Step 1 is the first on-court progression of the Parallel Mode Process.
Do this Step exactly as it is outlined here and you will experience the zone.
When I teach people how to play tennis in the zone, I don’t tell them about the changes they have to make in order to switch from their Serial Mode to their Parallel Mode. Instead, I give them a concentrative task that actually causes them to automatically switch from their Serial Mode to their Parallel Mode.
And when they change to their Parallel Mode they automatically switch from their normal performance state to their peak performance state and immediately start playing tennis in the zone.
You can also imagine a vertical line going down the center of your window from top to bottom, and a horizontal line at shoulder height going from side to side, dividing your imaginary window into four quadrants.
If you had a real window spanning the court in front of you, divided into quadrants, it would look like this:
So the first part of your concentrative task is to visualize this big, imaginary window in front of you; something any child can do with ease.
The second part of your concentrative task involves changing your objective from hitting the ball over the net to defending your window.
Here’s what I mean.
So you’re objective in Step 1 is NOT to use your strokes to hit the ball back over the net. Instead, your objective is simply to use your strokes to keep oncoming balls from getting past your imaginary window.
That’s it. That’s all you are trying to do in Step 1. Visualize an imaginary window spanning the court in front of you, and use your strokes to prevent any and every ball from getting past your window.
If you are successful in defending your window, say “Yes” out loud. If the ball gets past your window, say “No.”
Immediate verbal feedback.
“Yes” if you succeed in using your strokes to keep the ball from getting past your window. “No” if the ball gets past your window.
Lots of changes, I know, but as you go through the Steps, you’ll start to understand why these changes are necessary and how they help you get into the zone.
2. Use your strokes to keep every ball from getting past your window.
3. Say “yes” if you are successful, “no” if you’re not.
Start at mid-court and work your way back to the baselines. Before long, you’ll be defending your window all over the court.
And here’s a Step 1 game you can try just for fun: count the number of times you can keep the ball from getting past your imaginary window.
Remember your “yes/no” verbal feedback, and as you find yourself becoming more and more immersed in this imaginary game, you will also find yourself getting deeper and deeper into the zone.