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Grigor Dimitrov's Aussie Open 4th Round Mental Master Class...

 

 

Just over a year ago Grigor Dimitrov looked every bit a player who was destined to be remembered as a career underachiever.

Nicknamed ‘Baby Fed’ when he emerged from the juniors as World #1 for his similarity in technique and gamestyle to the great Federer, it seemed just a matter of time before he became one of the game’s very elite.

But 7 years later that destiny had not materialized and at the end by the end of 2016, having not yet achieved an end of year ranking in the top 10, a new wave of young stars were starting to pass him by.

Fast Forward To Last Night

Fast forward to last night however, and we were looking at a very different Dimitrov…

One who has redirected the path of his career with the help of an obviously very skilled coach in Dani Vallverdu, to the point of becoming an incredibly effective competitor who put on a mental toughness master class for all of those who were lucky enough to watch.

Here are 5 key ways Dimitrov...

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The 2 Types of Mental Toughness...And Why We Need To Know the Difference

 

 

When we watch the ATP and WTA tour players compete, we have the privilege of watching the mentally toughest players on the planet.

And while it may not seem it while watching from the sidelines, playing at the highest level of the game brings huge levels of pressure that have caused many aspiring tennis players to be driven to mental weakness.

The reason that playing the game of tennis creates such huge pressure is that our human brain tends to interpret it more like a life and death situation, especially for those who commit so much of their lives to it.

But one thing I’ve learned over the years, is that even at the highest level, as we watch mentally tough players compete, there are 2 distinct types of mental toughness which are driven by different motivations and results in very different long term consequences both on and off the court.

I call these ‘Healthy Mental Toughness’ and ‘Unhealthy Mental Toughness’.

And while players...

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When Pain Becomes Shame: The Perils of Parent Conditional Regard

 

 

One of the most difficult things to go through as a tennis parent is to watch your child develop ‘avoidance focused coping defenses’. This occurs when players develop competitive adaptations such as excuses, tanking, perfectionism, and anger explosions as an unconscious way of reducing the stress of competition.

While any player can develop these responses to reduce the normal fears that are a part of competing, it’s important to be aware as a parent that it's MUCH more likely that children will develop these adaptations when a child’s fear of failure has become exaggerated due to what can be called ‘parent conditional regard’.

The devastating effects of parent conditional regard on children’s development are well researched and highly predictable…

Parent Conditional Regard and the Shame Emotion…

Parent conditional regard occurs when parents communicate love conditionally by tying special...

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Why Parents Are The MOST Important Contributor to Children's Mental Toughness Outcomes...

 

 

How we interact with our children around tennis has incredible power in influencing his/her mental toughness development, even more so than coaches. This is due to the 'perfect storm' of brain factors that make tennis parenting interactions the most powerful determinant of children's mental toughness development, both on and off the court...Let's explore the 4 most important now:

1.) Our Brains Remember Important Experiences Better...

The genius of the human brain is evident in the way it has evolved ways of deciding which life experiences need to be remembered and learned from and which can be forgotten.

Recent research has shown us that the brain figures out what is likely to be important to remember based on a number of factors, making it more easily rewired as a result of these factors.

2.) The Importance of Sport Experiences

And as it happens, there are two factors crucial to sport that encourage our ability to remember sport experiences: exercise and high levels...

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The Contrast In 1 Key Competitive Skill Between Nadal and Kyrgios: And Why Attitude Is NOT a Choice…

 

 

Watching Nadal and Kyrgios in the final of Beijing highlighted the contrast in 1 vital mental skill that we often fail to understand. Let’s explore it…

Nadal Is Actually Getting Better…

It’s hard to believe but Nadal is actually getting better. He is a competitive machine… Simply the greatest competitor the game has ever seen.

Last night is the best I’ve ever seen him play on a hard court. That he turned up to this rather minor tournament (for him) at this stage of his career and displayed the same desire to win as if it was a Slam is the very reason he has become so good and continues to improve.

His insanely high level had Kyrgios looking for an exit within 30mins.

Kyrgios Is Deeply Addicted to Reducing Fear and Pain…

The reasons that Nadal has become so great are many. But 1 of the most important that sets him apart from all but Federer is his consistent, career long ability to tolerate the fears that come with...

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Federer vs Tiafoe US Open: 2 Vital Lessons

 

 

What a see-sawing affair that was to begin Roger Federer's US Open campaign...Federer was slow out of the blocks as he looked hesitant with his recent back problems and Tiafoe, to his credit took advantage.

In the 2nd and 3rd sets Federer gave the impression that he had slipper right back into his consistent 2017 groove totally dominating and having Tiafoe looking overwhelmed and appearing to look like he was headed for a comfortable 4 set victory.

Then, surprisingly, Federer's momentary drop in form had Tiafoe back in the match as we headed for a 5th. But when Federer got the break and held comfortably for the remainder he was on the doorstep of victory as he came to serve for the match.

This is where your child can learn 2 vital mental toughness lessons...

1.) Even The Greatest Of All Time Choke

Naturally, having only played 5 matches since Wimbledon and none in the last couple of weeks, Federer was a little edgy throughout the match. But to see him tighten so...

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Serena Williams: The Mentally Toughest Player of All Time?

 

 

A couple of years ago I wrote an article that proposed that Serena Williams might just be the mentally toughest player the game has ever seen...

By reasserting her dominance over the field in claiming her 7th Australian Open at age 35, I thought it worth revisiting this proposal...

After all, throughout her career she has:

Played her best in the most important matches...

Been clutch towards the end of sets...

Recovered and won many big matches from dire score lines...

And like we saw throughout this years Aussie Open she tends to steamroll when in front.

While arguments against Serena’s mental toughness greatness generally center on her superior physical ability competing against a class of opponents that have no claim to all-time greatness, let's revisit an updated statistical look at Serena’s Grand Slam record when considering the arguments for.

1.) Playing Her Best In Big Matches

While Serena has shown a few more vulnerabilities in big matches later in...

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The Psychology of Federer vs Wawrinka: 2017 Australian Open Men’s Semi Final

 

 

What a match!

With the 1st set in the bag Federer stepped it up to play a sublime 2ndset and looked like he had Wawrinka’s measure.

But early in the 3rdtwo things happened in quick succession that conspired to trigger Federer to tighten…

He found himself on the doorstep of a highly unexpected Slam final at the same time as Wawrinka was struggling with a tweaked knee and looked on the edge of folding.

In next to no time the comfort of a 2 sets to 0 lead and having Wawrinka down 0-30 on serve early in the third, switched to high pressure after missing that chance plus playing a loose game to lose serve and go down a break.

Suddenly Wawrinka was free-wheeling it and Federer had the huge pressure of trying to finish a match that he had in his control just a few minutes earlier along with the added pressure of playing an injured opponent.

And With This Came The Nerves…

Federer reported in his post match interview with Jim Courier, “What can I...

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How Daria Gavrilova's Difficult Mental Experience Can Help Us...

 

 

“Well, to be honest, I was really concerned about how I was going to feel on that center court. I was a bit nervous. I was telling my coaches, God, I feel like I'm playing first round all over again, like the same nerves. Yeah, I was probably thinking too much of what happened last year. I don't think it was actually a good thing for me. But in the end I managed to not do what I did last year.”

Daria Gavrilova before her 3rd round Australian Open match…

I love hearing honest quotes from top players about the unintentional difficult mental experiences (nerves, frustrations, worries, fears, etc) that come with competing…

Why?

1.) It Demonstrates Vital Mental Toughness Attributes

1st, when players talk openly about their difficult mental states it demonstrates awareness of mental experiences which increases the chance to have choice in how they respond to them (as opposed to players who lack awareness which leads to the automatic/habitual...

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The Kyrgios Saga Continues…Why Players Give Up

 

 

While I’ve written about Kyrgios’s issues a couple of times in the past I’ve never before received so many communications asking for my opinion as on his performance last night against Andreas Seppi.

So here it goes…

Essentially, the way I saw it, Kyrgios tried for 2 and a half sets…Didn’t try for the next set and a half… Then see-sawed between trying and not trying in the 5th.

First, lets clarify the possible reasons players don’t try…There are only 3:

1.) Lack of motivation

We most commonly blame a lack of effort on poor motivation. While this is sometimes the case, more often than not I’ve found that what I first thought was a motivational issue, turned out to be a result of other issues.

2.) Caught in Helplessness

A more common reason players give up is that they become caught up in the internal experience of helplessness.

Throughout evolution it has increased the chance of human survival to be able...

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