Everyone who takes up the PMP faces the same challenge, and that is the challenge of maintaining a fixed-focus state amidst the chaos of action taking place all around you on the tennis court. Such is the challenge of playing tennis in the zone.
The idea is to maintain a fixed-depth of focus on your contact zone when you play, and to continuously locate the primary contact point (PCP) along the surface of your “imaginary window” and create contact at the PCP. The PCP is the point at which the ball first enters the space and time of your contact zone. Make contact continuously at the PCP and your strokes are in continuous control of your contact zone. Chances are pretty good that if your strokes are in control of your contact zone, you will create a positive contact event that results in a good shot.
The PMP involves learning how to maintain a fixed-focus state as you play. It means focusing on your contact zone, not on the ball, and especially not on the results of your contact. That might be the single most difficult thing for people to do in any endeavor in life. We are so outcome-based in almost everything we do that to stay in the process is a challenge of the highest order. And yet when we remain in the process and meet that challenge, the performance is also of our highest-order.
Your highest-order performance does not mean you will always win. You can play to your full potential and still lose the match. That’s not what playing tennis in the zone is all about. The outcome – a win or a loss – involves your opponent’s performance as well as your own performance, and the only performance over which you can exercise any control is your own.
By taking control of your own performance state and switching from a serial operating mode to a parallel operating mode, you are also switching to your highest order performance state. You cannot control anything else, and when you are in your peak performance state, you are doing the best you possibly can with what you can control. The best you can do in a tennis match is perform to your full potential in that particular match, and in order to perform to your full potential in that match or in any other match, you must engage your VCM operating system in its highest-order operational interface – a parallel interface.
What happens on the other side of the net is out of the domain of your control, and by learning to maintain a fixed-focus on your contact zone, you will be learning how to defocus from the action over which you have no control while remaining focused on the area of space and time over which you do have control. And when you take control of your contact zone, you will soon find that your level of play is heightened in direct proportion to the level of control you have over your contact zone.
The paradox of controlling your contact zone is that in order to control you contact zone, you must first let go of controlling all of the other action on the court. And to let go of controlling the other action, you have to first defocus from it.
How do you defocus from everything? By fixing your focus on nothing.
How do you let go of trying to control everything? By controlling nothing.
After all, when you are controlling your contact zone, what, exactly, are you controlling?