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Nadal's Superpower and How Players Can Develop It...

 

 

During the 2018 clay court season, Rafael Nadal broke another amazing record, becoming the first male player to win 50 straight sets on any one surface. Consider that in his last 46 sets on clay before yesterday, no opponent had reached a tie-break against him and just once had someone achieved a 7-5 loss and his mind boggling run seems even more astonishing.

It got me reflecting on the mental attribute required to achieve such a feat and one stood out.

 Relentlessness…

Andre Agassi described this attribute well in his book: ‘Open’. He said this about the difference between the great champions and the rest:

The more you can be present on every point. I think that’s why you see great champions separate themselves at the end of a set or at the end of a match, because they are the ones that aren’t changing in their execution. They are not assigning a value to any one point more than another. It is about what they do...

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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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Varying Time Between Practice Rallies to Develop Competitive Skill...

 

 

 

Typically, when players miss a ball during practice, they tend to feed the next ball in quite quickly (generally a couple of secs) without intentionally refocusing before the start of the rally.

When players do this, however, they miss out on a great opportunity to develop basic competitive skills.

Here are 2 activities I complete with players regularly to help them practice intentionally refocusing and committing to a helpful process for each new rally (you can also see me explain and complete the activities with USC All-American Jack Jaede in the video above where he is completing the 'calling the attention' activity I showed you in an earlier video post...)

Activity 1: 5 Secs Between Rallies

When players miss a ball they must take approximately 5 secs before they are allowed to feed the next ball

Players are instructed to use this time to ensure that they are explicitly focused and committed to a helpful process before starting the next rally.

The Benefit: ...

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A Great Way To Increase Your Commitment to Helpful Actions...

 

 

 

Mental toughness occurs when players intentionally bring their attention into the present at the start of each rally/point, then actually commit action to a helpful process during the point.

But how do we know if players are actually committing to their chosen attention?

And how can players practice this Attention + Action combination?

One simple way is to get players to verbalise the attention they are committing to as they do it...Watch this video to see an example of USC All-American Jack Jaede verbalising a strategy attention...

And if you would like access to our Committed Actions Worksheet which we use to encourage players to more often do processes that increase the chance of success You Can Get It Here...

Wherever you're watching this, when you're done scroll down. Leave a question or comment for us, and all the best for the coming week :-)...

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The 2 Psychological Factors That Supported Fognini's Remarkable Comeback Victory Against Nadal...

 

 

At the end of this match I was left both dumbfounded and dizzy after witnessing an incredible comeback from 2 sets and a break down, including 7 straight breaks in the  5thset, and finally an insane level of play to finish the fairytale. Watching Fognini point to his head and pump his heart as he looked to his supporters to signify his massive mental effort left chills..

John McEnroe summed up the collective feeling well when he remarked, “That was one of the greatest, most spectacular comebacks you’re ever going to see…The level of play to mount that miraculous comeback will be remembered for a long time.”

But what allowed this moment to unfold when Rafa had previously been a perfect 151-0 when leading by 2 sets in Slams?

I contend that, during the crucial 3rdset, based on these players' combined recent histories, 2 key psychological factors consecutively unfolded to give Fognini a chance at the unbelievable; when; if faced with the...

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The 2 Crucial Foundations of Player Mental Toughness (Video Post)...

 

 

 

We often find ourselves saying to coaches and players that "the components of tennis mental toughness are relatively easy to understand but very hard to do"...

At it's core players's mental toughness requires simply bringing their attention into the present at the start of a rally or point and choosing to commit to a helpful process (e.g., a technical cue like 'stay low', or a strategy such as 'rally deep and attack the short ball')  during the rally or point.

In this way the formula for mental toughness is Present Moment Attention + Helpful Committed Action = Mental Toughness

And the key reflection...

Players must regularly check in at the end of rallies/points and ask the following question: Did I actually commit my actions to my chosen attention during the rally or point?

The bottom line is that, assuming that players know the processes that will most help him/her improve (in practice) and improve/win (in matches), the player who most frequently commits...

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