Utilizing Wisdom in Your-On-Court Arsenal (Part II)

By Jeff Greenwald, M.A., MFT. Smarter Strategy, Better “Feel” Many veteran players who still coach and compete simply believe they have better feel for the ball. Mark Farren, Director of Sleepy Hollow Tennis Club in Orinda and former world-ranked player, described it to me this way: “Now, I know what I do well. I know

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Learning to Play “Loose” in a Result-Oriented Society

By Jeff Greenwald, M.A., MFT. What is the first question players are asked after a match? “How did you do?” Most players, shaped by the standards set in our society, naturally respond, “I won” or “I lost.” Usually, this is the end of the conversation. Unfortunately, the communicated message is that winning is what counts.

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The Pathway to the Zone

By Jeff Greenwald, M.A., MFT. There appears to be a universal consensus that the “zone”-the mind-body connection that invariably produces our best and most relished performances-is, for most of us, an elusive place. In fact, the harder we try to “get there,” the less chance we have of arriving there. So, this precious state has

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Loneliness to Fearlessness

By Jeff Greenwald, M.A., MFT. From the moment my mother pulled away, at the age of 12, as I stared out of the academy’s motel window with tears streaming down my face, I began my intimate relationship with loneliness—an experience we all face from time to time as a competitive tennis player. So much has

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Five Lessons Learned From a Match Almost Lost

By Jeff Greenwald, M.A., MFT. Interclub play in some European nations is unlike anything in the United States. The level of play is extremely high; matches are fiercely contested and draw large crowds of supporters. Clubs woo players with money and free housing and often cars – results really matter. German clubs, especially, care greatly

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Prepare for the Zone

By Jeff Greenwald, M.A., MFT. Many recreational and competitive tennis players talk about the “zone” – that magical day when the ball appears larger than usual, the court wider, and confidence is overflowing. This experience eludes most players and is typically discarded because of its elusive nature. It comes and goes, and rarely stays long.

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Where’s Your Focus

Research shows that the better you become the less you tend to focus on the end result. Instead focus on performance, the process of HOW to achieve that outcome.

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The Greenwald Interviews: Playing Without Fear

By Jeff Greenwald, M.A., MFT. A great deal has been written about the mental game of tennis; yet despite all the books, articles, and videos, players still come on the court and play scared. Why? What’s going on? Why do so many players do incredibly well in practice and then play differently, tentatively in matches?

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Embracing Uncertainty: The Hallmark of Success and Peak Performance

Today, I met with a very accomplished tennis player, who also happens to be in the world of finance. In our meeting he described how his body would go physiologically haywire right before the announcement of a companies’ earnings—nausea, constricted throat, diarrhea, even cold sweats at night. This physiological reaction was similar, he said, to

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Is Anger Always a Bad Thing?

Have you ever wondered why you can perform a little better when you’re angry? You know, your opponent calls the ball out because he really wants it to be out. But, you know it was on the line. Certainly, many players can come unraveled and stew over the injustice.

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The Courage to be Loose

Those of you who have listened to my CD program, Fearless Tennis, or have read my book, The Best Tennis of Your Life, know that I am passionate about pushing the envelope when it comes to playing “loose.” Okay, fine. Maybe a bit obsessed. But this newsletter is not only about how to get loose.

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The Power in a Word

I’ve spent weeks working with a player helping him to gradually shift toward a more “process-focus” where he is less influenced by who he is playing and what might happen. He seems to be getting it and demonstrates insight into how focusing on things outside his control is counterproductive. Nevertheless, a week after our last

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Any Spirit in your Game?

Today I was thinking about spirit. And, of course, as I often try to do, I wanted to apply this concept and experience of spirit into the context of sports. I know many people who find my work happen to be athletes, many of whom are tennis players, but as I am sure you know,

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Coaching the Inner Athlete

Over the past 17 years that I have been working with athletes and their families I have discovered three common characteristics that help athletes succeed. I will discuss these themes in this blog and subsequent posts. The inner game feels like a mystery a lot of the time doesn’t it? We read books on the

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A Perspective on Winning and Losing

In a recent recap of the 2012 Wimbledon Andre Agassi acknowledged how winning his first and only title there (1991) felt more like relief than anything else. “For me,” he said, “winning Wimbledon didn’t seem to last nearly as long as losing did.

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Belief Runs Deep

The jockey who came from behind and rode Union Rag to the Belmont crown today, believed his horse could win it, despite its failure to win in the past. So did its owner, a woman who had sold Union Rag, then relented and bought the horse back for three times the cost. Maria Sharapova never

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Become Aware of Your Brain: Change is Within your Grasp

In his enormously popular book, The Road Less Traveled, Dr. Scott Peck states that change is hard. Depending on what it is you are wanting to change, this can be true. Over time, however, I have come to believe that this is not quite as hard as we often make it. Change gets a whole

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Be Decisive

The other day I was on the court and a young player and after she missed a routine forehand groundstroke I asked her what happened. She tells me, “I hesitated at the last second. I wasn’t sure whether to go crosscourt or down the line.” I’ve been hearing this a lot lately–players doubting their choice

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When Setting out a Plan: Be Specific

What if the only barrier between where you are now and where you want to be is simply the lack of a specific plan? Perhaps there is a change you’ve been wanting to make on the court or in your own life but it continues to allude you. On some level, I think this was

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It’s Ok to Believe

What’s one of the worst aspects of losing? The disappointment in yourself? Or, perhaps, worst of all, finally accepting the possibility and really believing that you CAN win, but then it doesn’t work out? I was working with a young squash player yesterday who admitted to me for the first time (and to herself) that

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Nerves: Just Passengers on the Bus

There’s nothing like being in the middle of a tournament to help you get up close and personal with nerves. Thankfully I still play this great game so I can relate to all of you who get tight out there. Well, I’m playing the Finals of the 45 World Championship singles today as some of

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Be your own Advocate on the Court: The Role of Autonomy

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the differences in how players handle pressure. I talk to juniors and adults all week long about their experience in the game–what holds them back, how they worry about losing when ahead, not believing in themselves enough to beat someone they believe they could beat, worry about a

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The Epitome of Letting Go: Djokovic on Match Point

Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of discussion about “the shot”–Djokovic’s forehand return winner at double match point down a few weeks ago in the Semis of the Open against Federer. I thought it would be useful to explore this moment in more depth to help all players benefit from this amazing scenario.

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Feel Don’t Think

In Andre’s autobiography, Open, he continually references Steffi’s attempt to help him get out of his head. “Feel, don’t think,” she would continually say to him. He scratched his head at first. What is she talking about? Finally, it dawned on him that being present and out of his head was a secret he had

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Applying Mental Skills

Do you find that you get stuck in old mental habits–worrying about whether you will win or lose, getting frustrated with your errors, feeling tense? Someone once told me never to tell students that something is hard to do. I disagree. Breaking old mental habits, based on all of our past conditioning, IS hard. Being

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