Expectations, Being Confident And No-Thought Approach

Q: Sometimes when you expect you're going to be very good and over confident it turns out to your disadvantage and more modesty can be what the doctor orders.

Do u agree with this line of thinking?

I see two approaches here and went through both of them in my tennis journey.

The first one is commonly known as "positive thinking," which is simply being confident. The idea is that if you go for a lot, you'll achieve a lot.

This approach is the right one BEFORE a match, since it gives you energy to begin.

But during a match dozens of things happen to show you the unrealistic side of that thinking.

For example, you might double-fault on a break/set point and lose a set.

This puts into doubt the positive thoughts that you had before the match:

Suddenly, the foundation on which your positive outlook is based starts to give way, shaken just because of ONE POINT!

If you play a three-set match, 50 to 100 of these events will undermine your positive belief in yourself.

That's why most of the sports psychology world talks about being mentally tough.

By "mental toughness" they mean fighting all these conflicting thoughts and conclusions, trying to prevail with the positive ones.

You are supposed to convince yourself, encourage yourself to keep going, keep fighting even when parts of you are negative and telling you that it isn't worth so much energy since you are going to lose anyway.

This mental battle inside takes its toll on your mental energy "fitness," your ability to focus, your ability to stay in the optimal arousal state, and so on.

This approach is inherently flawed and does not allow you to use your mind-body abilities to the maximum.

The second approach is the "no-thought" approach.

In this approach, you learn not to think, or, what is more practical, to dismiss thinking as soon as it occurs.

Because EVERYTHING you think about yourself, tennis and so on can be proved wrong.

In the case of above examples:

I serve well under pressure.

But you double-faulted on a set point.

Your mind will tell you that, even though in your previous 6 matches, you DIDN'T double-fault on a set point.

I am mentally tough.

But you double-faulted because your were nervous!

Your mind will tell you that and keep telling you that, even though 8 minutes later you didn't miss a second serve and weren't nervous.

So are you mentally tough or not? Which theory about you is the correct one? As you can see, we can play this game with EVERY thought/conclusion of the mind. NONE are 100% true.

Which means that you cannot RELY on these thoughts and their judgments.

Which brings you to a logical conclusion that what you think during a match won't help you. It will actually hurt you.

Since you want to eliminate anything that doesn't help, don't think these thoughts.

That way you just play the ball to the best of your ability. And when the point is finished, just play the next point to the best of your ability.

And again, and again.... Until the match is finished.

This second approach enables you to play without distractions, emotional ups and downs, body tension and so on.

That's the theory.

To put it into practice, you need to OBSERVE your thinking, to become more aware of what you're thinking and to keep checking whether it's true.

You will realize that it is not true, and this realization will enable you to let go/dismiss your thoughts.

At first, you can do this only AFTER the match. Later, you can do this during changeovers. Then you become able to do this quick check and dismissal of your thoughts between points.

Finally, after you have been dismissing thoughts for a while (maybe a couple of years), they STOP occurring. You have trained your mind to be more silent.

That's how you make your mind your best ally and not your enemy.

That's also the slogan of my site if you haven't noticed. This is what I try to share.

Although there's a lot of writing and ideas on this website, your end result needs to be silence in your mind.

It's a journey and a very interesting one.

Eventually, you start questioning all your thoughts and beliefs about yourself and life, checking them to see if they make sense and are true.



Win More Matches When It Matters Most

Most tennis matches are decided not by a better stroke but by a better tactical play and by a stronger mind.

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