Saturday, June 6, 2015


        I've been marvelling about the tremendous
upswing in tennis popularity.  Years ago,
it was nothing like this. A few hundred
people might watch a significant match,
in a smaller city or town - like the Northern
Ontario open.
        Now ten thousand people and more watch in each of many impressive stadiums throughout the world,
and millions more watch on T.V. The change
is nothing short of astounding.
         Why is this?

         I've come to the conclusion that it's because tennis has many of the same characteristics as boxing. Tennis is a one
on one struggle staged in a court that is
just large enough to test contestants'
endurance to the extreme.
            One person fights like mad to control breathing so as to maintain co-ordination against another
person, and fires off shots into the opponent's
court, making him/her run as far and as fast as he is able. Blows are exchanged with the
placement of shots through the intermediary of the ball.

                Another similarity exists. If you
want to win at boxing, the common wisdom is that you have to wear your opponent down with body blows early in the fight. The body
blows will cause exhaustion in the other guy,
and this exhaustion will show up in the later
        The same principle exists in tennis,
and it is too often forgotten by even championship contestants. Make your
opponent run - even if you lose the point,
be sure to make your opponent run from one
end of the court to the other. Up and down, back and forth. Keep doing it,
especially if your opponent's conditioning
is in question.
              Andy Murray could have beaten
Djokovic, if he'd moved him around more in the heat in Paris.  It was 91F degrees on the
court yesterday. It was obvious that Djokovic
was breathing hard. And he has well known
problems breathing in the heat.
             The tendency is to hit right back to the person across the net from you. This tendency has to be overcome. If you can make your opponent run constantly, especially in conditions such as the red clay in Paris,
you have a better chance of winning the match.

               This is stating the obvious, I know.
But all too often we don't see the obvious.

        Making your opponent run in tennis
equates to body blows in boxing. Both tactics
create exhaustion in the person you are trying
to beat.
              The one on one aspect of each sport, and the fact that desperate struggle is involved in both cases - these
are what makes the two sports similar.
            This, including the natural  elegance of the game, might explain the fantastic
popularity of tennis in recent years.

                           (C)2015 by W.G. Milne
                                and John Rock Corporation

Friday, January 16, 2015


As soon as you hear Kvitova screech like a bird of prey,
you know she's getting hot. She's a somewhat shy person,
but once she gets hot, she's not shy at all.
         Pliskova  served more aces last year,
more than anyone except Serena Williams. She
has a very keen eye, let me tell you. Every time
she challenged a ball in Sydney, she was

       Kvitova is one of the best, maybe THE best
player in Woman's tennis these days, so it's shocking
to see her unseeded countrywoman
in the process of almost beating her.This is the woman's
FINAL at Sydney. And for a while there,
Pliskova was thrashing Kivitova ( who whipped our
beloved young lady Bouchard - like an egg-sucking
dog in Montreal last year.)
       To thrash Kvitova for three of four games is
remarkable. I'm quite sure both of these strong keen-
eyed women are over six feet. And both these ladies
have considerable arm strength
        The two are so competitive, no one backed down -
they both wore the same colour tennis outfit to the
finals..... Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this
like two women wearing the same dress to a party,
knowing the embarrassing situation that
will occur, but refusing to back down - wearing
the same dress anyway. COMPETITIVE behaviour!
This is a good thing.
       As the announcer said, "Stop thinking. Get a
clear purpose. And execute."
        Things move so fast, there is no time for
thought.  The same principle applies in the
martial arts.

            Considerable strength of determined
concentration is required to win. People get
nervous and start to screw up when they're
just about to be  champion.
        If you know in your own head that
being champ is situation normal for you,
if you can picture yourself as  winner...
if you practice seeing yourself winning again
and again and again - seeing yourself
in that light.  This makes that final step
a lot easier.

Monday, November 10, 2014


                  It is necessary to find balance. Before
you play the game. It is necessary to overcome all kinds of fears and anxieties. Anticipatory anxiety is the special monstrosity which one must confront and conquer. 
The way to beat it is to be in the now, but this is
easier said than done.
             When you're facing a crowd of many
thousand people and a dangerous opponent,
fear does creep in. The best way to beat
anticipatory anxiety is to begin the activity that
worries you.
           In tennis, of course, preparation is necessary.
A player must bend his knees and get into the flow
of the warm-up. If you're playing at the top level,
 massage, short sauna and yoga
stretching. But nothing is more important
than a balanced mind.
          In London this week, Murray was at the top of his
game only briefly, when playing Nishikori . It took Raonic
a set to get into play in a balanced fashion against Federer. Naturally, Federer had a great start, as usual. And Fed's hitting partner, Wawrinka, went at Berdych like gangbusters
from the very onset of the match.
          It's a difficult business, achieving early balance.
But it's absolutely necessary at top level play.
Some form of pre-match meditation is essential.
There are techniques that can be employed.
If time is not a problem,  "river-sitting" method,
as I describe it, is the best way to go, for modern
people living in busy cities.
         I have written essays on this method of meditation
in other places. I will put a package together, but this will take time. 
         Two  phrases that apply to "river-sitting" are:
'not-trying' and 'no goal'. Let the river flow within
you without clinging to the images, the desires,
the sorrows that pass.
         Do not attempt to "quiet the mind" or enter into
'no-thought'. A state of  emptiness will come
eventually, but do not reach for the freedom
that emptiness implies.
         More important it is... to let the river of
mind  flow within your consciousness
without attachment to what drifts by.
         Do not attempt to reach inner silence
or quietude. There is no need for grasping.
No need to try to achieve what is already
your innermost nature, what is already
your birthright.
         Patience is required and faith in a relaxed,
determined focus. 
         Let the objects in the river be, let the
images and experiences pass by. It is useless
to try to silence the mind or place yourself in
some kind of rigid expectation.

Monday, August 25, 2014


      What Stosur should have done against Kvitova
at the New Haven semi-final match I watched
was this: when serving Stosur  should have
jammed Kvitova.  Stosur ought to have made body serves then run to the net. This would have been the only way she could have thrown Kvitiva
off balance.

      It's good to see that Kvitova has grown up,
no longer has tendencies of self-defeating thinking
and hysteria.  She's calm.  She's balanced. Her
shots are superb - hard well aimed strokes
on both wings. She's going to be hard to beat.
       She beat Canada's Bouchard quite easily in
a match this summer, and Bouchard is no pushover.
        Bouchard also got badly beaten by a challenger on Bouchard's home Court in Montreal. A home court,however, is not always an advantage.
You can get a terrible case of nerves on your own
home court with family and friends and everyone you know watching closely and expecting you to win.
       I very much enjoyed watching Radwanksa
win the Roger's Cup in Canada, beating
Venus Williams in the final, but also beating
many excellent players on the way to the finals,
including Azarenka.                .
          She is so frustrating
to play against that she can reduce an excellent
player who is used to winning, Radwanska can
reduce her to tears.
           Radwanska gets everything back, uses
a high lob to buy herself time, then surprises
her opponent at the net with an excellent
down the line shot. Drop shots, every spin known
to man, every shot in the book she uses.
            It's a delight to watch someone play with
patience and finesse...And terrific balance.
            Balance is not often mentioned.
Usually we mention, "footwork."  You need good
footwork to maintain excellent balance.
You need excellent balance to be able
to have good footwork.
           Think of tennis as being like a dance,
and you get the idea.
            Dancing under the sun... and viscious
competition. That's tennis!

Saturday, July 5, 2014




       The first point to make, the first discussion we
have with regard to "how to play tennis" is
about focus, a fluid focus.... a kind of
meditation in action - HOW TO STAY IN THE NOW.
      We've just begun to discuss all the different
impediments, all the different distractions
that can enter your mind and screw up your
reaction time.
       There are many types of distraction,
several kinds of impediment that can mess
with your fluid focus... which is most fluid
only when it is a state of mind that is empty
of content - keep your eye on the ball,
that is the game, this is the test
of mental acuity - can you do it or not.

       What delights me about writing about tennis
is that what I have to teach is EXACTLY
what I must teach in THE SCHOOL FOR MYSTICS *
how to empty the mind of content, how to focus
in such a way as become one with the earth,
one with the Universe, one with your own nature and
spirit, soul.
        Yoga means "Union"... and the aim is to be so
in the present that a kind of annihilation takes place within you - in fact, the less of you there is, the more
the universe, Spirit, or God there is within.

        Regarding tennis, the state of union is between
you and the ball, as the beautiful airy world which
is the court and its lines, as these provide
the parameters of the dance.

* School For Mystics - TM and Copyright - (C)2014  by W.G.Milne)

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... if he is 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.        

            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'. 

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