Bud Muehleisen won a record 69 national and world championship titles. I once went in his attic and found stacks of trophy plates removed (the cups donated to kids' charities), and a thick scrapbook that opened with a clipping, 'Birdy Basher Bud Muehleisen wins Navy championship'.

However, what caught my attention was a certificate for #1 standing in his university dentistry clinic. I asked, how, and what's the relationship to sport?
Dr. Bud gazed down through spectacles and said, 'Players can learn a lot about their games, and lives, by examining personal intensity on the set-up and swing.
'The most important place for a personal rheostat is on the swing. Strokes aren't knee-jerk reactions that turn on or off. Slide the action along an intensity from low to high. Try two things: Increase swing force just 10% on a few shots, and see what happens. Then, lower swing force by 10%, and think about it. The adjustment one way or the other should prove beneficial.'

You may tinker with stroke intensity on the whole, or by dissecting the many variables: A change in overall body tension, a sharpening mental focus, altering the body coil or wrist snap, step into the ball, and so forth. Work on the variables one-at-a-time.

 Yet, the normal method in a tournament match is to adjust the stroke rheostat remotely by psyching up or down a tad (start with a 10% change). The body will follow suit with a resultant smoothing out of swing. This corrects the three most hideous errors in crucial rallies- over-hitting, under-hitting or fainting away.
It accordingly zeros in on three court personalities: the Good, Bad and Ugly:

The Good jovial lazy bones slaloms between hits for fear of stepping on his opponent's toes and upsetting karma. There have been Good champions in all sports from Mike Ray in racquetball to boxing's great Joe Lewis.

The Bad player is so wound up by the coin toss that he doesn't wind down until match point. He operates at such high intensity the match becomes an attrition of energies. Sudsy Monchik's patented strategy to 'turn up the heat' from first serve increasing to last, won an unprecedented 50 pro tournaments.

The Ugly, like big-time wrestlers, employ ostensibly whacko rheostats to turn each sporting moment to unpredictability. People do not want to be near you when you act crazy.
If you're not already a champ, how can Muehleisen's Rheostat carry these racquet personalities to greater success? What are the defenses?

The Good should take an intensity supplement on shot setups, that trickles to other areas of the court. It yields instant results for languid players who shift just one higher gear on setup, swing, mental attitude, and court scramble. Curiously, it produces a style displayed by legendary Cliff Swain gliding about the court until planting for the swing, and he lightly jerks to focus.

The Bad should maintain his excellent high intensity throughout the match, except regulate it down (10%) on the swing to avoid over-hitting. Slowing the swing a tad relaxes the body a lot.

The Ugly is a tough crack, but I'll clue you that champs like Hulk Hogan and Charlie Brumfield own fine control over their irregular rheostats to orchestrate show to victory. You may enhance personal nuttiness by playing for bets, against gorillas, or simulations of tournament pressure.

The defenses against each of the three are reversing their rheostats. Turn on the heat with drive serves, harder shots, and body contact against the dopey Good player to shake his strategies. Turn down the intensity against the Bad competitor who hates a slow game of lob serves, ceiling shots and timeouts. Finally, ignore the antics of the Ugly who, given a driving, extended three-game match, melts in the back corner like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Dr. Bud's Rheostat worked for me.


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