Saturday, June 7, 2014


Thursday, June 5, 2014



        I'm watching Milos Raonic at the French Open
in Paris , France. It is now May 25th, 2014.
Raonic has arrived at this Grand Slam Event
with difficult wins and tennis trials in his
recent past.
         He has played well against and beaten many of the top ten players.  Raonic  is  currently ranked # 8
in the world coming in to the French open.

            He has a shorter and more military
 haircut... and an air
of not quite calm, but intense concentration.
 This is rattled in
the 2nd second set as he starts out playing a young talented Australian.Krygios displays some magnificent backhands, but is beaten by Milos in straight sets.
                    Raonic goes on to beat Simon,also,
who is a crafty player with terrific ground strokes.
The fact that he  beat Simon
proves that his is baseline play are much
and more regular.
                  This is a terrific victory for the
23 year old Canadian. 

                 He fires off a fantastic backhand
passing shot to beat  Granolliers with a passing
shot at the net.
                 Now he is the first Canadian male
to make it to the 4th round of a Grand Slam
                As the announcer states, he knows
how to end points when he gets to the net.
Krygios is 19 years of age and still
has a tendency to hold onto his anger.
Stay angry for 5 or 6 points, and you're finished.
        Your loss of concentration can be fatal. While
you're busy kicking a ball, and having a tantrum, the other player is taking aim... It's best to be more balanced
emotionally.  Raonic is... by some considerable margin.
             In tennis it's important to forget, rapidly, your
mistakes of the recent past.

                This is the beauty of tennis. The
psychological element enters into the game
quickly, far faster than in golf. 
                But the mental distress that is throwing a player off can dissipate just as rapidly... It can leave
just as quickly as it arrived.

                 There's an old zen tale about
two monks and a beautiful woman on the
bank of a shallow but fast-moving river.
The monks had sworn a vow of chastity.
                The beautiful woman
 is staring at the waters, knowing that
her hair is going to get messed up
pretty badly by the river - and her
makeup will be shot.
               One of the two monks acts
quickly. He walks over to the woman,
nods to her and picks her up in his
arms.    Immediately, without any more
thought ,   he carries her across
the river.
              Gently, on the further shore,
he assists her to step out of his arms,
and walk along the road with her habitually
sexy step
                    As the two monks walk farther
along the road, the one monk is fuming.
He keeps muttering under his breath and
from time to time he violently
kicks a stone.
                   The monk who has helped the lady
asks the angry monk what's wrong.
                   The angry monk says, "We've
sworn a vow of chastity! And there you go,
you break your vow with the very first
pretty girl we see!  How can you live
with yourself. You should be ashamed!"
                    The helpful monk says, "Yes,
I helped the pretty girl across the river. It
was a pleasand experience, but I didn't
break my vow of chastity..."
                    "Bah!" says the angry monk.
         The helpful monk says: "I put her down
when we reached the other shore. Are you
still carrying her?"

                    The same point applies with
tennis.You cannot carry your rage forward.
Just because you're still pissed off
at your own last idiotic mistake,  this doesn't
mean you ought to carry your anger
thru the next five points.  For you will
likely  lose that set.
                If you keep blaming yourself
and if you keep making negative
judgements about the state of your
play -  you are out of the flow.  
 You are no longer there to play tennis.
               You are self-flagellating.And this
plays hell with your reaction time.
                In your head, "I just made a bad
backhand shot," becomes, "I have a bad 
backhand." This is thinking that will
defeat you.               

             Raonic wins this first round match
easily, with difficulty only in the 2nd set,
where he had the brief tantrum and displayed
anger he did not carry for long.
              I'd say he has a better grip on things.
But of course the point is - not to grip too
tightly. Loosen up that hand around the
racket handle...relax and play the game.
            With regard to your mind, grip
nothing at all, but let the river of your
thoughts flow on.  Don't stop the flow.
Don't attach yourself to any thoughts.
Pay attention, have a drink of water,
knock the grit out of your shows...
 let your mind flow back up
to one-pointedness.
               The flow within your mind
becomes an easy focus, when you're
warming up... and a hot, keen silent
focus... when you're into the match.
               Let the endorphins rise up
within you. Feel your body relaxing
and at the same time becoming more alert.
This feeling is the joy of the game! It is
also the mental approach we all must make
to play winning tennis. 

            'Sports stadiums are now our temples."
I was thinking about that statement today,
while watching the woman's quarter  finals
in Paris... Where else do you see 10,000
people sit in total silence, concentrated
        And why not? Who's to say that a temple
to the beauty of physical movement is wrong?
       Tennis, at it's best is very close to dance -
focused danced with a purpose.
        The other beauty of tennis is there's
a cosmic feel to playing it. The balls are
round, like planets, and we hit them through
all kinds of space, especially when we play
in the open air.

          I hear the announcers discussing what's
"in the heads" of the players, what they are
thinking about or what they're worried about -
         Well, or course the goal is to have nothing
in your head, nothing but the acute burning
focus of the endorphin-fed mind.

        I noticed Kusnetzsova (sp?) kept tugging at her
dress... thoughts about your dress, your costume,
your clothes.... Even this brief thought: "My dress
is too short with the wind blowing it!" This is too
much of a thought to have in your mind.
        Even such a little bit of a thought will
throw off your balance.
        The goal is to have an empty head. This
way nothing impedes the reflexes.

        Now watching Bouchard vs Sharpova.
After watching the first few games, I heard
a comment I made inside my own head:


         Indeed it is - whoever manages the mental
aspect of this game better will win the match. 
         Bouchard did great. She took the
2nd set. Serving wide to one side, then goiung
down the line on the other side of the
couirt, this gave Sharapova some real trouble.
 Which no one else really did, not until she played
Halep in the finals.
         Chris Evert made the comment about
the Bouchard vs Sharapova match: "That
was the final."
         And I agree with her. Chris also said:
"Sharapova's playing a younger version of herself,
when she plays Bouchard. That's not easy to do."
         But Sharapova has been playing
brilliantly in her own relentless manner.
And no one was going to beat her
this year.

         This is not to take anything away
from the Romanian, Halep, who displayed
terrific footwork and leg movement,
almost a sense of dance as she moved
lightly around the court.
         She hadn't lost a set all tournament
until she faced Sharapova. But her serve
did not have quite the SNAP of Bouchard's 
serve. So Halep was not able to take Maria wide
the way that Bouchard did, and then finish
her with a cracking drive down the line.

          Halep, however, not only has fine
footwork; she has exceptional balance,
persistent ability to return the ball,guts,
 and admirable mental equanimity.
And it has just paid off. She has just won
the second set of the woman's finals
in Paris.
             But a championship this year for
Halep was not to be. She came so close.
I hope to see her back at the French Open
next year.        
                    If Roanic learns better
footwork, maybe from a boxing coach -
if his footwork even approaches that of
Halep, no one will beat him.
    Tomorrow comes the men's final.
It's Nadal vs Djokovic. Both men move from
offence to defence in a fluid manner. They
are #1 and #2 in the world, respectively.
            It ought to be terrifically entertaining

           One other point I would like to make
is: it's good to see Gulbis finally come into his
own. He beat Federer and he gave Djokovic
a tough time with his superb, surprisingly
fast serve.
            Gulbis has all the shots.  All he needs
is a consistent mentality in order to start
winning some big tournaments.
            I've been watching him develop for
years.  All he needs is a tenacious focus over
a three hour period.  
            For this talented player especially,
his difficulties are 'all in the mind'. 
NOTE: The two best announcers in tennis, Chris Evert and
John McEnroe have one thing in common.THEY DO NOT TALK

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


              The following article may seem not to apply to tennis.
But if something like one out of ten people are affected
by this illness, then it becomes significant, RE: "Managing
the Mental Part of the Game" - What this Blog is all about.


One out of between ten to twenty players will be affected.

                                 I've been in the belly  of
the beast for three weeks now, underwater, in the
tunnel. And the worst part of it - I didn't know it.
I thought the Doom that I was feeling
was permanent: feeling doom was simply reality, just the way it things are. Learn to live with it.
            Right! That is horrible advice!

            I feel just fine now. The cycle is moving
along in its inexorable way and I don't worry about 
a thing. I can organize twelve things at once
that's what I think in the manic part of my life.
And the problem is, at that particular time, I
really can do it!
                        So I get twelve projects started,
and people agreeing to work with me. I
can make million dollar deals. I once
put a bid in for a gravel pit.
            I put in a call to the owner at
7:30 A.M. and he was up.  I asked
him how much he wanted for his pit
trucks, conveyers and loaders. He said
7 million.
            We phoned each other back
and forth. By breakfast I had him down
to 4 million.I'm good at that kind of
           Problem was I had about
three dollars in the bank. 
           There was the fact that
I didn't really want or need a gravel pit
to begin with. You might say, "How crazy
can you get? Buying something
you don't even want."
          Well I can get a lot crazier
than this. Once I get an IDEA and
I'm manic, well, I'll follow the idea
through rapidly
            It's all this manic energy running
through me. You can make deals that
you think you can manage. And maybe
you would be able to manage a major
enterprise, if you stayed in that manic
            Problem is, next comes depression.
And when you are in deep clinical depression,
 all your ability to follow through is gone
and all urges to follow through are extinguished.
You are immobilized. And you can be in
serious trouble.
           In deep and ongoing depression,
 the only creative urge you might have,
is the urge to end the utter misery
of your worthless life...(you are saying
this to yourself. The negative script
is a component of depression - and the voice(s)
in your head telling yourself how stupid and useless
you are, how lazy... And on top of these things,
what a prick you are!
            This continuing script, in my view,
has to be attacked.

            One quarter to one third of manic
depressives kill themselves. So obviously
it's a dangerous disease.
             I hadn't been taking my diagnosis
seriously. I just thought I was way, way out
there. I started plotting out my cycle for
the depressed period, way before I knew
about any diagnosis, I knew I was subject
to a disturbing cycle.
             There's a short period of time
during your depression, I call it "the depressive
peak." That's when you have to really
watch yourself. You can really go over the
top, during the peak ( which might be
3 days or thee hours or three weeks).
 You have to counter the negative self-talk 
with  positive images, which you have prepared

         There are ways to train yourself
to picture  one scene of a place you love,
or a person you love with whom you feel
grounded, or tender moments with a dog or cat.
 You find these moments of joy within yourself
(And sometimes it takes a week to think up
even one such image. Don't worry. Just
don't stop. You need the positive image to
counteract the ravening beast who is calling
you names, deep in your own mind.

       Press one index finger on one hand
against the index finger of the other hand.        
This becomes a trigger for you.
        Every time you press the two
fingers together, you imagine your
beautiful scene.
        When you have a horrible
suicidal thought, you trigger the scene
to offset the doom and gloom of
the thought , and it helps...truly
it does help. But it takes a while
and it takes practice.
       You have to practice. The
non-medicinal cure takes work.
It works better if you can borrow
a hypnotist to help you with your "imagining
sessions"     and to help you embed your image
into your mind so you can call up the scenes
of joy and happiness quickly, when  you  are
in desperate straits. When you are under 
       We all get in desperate straits. I used
to hit the depressive peak every thirty-four
days. I'd map the times of my cycle. I had to, 
to protect my life, it was a lot better when I knew
the timing of each phase my cycle time  map.
        I used to call it my 'psyche map'. At
least when you are attacked, 
when this dark curtain is pulled across
your heart and mind, you know  when it's
 coming. You have a calendar of days.
       You have a map of your own psyche. By
writing down notes on each stage of your
cycle, as you pass through each cycle,
you can nail the time frames down. It will take
about three times through, to get a somewhat
accurate cycle time map.
       You know when your depressive peak is coming
 And more important you know when it's leaving, and
you know it IS GOING TO LEAVE.
         You know this dark beast is
leaving. And you have a projection
as to how soon it will leave. So you
know this terrible darkness will stay for just
so long. 
          This way you are dealing with
a finite situation. You are no longer facing
 infinite misery. The feeling of Doom 
will NOT stay with you for the rest of your life.
          Just this one little step
can make a huge  improvement
in your life. You are going from
passive to active.  And that
always feels good and helps relieve
the feeling of "helpless" and "hopeless"
       Of course , there are
exceptions! I've just come out
of a 2 or 3 month depression
and I didn't even know I was depressed!
Sometimes it comes up on you from
       And creeps into your being
slowly, oh so slowly that you don't
feel its presence or it's growing
power over you, until you're  in a situation
that seems impossible to change.
(This is starting to sound like a sci-fi
.     The weird stuff happens. There's
no denying this fact. But I'd say the 
'psyche cycle',the timing of your cycle,
which enables you to project your dangerous
time... I'd say this works and will help you
8/10ths of the time. 

                                     Good luck and happy hunting.
                                     Respectfully submitted, R.R.R.
                                     (C)2014 by William G. Milne 

Friday, January 17, 2014


             Two older style players - Gasquet and Robredo -
playing a beautiful game.  Robredo's one handed
backhand crosscourt is very challenging.   Gasquet
is a complete player...and he will rush the net. 
       I have to believe the net game will come back into
tennis more and more. Everybody's started to rush
the net more in the last two years, because it works.
       But with guys like Nadal who can pass you with shots
from outside the tennis court, it's tough... 
       Nevertheless  almost everybody is thrown off when they notice the opponent's rushing the net. It's best to make a little noise while your charging up, and if you have the time,
run with your raquet high in the air - shout while you're
at it.
        (Actually, this tactic will work in club-level
play, even top level club play... but try it at the
Australian open, they'll kill you. Not enough time
to raise the racquet, shout, and get the
raquet back down again to hit a ball)
         It's considered bad form, even in club
play, but it works more often that. So make up
your own mind about what to do.
         You have to be in the NOW for any fast sport,
but especially tennis... no other thoughts of past
and or future. As you know this is my constant 

         The Istomin vs Djokovic match is shaping
up to be a beauty.... depending on how much
adrenalin  Istamin can muster. Very quick-paced
contest... At the moment, Djokovic looks
unbeatable, but things change as the hours pass...
when 3 sets are required to win a Grand  Slam.
         In the third set Istomin attained that higher
gear he is capable of... but not for long.

          Murray has never won the Australian Open.
Is this his year? It could be.
          Andy works out in Miami, so he should be
used to the heat somewhat.
           The surface suits him.

          Federer doesn't have the ranking he used to have,
but he's so steady very few opponents will be able
to stay with him... Beautiful strokes!

          Djokovic has won Australian Open, what is it?
Four times. He looks damn nearly unbeatable.

          I haven't seen Nadal yet in this tournament,
but of course you can never count him out.

Friday, November 8, 2013


               Of course, there are no easy matches in the London
ATP World Tour finals this week. It's the 
top 8 men players in the world, and these guys 
don't give anybody an easy win.
      At this level, when you see lapses of concentration,
the loss of presence of mind usually won't last longer
than one or two games.

       Wawrinka is now playing Ferrer. Ferrer has just won
the Paris tournament, but has yet to win a match
here in London.

        About the backhand. It is the accepted wisdom
nowadays that it's better to have a two handed
backhand than a single-handed backhand. This is not
always true. There are major exceptions to this
so-called rule.
STRENGTH, it can be better to have a single-handed
backhand. You can get a better angle on the
ball with a one arm motion than you can with
a two-handed motion.  
        Watch the snap Wawrinka gets on his backhand
often, and how he opens his arms and his chest as he
hits such shots - you'll see what I mean.

        People point at Nadal's two-handed backhand.
But of course, Nadal is an exception. Nadal was
originally right handed but Uncle Tony got
him playing with his left hand when Rafa was
very young...So Nadal's two-handed backhand is
really Nadal using his natural right-handed 
strength and orientation. That's why his "backhand"
is so good. It's not really a backhand.

        Now it's the Ferrer-Wawrinka match. I had
assumed Wawrinka would win it.
        But you can never count Ferrer out with
his incredible athleticism, stamina and determination.
Ferrer's taken the first set. I'd forgotten: Ferrer beat
Nadal last week in Paris.  So all bets are off.
        I shouldn't  be surprised when Ferrer
takes the next set.
        Ferrer uses his intense almost continuous
running to amp him up into the correct mental

        When any of these top eight players gets
"IN THE ZONE",; any one of these
guys can beat any of the others.
         Though Nadal has just clinched the
#1 world ranking with his second match victory
this week, and at this time he seems to be
about the hardest man to beat.
         Djokovic is also playing brilliantly and
likely wants his #1 ranking back.

         Getting "in the zone" is what this blog
is all about.
          There are specific ways to do it, ways
to get there... But we are really entering
into the area of meditative techniques.
          There is such a thing as meditation
in action. That's part of what the dervishes
are all about.
          There are also yogic techniques
that apply.
           It's not a method you can use just
anywhere - I try not to get into too
deep a meditative state on my bicycle, 
for example.
           But tennis is a game well-suited
for meditation in action. I'll have to
get a better phrase for this discipline -
the "Art of Ecstasy" comes to mind, but this
is not a phrase that I have invented.
           Getting "in the zone" is a good
phrase. You know you're 'there', when
there are no thoughts in your mind,
just a intense, burning attention to
every movement you see across the net.

          Runners know  about "the zone".
In fact, a combination of the feeling
that you have when the endorphins start
to click  in - plus that sense of utter
concentration that comes with hard
breathing and strong exercise -
this is why many distance runners run.
Also, more casual runners who run
just for  exercise and  health,
who are not necessarily racing a stopwatch,
they know about "the zone" also.
           Let's face it, this moment of the
intense concentration of a mind
that is fully aware is a delight!
The game is to find the joy at
the core of things, without being
burdened with an endless train of 
           Full concentrated awareness
without content, while in the midst
of focused activity - this is the joy
of sports! But I must say, tennis
is particularly relevant  to this
kind of awareness, this joy of the
           There is a lot of empty
space in tennis. The situation
you are facing is more cosmic
than cluttered.
            Across the area in which
you play is a net full of holes - more
empty space! And an opponent some
distance away... firing balls in your
direction at high rates of speed.
             And you are running and reacting
in a court that is exactly big enough
to challenge even the best athelete.
The area and size of the tennis court
is a work of art, almost a work of genius.
          Any larger, and nobody would be able to
make it to the lines. Any smaller area
between the lines, and the challenge would
start to disappear - the elegance of the
strokes would become constricted.
          Tennis is the enemy of the enslaved,
monkey-like mind.

          Like in the martial arts, the player
is in a situation where any thought at all
impedes reaction times.
           Intense concentrated awaresness
without content, aided by pain-killing endorphins
fed with the energy of a fully functioning 
cardiovascular system - this is the joy of 
the game! And tennis is the game of life!


                                      (C)2013 by William G. Milne
                                          All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


           Wawrinka has sufficient upper body strength
not to be intimidated by Nadal.And it shows -
the fact thefact that he is not intimidated
      Yet he has never taken a set from Nadal.
This is curious in that they have fought through
many extended tiebreakers.
         The fact that Wawrinka, for periods of
time during his mental lapses, still hits series
of shots into the net - indicates that Nadal
still has Wawrinka psyched out to some extent.
But Stan has nearly turned the corner on that
psych-out, and it's exciting to see him on the
edge of victory.
          He's got the shots and the strength
to beat Nadal... he just needs a little
tune up in the psychology of the game.
          He's so close to winning he can
taste it, and so can everybody else in the
audience - that huge tennis stadium in London,
everyone can sense how close their match
really is.
          I'd rather see a Nadal/Wawrinka
match than any other match between players in the
top ten.
          You really don't know what you're
going to get, but you're going to see
a fantastic variety of shots.

           It's important to remember that Stan
was Federer's hitting partner for years.That's
got to help his consistency and mental acuity.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


         Whatever happens today, as the Canadian
plays the Serb, there will be a lot of sprinting,
sudden stops, heavy breathing... Determination
and courage will be all.

       I don`t know what`s in the water in Serbia.
Roanic is firmly Canadian, but he was born in
         Djokovic also was born in Montenegro.
         This is a big day for Serbia, and
deservedly so! 

         It`s a big day for Canada, too! Canada
has not been in the Davis Cup semi-finals
since the early days of the twentieth century.

          Surprisingly enough, there`s a large
Canadian crowd cheering their man on
in the Belgrade arena.
          Balance and superior groundstrokes
won the day for Djokovic. Plus the judicious
use of the topspin lob over the ten foot height and
reach of the Canadian.
          Milos showed real game and courage
and was never defeated in spirit. And you have
to admire grace in defeat.
           After all tennis is a game. We`re not
killing chickens here. Fun and a sense of play
and grace under pressure - this is what it`s
all about.         



           These Canadians aren`t as quiet
as we`re used to. Is the country going through
some kind of identity change? What happened to
the polite, self-effacing pesonality
we all were used to?
        This crowd is making some real noise.
        Frankly, the old personality type was getting
a little tiresome, anyway. And none too exciting.

        In a country which has basically two seasons -
(1) the freeze your ass off season - where you never
see a woman`s body for about seven months of
the year, unless you light a hot fire someplace;
(2) the get your ass bitten off season, when the flies
come to life and start to feed, making that
chattering, humming sound...
          It was inevitable that someone was going to
start to shout sometime!       



Wednesday, September 11, 2013


   title (C)2013 by William G. Milne

            Please excuse legal matter above.  I posted this
blog and almost immediately lost the title, then regained it.

            BATTLE MATCH : 

             Despite the fact that they did not have a huge
audience, I was moved by the intensity of the crowd and players at the Raonic vs Gasquet match. It was a five
set high-intensity battle, fought with the utmost
determination and skill to the end by both players.
              The crowd was as excited as the players. And
even if the audience was highly partisan, there was something about the feel of this confrontation
that most modern matches seem to be lacking.
           Stan the Man:

       Now that Federer is less intent on defending his
number 1 ranking and is fading from the spotlight
somewhat,  Stan Wawrinka, Roger`s long time
hitting partner seems to have unconsciously received
permission to step forward into the noon
of his own day.
         In his match with Djokovic, I noticed Stan
using 3 or 4 shots  strategy, thinking ahead, using
plays that are chess-like.
 Obviously, he`s learned a lot from Federer, 
and he`s a pretty smart
cookie, himself.

         I spent years playing tennis and also years
doing sitting, using one meditative technique
or another - allowing the river of the mind to
clear itself, without wrenching, without trying:
just allowing the river to clear on its own,
becoming unroiled, unmuddied.
         Not GRASPING after old memories
or loves, but seeing the beauty of each past
event without attempts of possessing...
          Do NOT try to FORCE thoughts from
your mind -  a dark space, empty of movement
is not the goal.
          The goal is a burning window with
nothing inside...a window that allows
quick movements and reflexes... a burning
that consumes all thoughts
           Your running and hitting will
create the burning.
         The twelth century mystic, Meister
Eckhart has an expression: 


           This thought can be applied to tennis. 
The objectiveis to clear the mind of extraneous 
thoughts,without using strong-armed tactics.
            Watch the river flow in the window of your
 mind, allow all thoughts and worries
to pass. You might have a problem
with your mortgage, but thinking about it
when you`re hitting the ball is not going to
help your tennis game.
             Once you`ve been running hard, the
endorphin-filled boiling silence of your focus,
this is all you need.
              You can`t think as you`re hitting
your backhand - unless you`re just a beginner
and you must remember your form -
recent instructions from your teacher.

               This is important - do not think,
do not try for something other than what
you`re doing, and this ESPECIALLY
don`t judge yourself; don`t put yourself down, berate
yourself mentally in your mind.
               Thinking, "That was a bad
backhand - that last shot...." this quickly
becomes, "I have a bad backhand. I can`t
do a backhand.` These are deadly thoughts.
               Think this way and you WILL
have a bad backhand.

                Judging yourself harshly without
forgiveness is often a life problem. And
such negative self-talk not only becomes
depression.  It IS depression
                That and repressed anger
can really mess you up and create tension,
and when you`re tense, you simply can`t
react fast enough at the net.
                                                     Cheers! Enjoy.

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