Another Rafa Nadal French Open looked less likely at the beginning of the tournament as he reported feeling frustrated with the tournament balls and cool conditions.
He openly discussed his doubts whether he could win the tournament given these challenges.
Yet at the end of the tournament he stood as the champion once again following one of the best Grand Slam finals performances in the history of the sport.
Check out the key learning I took from his remarkable victory:
When asked how he had most helped Dominic Thiem as a junior, his former coach Gunter Bresnik replied, "Stress Tolerance".
And it is this one skill that most contributed to both Naomi Osaka and Dominic Thiem becoming 2020 US Open singles champions.
In a moment I will outline the basic steps to improving stress tolerance. But first, a couple of reflections on the finals matches:
Osaka Navigates Her Way to the Finish Line
Osaka is quickly stamping herself as a very special big tournament, big match player.
Regarding tournaments, 3 of her 6 career titles are now Grand Slams. For some context, excluding Serena, most of the best players in the world have historically won at least 5 regular tour tour titles for every 1 Grand Slam victory.
And in the biggest matches she is now 3-0 in Grand Slam finals. What is super impressive is the differing paths and challenges she's had to take and face to get to the finish line.
In her 1st US Open final she had to deal with...
I'm not sure I've ever seen 2 collapses when just 1 game away from winning at 5-1 up in such quick succession as we saw with Stefano Tsitsipas and Kristina Mladenovic this week.
These 2 losses got me reflecting on one key learning point that I'm pretty sure I've never discussed before.
And this is that in certain circumstances confidence can actually become an obstacle to winning.
Check out my thoughts in the video below:
Competitiveness is a requirement for becoming a successful tennis player. It is the basis for the motivation to work hard to improve skill and compete to win.
Being competitive means players also feel the emotions of competing more strongly. Competitive players feel more joy and relief when they win. But they also feel more fear and frustration to do with not winning.
This in turn makes them more vulnerable to developing unintentional habits that are about avoiding and reducing the fear, frustration, and pain that comes with possible and actual loss.
If players are to become successful a high level of competitiveness is required. But once this is present the next most important focus should be for parents and coaches to help these players learn how to respond well to the more intense difficult emotions to do with competing that they will naturally feel.
In my last video I talked about the 4 categories of Committed Actions that players can commit to during points.
But what happens at the end of points?
Typically players automatically judge the success of a point based on the outcome along with how well they executed their skills. But to improve mental toughness, we want them to practice asking a vital question which will help them connect more with the processes that will help them compete more effectively.
To find out what that question is check out this week’s ‘Mental Toughness Made Simple’ video…
If you're a coach who isn't satisfied with the way your player/players apply their physical, technical, and tactical skills in matches, this video series is for you.
In it, I'll summarise 7 of the most common mistakes I see coaches make when trying to help players develop mental toughness.
P.S., In a few days we'll be opening up registration to my Coaching Mental Toughness Professional Development Class which will start next week. I'll let you know the details of the class later in the week :-)
If we want to understand player match behaviour better there are 3 factors to consider.
Context is the situation in which the behaviour occurs. So, for example, a particular behaviour may occur only in certain match situations.
Form is the behaviour that we see. So, for instance, a player who gives up when losing, a player who plays poorly under pressure, or a player who acts angrily when not meeting expectations.
The function is the reason for the behaviour. When we look at behaviour through a functional lens we are repeatedly asking ourselves, “What is the player’s current behaviour in the service of”? “Why might it be occurring”?
When we look at match behaviour we can often see that similar forms of behaviour e.g., giving up, acting angrily…might have different functions. It’s the function that is important for us to understand if we want to help players regulate their behaviour.
If you have been following my suggestions you would have heard me talk a lot about what I call ‘Committed Actions’. These are the processes that players should commit to during points that increase the chance of improvement and success.
But what are the actions that players should commit to? At Mentally Tough Tennis we categorize them into 4 categories...and that’s what this week’s ‘Mental Toughness Made Simple’ video is about.
During times when our actions aren’t matching our stated Purpose on a consistent basis, it’s great to complete this 4-question activity to help re-commit to helpful actions for the next time we are going on-court.
1.) Imagine you are attending your own retirement party from sport. If the party was to occur right now what would people important to you (e.g., your coach, parents) say about your involvement in tennis?
2.) Now imagine that the retirement party is occurring in the future. What would you like these people to say at this time about your sports participation?
3.) How does what they would say now compare to what you wish they would have to say?
4.) What’s the smallest, easiest action you could take in your next session to make it more likely they would say things that reflect what is important to you?
If you'd like a copy of the Retirement Party Activity, click here...
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