Today’s Meditation: Less Is More

You probably know the expression, ‘Less is more.’ It applies to tennis and much more. Today I asked myself: In what ways is this true for tennis? Because we can probably agree that the game is like the proverbial onion that you can keep peeling, layer after layer. Beneath all that, though, it ultimately reduces to ‘less is more:’

  • Simple technique is better than complex technique. The less convoluted your mechanics are, the less likely they are to get screwed up.
  • A relatively empty, ‘less is more’ mind is better than a jampacked one. To be clear, the counsel “don‘t think when you‘re playing a point” isn‘t realistic, if by “don‘t think” you mean, “Have a completely empty mind.” If you’re not visualizing a target when you‘re playing a point, you’re not thinking enough. You need to apply tactics, court awareness and technical corrections on the fly (or lope, or stagger), so don’t listen to those folks who say, “Don‘t think when you play.” “Think less” does make sense, though — and so does, “Don‘t think mechanically.”
  • It sometimes helps to take time off. I’m a bit compulsive about my game. If I’m working on something and I feel like I’m making progress, I want to keep at it until I believe I’ve got it down. This compulsiveness can be counter-productive. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve taken a couple of days off, and during that time I integrated the changes I was working on faster than if I’d kept plugging away. Down time is learning time, too. In our puritanical work-ethic culture, it can be easy to forget this.

There is endless complexity within tennis’s different aspects — technique, strategy, the inner game. It’s important to remember that at the end of the rainbow, things can get luminously clear, straightforward and simple to execute.

There‘s a term for when you get there. It‘s The Zone.

I suspect that our profoundest sages experience life as a permanent Zone state — as less beneath the endless more, as simple and straightforward beneath everything.

Do you get stuck inside complexity? In what ways can you simplify your tennis game — and your life?

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