By Dr. Joe
Parent and Bill Scanlon
Reviewed by Rich Neher
Bill Scanlon almost needs no introduction. He is
a former professional U.S. tennis player who won seven singles
and two doubles titles during his 13 year professional career.
The right-hander reached his career-high ATP singles ranking
of World No. 9 in January 1984. He is known for upsetting top-seeded
John McEnroe (76, 76, 46, 63) in the
fourth round at the 1983 US Open and log wins over eight players
who had been or would be ranked #1 in the world, including Stan
Smith, Ilie Nastase (twice), Björn Borg, John McEnroe (three
times), Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Boris Becker, and Andre Agassi.
Bill is also known for achieving
a golden set against Marcos Hocevar of Brazil in the first round
of the WCT Gold Coast Classic at Delray Beach, Florida on February
22, 1983. Scanlon won the match, 62, 60. A golden
set is when a player wins the set without losing a single point.
The feat is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Bill has been a professional
investment advisor since 1992. He is founder and principal of
Advantage Capital Advisors LLC, a registered investment advisor
in Los Angeles, California. He was formerly the senior partner
of The Scanlon Group, a top wealth management team at UBS Financial
in Los Angeles.
He also authored the book Bad
News for McEnroe: Blood, Sweat, and Backhands with John, Jimmy,
Ilie, Ivan, Bjorn, and Vitas as a tribute to the era
during which he participated on the ATP International Tour. The
book focuses on the high-profile personalities of the sport during
that era, their rivalries, their celebrity, and the growth of
the sport's popularity.
Dr. Joseph Parent is a highly regarded expert in Performance
Psychology for sports, business, and the arts, as a consultant
and executive coach. He is the best-selling author of ZEN
GOLF: Mastering the Mental Game, as well as several other
Dr. Parent offers corporate keynotes,
executive coaching, and mental game lessons at the Ojai Valley
Inn and Spa Resort in Ojai, California, and is available for
coaching by voice or video calls anywhere in the world.
ZEN TENNIS is a book tennis players who appreciate
the importance of understanding the mental game will love. I
was having a hard time putting it down once I realized how the
content can help my own game. And a lot of help it needs!
The main chapters (and some of
I - The Zone (Playing in the Zone, the mental game
of champions, playing perfect and fearless tennis)
II - The Mind (Mental fitness, be present to win, nothing
to fear but fear itself, not too tight, not too loose, trust
III - The Match (pre-match routine, breathing, butterflies,
not afraid to make a mistake, body language, staying power, distractions,
handling pressure, post-point routine)
IV - The Path of Improvement (Training the mind, mindful awareness,
practice being positive, making changes, practice big points)
V - The Game of Life (Accept who you are, let go of the past,
never give up)
The character of ZEN TENNIS
is shaped by the way it tells the story. On the one hand it's
Joe Parent's structured way of describing what's goping on in
a player's mind and on the court in scientific terms. On the
other hand there is Bill Scanlon with stories from his matches
and examples of what those mental aspects of the game really
mean when it comes to being on the court and facing a determined
Starting many paragraphs with
ZEN Proverbs and short stories from The Art of War
and from The Secret Path of The Warrior is both entertaining
Some of the insights I gained
from this book are extraordinary. Here are a few examples.
- Dr. Parent describes the
most important attitude of playing in the Zone
The outcome of a game, set, or match need not determine how you
feel about yourself as a person. The perspective of richness
is not all that common. Most people feel they need to constantly
prove and improve themselves. We think that the only cure for
our feelings of inadequacy is to "gold-plate" ourselves
into something better. We think we need to be something different
than we are in order to become what we want to be.
When you transform your "poverty mentality" into a
"richness mentality," having a bad day won't undermine
your trust in your abilities. The perspective of basic goodness
allows you to create the ground for discovering unconditional
- About fearlessness
When you're playing in the Zone, when you are expressing your
unconditional confidence, there is a quality of fearlessness.
If you start to worry about making a mistake or fear that you
won't be able to keep playing well, you'll lose connection with
We usually think of hope and fear as opposites. However, if we
look carefully, we can see that they are two sides of the same
coin. Fear is the expression of not wanting pain after poor results;
hope is the expression of wanting happiness from good results.
However much you have of one, in its shadow there will be some
amount of the other.
- About the importance of the
instinctive mind as opposed to the thinking mind
Bill: Many times one aspect of your mind is functioning at a
very high level and another isn't. However, during the times
when I played in the Zone, all the aspects of my mind were operating
at their peak, at the right time and in the right place. The
key was turning my performance over to my instinctive mind. When
you play competitive tennis, being completely in sync rather
than struggling with self-consciousness can translate into huge
differences in results.
Great read for tennis players
who want to know more about their game, why they win or lose,
how to get in the Zone, and how to stay in there.