What a great effort by Holger Rune!
Particularly since he suffered a heartbreaking match tie break loss at the Australian Open in similar circumstances...
After all, losing final set tie breaks can quickly become a habit that's hard to break. With each consecutive loss the chance that it will happen again next time increases.
But why is this so?
It all comes down to the way our emotional memory system works...
For example, if you'd been bitten by a dog and later came across a similar looking dog you might automatically see the dog as dangerous, experience anxiety, and have the urge to run away. So being bitten by a dog later influences your response to a similar looking dog without feeling like a memory of the day you were bitten.
Our brains adapt to all types of ‘emotional memories’ by continually preparing us for the future based on what has happened in the past, invisibly guiding our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
When it comes to lost final set tie-breaks the associated thoughts, feelings and urges get invisibly triggered when faced with similar future scenarios - namely final set tie-breakers.
Over time our brains store and generalize emotional memories, slowly shaping the stories that we all come to automatically tell about ourselves. Internal stories are how we make sense of the experiences we’ve had in our lives and they influence the behavioural habits that we form over time.
So the more often we lose final set tie-breakers, the stronger the emotional memories become, and the more likely we'll develop a story like: "I always lose final set breakers".
4 Steps to Overcoming Difficult Emotional Memories...
So how do we overcome difficult emotional memories like a history of losing final set breakers?
1.) Normalise- we all have the same basic brain system which means we're all vulnerable to difficult emotional memories triggering unhelpful thoughts, feelings and urges during matches. It's a completely normal part of the challenge of competing.
2.) Recognise as memories- next, it's important to remind ourselves that the thoughts, feelings, and urges that are showing up are actually memories of events past.
3.) Connect back to the present - when caught in emotional memories our awareness contracts to make us believe that the emotional experience is all that is here in this moment. We must expand our awareness by connecting back to the present. Great ways to do this are to notice sounds or take a broad view of the environment we can see around us.
4.) Commit to Helpful Action - Finally, don't start the next point until fully committed to a helpful strategy that increases the chance of success.