Unfortunately for me, I have never been afflicted with tennis amnesia and I think I know why. The true definition of tennis amnesia is a player’s ability to completely forget the past. In other words, even though the competitor has struggled with his serve and has double-faulted set-point, when he faces another crisis, he forgets his troubled past, and flourishes the next time out by hitting a wicked ace.
Believe me I have analyzed this amnesia thing over and over and I have concluded that my memory is just a little too good. The problem with my ability to recollect most details is that it does not allow me the flexibility to wipe out my previous errors. To me, the art of a champion is his capacity to let his mind move forward.
As in life, do not let the past dictate what one must do in the future. Therefore, when a tennis player commits a horrible error, the champion wipes the negative feelings off his brow and marches on. Ideally, when a player is in the right mental zone, he has the skill not to repeat his past gaffes and not to let these mistakes hinder his self-confidence.
As a long time doubles specialist, I have played with numerous partners who have the talent to block out previous poor shot-making and when the chips are down and with the pressure mounting, this player with tennis amnesia has more times than not uncorked some incredible laser forehand drives to win the point.
When coaches break down the most important attributes of a tennis champion, we often comment about beautiful stroke-making, eloquent footwork and unstoppable concentration. Clearly, stroke development, one’s ability to flow to a ball is indispensable but is it more important that this uncanny ability to forget the past and easily free the mind to cope with the future?
As I alluded to earlier, I have been bogged down, over and over, with my mind being too clear about my past poor errors. With confidence always an issue for most athletes, I worry about NOT making the same mistakes and that is why I have retained previous mishaps.
Somehow, if tennis players are fortunate to avoid future mistakes by understanding their past, they will have this game figured out. The key is to have known when to forget; tennis amnesia frees the mind to let go and truly rip a big forehand drive.
So, the next time you hear a tennis player complain about his recent bout of tennis amnesia, take the time and let them know how lucky they are!