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Fri, Dec. 13

Column: How does your brain work best … when playing tennis?
'My Point'

It seems about 70 percent of the tennis player you become is a result of your learning of playing skills, the basic stroke-fundamentals added to sound strategy for singles and doubles.

Beyond that, it might be a good idea to research what is being developed today, which from what I discovered, is a thing called “brain typing.”

It’s doing your best to find out how your brain is wired, which gives a better chance for optimizing success not only on the court, but in life itself.

One test out there is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is a questionnaire showing preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions.

Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers (mother/daughter) theorized there are four principal psychological functions by which humans experience the world - sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking, and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time.

These preferences show and indicate our interests, needs values and motivation.

Supposedly, each person’s special design offers insight and strategies for optimizing personal success, both mental and physical.

Sports scientist Jonathan Niednagel believed that tennis success is 90 percent due to mental skills and that this figure is rising.

“Of course, you have to build a game and develop the technique and mechanics of tennis,” he said. “But I know people with poor mechanics and technique who beat better players all the time because they know exactly how their minds work in different situations. If athletes just spent five minutes a day on the right mental techniques, within a month they would be much stronger mentally and within a year they’d have gained significant control over their minds.”

How many of us do that?

Vic Braden, who died 3 years ago, believed firmly in brain typing. He worked with Dr. Niednagel and stated, “Understanding the way our brains are wired allows us to maximize our strengths, neutralize our weaknesses, and can be used to guide any aspect of our life, including nailing match point in the final set.”

So what are you? Read the following and see if you can come to terms with your dominate personality traits.

Introvert vs. Extrovert: Introverts are more comfortable laying back than retaliating. They need alone time to recharge and prefer to be inside their inner world. Extroverts prefer to initiate action. They gain their energy by bringing people together.

Sensate vs. Intuitive: Sensate individuals prefer to collect data and facts before making decisions. Intuitive persons trust their gut instincts and are better quick decision-makers.

Thinkers vs. Feelers: Thinkers make decisions through objective logic and impersonalize the situation. They enjoy the technical components and choose truthful over tactful. Feelers are in tune to the emotional climate of the event and others’ actions; harmony is paramount.

Judgers vs. Perceivers: Judgers prefer structure and like things orderly; they make lists and prefer to work before play. Perceivers are adaptable and flexible; they enjoy experiencing new ideas and methods, rather than agonizing over details.

As a coach, if you disregard your student’s unique brain and body design, you produce average athletes and gifted athletes have a tendency to leave the game it’s been noted.

Knowing your own makeup and natural strengths and weaknesses helps to avoid the needless frustrations in development and will better prepare you to reach maximum potential.

I wonder if being an Aries will help or hurt my game?

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

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