I look at people on a daily basis trying to play a very difficult game for many different reasons, but few people play the game of tennis to experience their own full potential as a human being in the tennis environment. That might be one of the options way down on their priority list, but what you usually end up with is playing the game for a reason that is less than what you can experience in the tennis environment.
1. You can play the game to experience a win or a loss.
2. You can play the game to experience your full potential as a human being.
Most people would rather experience a win while playing poorly than experience their full potential while losing the match. In other words, most people would rather play poorly and win than play to their full potential and lose.
As backwards as that sounds, it’s true. Full potential plays second-fiddle to the outcome, and that is one of the main reasons people have so much trouble experiencing their full potential. More exactly, fear gets in the way; fear of losing what they value more than their own full potential experience. Fear of losing the match prevents them from playing the game fearlessly – not stupidly – fearlessly, and allowing themselves to experience their full potential.
Understand that the human full potential experience is one in which there is no fear. And there is no fear because you have created the temporal and spatial dimension of the present in which fear cannot abide. In essence, there is no time for fear, and if there is no time for fear, there can be no fear of failure.
Instead, what you create is the opposite of fear, and the opposite of fear in tennis is the joy of playing the game. A love for playing that is strictly for the sake of playing. Love of the game for itself; love of the human connection to the game. Love of the one-to-one relationship you form with the game when your are in the zone.
This might seem like a simplistic view of the two poles of the game, but when you think about how you feel when you play the game, everything falls somewhere in between these two opposites. Of course, you have to be somewhat aware of self in order to see where you stand along this continuum, but the closer you get to playing tennis in the zone, the closer you get to the joy end of the continuum, while the more deeply you value winning, the closer you get to the fear end of the continuum.
Personally, I value playing tennis in the zone higher than anything else I do on the court. I value creating the temporal and spatial reality of the present because it allows me to make the one-to-one connection to the game that is the full potential experience. There is nothing more important in the game for me than that connection to the whole, but I do not expect others to have that same value system. Most don’t. In fact, part of the challenge in teaching people how to play tennis in the zone is getting them to see their own value system and observe the difference in performance when they change their values.
What I have found over the years is that many people do not want to change their values even if it means playing to their full potential. Winning is so strongly entrenched in the ego of man that is usually trumps all other values.
Except in practice. One of the oldest adages in tennis goes something like this: if you would only play like you practice, you would win a lot more.
Why do you suppose that is true?
For one thing, when you are practicing, you have devalued winning and upped the value of performance or learning or creating the player you know is in there. The player without fear. In practice there is no fear of losing, therefore you experience tennis without fear, and once fear is gone, you can experience the joy of the game.
Maybe this is an easier way to look at the continuum. While you are in a state of fear there can be little or no joy, and while you are in a state of joy there can be little or no fear. As much sense as that makes, people still have trouble playing or living without fear simply because they value winning over all else; they value winning over fully experiencing the game, and in the case of the PMP, they value winning over making the switch from a Serial Mode to a Parallel Mode, even though making the switch would enhance their performance and thereby give them a better chance to win.