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Let it happen - let your game develop naturally

Most children learn to walk before they can be told how to by their parents. Yet, children not only learn how to walk very well, but gain confidence in the natural learning process which operates within them. Mothers observe their children's efforts with love and interest, and if they are wise, without much interference.

If we could treat our tennis games as we do a child learning to walk, we would make more progress. When the child loses his balance and falls, the mother doesn't condemn him for being clumsy. She doesn't even feel bad about it, she simply notices the event and perhaps gives a word or gesture of encouragement. Consequently, a child's progress in learning to walk is never hindered by the idea that he is uncoordinated.

Why shouldn't a beginning player treat his backhand as a loving mother would her child? The trick is not to identify with the backhand. If you view an erratic backhand as a reflection of who you are, you will be upset. But you are not your backhand anymore than a parent is his child. If a mother identifies with every fall of her child and takes personal pride in his every success, her self-image will be as unstable as her child's balance. She finds stability when she realizes that she is not her child, and watches him with love and interest - but as a separate being.

This same kind of detached interest is what is necessary to let your game develop naturally. Remember that you are not your tennis game. You are not your body. Trust the body to learn and to play, as you would trust another person to do a job, and in a short time it will perform beyond your expectations. Let the flower grow. Let it happen.

A picture is worth a thousand words. It learns by watching the actions of others, as well as by performing actions itself. Almost all tennis players have experienced playing over their heads after watching championship tennis on TV.

The benefits to your game come not from analyzing the strokes of top players, but from concentrating without thinking and simply letting yourself absorb the images before you. Then, the next time you play, you may find that certain important intangibles such as timing, anticipation and sense of confidence are greatly improved, all without conscious effort or control.