I Can Get to the Ball! (Part 1)

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Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

Thoughts are things.

That can be a powerful statement. It’s also one that can elicit lots of debate. How can thoughts be things? Things are things! Over the years, I’ve had my own ambivalence about this statement, but this past week, I’ve become a firm believer in the truth of the statement.

My husband is a fantastic and dedicated tennis player. He genuinely loves the sport and I’ve started my own little love affair with it too. It’s both a mentally and physically engaging game that, as I’ve gotten more adept at playing, I’ve learned just how much mental work goes into being a good player.

This past Thursday, my husband was drilling me on approach shots by having me get closer to the net to prepare for volleys. One of the first lessons I learned in tennis is to keep my feet moving, so I can be ready to move to wherever the ball is going. I was bouncing back and forth on the balls of my feet, preparing for quick movement in any direction.

Even with the bouncing, a sense of readiness and the mantra “Eye on the ball.” playing in my head, I was not reaching the ball in time. The ball would cross over the net, land right in the service box and I would be a few beats late, missing my shot. It definitely wasn’t a case of a shot coming in too fast for me since my husband was feeding me balls he knew I could hit to help me get some good practice. So what was going on?

I took a water break and did what I’ve been learning to do more of…check my thoughts. What was going through my head right before I moved to hit the ball. I was definitely saying “Eye on the ball,” but there was something else that was coming quickly after that helpful thought.

I took a sharp breath in when I realized what it was. Right before I would spring my muscles into action in the direction of the ball, I told myself, “I’m not going to get to the ball.”

This is how it played out…

Ball coming over the net…”Eye on the ball. I’m not going to get to the ball.”
Ball coming over the net…”Eye on the ball. I’m not going to get to the ball.”
Ball coming over the net…”Eye on the ball. I’m not going to get to the ball.”

I was creating a powerful little bubble of self-doubt that I had to first pop before my body would move in the direction I wanted to go.  I was mentally rehearsing to miss the ball and I was doing an awesome job of it because I was missing that darn ball 85% of the time.

My thoughts were not helping me. With my last swig of water before returning to the court, I decided that I would replace “I’m not going to get to the ball” with “I can get to the ball.”

So now it played out like this…

Ball coming over the net…”Eye on the ball. I can get to the ball.”
Ball coming over the net…”Eye on the ball. I can get to the ball.”
Ball coming over the net…”Eye on the ball. I can get to the ball.”

Did I make it to the ball every time? No. Did I make it to the ball more than before? Heck yes! I was getting myself to the ball at least 75% of the time.

For me the debate is over. Thoughts really are things. They create actual physical, observable changes in my life. Last Thursday morning, my thoughts created the physical impact of my tennis racquet hitting the ball. This morning, they are creating the clickety-clack typing of this blog entry. It makes me wonder what other thoughts in my life are creating things I don’t want and how can I change them?

3 thoughts on “I Can Get to the Ball! (Part 1)”

  1. Great that you recognized that second thought that was creeping in and replaced it with something more inspiring…glad it helped your game!

    Like

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