The difference between great tennis players and average tennis players, at all levels, lies between the ears. Greatness in tennis is achieved only after we are able to control our mind and our thoughts. We can see this on display now at the Australian Open, where points are won and lost based on mental strategy.
I am a passionate woman and during my tennis career sometimes my temper (internal and external influences) got the best of me. After being fined while on tour, more times than I am proud to admit, I developed this mental strategy to help me cope with any situation that was unpleasant to me. I created an imaginary Little Black Box. Bad calls, bad schedules, rain delays, under-performing partners, and obnoxious opponents — all of the things I couldn’t control automatically went in the Little Black Box. Only after the match was over I allowed myself to rationally examine the contents of the box.
The same held true for those moments when I would get ahead of myself. If I had thoughts about winning the match, what it meant to me, the outcome’s effect on my ranking, talking to my parents after a big win, what winning an Olympic medal would mean — those things too went into the magical Little Black Box.
There are so many elements required to win a match. Most of you go to the courts to practice strokes, clinics with pros, exercise to stay fit, stretch to avoid injuries but only great players do all that plus dig into the mental part of the game.
I challenge all of you to try it… I promise you will love the Little Black Box!
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