Hi friends and practitioners of 'everyball':
I was reminded a couple of days ago about the story of Victor Frankl. His career as a psychotherapist and neurologist was interrupted by the Second World War and the Holocaust. He spent three years in four Nazi camps: Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Kaufering III, and Turkheim. He lost his wife, Tilly, and his father, mother, and brother in the camps. Surviving he wrote a book called Man's Search for Meaning and in it he wrote:
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the hut comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offered sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one's own way. And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you will become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.
You might think this is pretty extreme, and how does this relate to your tennis? Well, we are always encouraging you to think positively and choose your attitude. Even for people labelled as positive thinkers, negative thoughts, images, fears etc WILL come into your mind. The key is whether you SUBMIT to these thoughts/emotions and let them control you, or whether you exercise YOUR freedom of choice and respond in a different way. The saying, 'Where your attention goes, power flows' is directly linked to these ideas. Whatever my attentional material, the more I focus on it, the more power I will give it. Best then that your attentional material is constructive and helpful to your performance - a task for each point, a powerful image of you executing a new technique, etc.
The great thing about our game is the numerous opportunities it provides you to 'fail'. We lose points, games, sets and matches and in these 'failures' (if we want to call them that - I'd prefer learning opportunities) we have the opportunity to choose our attitude, to exercise our ability to respond in a different way.
Over the next week, consider the quality of your response to error or set-back - what 'thoughts and images' do you feed and are these helpful? And remember, where your attention goes, power flows.