For many years, I have asked my tennis acquaintances and students these three simple questions, which apply to many sports and life endeavors:
- How much of the game is mental?
- How much time do you invest in this part of your game?
- Does this makes sense to you?
"The mental part of the game is huge!" "It's about 90%-110%." (I must confess, though, when I hear 110%, I think this person must be poor at math).
Here is the most common reply to the second question "How much time do you invest in this part of your game?":
"NONE!" Or "less then 10%."
And finally, the reply to the third question, "Does this makes sense to you?" is ALWAYS:
"This makes no sense!" or "I don’t know how to work on the mental part of my game."
I am going to share some of the lessons I have learned in an attempt to help you improve your mental endurance. This is one area of performance that allows for the greatest margins of improvements. Understand that endurance and passion are two key elements that will set you apart in achieving your goals.
Remember, the purpose of exercises is to develop inner strength. These are not “theoretical” concepts from academia. They are practices that come from real-life competing. Honestly, they come from getting the crap beat out of me in tennis matches, learning from it, adjusting, and evolving in order to improve. These are tried and tested, step-by-step functional techniques that will teach you how to be adaptive, how to evolve, how to improve and how to reach realistic goals.
Let’s get started!
If you boast of how well you multi-task, understand that what you are really saying is "I can’t focus on anything with my full attention!"
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. In my opinion, it seems to be a mental pandemic that is spreading like a highly contagious disease. What’s worse, though, is that people are proud of how well they multi-task.
Does this sound familiar?
Let’s start with a simple test. I know that almost all tennis players thoroughly enjoy watching Roger Federer play. So let’s run an initial diagnostic test on your attention span. For those of you who don’t play tennis, enjoy watching one of the greatest tennis players of all time. It’s simply an attention span diagnostic test.
MENTAL ENDURANCE EXERCISE #1
This self-aware test will only take 8:42 minutes and will help you create a baseline for your progress.
- Turn off all electronic devices except your computer. That means, no texts, no alerts, no distractions.
- Go to a place where you will not be interrupted for any reason.
- Enjoy watching Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych practice. Yes, I said practice! No crowds screaming, no set or match points, just practice. As you watch this video, make a mental note if your concentration wanders. This means any wandering other than just simply watching Roger strike the ball. Remember how long you watched before your mind began to wander. Some of you will fly right through this test. Some of you may find this to a bit more difficult.
- Stay tuned for your next exercise…