The Mental Toughness Sphere or the Emotional Sphere. In which Sphere do you
reside during most of your matches? Can you recognize whether you are
controlled by your emotions or controlled by your mind? Do you know what to
do if you become mired in the Emotional Sphere?
A major part of learning how to win is becoming aware of when your emotions
take control and what to do about it. You must bring yourself back under the
power of the Mental Toughness Sphere. But how? First, understand the
differences between the two spheres of thinking:
The Emotional Sphere is characterized by subjectivity (taking your mistakes
personally), over-thinking (paralysis by analysis), and dwelling on past
The Mental Toughness Sphere is characterized by objectivity (not taking
mistakes personally), correct thinking using a relaxed mental attitude, and
playing in the here and now.
You know you are in the Emotional Sphere when negatives, mistakes, and
failures become more paramount in your mind than the next shot. You must
quickly recognize this and switch back into the Mental Toughness Sphere.
How? Simple! Apply the Refocus Technique. After you make a mistake, repeat
to yourself, "The next shot is more important than the last mistake, the
next shot is more important than the last mistake." Do not serve or return
serve until you have cleared your mind of the last mistake. You must refocus
and move on. Immediately!
The Refocus Technique is the recovery technique that brings you back into
the Mental Toughness Sphere. Although this is a simple technique and sounds
easy, it is amazing how many players cannot forget their mistakes and move
on. Instead, they become entangled in the Emotional Sphere.
Listen to some of the answers players give me when I tell them to use the
Refocus Technique. Each answer is followed by my response. I warn you
though, I do not pull any punches. Read on at your own risk.
Player: "But I missed such an easy shot!" My response: "I did not say forget
your mistakes and move on only for difficult shots! The Refocus Technique is
for ALL mistakes."
Player: "I practiced for months and I still make the same mistakes." My
response: "Practice more. Forget your mistakes and move on!"
Player: "I cannot win if I keep making these mistakes." My response: "Says
who? You! Have you ever heard of mental toughness? Forget your mistakes, get
back in the Mental Toughness Sphere, and move on...now!"
How is that for being blunt? The point I am trying to make is that the
thought process of forgetting the mistake is more important than the mistake
itself. As the great professional golfer Gary Player stated, "We create
success or failure on the course primarily by our thoughts."
Let me graphically demonstrate how this works. When you make a mistake on
the court and do not forget it, that mistake festers in your mind. If the
mistake festers too long it will begin seeping toward your emotions. Once
the mistake hits your emotions, it is quickly blown out of proportion. Then
this larger-than-life mistake shoots back toward your mind, where it now
takes on a whole new meaning. The failure completely clouds your mind. From
this point on, everything you think is filtered through this oppressive
cloud of negativity.
You are now firmly focused on the problem and steeped in the Emotional
Sphere. Your mind is influenced by your emotions instead of your emotions
being influenced by your mind!
Your only hope to remove this cloud of negativity and restore mental order
is the Refocus Technique: The next shot is more important than the last
mistake. You will then be back under the power of the Mental Toughness
Sphere. The home of Champions!