Today’s message is especially dedicated to my nephew, the great Bryan Michael Ho in Austin, Texas – Happy Birthday!

It’s easy to notice big changes.

But I challenge you to notice the little changes. Be mindful of what is going on around you.

I know people who have walked off the court after a match and didn’t even realize that their opponent was left-handed!

Many people don’t know their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

Many people don’t even know their own strengths and weaknesses.

When I teach, I have 140 tennis balls in my hopper, but they’re not all new. I have some dead balls in there, some pressure-less balls, and some foam balls mixed in.

Why do I do this? Because it keeps my players mindful. It forces them to move their feet and focus on each shot. It forces them to notice what is coming to them. If I feed the same ball, at the same speed, perfectly to my student, this is not realistic. They will not encounter this situation in a match. If their opponent is smart, they will hit at different speeds, use different types of spin, hit high, hit low and especially hit it where you’re not.

There was a story about a frog that was put in a pan of boiling water. This frog felt the hot water and quickly jumped out.

Then they put another frog into a pan of cold water with the burner on low. The frog stayed in, but it still got boiled. It didn’t notice the difference, or gradual rise in temperature.

People are the same way, we only notice things when it is obvious, or too late. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Here’s what I do…

Every morning, I meditate and get in tune with my breathing and body. Then, when I take my first few steps, I really notice my feet making contact with the floor. I try to stay mindful and aware while doing ordinary things, like bringing food to my mouth during meals. During matches, or practices, I stay aware of how my body feels and what is going well and not so well. I make adjustments as necessary. Very rarely will be be “in the zone,” but if we stay present, we will still be able to play at a high level.

The more you stay mindful, the more you will notice differences. The more you notice differences, the better you will perform.

Thanks for reading.

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