My Passion for Tennis (8) - THE INNER GAME OF TENNIS - Gallwey

Finding your quiet mind....yeah, its there somewhere.

The quiet mind cannot be achieved by means of intellectual understanding. Just because you tell yourself to be calm and collected doesn't mean it will occur. You want a quiet mind, you try to achieve a quiet mind....but Self 1 wants to keep control. Learning to concentrate means keeping the mind NOW and HERE. To do that, you need an appropriate object to concentrate are on a tennis court, the most practical and convenient object is the ball itself. Oh sure, you know it, you've heard it a thousand times....."Watch the Ball!"

Watching the ball doesn't mean keeping it your mind's eye while you watch the net man. Doesn't mean taking your attention off the ball when you hear someone talking and you turn around to glare at them. Watching the ball means to focus your complete attention on it...look at the pattern the seams make as the ball spins. Side spin? Top spin? Drop shot? Watching the seams produces interesting results. When looking for the pattern made by the seams you naturally watch the ball all the way to your racket and you start watching it earlier than before. Suddenly, it seems bigger.

The ball should be watched from the time it leaves your opponent's racket to the time it hits yours.

Watching the the pattern made by the spinning ball engrosses the mind completely almost hypnotically. It forgets to try too hard, forgets the sounds and sights that occur around the court, and doesn't wander. How many times have you been playing a match and suddenly start thinking of something completely different than what's happening on the court. "Did I forget to lock the car? "once this set is over, I need to change my socks", "that guy is foot-faulting....where's a ref when you need one"

As silly as it sounds, one of the most practical ways to increase concentration on the ball is to learn to LOVE it!! Get to know the tennis ball (introduce yourself, take it to lunch), appreciate it's qualities. Look at the fine patterns made by the nap, admire the round firmness of it, try to see the emptyness inside of the ball. The tennis ball should be watched as an object in motion. Notice the height of the ball as it passes over the net, its speed and trajectory. Listen to the ball, the sound of a slice, the sound of a solidly hit volley.

Slowly the size of the ball seems to be getting could you NOT hit that thing, it's the size of a basketball!

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