Everyone wants to play better, but not at the cost of their ego. Self-will seems to be our most prized possession and once people realize that playing tennis in the zone involves letting go of self, they often run in the opposite direction.
Yet those who stick around find that the zone is about so much more than simply playing better tennis, and that letting go of self-will is the most liberating thing they can do for themselves and for their game.
Of course, most people who take tennis lessons are more interested in learning the techniques involved in the game rather than learning how to make those techniques work more efficiently and accurately. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in good technique and sound biomechanics, but no matter how good your technique, no matter how sound your biomechanics, there is still the problem you face of having to interface with the elements of the tennis environment every time you go out to play.
You might have great technique, but if your operating system creates a negative interface, you end up hitting bad shots and wondering what the heck went wrong with your technique. The truth is, your technique went wrong when your interface went wrong; when your signal sending process fell behind and sent bad information to your brain. And that signal sending process starts with your eyes.
The techniques that you take lessons to learn and practice to perfect are techniques that are performed by the human VCM operating system, which means your forehand is a technique that must be performed by your whole VCM operating system. That includes your eyes, your brain and your body.
What you experience out there on the court, and what your opponent sees, is the last link in this VCM chain – the motor output portion of the VCM interface, which is actually an input, processing, output interface in which the quality of your input determines the quality of your output.
Garbage In = Garbage Out Quality In = Quality Out
Granted, that’s a pretty simplistic look at a highly complex VCM process, but the point is, you can practice the “Quality Out” portion of the equation until you’re purple, but if the “Garbage In” portion of the equation doesn’t change, you’ll be forever frustrated with your technique.
“Garbage In” does not create “Quality Out.” Sorry. The human VCM operating system just doesn’t work that way. Perhaps a closer look at the way you input the available information in your visual field might be in order. What would happen if instead of working on perfecting your motor output, you worked on perfecting your visual input?
Wouldn’t it be something if you could fix your output problems by addressing your input problems?
I know that sounds backwards, but addressing the problems players have with inputting accurate visual information is actually a direct fix for many of their output inaccuracies. I see it every day when I work with people on using FDF input instead of VDF input. What I continue to find amazing is how quickly players of all levels begin to play better by using a more efficient and accurate input pattern, and FDF is definitely more efficient and accurate than VDF.
The increased accuracy of the visual interface created by FDF input is causal to an immediate increase in the accuracy of the motor interface between your technique and the ball. End result: you make positive contact more often than when you use VDF input.
In short, you play better.
I see it happen all the time with the Parallel Mode Process, and it happens for very logical reasons. You don’t play better because you are in the zone; you play better when you are in the zone because your VCM operating system is interfacing with the elements of the tennis environment in its highest order system’s interface.
Quality in = Quality out.Playing tennis in the zone begins with Quality In.