Tennisopolis : Tennis Social Network

The artist Picasso was asked in an interview – why he didn’t paint pictures of people “the way they really are.” Picasso asked the man what he meant by “the way they really are,” and the man pulled a snapshot of his wife out of his wallet. “Like this,” he said. Picasso responded: “Isn’t she rather small and flat?

Picasso understood the fundamental idea “we don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” The way things are is for the most part a creation of our minds. Life as a tennis player, even at the recreational level, is made up of a series of events and experiences, some of them (like choosing a one-handed backhand over a two-handed) can be as abstract and confusing as a Picasso painting. Conceptually, even the frame has meaning. The frame can bring out the best in the experience like a frame can highlight the best in a painting. The challenge is to frame your tennis experience with beliefs that are optimistic and empowering. For example, the fiercest opponent you’ll probably ever face in tennis is a “bad attitude”. Tremendous abilities can be wasted when a bad attitude sets in. It can block out your desire to learn, destroy your ability to concentrate, and slowly break down your self-control. You could even say that your tennis future hangs in the balance when a poor attitude creeps into the picture. Think discouraging thoughts and you’ll be a discouraging player. Think encouraging thoughts and you will be an encouraged and motivated player. What you think about most often will form your attitude. So control what you let yourself think in order to develop and maintain a positive attitude.

Picasso pioneered some interesting developments in art that possibly mirror that of the tennis experience. The Borg art above is my attempt to mimic a Picasso-like style .

  • Cubism- Cubist art breaks an image into pieces and puts it back together in abstract form. This creates space for the viewer to see the work from multiple perspectives. It’s not about the way things are. It’s about the way the viewer perceives the artwork.  The same is true with the circumstances surrounding the outcome of a match. In tennis, the circumstances of losing more matches than you win, doesn’t define who you are. It’s the way you look at those outcomes that defines the quality of your experience. Sometimes it’s helpful to break experiences down, and put them back together with the advantage of perspective.
  • Picasso went through a stage when he was fascinated by African culture and artifacts. It influenced his famous work “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” which is a depiction of five nude prostitutes, some of them wearing African totem face masks. It’s a disturbing piece, but the most prominent feature is the way the women appear to be “looking” out from the scene. You can’t quite tell who is looking at whom – the viewer of the painting or the women in the painting? This ability to own your own perspective with respect to your tennis game is just as important as it is in art.

Your perspective is your power. But it’s a power that needs to be claimed. Your brain wears its own set of eye glasses, which is your perspective, or your current beliefs. If your perspective becomes jaded like old glasses that are cracked and warped you may not even realize that you are approaching your on-court performance with so much negativity. Your cracked glasses are stopping you from seeing the whole picture or the beauty of what you are capable of from baseline to baseline.

You need to check your perspective often and see if it needs updating. Are you seeing the present through yesterday’s beliefs, losing to the same players over and over? Are you expecting the past to replay itself every time you walk onto a court? It might be time for a re-frame. Even the Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa has been touched up and re-framed in its 500 year history because of changing taste and also to protect her from aging. In 1970 she was re-framed with maple when they found insects in the beechwood. Then in 2004 she was re-framed with sycamore to prevent further warping.  The point is that this masterpiece deserves the best frame.

It’s the same with your tennis. You deserve the best frame, and if you aren’t offering yourself the most optimistic and empowered perspective, then consider a re-frame. Don’t frame your on-court experience with cheap wood, or wood infested with bugs, and don’t let your frame warp your perspective. Frame your game style with the finest materials that include strength, confidence, and possibility- whatever qualities you value most highly.


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