Every now and then it's a good idea to pause, take a nice deep breath
and examine where you've been. Whether in tennis, on Wall Street, or
in the operating room, performers all need time to reflect and view
the scene from afar. It's so easy to be caught up in daily
challenges and lose the long-term focus. Since repetition
facilitates learning, let's reach deep into our mental equipment box
and pull out the oldies as well as the more recent goodies. I only
hope this is more fun than home movies!
July: High Performance on the Net
The Mental Equipment column made its debut in July, 1995 when the
words internet and email
were still foreign to many. I stumbled upon the Tennis Server that
year and decided it would be a great place to post a few articles.
It's been so much fun that I haven't stopped! The first article
the cutting edge science and profession of sport psychology. I hope
by now you understand that sport psychology is a great source of
knowledge and well being for many competitive endeavors. Benefits
are beginning to be realized but many still have not fully heard the
sport psychology message.
August: Daydreaming with Purpose
The powerful tool of imagery was introduced. Players at all levels
use this high-tech weapon to keep their mental and physical skills
September: Optimizing Arousal
Many considered this an attempt to upstage Viagra before FDA
approval, but I had to reassure readers that I was just helping them
manage their intensity level. Those who heard this improved
Mental factors improve quickness. Better information processing and
court positioning adds a speed advantage that is often underestimated.
How important is proper focus and concentration in performance? Need
I say more?
December: Pressure Cooker
Competitive pressure is inevitable to sincere performers. Learning
to manage this pressure is the key.
Confidence is never inherited, but born of hard work and knowledge.
Everyone including your caddy has the ability to gain supreme
February: Know Thyself
Ways of increasing self-understanding were demonstrated.
March: Trip Report 1
I shared with you my sport psychology seminar at the ATP Tour HQs in
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
April: Adult Fun
I described how adults have fun with tennis camps and sport
May: Target Practice
Without goals you're lost. I emphasized the value of goal-setting
and some of the principles involved in setting them properly.
June: Playing with Your Mind
You emailed many examples about how players use mind games to gain a
competitive edge. I enjoyed your stories and printed several.
July: Trip Report 2
Back to Ponte Vedra Beach to see the wonderful grass courts and
emphasize mental toughness to a new group.
August: Getting Even
Anger kills you rather than your opponent. Ways of dealing with
anger were explored.
September: Non-trivial Pursuits
Healthy motivation was examined. Being "success oriented" gives you
the "go for it" attitude of Dan Marino in a last second drive.
Injuries are an unfortunate reality in athletics. You were shown
some attitudes and techniques to reduce injury and enhance recovery.
What were you afraid of? Mental Equipment was there to conquer it.
December: Too Close to Victory
Players often get a big lead and then fold. A few tips were
presented to close out matches with the "killer instinct."
January: Good Conversation
Talking with yourself may seem strange, but if you're gonna do it
make sure the discussion is positive for both of you!
February: Beyond Sport
Tips were provided on deriving personal growth from tennis, and this
applies to many other performance situations too.
March: The Thriller
Although the thrill of sport can temporarily vanish, ways to
restore the thrill were introduced.
April: Keep on Learning
You were encouraged to find a top notch tennis professional.
Becoming a master is a worthy pursuit even if your name isn't Jack
Nicklaus. Just having a sense of mastery works wonders.
June: Helping Hands
Social support carries enormous benefits. Lean on others and readily
Ways of managing stress were offered.
August: Team Leadership
Qualities of top leaders were examined, and tips given to enhance
leadership in any team setting.
September: Stop Being Perfect!
The perfectionist is often furthest from his or her title. Ways of
overcoming perfectionism were explored so that true success could
October: Breathing Technique
Improving your breathing technique enhances your performance.
November: Dog Eat Dog
Ways of maximizing competitiveness in tennis were examined.
December: Advanced Sensory Processing
Since reality is multi-modal, your imagery sessions should involve
as many senses as possible too.
January: The College Scene
Sport psychology services in a major university were examined.
February: Practice Sessions
Practice like you want to play.
March: Performance Focus
The age-old wisdom of a performance over winning focus was emphasized.
April: Moody Today?
Moods affect well-being and performance. Some tips on changing
maladaptive moods were offered.
May: College Tennis
A brief introduction to sport psychology services in college was
June: Routine Business
Many top performers have well defined pre-performance routines. You
might benefit from them as well.
July: Go see the Counselor
Talking with a counselor, therapist, or sport psychologist was
encouraged as a step toward well being.
August: The Rational Thinker (often not!)
Are all performers rational? Reducing irrational notions of doom and
gloom often puts you back on track and keeps you there.
September: Listen up Mom and Dad
Advice was offered for parents.
October: Mindsets for Learning
Proper attitudes to encourage and enhance learning were given.
Ways of understanding and combating burnout in sport were offered.
We really have spent a lot of time together. I would like to hear
from you ALL about which tips are most and least helpful. Your
feedback to me using this form is appreciated and crucial in developing ideas for future
topics. There are thousands of articles that could be written on the
psychology of performance! I hope this doesn't discourage you, but
helps you develop an even greater thirst for mental equipment.
Remember that your opponent may be reading about sport psychology
Over the past 3 1/2 years I've really enjoyed sharing Mental
Equipment with you, and there is so much more to learn. I look
forward to introducing my new book to you. It's entitled "Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game."
Advanced ordering information and the Smart Tennis Tip of the Week are
available at Dr. John's Smart Tennis Book page at:
http://www.smarttennis.com. Comments regarding Smart Tennis should be
directed to me using this form.
Have a wonderful holiday season and I'll see you next year!