Last week we mentioned focusing on the ball like a dog to help you move your feet. I’d like to use the dog analogy a little more this week to help you see how to live in the moment on the court.
What do I mean by “live in the moment” and why is that important? I’m glad you asked.
- “Living in the moment” means not worrying about past or future mistakes or outcomes and playing each point confidently and fluidly
- Why is this important? Because you play your best tennis when your mind is unhampered by negative thoughts or expectations
Back to the dog analogy. Have you ever seen a dog chase a squirrel? Sure. Have you ever seen a dog catch a squirrel? Probably not. But every time they chase a squirrel, you can tell they fully expect to catch him this time. And they do it with free abandon. It’s obvious that they aren’t thinking “I’m so slow!..He always beats me to the tree!..What do I do if I catch him?”..etc..All that dog is thinking is, “That squirrel is mine!!”
Now compare that to what goes on in the average tennis player’s mind…”My backhand sucks (today)!..Her serve is too much for me..I always choke!..I can’t hit anything in today!..I’m letting my partner down.”..etc. There are a million negative things that go through your mind. I’m sure you can recall some of your own.
So now you see what it means to play like a dog. Doesn’t it sound like fun? Believe me, it is. So how do you push the negative thoughts out and “live in the moment?” For starters, see our previous tip Mental Focus for Tennis. You can also check out our page on the mental game of tennis for some more on the subject. Have fun and I hope you play like a dog from now on!