The idea that you are in control of your mental focus when you are concentrating on the ball is actually backwards. When you concentrate on the ball, the ball is controlling your mental as well as your visual focus, not you.
There is nothing wrong with concentrating on the ball; what is wrong is to think that you are in control of your visual and mental focus when you are following the ball around all over the court with your eyes and your mind, especially when sport vision professionals tell us that you cannot keep the ball in focus traveling at the speeds we see in tennis.
To truly be in control of your concentration you have to stop letting your mind be controlled by the people, places and things in the tennis environment. You have to stop letting your mind be controlled by your opponent, your target, and the ball.
That’s where your parallel mode of operation comes in as a perfect way to disconnect your mind from the individual parts of the tennis environment and reconnect your mind to the whole of the tennis environment. by fixing your visual and mental focus on your contact zone, you are taking control of your own mind, your own concentration, your own visual focus instead of letting your mental and visual focus be controlled by the different parts of the action on the court.
Using your mind to concentrate on the big picture is a different way of using your mind on the tennis court, especially when you have been told since day-one to concentrate on the various parts of the action in front of you – opponent, target, and ball. But breaking the environment down into its pieces does not increase the quality of your mental connection to the game. In fact, the more pieces of the picture to which you connect mentally, the more splintered your mental connection becomes, the more fractured and separated the picture becomes. Confusion sets in, disorder, even chaos. End result – you create a negative contact event, the ball goes into the net and you immediately wonder what went wrong with that biomechanically sound stroke you paid good money to learn.
Maybe you should get a new pro; one who will teach you biomechanically sound strokes that work better than the biomechanically sound strokes you are already using. Or, you might try a different mental connection to the game itself. Maybe it’s not your strokes that are the problem. Maybe your error-prone physical connection to the game is the result of an error-prone mental connection to the game. Perhaps a little less confusion, a little less chaos, and a lot more order in your mental connection would result in a more orderly and more accurate physical connection to the game.
Perhaps it’s time to stop mentally splintering the action into so many sequential pieces and start connecting mentally to all of the action simultaneously. That’s exactly what happens when you switch from a serial mode of operation to a parallel mode of operation. You stop connecting sequentially to the parts and start connecting simultaneously to the whole. And this higher-order mental connection to the game acts to synthesize all the game’s pieces into a unified whole. Sort of a reverse Humpty-Dumpty in which you can, in fact, put all the pieces back together again.
As to the quality of the mental connection you experience in a parallel mode, you will have to see for yourself. Total concentration, complete control of your visual and mental focus where your mind is fully engaged with the whole of the tennis environment. That’s what you can look forward to in a parallel mode.
Or you can concentrate on the ball in a serial mode. Both connections work. It’s just that one connection is much more efficient and accurate than the other.