“What is skillfully established will not be uprooted. What is skillfully grasped, will not slip away. Thus, it is honored for generations” – Ta0 Te Ching
Optimal performance is greatly influenced by your ability to remain centered within. Centering means remaining true to yourself and performing up to your capabilities, regardless of the changes in your external world. Centeredness is like a deeply rooted tree. When attacked by hostile forces, the tree withstands them, remaining unmoved as you will when you are centered within.
Centered athletes do not measure identity and self-worth by result, score or rating of performance. They see victory as just another component of playing the game. Therefore they enjoy accolades and rewards more fully as they are by-products of excellence rather than an end in themselves. We are never as great as our greatest victory or as bad as our worst defeat. Knowing this helps keeps things in perspective.
As an athlete you’re constantly bombarded with external input. You have to be able to know and interpret such data to grow and develop into who you want to be. The continual dramas of life and tennis can obscure your awareness of where you are, where you come from and where you are going.
Practicing silent reflection or inner stillness can help you better understand yourself, your perceptions and impressions and the world around you. Periodic reflection helps you assess your training and competitive performances. It helps you see what you need to change in your game and in yourself. In turn, your timing will improve so that you minimize your risk of error, setback and failure.
Your tennis performance will have its ups and downs, it’s a natural cycle. Nobody can compete without fluctuations in performance, but much is to be gained from reflecting upon these natural cycles. By aligning yourself with these rhythms, you gain personal power over your performance. If you are at a low period, accept it and you will stop fighting it. You will notice that life is more meaningful when you take time to reflect.