There is a short
sequestered line located on a tennis court that is no bigger
than 3 inches. It is called the "hash mark." Players know
it as the mark that divides the right side of the court
(deuce) from the left side (ad). Even though it is quite
minute in comparison to the other lines on the court, I
have found it to be a significant visual to help control
emotions while in competition.
the last time you played for over an hour and the games
were tied? The competitive juices were flowing and soon,
someone would win the first set. Abruptly, you miss a "sitter."
Another unforced error, and the momentum of the match could
turn for your opponent.
Guess what? Another mess up! Now, you are steamed
and mentally unprepared to play the next point. Fuming over
your last ridiculous mistake, you walk toward the backcourt
to retrieve the ball. Your head shakes in frustration, not
believing your pathetic attempt to execute a winner. A mere
moment passed, and before you knew it another point and
game has been tabulated, not in your favor either!
infuriates an athlete more than "unforced errors" or simply
stupid shots! The worst defeat is the one inflicted on yourself.
You kick yourself so much that your opponent's task is made
easy. How can you avoid that self-imposed punishment?
How do you stop the bleeding? One way is to "hash mark
The key is to maintain control of our emotions. If we don't,
they tend to misfire and create more noise than 4th of July
fireworks. If not properly taken care of they can spark
your opponent's confidence while extinguishing your own
spirit. When it's needed, go ahead and express yourself!
Take a moment to "unload" and redirect your emotions positively.
Part of the learning process is allowing yourself to feel
the sting for that misplaced shot.
However, once you walk past the hash mark located dead center
on the baseline, get over it. As you literally walk over
the mark, strive to leave the past and its negative emotions
behind by immediately focusing on the upcoming point. For
some, that line comes much too quickly! If you are still
too rattled to walk over the hash mark and start another
point, buy yourself some time to "hash out" that last point.
But once your foot lands near that hash mark it's time to
let it go! Forget those defeated feelings and face a new
point, prepared for an opportunity to win.
it may be difficult to overlook those raw "inexcusable"
errors, but train yourself to be "in the present." If you
don't, the opponent is just waiting to grab a few more points
weapon of choice? "Hash mark it!"