When Lorenzo Musetti was down 2 match points and fighting for survival during his first round match against Dusan Lajovic in Hamburg, having been ill and not certain that he would even be able to finish the match, I wonder if he imagined the possibility of what might lay ahead.
My guess is probably not…
But 6 days later, he was still standing holding his 1st career title after taking down Carlos Alcaraz in a pulsating final.
His incredible run is a strong reminder of an often overlooked keys to tennis success….
This key is that because of the one on one match play structure of tennis, how players compete on their worst days is often more important that what they do on their best.
So, in golf for example (unless in a match play tournament), players’ performance over 4 rounds in averaged out to decide the placings. This means that golfers can often survive a round where their score is beaten by many players in the field, and still do very well in the...
What an incredible effort by Ash Barty :-)
Whenever we hear Ash talk about her tennis, one thing that is clear is the incredible relationship she has with her support team.
As she talked about her victory post-match, her pride in the fact that her complete support team has remained the same since her comeback to tennis in 2018 after taking 18 months away from the game was obvious. This is incredibly rare in tennis, and almost unheard of in the womens' game.
This, above all, says a lot about Ash's loyalty, and tennis families and players can learn from it.
Listen here to her dad Rob talking to me about the pressure from outside the team for Ash to sack her coach Craig Tyzzer in 2018 when her comeback wasn't meeting some peoples' expectations...
And how Ash responded at the time.
What a match!
Each player winning 182 points...
But it was Medvedev who found the finish line.
Please take a few minutes to listen to his post match reflections (he was incredibly candid) and my thoughts on the vital learning lesson we can take from it.
I hope you had the chance to enjoy the festive season!
I spent a great couple of weeks with family before a busy start to the year working at the Aussie Open.
It was also great to see my colleague at MTT Pat Flynn experiencing being a member of the winning Canadian ATP Cup Team in Sydney.
It's sure great to be back in the thick of things in 2022 :-)
With that in mind, let's start this year's communications with what I believe is one of the most important understandings we can achieve when trying to respond well to difficult situations.
And it comes from a simple Aussie Open post match comment from Rafa Nadal. He said:
"Everybody has doubts, everybody feels frustrations....the most important thing is how you react"
So why are these comments so vital?
Well, usually when we think about the word 'acceptance' we are considering the skill of overt/external acceptance.
An example of this is when a player makes a mistake and 'accepts' the mistake and move on to the next...
If you've been following my communications for a while you'll be aware that I believe trying to control unintentional difficult thoughts (e.g., outcome thoughts, negative thinking) and emotions (anxiety, frustration) during matches is detrimental to long term mental toughness.
What we do want to do however is communicate (if you're a coach or parent), and reflect in ways that lead to more helpful mental experiences over time.
Here are 5 ways we can do this:
The most powerful way to improve internal experiences in a given performance situation when encountered in the future is to commit to desired actions now.
For example, when a player performs well while experiencing difficult internal states, this positive performance outcome will likely lead to more adaptive interpretations of that situation when experienced again.
The player will also implicitly learn from this experience that desirable internal states are not required for effective...
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...
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,
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...
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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