What’s the difference between getting 1st place and anything less? That’s the question that has been around plaguing us for as long as there has been more than one competitor in any kind of a contest. Since the legendary Robin of Locksley split the arrow that won the King’s tournament, and Maid Marian’s heart., the line between 1st and anything else has been usually very thin. In every sport, in every contest, every tournament it is all the same, it all comes down to usually the same people who get to the semi-finals and the finals, and step into the winner’s circle. Also you may notice the same people get close to winning and somehow find a way to do something that bumps them out of the winner’s circle. One of the greatest obstacles to winning in any sport or competition, is a little thing (or the lack of it) called concentration. We’ve all experienced this lack of concentration at some point in our competitive existence or even in our daily lives. You’re driving down the road, mile after mile, you settle in behind the wheel letting the cruse control make sure you do, or don’t, get a speeding ticket (great excuse to the Hwy. Patrol), you start thinking about how you should follow through next time you hit that backhand, or how you need to fix that something’er-other on the what-ever at home, and you drive right by your turn-off! An easy lapse in concentration, but why? In this case, boredom, lack of a challenge, nothing to keep you focused. In sports however, it is usually the opposite that breaks a person’s concentration, too much challenge, or too much pressure. So, let’s examine some of reasons or situations that may break someone’s concentration. One big reason is what we usually have too much of, at some time in our lives…pressure. What is pressure? It could be the fear of making a mistake, it could be the fear of losing, and believe it or not sometimes it’s the fear of winning, but we’ll get in to that later. To illustrate pressure, imagine if you will a 12” wide plank, 20-ft. long, resting on the ground. If I bet you $100 you couldn’t walk from one end to the other with out falling off, you’d probably take that bet. Now let’s take that same plank and run it between the top of two buildings 15ft. apart 100 ft. in the air…the day after you just lost your job, and your health insurance was canceled…that’s pressure. It’s the same plank, the same distance, but it causes the thought to creep into your mind (breaking your concentration) what if I slip, or what if I _____. The main point of the story here is fear. Yes fear...fear is the main reason for the destruction of concentration. The fear of losing, the fear of looking bad in front of friends, fear of being ribbed by competitors, and yes the fear of winning, which is the title of the next article that would take a book to do justice to, but back to concentration.
What is concentration anyway. Has anyone ever actually defined it, or broken it down into it’s finest elements? The art of concentration can be defined as it relates to sports in the following statement. Concentration is the total absence of conscious thought while performing an already programmed physical act. Now that you have the definition of concentration, what is an “Already programmed physical act”? That is an act (such as hitting an overhead into the sun) in which you have learned the proper form and execution, and have repeated this act with positive results (hitting it for a winner each time) enough times to make it somewhat automatic. When this happens, it is considered to be programmed. Well, if you can do it once or twice or several times, why can’t you do it ALL of the time? This is where concentration comes in. When the pressure is on and you really want to do good, (or you fear doing badly) the conscious mind starts giving the body actual instructions, get your racquet back early, follow through, don’t panic, and the list goes on. It is this extra conscious instruction that you “Hear” in your mind from the conscious thought center, that totally blows away your perfect ability to complete the “Already programmed act” with surgical precision. This degree of precision you could attain, if you would just allow your body to do it without the “Extra” conscious help. Boiled down to a bottom line, “Don’t think, just DO”. How many times have you heard someone say, “Well, I was do’n ok until I started think’in about______ (you finish the sentence). Once you program your body to hit 5 or 6 “Down-the-line backhands in a row, you can hit 100 in a row, if you will just ALLOW the automatic portion of your body to react on it’s own and quit “Telling” it what to do. That’s what Championship Tennis Relaxation Reprogramming Tapes are all about, giving you the confidence to know your body can take you to the winner’s circle if you will just let it. Once you have the confidence you can really do it, you don’t need to be giving your body that “Extra” instruction to “Help” you win. In fact it’s that extra instruction the will always cause you to lose.
CONCENTRATION TEST: Here’s a little test you can take right now to determine your ability level of maintaining tournament level concentration. Imagine if you will a large white background in front of you, and on that white background imagine a big red circle. Set up a timer to go off in one minute. Now...see if you can keep that picture in your mind for that one minute. Don’t let anything come into your mind, no conscious thought, blank, nothing, flatline as they say. Do it now.