Athletes And Anxiety / The Life Of A Low Level Tennis Professional Living The Dream Part 2

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The dangers of negative and stressful imagery can leave you feeling awful. There is the opposite to that which comes in the form of positive imagery. As I’ve learned, visualization powers your ability to rediscover your inner resources and refuel your outer expressions when stress is on the rise. The most powerful way I found to do my visualization sessions was through help from others as guided visualization, just like the process I was about to do on the beach through my headphones. This way you are directed by an experienced professional on what images to bring to mind and how your breathing should be in order to bring about perfect balance in mind and body.

Anxiety sufferers have a difficult time doing any kind of meditation, and visualization sessions strictly on their own because the sensitized nerves that we have are always on high alert, so it’s important at least in the first month to use GUIDED visualization. The idea here is to take full control over your mind rather than let it control you, and in my past experiences with visualization I’ve learned that the effects it had the next day on how I played my tennis match was incredible. During my pre anxiety disorder days, I had used mental imagery but completely gave up the habit during the six years of anxiety struggles I had. It stopped the negative voices in my head for just a few minutes each night so I could find space to direct my mind wherever I wanted to go and to concentrate on specific thoughts and images such as in my case hitting perfect forehands, backhands, and coming out as a winner after my match the following day. With consistent visualization you learn to be gentle with yourself and compassionate, to understand and accept the uniqueness of you in this world and to recognize that the only pressure you feel is the pressure you put on yourself. When that pressure is gone, your true nature will reveal itself in time. After a great visualization session, I was able to get the rest I needed in order to play my match.

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Sleeping on the beach during tennis tournaments can be kind of rough.

Wake up,” someone said. “WAKE UP!” We were woken up by beach patrol and they weren’t too happy with us, I tried to explain our situation but they didn’t want to hear any of it; in fact, they told us that if they found us sleeping on the beach again that we would be in big trouble. I didn’t want to find out what kind of trouble so we gathered up our stuff, threw everything in the van and decided to handle the sleeping situation later on.

We decided that the food we packed wouldn’t give us the fuel we needed to carry us through our matches and the rest of the day, so as we were driving down the street we ran into a beautiful sight, a couple of golden arches staring right at us. Nothing beats a McDonald’s breakfast, right? It’s amazing how grateful a person can be when you are on such a limited budget as we were. My $4 pancake and sausage breakfast was a well-deserved feast it seemed.

We finished up our breakfast and headed over to the site to check in our names before our matches. I was drawn up against a big hitting collegiate player. When you run into a division 1 tennis player that plays university tennis you better be ready for a battle, through the extremely competitive schedule that these guys are put through they come out with the most determined mindsets and will compete until the last point. But I didn’t mind, at this level there are no easy matches and you have to earn each victory no matter who you play.

I felt well prepared before the match, and couldn’t tell if I should be worried that this guy was a well-oiled athletic machine or happy cause he was going to tire himself out from doing more than 20 sprints before starting the match, with his eyes firmly glued on me in between every sprint. The match go underway.

IMG_5132We split the first two sets and were headed into the third set. Because of many line call disputes, we got a referee to sit and watch our final set so there wouldn’t be any bad line calls on crucial points. I was extremely frustrated at the way I was serving throughout the match, and I knew that if I had just served a little better this match would have been over and in my favour an hour ago. As the score reached 3 games to 1 for him, I reached my boiling point. After a missed serve by me and a return by my opponent,I swung at the incoming ball with what felt like was one of my hardest forehands I’ve ever hit. It was cleanly struck and it was headed straight to where the chair umpire was sitting. To this day I still remember how that ball whizzed two inches away from the face of the referee, and if it had hit him I knew I might have been in deep deep trouble. The following words came out of the referee’s mouth: “Disqualification Mr Simsek for ball abuse.” I was kicked out of the match. I didn’t really know what to say. I knew I had a moment of weakness and my anger got the best of me for the first time in a long time.

As I walked off the court shaking from what I had just done, I made myself a promise to never let my anger take over my reactions to something. What if that poor guy got hit? That would have haunted me forever. You live you learn… on to the next battle.

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