I think, therefore, I am

If you ever studied Philosophy, you may recognize the headline coming from French philosopher Rene Descartes. Let’s change that classic quote to: “I think, therefore I am a better tennis player.”

My overhead had been real inconsistent… missing as many as making. Then I realized what I was thinking while going back to hit the ball: “Don’t miss this one.” Or, if I was a little better: “Get this one in.”

Both are not really good. In the first case, the last thing your subconscious visualizes before you strike the ball (like when you tell yourself “don’t double fault”) is MISSING the shot. So your body goes ahead and executes what it just visualized.

In the second case, it is just too amorphous a command to “get it in.” It doesn’t provide your body with enough information to make a really good shot.

Better, is to tell yourself, “Hit it in the ad corner.” And to visualize that happening as you strike the ball. With that positive and specific visualization, your body is more likely to execute a good shot.

I bet that since starting this new technique, I have been making 90% of my overheads, and in decent locations on the court.

Thank you Rene Descartes.

P.S. Did you see Sam Querrey’s Houdini act three times last week to win the Farmers Classic tournament?

2 thoughts on “I think, therefore, I am

  1. I have a slightly less optimistic view, that does not detract from yours. (BTW, I majored in philosophy).

    I find that if a ball comes over the net that I must hit, what I need to do is NOT to think, especially, NOT to think that it is an easy ball or to think, “good, I know what to do with this one “. I have the distinct impression that if I do think in this seemingly inocuous way, I lose focus on keeping my attention – especially my visual attention – on the BALL – and MISS THE SHOT! Now, this is not in conflict with thinking that is focused on hitting the BALL and includes one’s visual attention. An interesting research question is whether thinking interferes with visual focus.

    Nick – A tns pro friend in Naples has the same philosophy… he says “disengage the brain and just react’! I agree with both of you; but before i can get there, i must first eliminate the negative thoughts. tks – geo.

  2. that’s exactly the same thing the golf “gurus” tell you to do before making a golf swing. Bill

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