The 2016 US Open Women's Final: A Resilience Story

 

 

# I think Angelique Kerber's rise to the top of women's tennis is one of the most remarkable stories of resilience in tennis history...

In 2011 when Angelique Kerber arrived at the US Open, she was nearly 24 years old, had been on the tour for 7 years, and had passed the first round main draw of her previous Grand Slams on just 5 of 19 attempts (and had never been past the 3rd round).

From the outside looking in, most experts I'm sure would have already pigeonholed her career as a journey woman destined to be a perennial early round Grand Slam loser until career end.

That she went on to make the semis at that 2011 US Open was surprising…

That she slowly but surely built herself into a regular top 10er was superb….

That she has just become the World#1, won her 2nd Slam of the year, and also made finals appearances at Wimbledon and the Olympics is simply remarkable.

Her finals victory was another reminder of a career trademarked by resilience...

Her game style is one of pure grit built on incredible defence: speed, scrambling, scrapping, and making her opponents have to win the point many times over.

And the match itself gave us a glimpse into her never say die determination...

Down 3-1 in the 3rd set and with Pliskova having taken control of the match and looking on course for the title, Kerber's ability to make it just tough enough on her opponent when the pressure reached its highest payed off in the biggest way, and Kerber stormed home to take 5 of the last 6 games and the championship.

What Would The Odds Have Been…

I wonder what odds we could have gotten from the bookies in 2011 if we’d suggested that a player, who when nearly 24 had passed the 1st round of Grand Slams just 5 of 19 times and never been past the 3rd round, would 1 day become World#1, win 2 slams in the same year as well as make another 2 major finals?

Those odds would have been off the charts…

So Why Is This Important for Developing Players?

To achieve a performance like this is just another strong reminder to me that if I could choose just 1 quality in developing players as MOST important to long-term success (physical, technical, psychological)...I would choose the quality that Kerber has displayed in bucket loads to continually chip away at developing her game despite the obstacles…

RESILIENCE…

Why?

By nature, it now takes so much longer to achieve top 100 breakthroughs that resilience has to be the #1 element that most importantly underpins all else required for developing players…

This means that for all but a tiny %, the reality is getting beaten down by older, stronger opponents for many years before Grand Slam victories become regular.

This requires an immense ability to overcome frequent setbacks over extended periods.

So How Can Parents and Coaches Support This Development?

The 3 C’s…

While a specific discussion of the development of resilience is beyond the scope of this article, I have found these 3 C’s great to keep in mind as a simple guide in assisting player development of resilience.

It is important to remember that how you can apply each of these elements varies depending on your role as either a parent or a coach…

1.) Challenge

Parents: A parent’s role is to encourage your child’s exposure to challenges/difficulties that are generally designed and overseen by your child’s coach.

Coaches: A coach’s role is to design and implement/oversee a player’s resilience development through progressively and appropriately challenging training and tournament experiences that help a player grow and strengthen ability to meet difficulties over time.

2.) Competence

Parents/Coaches: It's important to consistently communicate your belief that players can overcome challenges and also reinforce efforts and strengths more than weaknesses when discussing challenges so that players develop a bias towards self-belief.

3.) Care

Parents: A parent’s most vital role is to make children feel worthy as a person when they fail competitively. This allows a degree of safety for the child to keep chasing after their dreams even when they come up short. It allows players to continually put it on the line in practice and matches day after day, month after month, year after year.

Coaches: When players don’t do as well as they want, communicate approval of them as a person and discuss controllable factors that they can improve to increase the chance of success throughout development.

And if you would like access to our complete Report: What Every Player Needs To Know About Developing Resilience You Can Get It Here...

 

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