It’s interesting to me how the human mind creates the Now in the context of the tennis environment. That’s what I have been trying to explain for all these years through the parallel mode process. I think people are looking for something new in their approach to the game, and an approach to being in the present when they play might be exactly what they are looking for.
All these new racquets with their incredible power makes it possible for the average player to hit the ball too fast for the eyes to keep it in focus. So what you’ve got is an even greater need for a more efficient and accurate visual strategy. A fixed-depth of focus visual strategy fills that need.
What is also important about the parallel mode process is that it presents a totally new perspective on how to interface with the tennis environment. I’m not exactly sure what the reality of the unified whole is called in other spiritual contexts, but I think Westerners will be able to relate to the concept of being one with the unified whole of the game.
I used to think that the concept of being one with the game was a bunch of hooey, a crock put out by people like Timothy Gallwey because they were not proficient in teaching sound biomechanics and proper technique. But three decades of playing tennis in the zone has shown me that there is another side to the game that has always been called the mental game or the inner game, and that this inner game has as much merit as the outer game that I grew up playing and teaching.
What the parallel mode process has given me, however, is direct access to the most prized possession of the game of tennis – and the most prized possession is not the Number 1 ranking in the world, it’s not the Wimbledon Championship, it’s not the Grand Slams. The most prized possession in the game of tennis is “the zone.”
Question: What do you value the most when you play tennis? That’s a very basic question I ask people in my peak performance workshops. The answers are always varied; some value winning over everything else, some value exercise, some value having fun. But nobody I have taught so far has said that the thing they value the most in tennis is playing tennis in the zone.
That’s before the workshop when they are uncertain about what this zone thing is and how they can get into a peak performance state without learning better strokes. After the workshop, some of the people, not all, start to have a different idea about what they value the most in the game. They have had a chance to see themselves in the zone; to experience their peak performance state, and yet some of them still see the zone as a means to an end; a means to winning more, to beating the crap out of their opponents. For these people, there is still a long road ahead for them filled with frustration and misunderstanding. They want to get into the zone for all the wrong reasons, and because of that, they will always have trouble finding the zone.
Then there are those who realize that the zone is not a means to an end but rather an end in itself. When it comes to playing tennis, the zone is their destination of choice. They find themselves trying to get better at getting into and staying in the zone while they play rather than trying to get better at beating the crap out of the person across the net. The zone becomes both the journey and the destination.
If the destination is winning, the zone will probably not be a part of your journey very often. You might slide into the zone accidentally now and then, but not out of choice. If, however, your destination is the zone and you know how to incorporate the parallel mode process, then you will find the zone quite often on your journey.
For those who say “it’s the journey not the destination,” what they are saying is that it’s the process not the outcome. But if your process is also the outcome, then your journey is also your destination.
That’s what happens when you play tennis in the zone. The zone becomes both your journey and your destination simultaneously. Little else matters when you are playing tennis in the zone. Winning happens more often simply because you are playing to your full potential. Losing also happens, but it matters little because you have played to your full potential.
So the destination has little to do with winning or losing. The outcome has little to do with the win-loss columns. The outcome, the destination is for you to play tennis in the zone, to perform to your full potential and in so doing, have a full potential experience in the tennis environment.
That means you must connect to, interface with, the whole of the tennis environment simultaneously, which, in itself, is the process that creates the destination of the zone. So as you are doing the process you are simultaneously in the destination.
For me this means that the destination is the absolute present, and the process by which the absolute present is created is the journey. The trick to understanding the beauty of the zone is that the process and outcome, the journey and destination, are simultaneous.
Journey = Destination
Process = Outcome
Cause = Effect
There’s one for you. When does cause equal effect? When is the process also the outcome? When is your journey also your destination?
When you are in the zone.