Why is it the little things that make the difference? In part because everyone has already got the big things down and in part because success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
I love to play racquetball. I play 4 to 5 times a week and I beat a lot of folks whom I really should not beat. Not because I’m in better shape (although it helps!) or because I am such a great athlete (I’m not). It is because of two simple, related reasons: 1) Patience and 2) Mental Game.
A lot of racquetball is taking the ball low and hitting it straight in (i.e. your racquet is perpendicular to the floor when you it the ball, no angle what so ever). The slightest angle magnifies the possibility for error, hitting either into the floor or high enough for a return shot. Simple as this is, it requires patience – that you NOT hit the ball at the first opportunity you have BUT rather wait, wait, wait – track the ball around the court till it drops down nice and low and then and only then hit it hard and straight.
Simple? Yes! But I’m amazed how few players do it! An amazing number of players hit the ball the first opportunity they get no matter how high the ball is. Ok, I have to add one other factor: the main reason players hit the ball too soon is that they are not moving their feet (i.e. to hit the ball when it is low you must MOVE to where that point is; the real reason that players hit the ball high is that this is where they can hit it without moving or moving the least amount.
It is hard to overemphasis the importance of the mental game. Think you can, think you can’t, you are right. Believing in yourself, a core of calm confidence, will turbo charge your ability. In turn, doubting yourself, letting your fears rule virtually guarantees failure. I miss a shot, I immediately visualize the shot as I wanted it to be; over writing any memory or otherwise of the missed shot. Even if the odds are a 100 to one, I focus on the one percent. Sooner or later, someone has to be the one percent, why not me, why not today? Also, if I’m ever down a few points toward the end of the game; I remind myself that the other party is most vulnerable when they think they’ve won; often they relax a bit, there is a tendency to coast across the finish line. I know its true cause I’ve done it more often than I’d like to admit! More than anything else, I like to think of racquetball as “Moving Meditation” (i.e. to let no thoughts of the outer world enter the court, to stay completely in the present moment). I clear my mind when I enter the court; summon my best and focus on giving my all. The only thing that matters is the current point, heck just the next shot. Win the point, hit the shot: all else will fall into place. Calm mind, clear mind, relaxed, focused mind; body follows.