I want to explore what it means to be positive…in Life, and especially when one is playing sports. The other day at tennis, I was discouraged, because my partner and I were losing 2 games to 5. Then Frank said to, “Think positive.”

His words reminded me of my father, who had been president of the Miami Beach Optimist’s Club. I was raised hearing constantly about the importance of good thoughts, how they really influenced your behavior, your actions and the results. If faith can move mountains, if visualization helps you reach your goals, certainly there might be power in positive thinking.

So Frank and I came back to win 7-5. And the next set, when we were behind 1-4, we “got” positive again and achieved another victory from behind.

I am always hearing how so much of competitive sports is based on confidence, on self-belief, on the player’s attitude. But I always wondered how you get a good attitude and acquire all that confidence? Don’t you have to have the success first, and then again and again, and then that gives you the confidence and good attitude? I asked the same questions about some of my successes in life—I often had the upbeat attitude—and the best answer I worked out was that I was just lucky. I acquired some of that attitude from genetics and the rest from favorable upbringing or life experiences.

When people say “Relax” or “Stay calm” in stressful situations, I am not sure that really works. I urge people to take deep breaths—that actually does seem to make a difference. But when someone is feeling negative, when life is going badly, it’s pretty hard to shift your gears, face a different figurative direction and start out with the imaginary sun in your face and a bounce to your step. In fact, it sounds preposterous.

Yet when Frank merely uttered those words, “Think positive,” I did decide not to presume we would lose right away. Maybe we could win one more game, make those guys work a bit harder for victory, force them to earn every point. Can’t you hear the Rocky Balboa music in the background as you read these words? So sweet.

And then we won. And we came from behind in the next set as well.

When you’re in the zone, it’s like magic. Peak performance has been written about in many books, with references to football catches being mystical (“I seemed to know where the ball was going to be before he threw it.“), and basketballs swishing through baskets when tossed almost with eyes closed.

Other times, like today’s tennis contest, are just bad hair days. (We lost 1-6, 1-6.) Can’t do anything right, and you feel awful, and your team keeps messing up, and you just know you are headed for defeat. We both said “Be positive,” but no glorious comeback occurred. Those good words of encouragement, visions of victory and the cheers promising “You can do it,” all seem empty or meaningless. You sure didn’t win in the end, so what difference did the upbeat thought make?

But there is something to it. I just know there is. What do you think?

September 24th…I am adding an update three days later. So after performing so badly this week and losing so horribly, I remembered Richard Hecklers article(https://www.irasabs.com/?p=1653) about practicing 3000 times, not just 300. Ignoring the aching in my injured arm and shoulder, I hit the tennis court with 100 balls and a ball machine and worked at strokes and volleys until I was wiped. Today my team won 6-1, 6-0, and I was vastly improved. Granted, I have a different partner and opponents, but I was hitting the balls harder, in the court, the volleys were terrific. I certainly believed I could improve, and I worked at it. Naturally success doesn’t happen by itself just by believing. But it helps (so does practice), and that is another discussion that is coming up soon.