Training Your Brain

Do you sometimes have negative thoughts during a match and have them come to fruition right away? Well, you can “train your brain” and overcome this problem.

For example, do you sometimes think to yourself, “Don’t double fault by hitting the second serve into the net.” And then you do. Or you get ready to hit an overhead on an important point and that Voice whispers to you, “Don’t miss it!” And then you do.

Well, I confess to be guilty of both; but I am working to overcome that problem. Like any other skill or strength, changing this pattern takes continuing training and practice.

You just can’t tell yourself, “Don’t do that anymore” and you will stop. Like learning to hit a topspin forehand or a new serve, you have to practice, practice, practice.

But WHAT do you practice? Try replacing that negative thought with a positive one.

When practicing my overheads during drills, as soon as I turn my shoulders and raise my left arm to “point up,” I force myself to say “Location. Location. Location.”

This not only replaces the negative thought, but by focusing on where the shot should go, it now gives me a better chance of making the overhead and putting it in a good place.

On that critical second serve situation, if you find yourself thinking negative thoughts as you are getting ready to toss the ball, step back away from the line and mentally regroup.

But remember, you can’t just say, “I’m going to run a marathon.” You have to work at it to be able to accomplish your goal.

6 thoughts on “Training Your Brain

  1. Well said, George. That technique is equally important when communicating to doubles partners and situations that non-tennis. Partners that constantly focus on what not-to-do firmly plant the repeating focus of the negative, when they could as easily be encouraging and focused on some aspect that is positive. Instead of saying “don’t hit the ball near the net-man and planting all of the focus on constantly watching the net-man, they could be focused on exactly where the ball should be going on the court. That way the focus and though process is about the ball, not about watching every little twitch the net-man makes.

  2. Great comments.
    Remember…you are training your subconscious mind, which doesn’t recognize negatives. (When you say “don’t miss this serve, your subconscious mind simply recognizes “miss this serve”)
    Conscious thoughts should be made with a positive image.

  3. Your absolutely correct George. The mind plays a big part in all sports. Maybe a
    larger role however, in the individual sports like tennis and golf. Especially golf where you have more time to think about your shot.

  4. george. you’re a genius. it’s all about positivity, and the more you succeed, the more confidence you have and the easier it is to project that positive image. i used to (in the early days) just keep repeating (in my mind) 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4 over and over, so
    that no thoughts would pop up.
    the artist’s mind being on the “right” side, was unpredictable, i’ll get an image, or
    an art thought and then who knows where it leads.

    Joe – it would be fascinating to see where your brain would go! tks, george

  5. Spot on, George. Technically, I am a 4.5 player but my mind is a 3.0. The result? Losing consistently at 4.0. Tried all kinds of tricks, “ball-bounce-hit”, etc but I think just being positive might be a better way, since I could still let my left brain stay involved, insistent as it is!

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