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Djokovic's Mental Edge...

 

 

Time and time again Novak Djokovic successfully navigates both the external and his own internal challenges to find his way to finish line 1st in the biggest matches.

Asked after his 8th Aus Open victory what it is that gives him this mental edge in the biggest matches Novak said this:

"My upbringing was in Serbia during several wars…embargo in my country where we had to wait in line for bread and water.

I think these things make you stronger. They make you hungrier for success in whatever you choose to do. That has been my foundation, the very fact that I came from such difficult life circumstances.

And going back to that and reminding myself where I came from always inspires and motivates me to push harder and so thats probably one of the reasons that I manage to find that extra gear or mental strength to overcome challenges when they present themselves."

Too often those of us responsible for helping players develop the required resilience and grit needed to...

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How Has Simona Halep Improved So Much?

 

 

I listened with fascination to Darren Cahill's interview following Simona Halep's dominant quarter-final win at the Aussie Open, and thought I'd share a couple of the key points and reflections.

1.) Regarding her improved approach to responding to difficult internal experiences that are part of competition Cahill said:

“As far as I'm concerned, the relationship is exactly the same. She's still as stressed on the court as she always is, but she's learning ways to deal with it and to handle it.”

“After letting two breaks slip against Mertens in the Round of 16 and then having chances in the 4-3 game in the second set, Simona got back to 4-all, had break points in the 4-all game and missed them. The old Simona would have let that game go, but she refused to give up in that game."

“That's what I'm most proud of is that fight that she's showing when a few things go against her. That's been the big change in her I have seen over the last two or three...

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Federer's Great Escape Built on a Crucial Rule of Competitive Success

 

 

The Great Escape!

To give himself a chance to survive Roger Federer followed one of the golden rules of mental toughness:

Compete Your Hardest When Your Opponent Is Trying to Finish the Match, As This Is When It's Most Likely They'll Play Their Worst.

The moment that a player realises they are in reach of winning a match, but have thoughts to do with the possibility of losing it from that winning position (which is common) is among the most common times they will play their worst.

In commentary Jim Courier called it the 'Invisible Wall' and it was one that Tennys Sandgren couldn't quite break through today.

The key here is that as much as people talk about ‘not thinking about the outcome’ even the best players in the world have unintentional thoughts popping up about potential outcomes regularly thoughout matches.

So, just like Federer did, it’s vital that we recognise the difficult thoughts that will surely arise when our opponents seem likely to...

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The Psychology of Nadal vs Kyrgios: 2 Vital Lessons

 

 

Wow...what a match!

Nadal was at his incredibly tough best and my sense that Kyrgios is finally making great progress towards becoming an effective competitor to complement his crazy physical talents looks more and more likely to be the case.

Here are 2 vital lessons to take from the match:

1.) Nadal shows again that choking is usually not fatal if you can respond well to the common experience of trying to finish close matches.

In tonight’s match, when Nadal realized that the finish line was in sight when leading in the 3rd set tie-break and again when he was serving for the match at 5-4 in the 4th set he suddenly tightened…A couple of double faults and playing more tentatively, along with Kyrgios's great fighting spirit, allowed Kyrgios to win the 3rd and prolong the 4th. 

But, as usual, to Nadal's huge credit he recovered from both chokes quickly  and got the job done…

There are a few key things we want to remember when trying to...

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Nick Kyrgios, Why Players Get Angry at their Support Crew, and How to Change It

 

 

 

Why is getting angry at others, particularly those people who players are close to like their support team, so common?

In my latest 'Mental Toughness Made Simple' video I use Nick Kyrgios as a case study to help understand why players so commonly get addicted to this habit. I also discuss the 4 Step process that breaking the addiction almost always requires. 

Interestingly, the reason players develop this habit can be the same reason that they give up, use excuses, or even lose concentration so if any of these issues sound familiar to you this video really is a must watch. The great news for Kyrgios is that on the evidence so far this Aussie Open, with the support of his team he appears to be finally making steady progress in improving all of these issues... 

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John Millman and the #1 Predictor of Tennis Improvement

 

 

So how has John Millman gone from a teenager with one of the poorer techniques in his local squad to becoming one of the top 50 male players on the planet and earning himself another date on the centre court at a Grand Slam with the great Roger Federer?

In today's 'Mental Toughness Made Simple' video I discuss his greatest talent which is also the #1 predictor of how much players improve over time...

And if you'd like to access the Competitor's Score Worksheet that I mention in this video you can do so here..

 

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Normalising the Choke

 

 

Choking.

It is among the most common issue people seek my advise on.

In fact, all players choke.

Whether it be Novak Djokovic when leading 4-2 in the 5th against Fed in last years Wimbledon final.

Or Fed himself at match point in the same match.

Or Serena in several huge matches of late.

Watching Aussie Marc Polmans escape with a gutsy 5 set win after getting tight and missing several chances to win in 4 sets yesterday at the Aussie Open reminded me of the most important skill to develop when it comes to choking.

Because all players will do it to some degree quite regularly...Responding well to choking, rather than reducing the choke itself, is the more important skill to develop. 

This starts with normalising it...

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Do Former Successful Pro Players Make Better Coaches?

 

 

In watching Rafa and Roger put on their coaching hats during the Laver Cup, it made me reflect on the age old debate. Do former successful pros make better coaches?

I commonly hear former professional players supporting the theory that a successful career at the top level is required to transform into a successful coach. But of course, in the corridors those who have not played at the highest level argue that having been a great athlete may in fact hinder coaching effectiveness.

So who is right?

I would say to a degree neither. There are obvious advantages in having been a great player but there may also be some potential drawbacks. Let’s take a look at both sides of the coin.

Advantages of Former Successful Professional Players Becoming Coaches

Credibility…

The first and most obvious advantage, as we saw with Roger and Rafa, is that former successful players have instant credibility regarding what they say. Players will be more likely to listen and...

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Reflections on Federer's Coaching Interaction with Fognini...

 

 

A huge thank you to Dan Kiernan and Soto Academy in Spain for allowing us to share this video from our coach professional development workshop last night. We had a great discussion regarding Roger Federer's coaching advice for Fabio Fognini and why part of Federer's advice was likey not helpful. Particularly when he said "If he hits a good forehand you respect it, ok maybe he was lucky it doesn't matter. believe in the good thing, you cannot be frustrated". I also mention how I advise coaches to approach situations where a player is experiencing difficult unintentional thoughts and feelings during matches... Check out the clip below.

 

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Rafa's Incredible US Open Victory Reminds Us of Why We Love Tennis...

 

 

When I was a child I fell in love with tennis. I fell in love with the challenge... I fell in love with the fun... I fell in love with the competing...I fell in love with the camaraderie and much more. To this day all I need to do is picture in my mind walking into the outback tennis centres where I played most of my junior tournaments to trigger great joy.

For those of us who love tennis, watching the men's US Open final was a great reminder of why that is...Watching Rafa resist Medvedev's incredible fightback, like all great Grand Slam battles, shows us that ultimately it is the greatest sporting test. No other sport tests the physical, technical, tactical, and mental elements so completely.  

And this match proved to be the ultimate mental test. The physical demands, the pressure, trying to hang on when behind, trying to finish when in front, , the doubts, the wandering mind, the frustrations...It had it all :-)

This match was also a reminder that we...

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