Gestalt is a psychotherapeutic theory developed in the 1950s by Drs. Fritz and Laura Perls, and is nowadays highly respected in the field of Psychology. With its holistic approach regarding the individual as a whole of body, mind and emotions experiencing reality in a unique way, the central pillar of Gestalt is the self-awareness of what is happening from one moment to the next, in the 'here and now', starting with the exploration and acknowledgement of physical sensations.
The word 'Gestalt' is German and its closest translation in English is 'shape' or 'form', intended as a shape whose meaning is bigger than the sum of its parts and is unique to the person experiencing it. For example, when we look at a face we clearly see something more than the sum of individual features like eyes, nose and mouth. Gestalt theory suggests that we tend to experience our life events as such, as a whole rather than just a collection of individual parts; and that we experience reality as a whole of body, mind and emotions, tending to group elements together to form meaningful patterns and shapes, helping us make sense of the world around us.
Gestalt is a highly positive and practical integrative approach and is considered the most creative and sensorial form of therapy, using experiential exercises to increase awareness and help find a new perspective, see the bigger picture and start to effect changes. Apart from experimenting with movements, materials, sounds or anything that can stimulate awareness, a classic Gestalt exercise is the ‘empty chair’, a role-playing dynamic that invites the person to imagine and participate in a conversation with a part of themselves. This can be very helpful in drawing out important perceptions, meanings, and other information that can help become more aware of emotional experience.
I strongly beleive that Gestalt can provide great help for the interpretation and improvement of tennis, where we play as a whole of body, mind and emotions and where the management of the 'here and now' stimulated and represented by the ball is fundamental to control the game situation, however basic or advanced it might be.