One Crucial Insight From Rublev's Post Match Reflections


Andrey Rublev defeats Holger Rune 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6

What a rollercoaster!

Not just the match but also Andrei Rublev's mental experience throughout the 5th set...

On going down a break in the 5th set he said: "When he broke me in the 5th set I was think it is over, completely over"

On going down 2 match points at 5-6 15-40 he said: "For some reason I was thinking I will make it, I will save them and I will go to the tiebreak"

On going down 5-0 in the tiebreak he said: "I was again thinking it is over but then I told myself I don't want the same thing to happen as Roland Garros when I was down 7-2 in the final set tiebreak and just gave up"

And on the moment when he lost his own match point to make the score 9-9 in the final set tiebreak he said: "When he passed me inside I was thinking that now is the moment I will make it"

So what can Rublev's mental experience teach us?

I think there is one key learning here and it is this...

We think about things intentionally many times a match. For example, when Rublev went down in the final set tie breaker he intentionally encouraged himself to keep trying.

Often in tennis our intentional thoughts are helpful...

But each match we also have 100’s of unintentional or uninvited thoughts that pop into our mind and often these are difficult or unhelpful. And so it can be helpful to practice recognising how often uninvited thoughts show up (If you are not sure about this comment try right now to go 30 secs without an uninvited thought popping into your head).

Just like Rublev experienced when several times he started thinking that he had lost the match, we can't stop this is part of being human!

And so the art to competing more effectively in the face of unhelpful uninvited thoughts is to:

1.) First recognise that it is normal to have a lot of unhelpful uninvited thoughts show up during every tennis match, and drop the expectation that we should be thinking positively all the time - it will never happen and only causes self-judgement.

2.) Second, rather than trying to suppress, change, or resist these thoughts, work on noticing quickly when they show up.

A great activity here is to practice more often recognizing the difference between the stream of uninvited thinking that occurs without our intention, and our intentional thoughts. This practice help to more quickly recognize when we’re becoming swept up in unhelpful, uninvited thoughts.

3.) Then once noticed, we should practice returning to the present by, for example, noticing your breath, or the sense of our feet as we walk between points.

From this place we can potentially choose more helpful intentional thoughts in the moment, or simply focus attention on committing to a helpful action (e.g., strategy) that increases the chance of success on the next point.

Enjoy the tennis!



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