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Book Review
ZEN TENNIS
By Dr. Joe Parent and Bill Scanlon
available on Amazon

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 (7–6, 7–6, 4–6, 6–3) 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, 6–2, 6–0.[2] 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 books.

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 their content):

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 your instincts)

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 adversary.

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 and enlightening.

 

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 confidence.

  • 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 the Zone.

    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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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