October 7, 2016
The popular book 1984 by George Orwell had a very interesting part of the book when Mr. Orwell talked about a "Double Think." The premise is simple. It is the ability to hold two completely contradictory thoughts while believing both of them to be true. Physiologists later argued that this is impossible to do yet professional tennis players (and other athletes) do it all the time. Just think about what was going through Tiger Wood's head when he was going for a 12 foot put in the 2008 U.S Open to get into the playoffs while suffering from a knee injury. The probability of him missing that put is statistically much greater than 50% and Tiger knew this yet there was no doubt in his mind he would make it. Andy Murray would tell the press in 2011 that he could beat anyone on any surface yet statistically that is absurd, as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were the rulers of the tennis world at that time. Andy knew this but believed in himself as well. So how can we mere mortals use this to our advantage?
Putting it into Practice
The easiest way to try this on your own is to treat your defeats with "unrealistic optimism." If you ever listened to a top tennis player during a press conference after a loss, their confidence is unwavered. They will most often congratulate their opponents on a great performance but then also talk about the positives they got out of their match. They are trained to do this so that their self belief is unwatered. Try this by looking at all the things you have done well in your matches even during loses. Top pros will often look at their results and manipulate those results to fit their self belief. During practice, you can start looking at what you need to improve (hence excepting that there is work to do) but then go right back to the positive self belief you had after the loss. This often results in a "placebo effect" where your belief is so strong that the results you are acquiring will happen more often than not. To put it in perspective, the only thing that is allowing your body to swing and hit a tennis ball is your brain. The power of the mind is very powerful and when trained correctly, can do some wonderful things for you. Try this out and see how the results work for you!