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Mindfulness: Applications in tennis
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Photographer: Paul Zimmer

INTRODUCTION

The practise of mindfulness has been used in the East for centuries as a form of meditation and was brought into Western culture in the past number of decades as part of treatments for clinical difficulties such as chronic pain, anxiety and depression. Mindfulness refers to an open-minded and nonjudgmental awareness of oneself and their environment (Aherne, Moran & Lonsdale, 2009). An individual practising mindfulness approaches everyday thoughts, feelings and behaviours with acceptance that they are naturally occurring events. The practice of mindfulness helps to let go of such events in order to focus on what is within their imminent field of action - the here and now.

In tennis terms, that can mean accepting the frustration we feel when we make an error or double fault at a key point for example. By accepting the feeling as normal and moving on in a non-judgemental way, the mistake (and subsequent reaction) have been left in the past and the player has a better ability to focus on the next shot or point. Another example may be accepting positive/negative thoughts about the end of the match (such as victory/defeat) but not getting caught up in such thoughts. Instead, one can notice these thoughts as a natural aspect of a competitive tournament season, take a breath and refocus on what can be done to improve (which is the only thing within one’s control at that moment).

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