My Journey To NLP Anchoring Technique For Absolute Confidence In Tennis Matches

Ramon's forehand

The war waged on at 5-4 in the third set.

My friend Mikele, who resembles a Greek god, was picking up steam quickly that warm summer day in Los Angeles.

After winning the first set easily at 6-1, I thought the second would be a breeze.

However, playing with absolutely nothing to lose, it seemed as though he couldn’t miss.

He was painting the lines and coming up with ridiculous passing shots, he employed a swift transition game, while playing phenomenal defense.

It seemed like I was playing Federer in 2006.

It seemed like his game impenetrable. He won the second set 6-2 and left me feeling completely stunned.

How could I be in complete control in one set, feeling absolutely confident in victory, and be left searching for answers the next?

Perhaps you have experienced this yourself. Have you ever been in a match where you had the match on your racket and just completely fallen apart?

Now, it was the decisive third set, and I was up 5-3, serving for the match.

At match point, I double faulted, ultimately allowing him to take the game and get back on serve.

I felt so incredibly deflated and frustrated with myself. It was a feeling of complete helplessness. I knew I should be beating this guy, despite his incredible athleticism.

I thought I had more game. That day, I was wrong.

He went on to hold serve, and ended up winning the match in a tie breaker. It was one of the most crushing defeats in my tennis career.

Looking back on it, they always say that you learn more when you lose than you do when you win. Has this been true in your experience?

For me, it has proven to be 100% true.

For weeks afterwards, I thought about the match. I replayed it in my head.

I read books on peak performance, I underwent self-hypnosis, I even began journaling because I heard it would help me recover from the loss. Slowly, I could feel the tension begin to dissolve.

Then, one afternoon I stumbled upon something that would change my life forever. Something that changed myself as a tennis player, and that has help shape me as a human being.

A man named Milton Erickson had founded NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) in the middle of the 20th century. I was vaguely familiar with it from my days as a single man trying to meet women.

It was a controversial technology with wide-ranging applications. NLP was so powerful, that it had helped transform me from a shy kid lacking self confidence, who couldn’t talk to a girl to save his life, into a young man being able to have a conversation with a beautiful woman and have her enjoy my company.

It was partly responsible for my transformation into "manhood".

Lying in bed one night, I flipped open an NLP book I had… and, as if by miracle, I opened directly to the page that would take my tennis game to heights I never dreamed of.

Anchoring was the name of the chapter.

Erickson talks about a process where you can virtually guarantee that you will be in a state of mind that is so certain of victory, your opponent might as well just walk off the court. What followed was a simple 9 step process that anyone can do.

Here are those 9 steps:

1. Identify a situation where you want to feel more resourceful. In our case, let’s choose a tennis match (though you can use this for any situation).

2. Choose the resource (or feeling) you want in that situation. In our example, let’s use "unshakeable confidence" or "absolute certainty".

3. Recall a time when you experienced that state. Maybe it was a previous match where you knew you would be victorious. There was no question in your mind.

See what you saw, hear what you heard and feel what you felt as you relive that experience in your mind and body. The key is to feel the emotion intensely.

Check in with yourself and mentally note the subtle details relating to being in this state of unshakeable confidence. When you’ve done this thoroughly, stop thinking about it and break the state.

4. Select three "anchors", one kinesthetic, one visual, and the the last one auditory. The kinesthetic could be a place on your body that’s unlikely to be touched very often, such as an ear lobe.

The visual anchor can be as simple as recalling what you were seeing at the time of your unshakeable confidence. The auditory anchor can be anything you like, such as "C’MON" or "YOU GOT THIS". You don’t have to say it out loud, unless you like strangers staring at you :).

5. Begin to fully re-experience the resourceful state. As it comes to the peak of your confident feeling, connect the three anchors (touch your earlobe, see yourself dominating, and say C’MON to yourself).

6. Break the state by saying or doing something that has nothing to do with the anchoring process (try thinking about pink elephants).

7. Repeat step 5 several times, and each time, make the experience more vivid by sharpening the details in your re-creation.

8. Test the association by firing the anchors. If, when you touch your earlobe, see yourself dominating, and say "C’MON", you get back into that resourceful state, you’re done! If not, repeat steps 5-7 again until you can easily achieve it.

9. Identify several situations in the match you are about to play where you would like to have access to this resourceful state (4-4 break point, match point, etc...). Imagine being in each situation, and as you do so, fire your anchor to create an automatic association to them, and trigger the response.

To make a long story short, practice visualizing yourself doing well in as much detail as possible, then remember that feeling. You can then project that feeling into the future.

When I began practicing these 9 steps, my number of close match victories skyrocketed. Late in sets, I had a technique that I could use that would instantly put me in a frame of mind of absolute certainty as long as my anchors were properly created.

If you practice these 9 steps, you will be able to create resourcefulness in yourself that will allow you to perform at a high level.

How would you feel if you knew that you were capable of unshakeable confidence in any situation? What would you be capable of? What would you go after?

Remember as you're reading this, that in your mind, you can play a perfect match. And as studies with NASA have proven, the mind cannot distinguish that which is real from that which is vividly imagined.

Happy anchoring! :)



Special thanks to Ramon Osa for publishing his inspiring story on this website. You can follow Ramon at OSATENNIS360.COM



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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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