The three main objectives of Step 1 are to:
- Visualize an imaginary window in front of you at a comfortable arm’s length.
- Use your strokes to keep every ball from getting past your imaginary window.
- Say “Yes” if you are successful in defending your window. Say “No” if you are not.
The importance of each of these objectives is significant in its own right. Visualizing an imaginary window in front of you changes your visual input pattern from VDF to FDF and changes your overall visual interface from serial to parallel.
Using your strokes to defend your window instead of using your strokes to hit the ball over the net changes your objective from an outcome-based objective to a process-based objective.
Immediate Yes/No verbal feedback keeps you objectively measuring the process of contact at your window rather than focusing on the outcome of whether or not your shot goes in.
Each aspect of the first progression is so different from what tennis players are used to doing that it takes time for them to get the hang of it. It takes time for anyone to get the hang of it. Maybe a Tibetan Monk could get into the zone immediately, but I’m not even sure about that. I would think they are more well-equipped spiritually to get into the zone than most Western culture, outcome-obsessed tennis players. From what I know about Eastern philosophy, they are more adept at seeing the whole versus analyzing the parts.
Here in the West we are just the opposite. We are better at analyzing the parts than seeing the whole, and it shows in the way we teach and learn the game. You can’t expect people to learn how to play tennis in the zone if they are taught only how to play tennis in the norm. You can’t expect people to see the whole if they are only taught to see the parts.
Our philosophy of teaching in the West is based on rational, sequential, analytical thought, and to expect anything other than a rational and analytical teaching that separates the game into its sequential parts is to expect a different teaching methodology altogether.
Likewise, to expect traditionally trained players to interface with the whole of the tennis environment when they have been trained to interface with the parts of the environment is to ask for a different training methodology as well. A training methodology that asks the question:
How can you perform to your full potential as a tennis player if your operating system is not interfacing with the full potential of the tennis environment?
That’s a question of regard that I’ve not seen answered by any of the performance models that are presently on the market. I’m not talking about how you will perform when you have slept well, eaten right, stretched and done all your push-ups, learned the most biomechanically sound stroking patterns available, equipped yourself with the finest clothes, racquets and shoes, stung your stick to the exact tension needed to suit your game, and become fully aware of the necessary strategies and plans to defeat any of your opponents. Those are all parts of the overall performance package, but they are sidelights to the actual performance interface between your operating system and the environment.
In other words, you can score an A+ in all of the above performance sidelights, but if your operating system is interfacing with the tennis environment in a serial mode, you cannot and will not perform to your full potential.
The only way to create a full potential experience between you and your environment is to create an interface between your operating system in its full potential operating mode (parallel mode) and the full potential of the unified environment (material/spiritual).
Anything less is not a full potential experience, and no matter how physically fit, biomechanically sound and nutritionally balanced you are, your actual performance boils down to how efficiently and accurately your operating system interfaces with the tennis environment.
If your operating system is interfacing with the parts of the environment separately and sequentially, it will not perform as efficiently and accurately as it can when it is interfacing with all of the parts equally and simultaneously – when it is interfacing with the whole environment at once.
This is the symmetry of the PMP. Symmetry in the balanced proportions that create a symmetrical whole. These balanced proportions are the balanced material and spiritual dimensions of the environment as well as the balanced temporal and spatial dimensions of the environment.
In a serial mode you interface with these dimensions asymmetrically creating an asymmetrical connection between your operating system and the environment. An unbalanced connection between you and the material dimension of the environment. Your serial mode/serial interface connects you sequentially to the material “parts” of the environment, and that serial connection acts to separate the whole of the environment into its individual parts. You are no longer connected to the whole of the environment, which creates a sense of something missing in your game or in your life.
And why would you expect anything different? What’s missing is the connection your operating system is designed to make with the other dimension – the non-material/ spiritual dimension.
Your operating system is designed to interface symmetrically with the whole of your environment, meaning it is designed to interface with both the material and spiritual dimensions equally and simultaneously. Not only is your operating system capable of asymmetrically interfacing with the material and spiritual dimensions individually and separately, but your operating system is also capable of synthesizing the material and spiritual dimensions and symmetrically interfacing with them as a unified whole.
The beauty of playing tennis in the zone is that you are using your operating system to unify both dimensions of the tennis environment, material and spiritual, into a symmetrical whole. To be in the zone is to unify these opposing, asymmetrical dimensions into a symmetrical, non-dual reality, the balanced reality of a full potential experience.
Q: How can you expect a full potential experience if your interface with the tennis environment, your very connection to the game, is asymmetrically imbalanced?