Two Techniques To Master Your Focus And Achieve Your Best Outcomes

What’s New? 1-1-1 with Jeff Greenwald

Over the next ten weeks I will be sharing ONE Idea that can transform the way you think and live, ONE Analogy to drive it home, and ONE Action you can take to see its effects in your life.

These time-tested ideas–drawn from 22 years working in the field of sport psychology, are reflected in this document HERE.

We’ll work through one each week so you can see their potential to change your performance on the court and your enjoyment in everyday life.

“The future depends on what we do in the present.” -Mahatma Gandhi

ONE IDEA: Present vs. Future

Do you think our ancestors just walked out of their caves, totally in the present, with no thought about what could happen to them if they weren’t careful?

Absolutely not.

In fact, it is this very survival system (fight, flight, freeze) that is allowing you to be here reading this right now!

While this survival system is certainly more relevant today than it was last year due to Covid, fires and other environmental challenges we are all facing (yes, we are being tested big time), it still needs to be managed.

And we have the knowledge and ability now to control it.

The problem is that this system no longer needs to be on all the time or to the same degree.

And when we perform, having this system influencing our decisions almost always creates a barrier to achieving the outcomes we desire.

If our brains are wired to anticipate the future and are influenced by the past, how are we supposed to bring our minds into the present more often—especially, when we’d prefer the present to be in the past!

How do we hack this program?

We need an inner remote control.

What Can We Learn from the U.S. Open?

This past weekend we saw Azarenka in the finals of the US Open against Serena Williams double fault leading 5-3 in the third set 30-15 (arguably one of the most challenging moments in tennis and perhaps in Azarenka’s career).

She then served two aces to win the title.

After 4 hours of battling in the men’s final, Dominic Thiem, leads 6-4 in the tiebreaker in the 5th set, while cramping, loses two points on unforced errors (he got tight) and closed it out 8-6 in the tie-breaker.

It was an amazing demonstration of courage as he quickly moved on from the past into the moment.

Both players desperately wanted their futures to include THESE Grand Slam wins. They were aware of the scoreboard, but they did not become victims of it.

They found a way to bring their mind back to the present moment.


They knew that focusing on anything other than the present in that moment would be disastrous. They were aware of the “channel” they needed to be on.

Then, they made the choice to change the channel to the present, to the task at hand.

ONE ANALOGY: Focus Like a Baby

Yesterday a client of mine, a top D1 college player and former standout in Junior Grand Slams, asked me, “But if I shift my focus to something else like my strings on the racquet, what if my mind is still thinking about the last double fault?”

I said, “Have you ever seen how engaged babies are when they watch a ball roll across the floor? Or have you seen the concentration of a dog ready to catch the ball you’re about to throw?”

He had a baby niece and a beloved family dog. He knew what I was talking about. He could envision that effortless focus every baby has mastered, shutting out everything but the ball.

“Trust me,” I said, “with that kind of focus you won’t be thinking about anything else because you can’t focus on two things at once.”

Analogy: Your Mind BY the River, Not in IT

Imagine a river that’s flowing downstream. Then imagine that the water is actually your thoughts.

Okay. Got it?

Your mind is on the side of the bank watching the river go by. Your mind is not IN THE RIVER.

This is how we develop our own remote control: You focus and engage with the task at hand like a baby, but bring it to the “river bank” as a witness when it jumps into the future without your consent.

Action: Refocus

To do this, you need to be specific, use your senses, and focus on something relevant.

As I’ve described before, when you use sensation—the feel of the keys on your computer, your feet touching the ground when you walk, the feel of the ball off your racquet, the voice of the person talking with you—you will find that you can bring your focus back to the present.

The more you practice this awareness, the more present you will be.

And, paradoxically, when you stay in the present, the future will likely turn out even better than what you might have been worrying about in the first place.

Does this take effort? Absolutely. Discipline? Yes.

But, once you determine that it is worth the extra effort to come back to the NOW, you can gradually increase the time you are actually here. The brain is a muscle. Exercise it!

Every time you come back you are doing a “rep” as if you are lifting weights. Your brain will get stronger and be able to stay in the present for longer periods of time.

Dream about the future as often as you like, turn the worry into intention (and, perhaps, some hope, too, which will be my next blog post) and come back to where you are now, so we can make the most of our time together.

Because, now more than ever, we need to help one another by staying connected and present, while helping to create a brighter future for each of us. We will get there again.

I’m in your corner.

With Gratitude,

P.S. Are you ready to get the mental edge and push yourself beyond your current level of performance on or off the court? Reach out to me. Or, if you are interested in my Fearless Tennis Course click here.












  1. Rose Jones on September 18, 2020 at 8:03 am

    Thank you Jeff! Great post!

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