Tina was introduced to me by a friend. She is a semi professional tennis player who hopes to make a full time career from sport. We were both in London at the time, and we agreed to meet at convenient hotel. She is a personable young lady who has determination and ambition. She talked for some time about her tennis, life, family and where she felt she was at this moment in time with regards to her sport. When she finished speaking, I questioned her on some of the points she had raised, especially those places where she seemed vague and uncertain. The main issue as she saw it was that she had recently started losing matches to people she had previously beaten, and became unsure when facing tennis players she held as equals or with more experience. She never used the term ‘better players than me’.
When further questioned it became clear that her preparation for these matches was not as thorough as it used to be and should have been. Not so as in playing preparation but in pre-game preparation and what (for her) must be in place for her to feel that she is ‘ready to play’, but there was still something missing.
Through the use of Meta questions, (questions that require detail and are open), as well as again looking at her strategies and the way she spoke to herself right at the end of her preparation, just before she tied her shoe lace.
A shoelace may not seem like much, but for her it was part of a belief, it meant something to her internal dialogue and the way that content was processed by her unconscious mind. It may seem bizarre but without realising it, for her it was a crucial point.
After that understanding the tension visibly eased from her body. We put a few new strategies in place, and then reviewed those strategies, checked 2 or 3 more times to ensure that there was nothing missing in her new routine. We then went through that new routine to finally confirm that everything was in place and that she had a good kinaesthetic feeling about the changed routine. She said that she did. This is another of the critical points. Whatever new or altered strategy you run with it must end with a good feeling. Without that, the new strategy will not work. An analogy here would be that most people would not drive their car over a speed bump at 70mph, it wouldn’t feel right. Therefore, you just would not do it.
I asked Tina to relax and to close her eyes. I introduced the new routines and reinforced them. When I asked Tina to open her eyes, she did so, and she immediately smiled.
I have talked with Tina a few times since that meeting, she is much happier and her tennis is going well. We may have to re-visit strategies and tweak them from time to time as her needs change; however that is part of the constant improvement process.
‘The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…..these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence’. Confucius
By changing the way you think, you change the way feel. When you change the way you feel, what you can do expands.
It is just that simple.