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2 Mental Toughness Lessons From the Australian Open…What To Do and What Not To Do

 

 

1.) What To Do: Players should fight hardest when their opponent is trying to finish them off, because it’s more likely that they’ll play poorly at this time

It was a Major tournament master and a potential future star that taught us this huge competitive lesson to begin…

While so often players tap out and fold meekly when it gets time for their opponents to serve for the match (or close to it) champion veteran Stan Wawrinka and 17 year-old newcomer Alex De Minaur got tough at the right time and reaped the rewards.

For Wawrinka, down 4-3 40-15 in the 5thagainst a rampant Martin Klizan, the reward was a 6-4 in the 5thvictory. And his post match quote summed up the importance of fighting till the end when not playing your best, “Wasn't my best tennis today, but was fighting, trying to stay in the game, fighting a lot.”

For De Minaur, looking gone at 2 sets to 1 and 5-2 down in the 4th, he seemed to harness memories of Lleyton Hewitt at the...

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When The Mental Wall Hits...And How Players Can Climb It

 

 

 

The 8thDay of the Australian Open showed how even the best professional players aren’t immune from hitting the mental wall.

First it was Dominic Thiem winning a total of 4 more games when leading Goffin 7-5 6-6 (4-4 in tie breaker)…

Next it was Istomin who, since shocking Djokovic, had continued his impressive display with a 3rdround victory and was then leading Dimitrov 6-2 6-6 from which point he won only 3 more games…

And next, Bautista Agut had fought his way back after losing the 1stset against Raonic 6-7, to win the next 6-3 and find himself at 4-4 in the 3rdwith several break point chances to serve for a 2 sets to 1 lead…He won only 1 more game from that point…

And finally, with Nadal stumbling as he neared the finish line Monfils suddenly found himself back in the match with a big chance to take it to a 5thset serving at 4-3 30-0 in the 4th…He failed to win another game.

Together this group of players (Thiem, Istomin,...

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Why Do Players Act Angrily?

 

 

When players act angrily, to overcome it they usually need to first understand why they are acting that way. At first sight, we might assume that the anger comes from the frustration of not meeting performance expectations, or from being wronged (such as being cheated), and this can be the case. But there may be other reasons for player anger.

Let’s first look at 3 reasons players might act angrily during a match:

1.) Caught Up in Frustration

A common reason players become angry is that they become caught up in the internal experience of frustration.

For instance, if a player performs an action that doesn’t move them towards victory they may experience the thought, “That’s not good enough.” Similarly, when a player’s opponent makes an unbelievable play or if the umpire makes a bad call that moves them away from winning they might naturally experience the thought, “That’s not fair,” which will also evoke...

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Wawrinka's Pre-Match Nerves No Barrier To His 3rd Grand Slam...

 

 

That was another incredible big match performance by Stan Wawrinka to claim his 3rd Grand Slam and 11th finals victory in a row. Interestingly, it came after what he described as being the most nervous he has ever been before a match...

I found his candour regarding his pre-match nerves refreshing. Here's what he said in his post-match interview:

"Today, before the final, I was really nervous like never before. I was shaking in the locker. When we start five minutes before the match talking, last few things with Magnus, I start to cry. I was completely shaking...I was also -- because I don't want to lose the final in a Grand Slam. That simple. That's the only reason....The pressure, I was feeling amazing after the semifinal. I was feeling great yesterday. Really happy. But this morning it start to be there, the feeling of you don't want to lose. I don't want to come to the court and lose a final. So close, so far."

The reason players almost always feel nervous before...

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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...

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3 Reasons Tennis Is Not A Game Of Perfect: Nishikori VS Murray

 

 

1.) We All Have Naturally Wandering Minds

It is hard for even the best players to continually commit actions to helpful process point after point because we all have a mind that is easily distracted…

And it looked today like both players were suffering frequent concentration lapses as the match ebbed and flowed one way then the other…

To help players improve skill in being able to aim and maintain attention on helpful processes throughout matches is simple to understand, but as we saw in today’s match, hard to do…

We simply get players to practice paying attention to present moment targets such as sounds, or physical sensations while stretching for as long as possible, while also encouraging them to recognize when they notice their attention has wandered, and return to the chosen target…

This improves attentional skill like fitness training strengthens muscles…

2.) Players Sometimes Get Caught Up in Nerves When Trying To Finish...

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A Coach Program Success Story...TCU Mens Tennis

 

 

If you are considering applying for our 'Success 4 Life' Coach School/Academy Program, it has been influenced greatly by the participation and feedback of some fantastic coaches over the last several years in our PACT training courses.

One of those coaches is Devin Bowen...

A couple of years ago I was contacted by Devin Bowen.

He was working with a talented junior player at the time and he was finding it difficult to help this player achieve the competitive effectiveness that he was striving for.

I suggested Devin complete my online course which he did and this led to us talking frequently when he became assistant coach at TCU as he developed the team's mental toughness program...His great work helped their program go from #47 to the Final Four that year + achieve an improved singles win% among their returning players of over 20%...

Here’s how Devin remembered his implementation of the TCU mental toughness program at the end of that season:

“As I...

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2 Powerful Communications That You May Not Have Realised Develop Mental Toughness...

If I could choose one attribute that I believe most supports player development of mental toughness I would choose emotional intelligence. But what is it and how can we nurture it in young players?

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to respond flexibly and intentionally to difficult emotional experiences like frustration and nerves.

This ability allows us to choose actions that serve our best interests even when we are experiencing difficult internal experiences (thoughts, feelings, body sensations, urges.)

So, for instance, when faced with a match situation that evokes anxiety, emotional intelligence would allow players to recognize anxiety, be able to accept the normality of that reaction, and continue on to face the existing challenge.

And when engaged in the challenge, frustration will naturally arise after an error.

An emotionally intelligent response would see players recognize the feeling then refocus attention on a process that...

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How Does Physical Training Increase Player Mental Toughness?

 

 

 

Less Physical Discomfort…First, fit players tend to experience less physical discomfort than unfit players in the same match circumstance. Therefore, fit players are better placed to focus their energy and attention on helpful processes that increase the chance of success, whereas unfit players are more likely to start taking actions based on their experience of physical pain. 

But there are also other reasons for the link between physical fitness and mental fitness that have to do with how our brains operate.

Stronger Bodies, Stronger Brains…

It turns out that physical pain and emotional pain are housed in the same brain area.

So what this means is that when players evoke physical discomfort through physical training they are literally making their brain stronger in coping with physical pain.

And because this part of the brain is also largely responsible for coping with emotional pain, physical training makes players fitter at coping with...

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How Joao Monteiro Became the Biggest Improver in College Tennis…

 

 

In 2015, I was privileged to be invited by Head coach Jim Thompson to work with the Virginia Tech men’s tennis college team…As part of this, I worked with the players directly and Assistant Coach Stephen Huss also participated in a PhD project throughout the season designed to help develop his skill in coaching mental toughness…During the season the returning players were able to achieve an average 25% improved singles win rate and an all-time best school ranking…

And one of those players was Joao Monteiro…

Joao completed his college journey in May as the most improved player in College tennis…

In this post I want to give you a summary of Joao's story which Coach Huss first told a couple of months ago....But also give you a glimpse of how Joao's development was in part a result of him embracing my 4A Cycle process and the VT coaching team's improved skill in helping him develop mental toughness…

Joao’s Freshman...

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