Written by: Peter Straub
***Peter is a Mind Trainer and former #2 Junior in Canada Under 18, who played tennis full time for 7 years. More recently, in 2011 and 2012, he played for Canada on the Dubler Cup team over 45, in the World Team Championships.
Motivated by his passion to benefit others he has trained his mind extensively for the last 20 years. Understanding that by changing his mind in a positive way, he would be able to benefit others more. Peter has travelled, at great expense, to study with the best teachers and practitioners, including doing 16 months of silent meditation retreats.
Peter now wants to help tennis players become happier and perform better on the tennis court.
Do we stay calm whenever we miss an easy shot, lose a point, game or match?
Maybe we don’t throw our racket or swear out loud when we play, but we may regularly have some mild frustration. Sometimes when we are playing a match we do get disturbed or frustrated and criticize ourself, which is anger. We all have an anger problem.
Our current situation
It is very important to discriminate between inner and outer problems so we look in the right place to solve our problems. Our real problems are inner problems, problems of the mind or unpleasant feelings. Anger is a problem of the mind and needs to be dealt with in the mind. Problems like our opponent, the wind, the score, or someone cheating us are outer problems.
What is anger? Anger is a negative mind (delusion) that develops from (1) focusing on an animate or inanimate object including ourself, (2) considering it to be undesirable, (3) exaggerating its bad qualities and (4) wishing to harm it. We can see that it takes many mental mistakes to get angry.
If we know the stages of getting angry (the mental mistakes we make) then we can train in recognizing the stages as they arise and stop the process right away. As we get better at this training we can stop the process earlier and earlier. Our anger can be very subtle, like mild frustration. Most of our anger, when we play tennis, is anger directed towards ourself.
Most of our anger arises when our desires are frustrated or when we are in a situation we don’t like and feel uncomfortable. We assume that anger arises when we encounter a disagreeable person, but actually it is the anger already in us that transforms the person into our imagined enemy.
There is no situation that makes us angry; our anger comes from making mental mistakes. Anger solves nothing and only causes us more problems. If we are overtaken by anger it affects our play in a negative way and our game suffers. When most people get angry during matches it takes them 4 – 10 points before they calm down and play well again, if they ever do recover. If, for example, we think, “I wish this wasn’t happening to me” and resist the situation, this will increase our suffering and probably our anger. Anger robs us of our common sense and our ability to reason.
What we are working towards
Our goal is to continually keep the ideal state of mind to play our best tennis. This is a calm, clear, positive state of mind that is always focused only on what we need to do on the court. This conjoined with a strong wish to win or play our best is the ideal state of mind. A clear mind is a mind that is free from negativity or any distracting thoughts. With this state of mind, if our body is all right, we will naturally play our best all the time.
We have to control our mind to stop our anger. By stopping the process, by which anger develops, we will not get angry. This is much different from not controlling our mind and pretending we are not angry or having no awareness of our anger and thinking we never get angry, which is repression.
Solutions and opponents to Anger
Our problems come from our mind and not from external situations or people. By contemplating and becoming familiar with the mental mistakes mentioned above that we have to make to get angry, we can stop anger from arising as soon as we feel some slight frustration.
By contemplating the faults of anger, like the ones mentioned above, and examples of our anger in the past, from our own tennis experience, we will be motivated to stop anger as soon as it arises.
The main opponent to anger is patience. Patience is a mind that can happily accept any situation that arises, by giving up on the idea that things should be a certain way. For example, it is normal for things not to go the way we want, thinking realistically in this way, it is easier to stay patient when things don’t go the way we want. Patience is not forcing our way through a situation with a disturbed mind. It is a happy mind that sees things realistically. Most of our emotional problems are nothing more than not accepting things as they are – patient acceptance is the solution, not trying to change people or situations. Patience is not passive; it is standing up to our delusions and taking control through taking a strong stance. There is nothing strong or courageous about reacting to difficult people and situations with anger – we are just being defeated by our negativity. The practice of patience is something we can practice all day long.
If we are angry we should not act because we will make poor decisions and our actions will be unskillful, only causing more problems for ourself.
We need to watch our mind closely at all times and as soon as we notice our mind starting to get agitated – for example, when we begin to focus on what we don’t like about our opponent and blaming them for the unpleasant feelings in our mind – we need to remember the faults of anger and do anything to change our focus to something else before it turns into anger.
We can catch our subtle anger at ourself, when we are playing, by watching closely what we are saying to ourself. We can also remember situations in the past when we have gotten angry. We watch especially when we miss a ball, lose a game or lose a match, etc.
We must first get familiar with new mental habits and tendencies off the court before we will be able to use them on the court. As a mind trainer my goal is to help tennis players to always be happy and to always play their best tennis. For more details on Anger and its Solutions go to my blog @ www.psnolimits.blogspot.com.