ball in front of you" Most players are talking to themselves all the time, "move up on the ball", "keep it to her backhand", "bend your knees", "watch the ball". The commands are endless...its like hearing a recording of your last lesson playing inside your head.

Imagine that there are two parts within the same person. Self 1 (teller) and Self 2 (doer). Self 1 is full of instructions, do this, don't do that. Although Self 2 which includes the unconscious mind, nervous system and is anything but stupid, Self 1 doesn't trust him. So the player's cheek muscles tighten, his lips purse and he overhits the ball....and starts chastizing himself again.

By thinking too much and trying too hard, Self 1 has produced tension and muscle conflict in the body. Self 1 is reponsible for the error but heaps the blame on Self 2. As a result, the stroke grows worse and frustration builds.

Remember that Self 2, the doer, is the unconscious mind. Once Self 2 has hit the ball firmly, he knows FOREVER which muscles to contact to do it again......just let him do it.
Getting it together mentally in tennis involves the learning of several internal skills:

(1) learning to program your computer Self 2 with images rather than constantly instructing yourself with words

(2) Learning to "trust thyself" (Self 2) to do what you (Self 1) ask of it. Just let Self 2 hit the ball

(3) Learning to see "nonjudgmentally"....see what is happening rather than simply noticing how well or how badly it is happening. In other words, quit trying too hard.

Then there is the "master skill"..without which nothing of value is ever achieved...the art of concentration.

Candy fix....mmmmmm

Remember those old fashioned candies....names that you seldom see any more. Try these sites:

OK, I admit it, I like candy. When I was a kid, Hersheys was my very, very favorite choice.....those nice sized bars (either they have shrunk or my memory is getting bad) that MELTED.

Now this is a secret just between you and me. I would take a Hershey bar (wrapped of course) and stuff it into my back pocket to soften. Then after the bar was no longer solid, really nice and gooey, I would take it out and unwrap it. Yummmm, licking the melted chocolate off of my fingers and then licking the wrapper was one of the joys of my young life.

At 8 years came easily.

Super Seniors Winning Song!!!

The narrative was spoken by the oldest player..….me!

“This song is dedicated to the Super Senior tennis players in this room. You know who you are…’re the ones who walk onto the court to battle players who are sometimes 20, 30 or more years younger than you (don’t you just love the smirks when they see who they have to play…..and then find that our dinks, lobs and drop shots can be very effective.)

You come prepared with knee braces, elastic arm bands, wet towels, hats or visors. On hot days you may have an umbrella in your bag along with water jugs and Gatorade….plus an assortment of Motrin, Advil, Tylenol, Joint Flex and Ben-Gay products.

Tennis is our game….and a great one it is. From the time a child picks up a racket and smacks the first ball across the net to the time a senior serves an ace to win the match…….We’re out there! We’re doing it! *******

Song…(very loosely based on “I AM WOMAN” - by Helen Reddy and Ray Burton

We are Seniors that is true,
But my friends, we’re telling you
We can lob and serve and volley with the best.

All those youngsters that we play
Think that things will go their way
But we’ve seen it all before and we’re not fooled.

(Chorus) Oh yes, we are good and have wisdom born of age
Yes, we have our aches, but look at what we’ve gained.
If we have to, we can play anyone.
We can lob, we can return their serve!

‘Tho age 60’s come and gone, we’ve the will to carry on
And we’ve used our skills to help us beat the rest.
Look around this room tonight, smile and clap with all your might
‘cause you know that you’re the teams that were the best.

(Chorus) Oh yes, you are good and have wisdom born of age
Yes, you have your aches, but just look at what you’ve gained.
If you have to, you can do anything
You are strong, You’re unbelievable!


Today's match

Our Saturday morning tennis game was nearly cancelled due to bad weather. But, we (the four grandmothers!) decided to give it a try. It had been raining and sleeting all last night, and the streets were really slick. I know, we were really stupid, but who said tennis players were smart (grin).

My husband was definitely miffed when I told him that we were still going to play...."its too slick, you'll probably break your neck walking across the parking lot!" What does he know, his hobby is model trains and they safely go around a track in the basement.

We have two indoor tennis facilities in Omaha that we use, Miracle Hill and The Tennis Club. Both are in our area of town and are nice places to play. We generally play at the Tennis Club because they have a senior discount (aah huh, oh yeh, we're seniors)

My doubles partner was recovering from our "happy birthday" bash last night and would have been happier staying home, but we put the ole guilt trip on her "but if you don't play, we can't....its too late to find a fourth, and we've had this court reserved for a week".

Actually with the weather as bad as it was, we were the only people playing anyway.

Maar and I have been partners for about 6 years.....we call each other Mutt and Jeff.
...she is tall and I am short.....her name begins with M and mine with J. Friend Maar is a determined player who is always taking lessons....I'm not sure if they are doing that much good, but she has a great forehand, which, if it stays in the court can be counted on to win the point, or at least give our opponents something to worry about.
I'm short but fast and quick. My claim to fame is that I have very good anticipation and can almost always be where the ball is. That works when we play against people who have normal strokes....I can usually tell by their stance which way the ball will be hit.
However, some players stand one way, look and hit the way can you tell which direction the ball will take. They have never taken lessons, just picked up a racket and start slugging away. These are are the people you really have watch when don't expect the ball to come your way, and suddenly! There it is! In your face!
All in all, Maar and I make a pretty good team. We've won a lot of tournaments together.......we're both 3.5 now......when we were young and spry, we were 4.0s!
Today, however, neither one of us could hit the broad side of a barn....I must have left my forehand back in the car since I certainly didn't have it with me. Wham, the ball would veer to the left, then the next shot would go wild into the net. I generally don't get too upset with my game, but today.....UGH. A few bad words were quietly uttered now and then.
Maar had a minor headache (oh yea) from the wine and cake last night...mostly the wine. So she wasn't up to par either. Jo and Meg were at the party too....their games were a bit off also. Actually we all should have stayed home. Late night, good food and freely flowing wine does not add up to a great tennis match. Fun tennis maybe, but definitely not good tennis. But, you are only 65 once! So we helped Maar celebrate hers!
We played for an hour and a half....and then tried to go home. Darn, the rain had dripped into the door hinges or around the door and the door was frozen shut. We couldn't get out of the tennis center......any other time that would have been kind of funny, but not today. It took two of the employees to pry the door open (hope it wasn't ruined) and off we went.
Home?? Of course not! we went to Starbucks.

Omaha's Darkest Hour - the Von Maur killings

I wrote this on December 6, still lingers in my mind and heart. On his television program on January 7, 2009, Dr. Phil interviewed the mother of the shooter, Robert Hawkins and one of the victims

Robert Hawkins needed help. But didn't get it. The result was a terrible day in Omaha and 8 people, Angie Schuster, Maggie Webb, Gary Joy, Janet Jorgensen, Gary Sharf, Dianne Trent, John McDonald and Beverly Flynn all fell victim to Robert Hawkins' deadly rampage on December 6, 2007.

Omaha, Nebraska, my home town, was suddenly the center of world-wide news. The kind of news that you don’t want to hear, the kind of news that you hope you'll never hear.
I live ½ mile from Westroads in the western edge of Omaha, NE and was Christmas shopping with a neighbor when I received a frantic telephone call from my husband…”where are you? Are you at Westroads?” “Someone was shot at Von Maurs”. At the time, I thought that this meant that one person had been shot. I was wrong.
Fear and panic had entered our lives. My first thought is “where are my children and my grandchildren?” "Please God, let them be all right!" "What is going on?" "Who is doing this?"
We could see the police helicopters circling the mall and hear the sounds of police and rescue sirens screaming down Dodge Street, the main thoroughfare passing the Westroads. Our telephone rang constantly, our daughter from Chicago, our friends from Georgia and California, everyone who knew that we lived in Omaha. They had seen the news on CNN and other news broadcasts and wanted to be sure that we were not involved. Later I had dozens of emails to answer…”Yes, we’re all okay”.
On December 6, 2007, shortly after 1:30 pm, a young man dressed in camouflage clothing and armed with an SKS assault rifle opened fire among holiday shoppers in Von Maurs, an Omaha department store at the Westroads Shopping Mall. Witnesses at the mall described the gunman as very tall, having a military-style haircut, wearing a camouflage vest and a black backpack and carrying a rifle. Police later recovered the rifle believed to have been used by the gunman.

The question remains, "how did he manage to bring a rifle into the shopping mall?" This was not a handgun which could be concealed in his pocket.....he was wearing a vest ....not a long overcoat which could have hidden the rifle. He had parked his vehicle in the parking lot and entered the mall....he looked around for a
few minutes and then went back to his car. This was recorded by security cameras.
A few minutes later he reappeared at the entrance to Von Maur Department store's main entrance. This time he was carrying a bundle wrapped in a black hoodie. Although this was seen and noted by security personnel, they didn't think anything was amiss.
After entering Von Maurs, he turned to the right and rode the elevator to the 2rd floor, the took the escalator up to 3rd, unwrapped his assault rifle and began firing.
Eight people were killed and at least five others were wounded. Two are in critical condition at a local hospital. This was Christmas shopping time, mothers and children plus hundreds of others were sent into terrified panic. What went through their minds..."where can I hide", "I've got to protect my children", "is this a terrorist attack", "please, please, somebody help me".
The festive sounds of holiday music playing throughout the Westroads Mall were suddenly punctuated by rapid gunfire and screams. The witnesses described the horrific scenes; multiple people gunned down in the store’s customer service department, others on a floor below, shot as they were looking up an escalator toward the chaos. It was believed that between 20 and 30 shots were fired.
The gunman came off a third-floor elevator and began firing shots into the ceiling. Once the shooting started, employees and customers rushed to hide wherever they could, in storerooms and other rooms off the shopping floor. Others had no chance, one man was shot as he stood looking around in bewilderment as frightened shoppers ran past him. Others in the customer service and gift wrap department were shot as they tried to run to the back of the store.
Police said the call of an active shooting at the mall first came in at 1:42 p.m., and within 6 minutes dozens of Omaha police, Douglas County sheriff's deputies, off duty officers, FBI agents and officers from area police departments responded and sealed off and closed the mall. The Omaha office of the FBI is less than a block from Von Maur, and the office of Homeland Security was also close. They were there in minutes to provide assistance to Omaha Police officers.
But, by that time, Robert Hawkins had already killed 8 people and wounded 5....and had killed himself.
"At 2:12 p.m., officers located the body of the shooter, Robert A. Hawkins. He had taken his own life".
Less than an hour before, the troubled teenage gunman had given a note to the family that he had been living with. In the note, which was turned over to authorities, Hawkins wrote that he was "sorry for everything" and would not be a burden on his family anymore.
More ominously, he wrote, "Now I'll be famous."
SOURCE: 12/7/07 Omaha World Herald
NOTE: Omaha Police Sgt. Jeff Baker was in the first group of officers at Westroads Mall. Although he can't describe certain details because of the police investigation, he offered this account:

In excess of 100 mph on the Interstate 680 en route to Westroads, time still seemed to crawl. A feeling of dread crept over me with every update given on the radio.

Shots being fired in the mall????

Upon arrival and armed with a shotgun, I entered Von Maur not knowing what I'd encounter. Twenty years in policing, 10 as a supervisor, didn't adequately prepare me for what I was about to see.

It was surreal...the smell of gunfire in the air, like the aroma of firecrackers you shot off as a kid. Shall casings on the marble floor. Mortally wounded gunshot victims.

People running past, crying. sheer terror on their faces. Others frozen and cowering under displays and in fitting rooms. Abandoned baby strollers, ladies' handbags, dropped cups of coffee and Christmas shopping bags littering the floor throughout the mall.

An alarm shrieking from overhead speakers, only partially drowning out Christmas music being played. And all the while, you're searching, guns at the ready, certain the bad guy is going to pop up from a clothing rack and kill one of you before your buddies can react and fight back.

It was surreal, like living out a horror movie. the mall swarmed with incoming officers from Omaha Police Department and other agencies.

I used the radio to warn responders that we might have a suspect on the loose with a high-powered rifle and that we had to lock down the mall. There's no time to sit and ponder options. You have to rely on your training and the officer next to you. so we broke into search elements to track down the suspect.

All the officers involved knew he had to be stopped and we were aware it was entirely possible that any one of us could be among those who would not go home to their families that night.

I experienced a wide array of emotions. Anxiety. Frustration. Sadness. Anger.

As the hours wore on and various personnel finished the task of clearing the mall and evacuating shoppers and employees, I felt exhaustion. Being at such a high state of alert for so long is taxing and I could see the emotional and physical drain on the faces of a number of police officers, federal agents and firefighters on the scene.

I got home about 9 p.m. roughly 13 hours after starting my shift. The first thing I did was hug my wife and tell her that I loved her. Then I prayed before managing about three hours of broken sleep.

Omaha shed its innocence, our own 9/11, and while this tragedy won't beat us as a city, I think Omahans will be forever changed by what happened.

It goes down as a dark day in our history, an abomination, the most senseless act of brutality I have ever seen.

My Passion for tennis (4) - THE INNER GAME OF TENNIS - Gallwey

If you think about your own highest moments or peak experiences, you will also remember them as moments of great pleasure. When this happens on the tennis court, you are concentrating without TRYING to concentrate. You feel alert with an inner assurance that you can do what needs to be done without having to "try hard". Quieting the mind means less thinking, calculating, judging, worrying, fearing, hoping, trying, regretting, controlling or distracting.

Quieting the mind is a gradual process involving the learning of several inner skills. The first skill is to learn to let go the inclination to judge ourselves and our performance as being good or bad. Watch the face of a hitter and you'll see expressions of judgmental thoughts occurring in his mind. Frowns after a "bad" shot, self-satisfaction after every shot that he considered "good."

The best example of a quiet mind that I can think of is Venus Williams. When Venus walks on the court, she's wearing her "game face". If she double faults, hits a ball into the net, or misses an easy forehand, her game face doesn't change. She isn't judging herself, isn't thinking something demeaning to herself. If she serves an ace to win the match, her game face stays the same, it doesn't change (unless its the US Open or Wimbledon). These judgments are our personal ego reactions to the sights, sounds, feelings and thoughts. When the mind is free of any thought or judgment, it is still and Self 2 can do his job..."get the ball over the net"
In the game of tennis there are two important things to know, (1) where the ball is and (2) where the racket head is. As soon as you picked up a racket and began to learn the game you were told to "watch the ball"....its simple, you come to know where the ball is by looking at it. You don't have to think "oh boy, here comes the ball; its clearing the net by about a foot and coming really fast. It should bounce near the baseline and I'd better hit it on the rise". No, you simply watch the ball and let the proper response take place.

You realize the importance of knowing WHERE your racket head is but you can't look at it to know where it is because you're watching the ball. You must FEEL it...feeling it gives you the knowledge of WHERE it is.
Learn where the racket head is at the point of bounce.....without judging whether it is too high or too low...don't let Self 1 frantically say "get your racket up" or "you've dropped the racket head". Then Self 2 has no magic phrase that must be repeated and can concentrate without thinking.