Centered on winning

Q I have heard about centering and how it helps with concentration. What is it and what can it do for my shooting?
Edward Berry, Stratton-on-the-Fosse

A Centering is a way of focusing the mind and body to be ready to work at the appropriate moment. It clears the mind of all thoughts, therefore allowing the shot movement to be automatic – a subconscious reaction.

One example of this is on the tennis court. You may have seen in last month’s Wimbledon tournament, one of the top female players always walks away from the service line and takes a breath before she turns back and stands ready to serve or to receive the ball from her opponent. She has trained herself so that this action will put her mind and body in ready mode to see and hit the ball. This is called centering, and there are many different ways of doing it.

The one I have used very successfully over the years is a similar breathing technique.

I think about my breath inhaling and exhaling. I complete this action as the person before me is shooting, and that tells my mind and body that it is now my turn to shoot, and to be ready and focused. I combine my breathing with a shoulder shrug, to allow me to feel how tight my shoulder muscles are and to then relax them so the muscles are ready to move onto the target.

Centering breathing needs to be practised like any other routine. The more you practise the breathing, the more instantaneous your focus will become, getting to the point where you do not actually have to breathe, only think breathe, and in less that a nanosecond your mind is ready for the few seconds that it takes to have your shot. Lesley Goddard

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