Playing in the Now

altIn sport psychology, we say there is only one time, and it is now. When are you going to start to focus? Now! When are you going to win your serve? Now! When are you going to start to play well? Now! In sports the past is gone and the future never comes, so in racquetball you have to learn that there is only one ball, one shot, one serve, and one point at a time, and that time is always now. That is truly the real beauty that every shot you hit only happens in the now.

The only problem is that your ego wants to hold onto your past mistakes and fear the future. It always wants to be right and take control of the situation. The beauty of totally playing in the moment is that there is no ego and you are 100 percent connected to the ball, the wall, the shot, or the point. Playing in the now erases the ego because your mind can hold only one thought in your head at a time, so focusing on the moment erases all past or future ego thoughts. Do not dwell on the past or worry about the future because that only feeds the ego.

On-Court Rituals to Bring Your Mind and Body Back to the Now

  1. Sound.
  2. Feel.
  3. Monkey Slump.

Bounce the ball—listen to it hit the floor—and catch it in your hand. Then say to yourself I love racquetball or I love this or I can do this or Yes!

Take your racquet off your wrist. Play with the strings on your racquet, feeling the strength and tension of each string and knowing that this racquet is there to help you and is your perfect weapon. Then feel the ball as you bounce it and catch it, and feel your athletic body ready to play.

Try the famous mind–body connection called the monkey slump. Bend over and put your hands on your bent knees. Exhale on your way down. Close your eyes and let your upper body fall forward over your lower body. Be as loose as a rag doll. Every muscle in your body is loose and relaxed and shaking itself out over your lower body. Come up slowly one vertebra at a time, inhaling with your eyes closed. Once your head is vertical, open your eyes. You have released all your muscular tension, put blood back into your brain, and opened every vertebra in your spine. You are in a relaxed and energized state, ready to play in the now.

I have witnessed my players Playing in the NOW:

Rocky Carson versus Alvaro Beltran in the semifinals of the 2013 US Open:

After losing to Alvaro in the first game and was down 2-7 in the second game on his way to be going down 0-2 games I had Rocky call a time out. I reminded Rocky to focus on “Playing in the NOW” and got him to do the monkey slump in his chair during the time out. Rocky did just that, regrouped and began playing in the now and came back and won the second game to even the match 1-1 in games. The rest was history as he won the next two games in the semi-finals to win 3-1 in games to advance to the finals.

Paola Longoria versus Rhonda Rajsich in finals of the LPRT 2014 Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio, TX:

Paola found herself down 0-2 in games on her way to losing her first tournament since May 2011. There’s ALLOT of pressure on Paola about keeping her streak alive each and every time she walks on the court. In-between games 2 and 3 she had two minutes and I asked her to listen to me. I told her to stop thinking of the future and “play in the now…one point at a time”. I told her to listen to the sound of the bounce the ball when she did her service routine—listen to the ball hit the floor—and catch it in your hand. Then say to yourself I love racquetball or I love this or I can do this! Paola did just that, regrouped and began playing in the now and came back and won the next 3 games to win the match. The rest was history as she kept her streak alive.

Jason Mannino versus Jack Huzek in the famous semi-finals match at the 2006 US Open:

Jason found himself in the 5th game tiebreaker, down 2-10 in the semi-finals. During the time out I just kept reminding him of, playing in the NOW and one point at a time. I knew if he did not “play in the NOW” and worried about the future of losing the match he would have done just that. He was so present and got one point at a time as he could hear the crowd cheering for him until he beat Jack 12-10…the match of the century.

            Playing in the NOW is yet another required skill on the road to championship racquetball. ALL of the players I coach, from the professionals led by Rocky and Paola to the amateurs, know just how important it is to develop On-Court Rituals to Bring Your Mind and Body Back to Playing in the NOW. Their records speak for themselves…Rocky and Paola are BOTH 2 of the most decorated athletes in racquetball.  Paola finished the 2013/2014 ranked #1 on the LPRT for the 3rd consecutive season WITHOUT dropping a match since May 2011 and was just crowned the 2014 World Champion. Rocky finished the 2013/2014 ranked #2 on the IRT and was just crowned the 2014 World Champion.

In the next issue, I will continue to build your Championship Racquetball Game one level at a time so you too can be ready to become the champion you always dreamed of becoming, by giving you the tools to make it a reality. Rocky and all my athletes “Championship Racquetball Games” stem from their focus on ALL 3 sides of the triangle working together so they can develop into top competitors. Without a shadow of a doubt, they KNOW just how important it is to do the work. They are living proof it works and their titles substantiate it.

For details on more racquetball playing tips, personalized instruction, a weekend camp, instructional DVD’s, our book, Championship Racquetball, and our APP (coming soon), ALL which covers all aspects of the Sports Racquetball Triangle and more, please visit Fran Davis is a 2004 racquetball Hall of Fame inductee; Racquetball Woman of the Year 200; Coach #2 IRT Pro Racquetball  Players / 1X US Open Champion / 4X and present World Champion, Rocky Carson; Coach #1 Women’s LPRT Pro Player / 4X and present US Open Champion & World Champion, Paola Longoria; Coach Jr. World & National Champion, Intercollegiate Champion, & International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Racquetball Players, Taylor Knoth; Coach Intercollegiate Champion & LPRT Pro Player, Sharon Jackson; Master Professional Instructor/Coach USAR-IP.