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02 Jul 2015 17:09
Watch Consciously; Hit Unconsciously…
Your conscious mind can only do, or think of, one thing at a time, whereas your subconscious mind can literally do trillions of things at a time. It follows that smooth, coordinated (good-looking) strokes, are executed with your subconscious mind. You have practiced your pickleball strokes until they are ingrained in your subconscious and they have become habits. Since your strokes are now habits, you don’t have to consciously think about them. All you have to do is get your conscious mind out of the way and “let” your subconscious play the ball.
Getting your conscious mind out of the way and “letting” your subconscious play is not always easy. Your conscious mind has an ego that thinks it knows better, so it wants to be in control. Two bads happen when it takes charge of your pickleball play. One, you can’t play well when you are thinking, “I’ve gotta hit a winner; Should I hit a dink or smash it? Why did I hit that last shot into the net? That was dumb; What’s the matter with me? Look at all those people watching me.” Two, and even worse, you start thinking about winning or losing. These thoughts introduce some degree of fear -- the fear of losing or the fear of being embarrassed. Any aspect of fear undermines confidence and sends your game down the tubes.
Here’s how to get your conscious mind out of the way: use your conscious mind’s limitation (i.e., that it can only think of one thing at a time) to your advantage. Keep your conscious mind preoccupied with watching the ball. Your conscious mind’s job is exclusively to focus on the ball. Think, ball as you watch it. Be aware of its flight path, its velocity, etc. If you concentrate on the ball, your conscious mind cannot interfere with your inner athlete, your subconscious. In a nutshell, when your conscious mind is focused on the ball, your subconscious mind is free to make that perfect shot.
Reprinted on Winning Pickleball from USAPA Newsletter. Original source: Harry Carpenter's 'Pickleball: The Mental Side'; see Resources side panel.