Great job Tiffany Newell!!
Team MVP plus this...great accomplishments as a Freshman!
NOVAK DJOKOVIC’S SECRET MENTAL TOUGHNESS STRATEGY…
The Wimbledon Final…
When Novak Djokovic prepared to serve at 3-3 30-40 in the 5th set against Roger Federer ...in the Wimbledon Final, imagine the internal challenges he would have encountered. Being faced with the prospect of losing from 5-2 up in the 4th set must have been a chaotic mental test. But fighting off break point in that moment and going on to deny Federer’s awesome comeback was an incredible effort…
Djokovic’s Improved Statistics…
To explore how much Djokovic has improved in the last few years I decided to compare his results from 2008-2010, with those from 2011-Present….
Grand Slam/ATP1000 results 2008-2010: 79% winning percentage
Grand Slam/ATP 1000 results 2011- Present: 90% winning percentage
While this 11% improved winning % is significant, looking specifically at his statistics against Federer, Nadal, and Murray reveals an even more important story…
2008-2010: Murray 1-3; Nadal 5-10; Federer 5-8
2010- Present: Murray 8-5; Nadal 12-7; Federer 12-5
Overall, he has gone from a combined winning percentage of 34% to 65% against the greats…
Why Is This So Important?
Well, it shows us that his improved results can largely me attributed to the matches that matter most. From 2008-2010 he was already so dominant against the majority of players on tour that his limitations did not cost him matches. But under the spotlight of playing Federer, Nadal, and Murray; and the pressure of the big moments when matches are won and lost on a few crucial points, he often folded previously winning only 1 in 3 times; whereas in the last 3 years he has come out on top an extraordinary 2 in 3 times…
What Has He Improved?
1.) His Diet
Let’s start with the most well known. Djokovic’s change to a gluten free diet has become so famous that he has written a book about it. As I am far from qualified to speak about how his new diet has helped him, I will leave you to explore this factor elsewhere.
2.) His Serve
Though it seems a distant memory now, you may remember the turmoil that Djokovic endured in 2010 when he changed serve technique and developed the dreaded yips. Restoring the technique on his serve, and redeveloping his trust in its reliability under pressure, has been hugely important both from a physical and psychological level. This is a strong reminder of the importance of developing fundamentally sound technique as a foundation for mental toughness.
3.) Adaptive Responding to Difficult Internal Experiences
The most common reason for player mental weakness is Subconscious Attempts to Reduce Fear… Tanking; Anger; Excuses; Faking or Exaggerating Injury; Poor Tactical Choices; Creating Interpersonal Conflict; are all often driven by their fear reduction properties (without realizing it)… And these adaptations can be commonly seen from juniors, to recreational players, to the best of professionals.
In Djokovic’s case, my guess is that his frequent early career mental stumbles were at least in part the consequence of an inability to tolerate the stress of high pressure moments, resulting in some of the adaptations mentioned above. But what has been so impressive in the last few years is that he has improved his ability to handle the stress of competing against the world’s best in the most challenging moments, and throughout the most demanding adversities…
How Has He Done It?
It is mind boggling to me that despite Djokovic’s occasional mentions of ‘Mindfulness’ practice over the last few years, it has not received more publicity. It is surprisingly still a secret to many. In explaining his dedication to/and understanding of mindfulness in his book, ‘Serve to Win,’ he said this, “I do it everyday for about 15 minutes and it is as important to me as my physical training…Instead or trying to silence your mind or find ‘inner peace’, you allow and accept your thoughts as they come. They do bounce around like crazy, but they are supposed to. Your job is to let them come and go.” supposed to. Your job is to let them come and go.
And on the benefits, "I've done so much mindfulness that my brain functions better now automatically. I used to freeze up whenever I made a mistake. Now when I blow a serve or shank a backhand I still get those flashes of self doubt but I know how to handle them"
So when that 3-3 30-40 moment arrived against Federer, with difficult thoughts racing and difficult emotions flooding his body, rather than having to make efforts to control or reduce these internal difficulties, his mindfulness training at least in part likely contributed to an increased fitness in being able to cope. And this better placed him to put his energy into choosing and committing to an appropriate strategy for the point.
As he said in his post match interview, “I could have easily lost my concentration in the 5th set and just handed him the win… but I didn’t, and that’s why this win has a special importance to me mentally. Because I managed to not just win against my opponent but win against myself as well and find that inner strength that got me the trophy today”.
Anthony Ross is the developer of the 4A Cycle Player Mental Toughness Course at http://www.mentallytoughtennis.com
I would love to hear your thoughts or questions… Let me know in the comments below.
2 MENTAL KEYS TO NICK KYRGIOS’S INCREDIBLE WIMBLEDON RUN…
Nick Kyrgios on playing so well in the big moments, ‘’Definitely I’m scared, but I just go through my ...routine and play aggressive.’’
With his epic escape act against Richard Gasquet and his overpowering of all time great Rafael Nadal, Nick Kyrgios is the talk of the tennis world. And while it is obvious to anyone who watches Kyrgios that he has incredible physical weaponry, what his Wimbledon efforts have revealed to those previously unaware, is that he also possesses 2 mental attributes characteristic of those who often become the world’s best...
1.) Unwavering Self-Belief
Last year I was chatting with Kyrgios’s long-term junior coach Todd Larkham soon after Kyrgios had won his first challenger title. While Todd discussed all the physical attributes that he believed would contribute to making Kyrgios a very successful professional player, Todd most emphasized Kyrgios’s incredible self-belief.
So how do players develop self-belief? And why is it that the great players often believe to their core that they are destined for greatness before it is obvious to those looking from the outside?
Whether players develop self-belief or not is highly predictable based on the long-term communications they receive from most importantly parents, but also coaches. And so it is highly likely Kyrgios’s parents and coaches did a great job of the consistently doing the following throughout his development:
a.) Modeled Self-Belief
First, self-belief is transmitted from parent/coach to player through subconscious brain systems that automatically change players' brains simply from observing parent/coach behaviours.
b.) Focused on Competence
Second, one of the most common mistakes parents/coaches make is to focus too much attention on weaknesses, poor performance, and their perceived concerns. This results in players coming to orient their own attention onto these characteristics. Instead, Kyrgios's parents and coaches likely focused more on his strengths, and what he was doing well. In this way, what we focus on tends to grow over time...
c.) "I Believe in You"
And third, by encouraging Kyrgios to take on challenges, to experience the joy of achievement, and communicating belief that he can be successful, his parents and coaches likely created a type of self-fulfilling prophecy that he came to internalize over time. In this way, rather than explicitly telling Kyrgios “Believe in yourself”, through actions and words his parents and coaches would have consistently communicated, “I believe in you,” which creates self-belief implicitly over time.
2.) He Plays His Best When it Matters Most…
Kyrgios was at it again against Nadal, playing his absolute best tennis in the 2 tie-breakers. In his young career Kyrgios has won the majority of close matches he has played…For example, since winning his first challenger last year his tiebreak record on tour is a staggering 29-9!
On this point, I remember watching Kyrgios lose a close match as a 14-year-old after going for a very aggressive second serve on match point down and double faulting. Several coaches watching the match viewed Kyrgios’s decision to go for such an aggressive second serve as characteristic of his perceived competitive flaws at the time (I was one of them!). But in hindsight, what was seen as a weakness by many at a stage when his ability to execute such plays under pressure was still developing, has evolved into a rare natural instinct and ability to choose and execute these same aggressive plays consistently under the highest pressure…
So what can we learn from this?
a.) It is obviously vital that junior players develop competitive abilities that support the chance of immediate success. But it is perhaps most important to encourage young players who are likely to be best served by developing aggressively game styles to repetitively make simple competitive choices that align with that game style until it is completely instinctual to do so when it matters most, even if it comes with some short-term costs as they develop the ability to execute these skills. As a general rule, when a player is trying to develop an aggressive game style, only when it is clear that they can commit to and apply this game style consistently and instinctively under pressure, is it time to focus more externally on flexibly applying the game style dependent on the strengths and weaknesses of opponents.
b.) By consistently modeling self-belief, by focusing on competence, and by communicating your belief as a coach/parent, your child/players will also come to internalize these messages and automatically 'see' themselves and the world from a perspective of self-belief. This will encourage their further pursuit of challenge, belief in competence, success experiences, and eventual mental toughness.
What are your thoughts? I appreciate all the feedback that so many of you have contributed to my posts and would love to hear your comments below…
On an exciting note, in the coming days I will be launching my 4A Cycle Player Mental Toughness course that many of you have asked about, and been patiently waiting for…The development of the course has been several years in the making and you will be able to get heaps of other high quality Free information on my site MentallyToughTennis.com as well… I will let you know when the site is live….Stay Tuned!!
Team Newell's playing! Hope to see you there.
2012 Duel in the Desert National tournament in St. George, UT was a lot of fun and produced more successful results. Extreme dedication, hard work and focus on doing what is right are paying off.
Tiffany, G18s won her first match, and then lost a tough match to a "No Quit" team-mate who played great and earned the win. What can I say; Tiffany continues to amaze us, winning a match in a national tournament. Not many people could win a game in a national tournament when on...ly playing for two years.
Nikki, G18s Singles & Doubles Champion! What a joy to watch play. Attitude, passion and determination were all pleasantly displayed this weekend on Nikki’s road to winning both titles this weekend. A few years from now I expect this will be a simple stepping stone to an amazing career.
Kristen, G16s another hard fought quarterfinal match loss to the same opponent as the Fall Circuit. In spite of the loss, Kristen showed she is a Champion in the making. Her calm, yet fighter mentality is a rare quality found in many tennis players and is going to take her a long way in this sport.
ITA Fall Circuit @ Darling Tennis Center in Las Vegas -
Very good weekend for Team Newell:
G18s, Nikki goes to doubles final with Aphrah Brokaw and wins singles backdraw finals 6-7, 6-2, 6-1.
G16s, Kristen goes to doubles final by dominating win over the one seed with partner Skyler Schossberger and came so close to winning the singles.
G18s, Tiffany impressed all who witnessed her play. Her athletic ability and potential was on full display, playing tournaments for less than two years, yet winning matches at this level. Very Impressive indeed!