Which channels do you enjoy the most? No, I am not referring to
selections on your newly purchased digital satellite system with 32-bit microprocessor. I'm talking about you, a living breathing tennis
player with a fully equipped neuroprocessor and 5 different senses!
If you have been tuning in to the Mental Equipment channel, you might
have already reaped benefits using the powerful tool of imagery.
Recall that imagery is a mental technique that programs the mind to
use all senses to recreate an experience (See August 1995 article,
"The Essence of Imagery in Tennis"). Whenever you
imagine yourself performing an action in the absence of physical
practice you are using imagery. Tuning in to your favorite channel on
a regular basis makes imagery even more effective.
For example, whereas some players are most skillful at re-creating
positive visual images, others more naturally visualize physical
sensations or sounds. Although our heads may look similar from the
outside (except for those having a bad hair day), neural activity
under the skull varies dramatically among individuals. Everyone
experiences the world uniquely! Imaging primarily in pictures when
your auditory sense is strongest would be like watching television
with poor reception and no sound!
To discover your favorite channels, take a few moments to complete
the following exercise. Find a comfortable position in a quiet room.
Sit or lie down and relax with your eyes closed for a few seconds.
Inhale deeply three times and then create the following images in your
mind, one at a time:
A beautiful mountain...red clay tennis courts...a tennis ball going
up in the air prior to hitting a smash...the sight of your best
friend watching you play...the tournament draw sheet before your next
When you are finished, reflect for a moment about which senses were
easiest to imagine and which appeared most challenging. Your
favorite sensory channels greatly influence how you experience
The next time you practice imagery, pay close attention to the rich
variety of sensory experiences in your desired channels. You may
want to add more detailed and elaborate information within these
channels to enhance imagery even more. While playing tennis, make
frequent comparisons between your sensory experiences on the court
and what you experienced during visualization.
The sound of clapping from the crowd...the roar of an overhead
airplane...the noise the ball makes as it hits your racket...the loud
sounds of thunder...the pitch of racket strings being adjusted
The taste of your most recent meal...the sugary taste of chewing gum..
.the taste of Gatorade...the taste of your favorite desert...the
taste of bitter candy
The smell of a newly opened can of balls...the scent of cologne...the
odor of a lockerroom...the smell of cigar smoke...the smell of
freshly mowed grass
The feel of sweat running down your face...the feel of bouncing the
ball on your racket...aching muscles after a long match...hot water
in the shower...the feel of a perfectly hit serve
By paying attention to your favorite senses more frequently, you will be
using the imagery channels most suited for you as an individual. You
will enjoy imagery more, but will find your results on the court even
more interesting! See you next month...