I liked this little piece from 'The Fighter's Mind: Inside the Mental Game' by Sam Sheridan.Deep waters are the moments when a great fighter is facing a superior athlete, a man who has spent his whole life honing lethal skills, in front of millions of people, where the great fighter is fighting better than he ever has before, better than anyone thought possible and the other guy is still coming. The puncher relies on his big punching. He hits guys and they go down. As he works his way up through the boxing rankings, this is the law of the land - he hits them and they disappear. Now he gets to his first title fight, his first big fight, and he hits his opponent - boom - and the guy is still there. The guy can handle the punch and keeps coming. So the puncher hits him again, but the other guy is still there. Now comes the crucible for the puncher. Does he go to pieces? Or does he buckle down and keep fighting? Can he find a way to win? Dave Hagler, USPTA Master Pro, comments on this: 'Deep waters exist not just for great fighters, but for all of us. You hit big serves that shouldn't come back, but they come back. You hit a shot and expect a defensive return, but the opponent attacks. You expect an opponent to go away, but he fights back harder. It is my theory that in every tennis match, the player who is ahead, or dominating play at some point consciously or unconsciously, expects the opponent to give up. If you are behind and don't give up, you might find that your opponent may not be willing or able to continue to battle, and the tide will turn in your favour.' I so agree. Who or what are you battling today? Keep fighting for every ball, the tide could be ready to turn and you need to be THERE when it does!
So in this, we need to develop great 'acting ability' as performers. Great actors get us to 'buy' in with our emotions, because the emotions they display are real. There is a direct physiological response to a well acted out behaviour. Therefore, acting out body language that shows confidence, fight and a 'I can handle anything you throw at me' attitude will in turn engender those feelings and thoughts. Walking tall, shoulders back, a clench of the fist or slap of the thigh – these are simple tools to help get those competitive juices flowing, especially on a day when they are not coming naturally. The best performers, those who meet their own expectations under pressure, are also the best actors. They are so in touch with their own emotions and feelings that they know just when to increase or decrease arousal levels. I would suggest that more often or not this is achieved through well acted out behaviours - body language and breathing being critical in this. Of course this is not just an 'on the sports field' deal. We can use this day in day out to help lift our attitudes and spirits on days when, well, we just don't feel like it... .
Congratulations to Everyball player Michael Shaw (pictured below) who won the Batchwood Grade 3 12&U Boys Event in St. Albans last week. Michael beat Cameron Bowie 7-5, 6-4 in a gritty final. James Morgan, individual coach to Michael commented: 'Michael had to battle the whole way for this, but as ever his attitude and effort were first class - he simply does what it says on the tin!' Great job Michael and keep up the good work - the major efforts you are making will continue to pay off. Good luck also to Katy Dunne who plays her first match tomorrow in South Africa in the first of 2 Grade 2 18&U ITF events. Katy is travelling with LTA Coach Jane O'Donaghue who reports that Katy is 'more than ready to play!' Chomping at the bit hey Katy - that's what we want to hear!