The ADHD – Tennis Matrix

A guest blog by our friend, inventor Malcolm Black. How cool is it having a friend who is an inventor?!

By Malcolm Black

When I was about 45 I took up tennis. More or less by accident. We had bought a timeshare at a place in Florida for the winter.

To keep busy while we were there, I took a one-hour tennis lesson every morning—it was a workout AND entertainment AND added knowledge. Multi-tasking!

When we came back home that summer it never occurred to me to keep playing tennis. In my mind it was a winter thing.

The following winter when I got back on the court, I had to virtually start over with the lessons. So it seemed like better economics if I actually took it up year round and kept playing back home each summer.

I did, and today, I love the game – really the only “game” I play.

Now I had 3 weeks of daily lessons for about 7 or 8 years until we sold the timeshare. That’s probably more lessons than most amateurs ever have.

I was taught how to play the game and actually make good shots.

Now, during the winter I play with chums from the house league twice a week, 2 hours a time.

The catch is that, until now, I have never made it past house league level of play. Which was fine. It’s lots of fun and a great workout. But I’m a guy, I’m competitive.

Earlier this winter, I thought I would experiment with taking my ADHD meds just before tennis to see if it would improve my focus. Specifically focussing on the ball; which I realized was putting the ceiling on my progress.

Well, it worked – the game felt different and my results were different – even my chums noticed. Once I told them what I was doing they figured I should be bringing enough medication for all of them too!

My response was that I was just seeing what they normally see!

Usually I only take medication on weekday mornings to get my day headed in the right direction. So this was outside of my routine. That, plus having ADHD, meant that I would often forget the meds until I was at the court – too late!

But when I did remember to take them early enough, I began to focus more on focusing on the ball and it would make a difference. At least on a hit or miss (if you will excuse the phrase) basis.

Still I could see the improvement. It was the right direction.

Finally, a month ago I redesigned my play to deliberately hyper-focus on the ball right from the moment the server was bouncing it in preparation… right to the end of the point – even if he was serving to my partner.

So now I’m following the ball like an old cartoon, those ones with the heads swivelling back and forth, but… it is working! Big time!

I can now see the ball coming in time to make the shots I had mastered years ago, but had never been able to use. My reaction time is finally as good as my swing.

The result? My game has transformed over the past few weeks.

Last week, I saw what I was doing from a whole new perspective.

This is ADHD training in focusing-on-demand – exactly the issue that gets in the way in so many areas of life. I wanted a specific improvement in one area, and worked on it. But it’s applicable to anything I want to master.

This isn’t just about focussing during tennis, it’s about having a successful, functional life!

I am enjoying a whole new level of well-being… thanks to my tennis!

Malcolm Black, Inventor

ADHD Community

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  1. Avatar
    anniea February 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    How Cool is that to make that connection…Congrats, and I am going to ponder this for my “bag of tricks”

  2. Avatar
    goodwill February 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I find this fascinating. I started playing a very little bit of informal tennis with some buddies a couple of years ago, after playing hardly any since high school. After taking some neurotransmitter supplements suggested by a psychiatrist,I did not notice much effect day, I noticed that my tennis playing seemed to improve..My shots were more “measured”..i.e my response to the incoming ball was a bit slower, more conscious, smoother and calmer. It was almost like my time perception changed slightly.

  3. Avatar
    Rick February 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    What’s cool is being able to use your Hyper-focus to your advantage. The trick, I’m learning, is to figure out when I can naturally do that. And there’s something about what Malcolm did in deciding to use it to his advantage, to consciously tell his unconscious what he wanted to do.

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