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Why Osaka is Only Feeling Relief When She Wins

 

 

 

Naomi Osaka reports that she is only feeling relief when she wins matches recently.

I took a few minutes to explain why this occurs...

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The Curious Case of Ash Barty's Recent Grand Slam Record

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As a massive Ash Barty fan watching her lose from 5-2 serving in the 3rd set was hard to watch. And it got me reflecting on Ash's Grand Slam record during the last couple of years which is both amazing and curious.

 

On one hand she and Osaka have been the best Slam performers in women's tennis which is simply incredible considering that at one point Ash had walked away from the game with no particular intention to return. But on the other, Ash seems to have left several potential Slam victories on the table due to losing matches that she was in full control of.

 

The 2020 Aussie open semi-final loss to Kenin in which she had a couple of set points in the first set comes to mind. This year's Aussie open quarter final where she was dominating Muchova a set and a break. And yesterday's loss to when leading 5-2 serving in the third against Rogers.

 

And even in the 2 Grand Slams she's won, Ash had to make amazing recoveries from getting tight and...

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Q + A: The Most Common Coach/Parent Communication Mistake

 

Recently during a Workshop with Vida Tennis, coach Kane Dewhurst asked me a question that led to me discussing what I believe is the most common and detrimental coach/parent communication in all of tennis...

Watch the video to see my answer :-)

Have a great day,

Anthony

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3 Simple But Powerful Ways Players Can Develop Mental Toughness...

 

 

1.) Practice Improving Attention Skills…

The 1stbarrier to mental toughness is when our concentration lapses.

Players can lose concentration during matches when they get distracted by external causes (e.g., sounds), or also when their naturally wandering minds start thinking about things not to do with the match.

It’s quite amazing that although being able to aim and maintain attention on a helpful performance target is such a foundational requirement to successful performance…

And although we are regularly told to “Pay attention” during our developmental years, we rarely actually formally practice it.

This is a little like expecting someone to get fit without doing fitness training!

Here is a super simple way that players can develop attention skills during the daily activity of teeth cleaning:

Step 1.) The idea is to see how long we can aim and maintain our attention on a sensory aspect of the activity…

So the sound of the...

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Ash Barty and the Independent Athlete Myth...

 

 

Watching Ash Barty's journey to becoming Wimbledon champion was an amazing example of the crucial nature of having the incredible support and guidance from a fantastic team and family.

The trend of the very best players in the world building bigger, more long term, support teams contradicts the theme in player development involving the goal of creating independent players.

Unfortunately, the goal of player independence and complete responsibility underestimates the importance of the support teams' relationship with developing players, and is sometimes designed to absolve those not suitably skilled to build effective relationships from responsibility in player development.

And brain research has shown that it’s not possible to create an independent player anyway....

Since most players are not in a position to have a support team, let's focus here on the coach-player relationship.

So how can we balance players’ best interests by simultaneously encouraging...

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One Crucial Lesson From Federer's Wimbledon Loss...

 

 

Almost universally, coaches and parents report to me their advice to players regarding competing effectively includes the aim to control uninvited match related thoughts and feelings like nerves, frustration, and helplessness. For example, statements like: "Believe in yourself", "Stay calm", "Don't worry about the outcome", "Accept errors", Don't get frustrated at the wind", etc, etc.

While this is well-intentioned and sensible on the surface, a crucial question to reflect on in trying to help players improve is this:

How well does it work?

For example, when Roger Federer went down a break in the third set against Hurkacz, do you think his dominant thoughts and feelings were more reflective of self-belief or helplessness.

He let us know in the press conference that he was feeling helpless: "Well, in the last few games I could feel that I wasn't going to come back".

And I strongly suspect that based on the situation he was in, and the point he is currently at in...

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Krejcikova and Djokovic's Negative French Open Thinking

 

 
One thing I discuss a lot with coaches, parents, and players is the importance of normalising the difficult mental experiences that are part of competing.
 
In almost all cases we fail to adequately empathise with just how challenging a sport tennis is mentality, and understand how hard it is to reduce or avoid the unhelpful thoughts and feelings that show up throughout matches.
 
It was absolutely fantastic therefore to see both French Open singles champions describe their lack of self-belief...their conflicted motivations...their 'negative thoughts'...their outcome thoughts, so well throughout the tournament.
 
It is a great lesson for all of us to realise that the reality of competing is frequent difficult thoughts and feelings.
 
And it is in fact not the player who has some special power to experience less uninvited 'negative thoughts and feelings' that is the mentally toughest.
 
Rather it is the player who is most accepting of these...
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Why Novak is the Greatest...

 

What a privilege its been to watch one of the all time great mental performances from Novak Djokovic to win Roland Garros for the 2nd time.

Coming from 2 sets down when really struggling with the pressure of playing young gun Musetti in the quarter finals...

Then coming up huge when down set point in the 3rd, and a break in the 4th against Rafa to become the first player to ever beat Rafa after losing the 1st set at the French Open.

And finally again coming from 2 sets down against Tsitsipas who was playing at an insane level to win the final.

Moving forward, there's one underestimated reason that, barring injury, Novak Djokovic will end up winning several more Grand Slams than either Roger or Rafa.

And that is that he has taken the dedication to off-court mental fitness training to a level never seen before in the sport.

Love him or loathe him, he will earn his place as the greatest male player ever in part because he has worked harder than any other player in developing mental...

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How Much Control Do Players Really Have Over How Much Pressure They Feel?

 

 

Often when coaches and parents explain to me the challenges that a particular player faces regarding mental toughness they say something like: "He/she puts too much pressure on him/herself".

But how much control do players really have over how much pressure they feel?

In my opinion, usually a lot less in the reality of competition than ideally we would hope that they have.

This is because the pressure a player feels is largely based on the situation they are facing.

Just look at Novak Djokovic's experience of pressure during the US Open.

For example, players tend to feel more pressure as they commit more of their lives to becoming the best player they can be...

And players naturally feel a lot of pressure before playing an opponent who they expect to beat, but who they fear it is possible they could lose to...

And this pressure can be magnified if the player is younger than them, or if they are very close socially to their opponent...

And players feel more pressure...

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How Tennis Helped Save My Life...

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About 6 years ago my wife Cathy and I were out for our regular run.

After running at the same pace for a little while, being an avid and healthy runner at the time training for marathons, I would usually go off ahead and see if I could catch her on our return to our starting point. 

But this day was different….As we ran I realized I was struggling to keep up with her. 

We thought this was pretty funny at the time but over the next few days I felt increasingly weak, and on Friday the 13th of November, 2015, my life changed for the worse in a way that I could never have imagined.

I woke up to find that I couldn’t walk across the room…

Long story short and over the next 3 years I found myself in a brutal battle that is simply impossible to comprehend for those that haven’t experienced something similar.

Stanford researchers who have studied about 60 patients with similar symptoms to me have hypothesized that the illness is what they...

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