Full Focus

Full Focus
Published: 2021-11-22

Brian Lomax: Hello and welcome to this episode Tennis IQ. I'm Brian Lomax

 

Josh Burger: I'm Josh Burger, and in today's episode, we're going to be discussing focus. We can break down this topic by thinking of it both in terms of a shorter-term perspective and a longer-term perspective. When it comes to a shorter-term perspective, we can break it down into a couple of different ways. 

 

Focusing on the moment, not being stuck, thinking about things that have happened in the past can be challenging in tennis because of the instant feedback you receive. After each point, you've either lost or won, being able to reset and continue getting back to the present moment, not thinking about the future while you're at it. 

For example: 

What if I win this match? 

What if I get broken in this game? 

Instead of getting into those what "if" scenarios thinking about the future, one should constantly try to come back to that present moment. We'll dive into that, focus on the controllable. 

 

Trying to focus on things that you can control, not getting distracted by everything else out of your control, whether that be the weather, whether that be things that the opponent is doing, an umpire in certain situations or fans or court conditions—trying to hone in on what is possible to control and how can we go about doing our best job of controlling that — thinking about focusing on the moment, thinking about focusing on those things that you can control. 

 

Some are more of a shorter-term focus in terms of playing in a match or competing, but also thinking a little bit more about longer-term focus and trying to focus on that process and not get derailed from that improvement process by the ups and downs of tennis, right of winning matches or losing matches or injuries, but trying to focus on that long term development process. 

 

Brian, when you think about this topic, where do you generally begin?

 

Brian Lomax: I think recognizing how important focus is to performance. In some ways, it's almost everything, right? If we conceptualize this as full focus, we also have to recognize that we are human beings. Our ability to fully focus on those things that you mentioned being in the present or the now focusing on the controllable, which a lot about me or you what you do, what I do, that's hard to do. So if we were to look at somebody's focus ability, there's probably some small percentage and for others, it may be more than a small percentage that's going to things that are out of our control or in the past or the future. So almost think of it as like a pie chart, and you have just two categories in this pie chart focusing on things that I can control and focusing on things that I cannot control. Depending on who you are, you may have, you know, the size of those pieces of the pie may be different. I've gotten answers from anywhere. Ten percent of the things I focus on are out of my control to 50 percent. And so part of I think the journey of a tennis player is to try to get better at focusing on the things that we can't control right present moment and in us what we do, but go into it realizing that that's what it is.

 

Brian Lomax: I don't think anybody gets to one hundred percent. Maybe they do for moments, but that's obviously what we're striving to do, and our ability to focus is not infinite either. It needs brakes. That's why we're fortunate, I think in tennis, Josh, that we have a point where we play, and then we stop, and we play and when we stop. It's very difficult to have full focus for, say, an hour and a half or two hours. The structure of the sport is if used correctly, and we have a good episode on how to play one point at a time if used correctly. Your focus ability won't get sort of exhausted throughout a match; you'll be able to focus for just short periods. There's a college football coach at Penn State named James Franklin. He tells his team that he just wants them to focus for six seconds at a time. Give him full focus for six seconds at a time. That's something we can all do. You can do that in a tennis match. Maybe it's 10 seconds, maybe it's fewer than 10 seconds, but it's a nice little time frame that you can bring full focus and then rest. Recover from that and go on. Full focus is a really important part of this.

 

Brian Lomax: Now, what're some of the things that you know? We've been using the word inevitability a lot recently. Right. There's you inevitably will get distracted. The sport does that to you. Maybe the environment does that to you that you might be comparing yourself to somebody else. You might be worried about who's watching. You might be worried about the wind. Something may happen; you miss an easy shot point. It makes a difficult call.

How do we deal with that? 

The late sports psychologist Terry Auralic talked about this skill as the most important skill at the elite level, and he called it distraction control. The ability to know that you have been distracted and get back to full focus on what you need to do. He noted that elite athletes do this better; they are faster, going from distracted to focused minds. And so that's something for, you know, we can start to go through this a little bit more in terms of how one does that. But I think when you ask me how do we conceptualize this, I'm thinking about the ability to fully focus on what you're doing, knowing that it's hard to get there one hundred percent of the time. But then also having some techniques or strategies to control distractions as much as you can.

 

Josh Burger: Absolutely, and I'm happy you brought up the inevitability piece, and it is something we've talked about because I think it's important for athletes to understand that. You know, there are going to be those ups and downs. There are going to be those moments where you get distracted. The key is not just to avoid distractions but to think about your response when it does happen because it may happen more or less to you as an athlete, but it will happen. The key is OK; when it does happen, let's get back to that equilibrium. Let's get back to where we want to be in terms of coming back to that present moment when talking about mindfulness. And you know, that goes a lot with thinking about that present moment. That whole process of mindfulness and meditation. In a certain way, is coming back to that moment where, OK, I'm thinking about the future, you know what, if this happens, what am I going to do is fill in the blank? Or why did I do blank? And a lot of ruminating on things from the past or the future? As soon as you're aware that that's where your thoughts are coming, go back to that present moment and being present; maybe you're focusing on the breath or focusing on your thoughts or physical sensations. Then suddenly, you notice, OK, I'm lost and thought again in thinking about the past or the future.

 

Josh Burger: And again, I'm coming back to that present moment, and that whole process is not just about. Yes, it would be great to be in the present moment more, and that can certainly be trained. But that process is also just as much about that process of coming back to the moment where, OK, I'm thinking about something else and then I'm coming back and I'm thinking about something else. I'm coming back and it's that constant almost push and pull off, let's get back to that moment, and let's train that, that feeling. As it relates to tennis, it's that same thing, right? Are we distracted and we stay in that mode of being distracted? We notice it and then we're able to come back to that, to the moment, to what's important now and what we're thinking about, OK, what is important now? It's not me fixating on the quality of the courts at this moment. It's not me being annoyed by the wind or the sun in my eyes. What's important now is probably, you know, my strategy going into this next point or my mindset or whatever I'm trying to do in this upcoming point in the moment with that next point. So it's a lot about OK, knowing that that's going to happen and then having a response planned out. Maybe it's the breath. Maybe it's certain self-talk that you use so that you can keep coming back to the present moment and be aware and focused on what you're trying to do for that upcoming point.

 

Brian Lomax: I think a good distraction control plan has a lot of the elements that you just talked about, Josh and I would encourage people to do this exercise, I'm going to talk about, you know, just to give you some scaffolding that you could build on to create a plan and understand so something like the wind is a distraction that many people don't or distracts many people, right? They don't particularly like the wind feel they don't play well, etcetera. I think there are four elements to your distraction control plan that you want to think about. And you mentioned, I think, almost all of these in passing. If we give it some structure that people can plan out, they can do this for any distraction they have.

 

Start with the end in mind. How do you want to play ultimately? How would you like to perform when the wind is right again? The inevitability there will be a windy day in your future. So knowing that that is the case, how would you ideally like to perform? So that's starting with the end in mind. And then, based on that, we want to have a specific attitude or self-talk. We want to have specific emotions, and we want to have a particular focus. So when it's a windy day, how do you want to talk to yourself about that? Like, what is the attitude? What's the productive attitude toward the wind? It could be similar to Andre Agassi.

 

Brian Lomax: I love the wind. It could be. The wind doesn't bother me. Something instead of, Oh, shoot, it's windy out. I hate playing in the wind. That leads to different things, so when you have that self-talk or a productive attitude, it helps you construct better emotions in the moment. We've talked about the theory of constructed emotions in the past, and it says basically that a brain is a prediction machine. The better perspectives that we give the brain, the better it can predict. So very often, when we see a windy day, and our brain starts to run through all these scenarios of what could happen. Many of us get fixated on the negative outcome scenarios, which drive specific emotions within us. If we can think about simulating better scenarios, and that's why we start with the end in mind, this is how it wants to play. We're getting our simulations run around so we can construct better emotions and perhaps with something like the way and be calm or confident or excited. Those emotions are going to be specific to you. We all have different ones. Sort of optimal emotional states, and it's, you know, we can't give you a specific formula. You have to kind of know that yourself a little bit. And then it comes down to what you were saying, Josh. Maybe it's focusing on the breath. Your body language. Your effort, your attitude.

 

Brian Lomax: Simplifying your game, having better targets. You know, adjusting for that, but it all comes down to the present moment stuff and what we can control. And I think the more people plan that out, the more you'll come down to, and I think this formula, you'll have some sort of performance that you feel is ideal. It's a positive performance. You're playing the kind of the way you want to. Your attitude will be positive and productive. Your emotions will be productive and you'll be focusing on the things that you can't control when you are distracted, it tends to be more attitude is not productive. Maybe negative or destructive emotions are not productive. You're not engaging with your best emotional state, tending to focus a little bit too much on things you can't control and therefore the quality of the performance. It's not what we would exactly want, you might still win or play, OK, but probably not as satisfying as it would be if you specifically planned this out. Things like wind are distractions you should think about. But even in pressure situations, maybe deuce points playing tiebreakers. Just the fact that when you get in those situations, result-oriented thinking comes into mind often, and that's a distraction because you can't control that aspect of it. So how do you deal with pressure moments? You can use this same structure to go through that and then bring yourself back to the present and bring yourself back to the controllable.

 

Josh Burger: Yeah, yeah, I think that's a great tool for people to be using. I think athletes should be thinking about what sort of process they can use if we're in a match to continue coming back to that present moment? I think we've talked a lot about routines in this show and how can we develop a routine that where we can quickly move on from whatever that last point, whatever happened in that last point? So you either won or lost that last point? Let's react positively, then let's come back into that present moment and through some relaxation, through some breathing, and then get into that stage of, OK, let's prepare for that next point. Let's get into that ritual that that server surfing ritual or return ritual and what that does is, is it helps to give you some more focus in that moment where it's so easy to remain stuck on whatever just happened in that last point. And sometimes it's something really unfortunate happened, right? Maybe it's from your perspective, maybe it's the opponent hit the ball off and it hit off the net chord and trickled over into your side of the net. Maybe they made a call that you disagree with and you think they're cheating, or you think there's some sort of gamesmanship? Maybe you're, you know, missing some, some shots that you don't expect to be missing. There's a lot of things that can frustrate a tennis player, as we all know, but the key is through using a routine by resetting in between each point, you can best give yourself the best possible chance to own the moment and to have more focus in the moment on what you can do for that upcoming point, rather than being stuck in whatever's happened in the past, which is where, unfortunately, a lot of people stay, a lot of people stay stuck on there for rather than just thinking about that point happened and being able to reset, you're thinking about games later.

 

Brian Lomax: Yeah, and I think when we're thinking that way, Josh. Tend to be more emotional. Right. Absolutely. We're bringing more emotions into it, and I know that. I think people can get conflicting advice about emotions between points. There will be some people who will tell you, yeah, you need to celebrate and really show that and so forth, and I think to a certain degree that that's OK, although it can also get above a certain point, like I would like people to be sort of within a range of emotions and trying not to get too high and not to get too low. One of my favorite quotes from the famous college basketball coach, John Wooden, is that emotionalism opens us up to inconsistency. And what's happening there is we're judging things, labeling things, and now we're carrying sort of this emotional baggage with us through points. And so it's almost like you're dragging luggage, like at an airport, you got like 50 bags with you and you're dragging that all along and that can weigh you down in a match. And so I think we have to be careful of that. And you brought up mindfulness. And one of the things I've been working on a lot with players recently is through some mindfulness study. But is this concept of equanimity now? Equanimity may not be a word everybody's familiar with, but essentially from its roots. It means a balanced mind. And it's something that we want to have as tennis players because for us to navigate the scoring system of points games sets all that adding up to a match, we have to be quite balanced to handle the ups and downs of that. We talked about the inevitability of distraction as well.

 

Brian Lomax: You will inevitably lose your equanimity if you think of a balanced mind. And this is something that the famous Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius talked about in meditations. This idea of when you get thrown off, it's your job basically to try to get yourself back to a balanced mind as quickly as possible. And then, the more that you practice this, the faster and faster it will happen. And so the unbalanced mind does tend to be more emotional and so even practicing. Yes, mindfulness, but look into a topic like equanimity and the idea of having that balanced mind, having that even-keeled perspective to everything that happens to you. Can you let some things roll off more easily, perhaps than you have in the past, knowing that whatever that thing is, it's just a distraction from you reaching your ultimate objective of winning the match, you know, and I think that's one way to continue. Your equanimity is having a vision of what you're trying to achieve or a vision of who you're trying to be. Out there, so I think that's a reality to me that's been a kind of a cool concept to be working on with athletes to help them understand that emotional journey through a tennis match and see if they can get back to equanimity faster. And a big part of having equanimity is the idea of accepting that whatever has happened has happened. And the more that you can accept that, the more you can move on into the present moment and again back to working on yourself and working on what you can do.

 

Josh Burger: Oh, that's I mean, to me, one of the things that help they can help tennis players find more than equanimity is keeping things in perspective, understanding that this tennis match, although it seems important right now, is just one match in a lifetime of matches, but even a smaller perspective, one match throughout a season, perhaps for college tennis or high school tennis or USDA on a U.S. team. And you know, I know with some athletes, perhaps they're going through the college recruiting process and each match feels a lot more important than that. Maybe they're thinking about their UTR, and they say, Hey, with each match I play, it could match Utah's going up or going down. And I have certain goals in terms of the type of university I'd like to play at, or I need a certain you. They believe they need a certain UTR to be on certain teams. And rather than being able to maintain that perspective and understanding that this one match is not make or break, it feels a lot more important than that. So I would say, as soon as you can start to keep things into perspective and maybe find ways to remind yourself of that, that this one match is not make or break for recruiting or for your career, then it's easier to let things roll off you to win and lose points or win and lose games and let the ups and downs of a match occur and not come back with an emotional response because you don't feel as threatened by a result that you're not happy with, right? You understand that losing does happen at times in that rather than trying to control the outcome of the match. It's better to focus on those things that are actually within your control and make process goals accordingly. So I would say by keeping things in perspective can go a long way to achieving that goal of equanimity.

 

Brian Lomax: I think also another thing to keep in perspective like the UTR example is good. But you know, if you're 16 17, I hate to say it, the UTR is important. And so how do you balance that knowing that it's important, but also not letting it drive your emotional state? I said to somebody the other day, doesn't it feel weird to have some algorithm that's sitting on a server in like San Jose, California, determine your emotional state day-to-day. And she sort of laughed. So. I think one thing that we can realize is, even though perhaps these things are real and they're there, that focusing on them does not help performance aid it impedes it.  It's just even back to basic focusing on the process versus focusing on results.  But when you think more about those things, you're not giving yourself something to do, and you just mentioned process goals. As a way of maybe bringing yourself back, right? Having good process goals, and this is something that I think Dan Abrahams, he's a sports psychologist in the UK, typically works in soccer, Premier League soccer or other soccer clubs or English football. He talks about process goals, maybe in a perhaps more user-friendly way. And the idea is that you write up these three plays for yourself, and you're trying to execute these three plays all the time, and they can be as simple as having great body language and great effort on the court that might be one of your plays.

 

Brian Lomax: Another play might be to use your heavy topspin forehand to continually drive the opponent back. That could be more of a tactical play that you use one another. One you could use is breathing and believe that's a very USTA player development approach to what you're doing between points. The more specific that your plays are, the better, and then what you're trying to do here to help with all of this, to stay with the balanced mind is continuing to just focus and talk to yourself about your three plays. That's the most important thing, and hopefully, these three plays that you've designed are crafted in such a way that they help you to bring out a good performance. And so it really should be about you, as you know, based on your style, based on what works for you, based on emotions that work for you. So some people might want to have high intensity, high energy. Others might be want to be calm in certain moments, right? So think about that. Maybe instead of thinking of that as process goals think, Well, these are your three plays. These are the plays that you're going to use to be sick, be as focused, and as successful as possible on a given day.

 

Josh Burger: Yeah, that's I think that's great, and I think what's important is coming up with that and then finding ways to remind yourself of those places. Yeah. Maybe it's a notecard that you keep in your tennis bag, which is something we've discussed in the past. Maybe it's even something that you write on your shoe or have a little sticker on your racquet, some sort of way to remind yourself so in the heat of the moment when there's you're feeling more pressure, then you can think back to those plays and think back to those things that you want to focus on. So coming up with reminder systems for yourself can go a long way to ensure that you can think back to those things you want to focus on when your heart is beating a little faster than when, when there is a lot more pressure in that moment.

 

Brian Lomax: Yeah, because you have to be your own coach. This is if we were in another sport, perhaps somebody could be the human reminder for us, right? One thing to consider when designing these plays, another dimension of focus we have not talked about, but there are there's internal focus and external focus. Internal focus, especially for a tennis player, might be thinking about specific technique mechanics. What's the backswing like? What's my footwork like, et cetera? External focus could be on targets might be, you know, where am I trying to hit the ball over the net? Where am I trying to get the ball to land or might be even watching the ball? That's an external focus, right? So it's external to you when you're designing your three plays, you want to try to not focus on technique. That will typically lead to overthinking what you're doing and a lot of these things that you're doing on the court. We want you to do them automatically. So if I tell somebody, OK, I want you to focus on your backswing today as part of your game plan that can get them overthinking what they're doing is they're bringing their racquet back. Is it right? Does it feel right? And then that starts to break down the fluidity and the smoothness of the stroke.

 

Brian Lomax: But if I say, OK, I want you to focus on the spin of the ball, or I want you to focus on the target over the net. Then that's external to them, how they do that, they will know how to do that. They'll let their automatic sort of skill development or just the automatic skills take over and they make that happen as a goal. So I just want to make sure that we're not focused on technique when we're designing those three plays, we want to have the focus to be more external. Now that could change, of course, let's say in practice, we may not call them plays and practice, let's go back to our normal terminology of process goals. Certainly, a process goal in practice could be technical, especially as you're in a training phase where you're working on the technique of a particular shot, and you need to be thinking about that, learning it and over learning it to a point where it will be automatic at some point. So I'm not sure what you think of that, Josh, in terms of the internal and external dimensions of focus.

 

Josh Burger: Yeah, I think you brought up a good point in saying that when when you come up with those plays, they shouldn't be based on technique because that can impact the fluidity of your shot, of your motion with the forehand, with the backhand, whatever it may be. In my experience, it could also cause somebody to second guess themselves when on the practice court, where there are fewer consequences for missing a shot. In a practice match, you want to be focused on the technique or a certain aspect of the swing, but during a match, you want to be focused on those things that are in your control. It's easily observable, and it's very easy for tennis players when they're thinking about too many technical things. You start to tighten up, you stop playing loose in the way that you want to, and you end up not, you know, not having the type of result that you want to. Because I mean, when you're able to play loose and achieve that sort of fluidity that you're talking about, Brian, that's when you're ultimately going to be playing your best. Suppose it's time to hit a forehand, and you're thinking about your footwork, getting the racquet back, the point of contact, and the follow-through. In that case, all these technical details can become paralysis by analysis type of situation where it's very tough to execute the shot in the way you want to. You're going to be tightened up, and you're going to be likely holding your breath or gripping the racquet too tight. Trying to stay loose, which can also be a process goal rather than focusing on one of these technical details when you're out competing, can go a long way to achieving that sort of mindset. If you're loose throughout your swings, you're going to be playing in a more relaxed way more often than not, which will lead to some better results.

 

Brian Lomax: Yeah. And when you talk about second-guessing. What's the mental skill that that that's harming confidence? So because your stroke may be breaking down, you're having doubts about that stroke, you're losing confidence in that moment. One of the great ways to build confidence, though, is through focus is through trusting your process and committing to that. Having the courage to trust your process, so as you're thinking about how do I be more fully focused, how do I integrate that with more confidence in myself as a competitor, more belief in myself, as a competitor? Focus is a key aspect of that focus on your process, focus on specific areas of your training. And the more that you do that, the more confidence that you'll build over time. Because you'll begin to trust what you're doing, you'll start to see results through this idea of being focused on the moment, focusing on the controllable. Um. And so that's you know, if we go back to something we talked about with David Samuel, this is where you start to develop that level of professionalism, that level of locker room power is by having a great process, great process leads to confidence. Great process is a part of your full focus. So the more that we're looking at that present moment, what we can control and then how do we improve ourselves in those areas? Slowly, over time, we're going to develop ourselves into a great competitor and somebody who can focus point to point to and be relentless. Know most people. Most players, I would say, can focus pretty well for a while, and then they may go away.

 

Brian Lomax: For periods, and I think you see that less and less at the pro level, but it does happen. We talked before we started to record the match at this year's U.S. Open between Andy Murray and Stefanos Tsitsipas and Tsitsipas went for a bathroom break after the third set. Murray was distracted and not happy with this, and when we talked to David Samuel, he brought this example up, and Andy Murray didn't handle it well. He was not able to regain his focus, and he dropped his serve quite early in that fourth set after the break. And you can't do that against a top player like Tsitsipas; Tsitsipas wins the set. He wins the fifth. And perhaps, you know, if Andy Murray had been more match-ready because he's really on the way back when, say, he's fully back. He's getting closer, of course. But perhaps if he had been more match-ready, he would have handled that situation better. But he was. He was distracted by that. So the more that we can be focused on that, the now, the process. Building our confidence in that process, the better we'll handle distractions and stay fully focused on what's important.

 

Josh Burger: No, that's a great point. Also, when it comes to the process, I think having that sort of longer-term development plan, and that vision for the future can make it a lot easier to withstand the inevitability of the inevitable ups and downs of that tennis development, right? Knowing that there will be times where you're noticing the improvements that you're making, there will be times where maybe you feel that you've plateaued, there will be times that you're struggling and you're in a slump, or you're not winning matches. Or maybe you're going through an injury and keeping that vision on the process and looking back to that development plan, or maybe adjusting it if need be, can help keep you focused on the day-to-day mission or on the day-to-day training that you need to do. So if if you have if you. Have the understanding that rather than me focused on the outcome all the time. Yes, there are moments where the outcome is really important or rankings and ratings are certainly important, but understanding that staying focused on that development process, that's going to give me the best possible chance to develop in the way that I want. Focus on each aspect of my game, the technical aspect, the strength and conditioning aspect, the mental aspect. When something derails you, you have something else going on in your life, or you have an injury. Returning to the process, to the now, can be a helpful tool for reminding yourself of what's important—what you need to do now.

 

Josh Burger: Now, what's important at this moment? Ok, I have a lot going on in my life, and maybe it's academic, or perhaps it's in your career, but OK. And in terms of my tennis development, what do I need to do right now? Is it the strength and conditioning piece that maybe I've fallen behind with that I need to focus on, right? Maybe it's a player coming back from an injury, and they need to focus on that rehab process. Or maybe it's, you know, some mental aspect that they identified needs to be focused on to get to where they want to get with their development. So by keeping that long term perspective and coming back to that process, when you play a bad match and win and lose and maybe a match that you weren't expecting to lose or somebody with a lower rating, let's get back to that process and that longer-term vision for where we want to be. So that one match doesn't derail us in terms of where we're ultimately heading.

 

Brian Lomax: When you were talking about that topic there, Josh, or it reminded me of the Eric B talk about having one great day and then having a streak of great days. But you still have this vision of what you would like to achieve to a certain extent. I think his talk was more about just simply focusing on having a great day. But even to do that, I think you do have to have some concept of where you'd like to go, who you'd like to be because you could set if you're only focused on one day at a time with no vision at all. I mean, you could set completely irrelevant goals for the day, possibly or inconsistent goals from day-to-day, and you might be jumping all over the place. So I think you have to have some sort of vision of who you want to be as a player, and then the goal is to simplify it down into simply having a great day. And I think simplification or simplifying is a key philosophy here, even for the three plays we just talked about. They should be simple things. They shouldn't be complex things that we do. So the simpler that you can keep your approach to what you're focusing on, the easier it will be to control, and then the more likely you'll perform well. If you can keep your process goals and practice relatively simple so that you'll understand exactly what you're trying to do, that will be much better in the long term.

 

Brian Lomax: So I would say keep simplify in mind as you go through the process and understand what's involved in the process and focus on that. But especially for the three plays that you want to incorporate into a match, make those nice and simple. They can just be about breathing and body language or attitude and effort or a particular weapon that you have that you can use to start to make your opponent psychologically uncomfortable. Keep it nice and simple, and I think you'll find that it will help keep out some distracting thoughts about whatever else is going on. I know that when I think about one of the matches that was one of my best matches ever, I stuck to my game plan, which was simple, which was attacking this guy's backhand the entire time. Nothing distracted me from it. I'm not sure how I did it, but it worked so, so well. Regardless of what the score was, I stuck to it, I stuck to it, and it was a very simple strategy, but it worked. And so just from personal experience, I know how keeping it simple to just one or two little things can be very beneficial to performance and full focus.

 

Josh Burger: And it's going to be a lot easier to focus on one or one or two things because ultimately if we're if one of those plays is OK, I want to serve out what I want to play. I want to think rather than one or two shots taking three or four or five shots into a certain play or being, you know, overly specific with our mental approach, rather than honing it down into one big, big idea. It's a lot tougher to access that when you need to in a match in a competitive environment. So I think that's a great point. And I think, you know, writing those things down, looking back at them, figuring out it ahead of time, when am I going to think about those plays? When will I think about what I want my mindset to be or whatever those reminders are? And planning that out ahead of time, maybe it's the night before. Maybe it's on the way to a match right before a match. Maybe it's certain changeovers or on a separate, but as much as you can plan that out. It leaves less room to, you know, there's less that can go wrong in that situation, the more that is planned out. So I think that's a great point that by simplifying that process, it's a lot easier to access those key ideas of key plays that you want to run during a match.

 

Brian Lomax: Yeah, yeah. And like you said earlier, having reminder systems is key. Tape on the racquet index cards, whatever that is, so that you're constantly feeding your mind these simple ideas that you want to continue to focus on because it can be very easy to get and get distracted. So, Josh, as we start to wrap up this topic of focus, full focus, any last thoughts for the listeners.

 

Josh Burger: I think it's helpful to think back to maybe two moments, one a situation where. You felt focused, you really felt in control of the moment, maybe it was sort of a flow state situation where you felt very locked into that particular moment, very you probably correlated to playing well. And then another situation where you didn't and you felt distracted. You look back at that match, you think, OK, I wasn't able to reset or I was stuck on something that happened earlier in the match or thinking about what might happen and think about those two matches, those two situations that you've had and try to identify, OK, what did I do differently here? What? What worked or what didn't work as well? And then what led to those results? And I think starting at that point. And I think starting at that point, and it's easier to identify some of these things that we're talking about, that focusing on the moment and focusing on what can be controlled and focusing on the process more long term is what ultimately is going to lead to the best possible results. And again, there's no guaranteeing victory ever in the sport or life in general, but it gives you the best possible chance to perform at a high level to perform at your highest level.

 

Brian Lomax: Yeah, that's a great idea. Compare and contrast your best performance and maybe not such a good performance and focus in on the dimension of focus and what was the difference between those two that probably provide a lot of good information. So I think that's a great suggestion for people. It's quite easy for everybody to do so. Josh, great discussion. Thanks for going through that with us on focus.

 

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