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Trance Helping Returns

During one training session I was experimenting with different techniques to get me get into the same state as when I looked at a tennis ball for over an hour.

When training, I would try different things to help me with get that edge; a small advantage. This time, I experimented with focusing my eyes on the small granules of the surface of the court (ahead of me), before I hit my returns.

In tennis you generally lift your head to let the server know you are ready, so they can go ahead and serve. Whilst practicing this technique, I would keep my head low until I had cleared my thoughts and was ready to return.

With my head low, I would look at the court narrowing my attention towards the detail of the court's surface, psyching myself up, before every serve. The more I looked at the court, the more I saw the incredible detail In every square inch. Each inch was different, it had different colours in it; it seemed to be made up of lost of different materials and layers. Before this time I had always seen a tennis court as a tennis court; some courts were cemented, some were grass, some were made of clay. Now, somewhat differently, I was looking at the surface of each tennis court with new eyes. Over time, this square inch became a square centimetre, and the square centimetre. I started focusing on the smallest amount of detail that I could find on the surface. It could be a blade of grass, a sparkle on the cement, or a grit of clay or sand.

Focusing on this detail seemed to put me in a trance like state, where I had no thoughts, no distractions, I was simply observing. It was a quiet place, where I could reset myself, regather my thoughts, and clean the slate of my brain before the next point.

I started moving this square millimetre further and further away, always trying to remain focused on one small piece of detail. Over time, the tiny detail was at the foot of the net. I would stand (whilst returning my serve) with bent knees, head down, preparing for returning the serve. I would continue to focus on this small dot until I was completely present. Once I felt in a zone, I would look up, and the oncoming ball always seemed far bigger than usual.

Not only did the ball seem big, I felt connected. The noise had left my head, and I was in the moment ready to respond to the ball.


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