“Relax don’t do it. When you want to to go to it. Relax don’t do it…But shoot it in the right direction. Make making it your intention.”
-FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Matt Davis, president of the USPTA Illinois Division.
One of the biggest challenges in sports is to stay relaxed when the pressure’s on. The great ones do it with ease, but they weren’t born that way – they were trained that way. It’s just like anything else, you have to condition yourself to be or act a certain way. If you don’t, whatever happens, happens.
So imagine this…
You’re in New York City. It’s summer and it’s hot. There are people all around you, bumping into you and you feel like a sardine. You can hear all the loud cars honking at each other and a taxi zooms by, changing lanes without even signaling. There’s a man talking to himself on the corner. The noises get louder and louder. There is a man dressed in a gorilla suit handing out flyers, yelling “Sale today!” There are literally thousands of things happening all at once.
Now, imagine stepping into a building, it’s the Empire State Building. It’s air-conditioned. You take the elevator up to the top floor. It’s quiet and not too crowded. As you walk up to the glass window, a sense of calm enters you. You look out at the peaceful skyscrapers and the sky. You can see the Hudson River. Next, you look down at the slow moving people and silent cars. You notice your breath. You’re breathing deeply and you are relaxed. You smile.
Now come back to the present moment.
You just performed a type of meditation. When you’re on the tennis court, there will be distractions. Sources may be spectators, weather conditions, loud noises, your opponent, and yourself. The only distraction you can control is yourself.
So imagine you are back in New York City and there are all these distractions. But then you enter the Empire State Building and go up to the top floor. You calmly observe all the things going on around you, but you let them go. Your focus is on the ball. Your energy, your effort. And your game plan. You take a couple deep breaths and get ready to play your game – relaxed and focused.
And if at any time, you start to feel stressed or distracted, just take a couple deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. This will relax you and bring you back to the present moment.
You can do a variation of this exercise if you get nervous before a presentation at school or work. Or before your piano recital.
There will always be distractions around you. You can’t control that. But you can control your perception and focus. The key is staying relaxed, in the present. Deep breaths are your natural anchor.
Thanks for reading.