The importance of a confident mindset, determination, focus, skill, practice, effort and a refusal to be intimidated emerged once again at Wimbledon as deciding factors in nearly every match. It is worth taking a close look at the power of these factors in some of these matches.
Justine Henine-Hardenne had won the championship at Eastbourne in the week before Wimbledon. She was asked what would be her most important match at Wimbledon. She answered ‘whichever match comes next’. Her success plan is to focus on the next match without worrying about who she would be playing later in the competition.
Most self-help experts teach us that we need to concentrate on the first or next step and not allow thoughts of future steps to interfere with our current efforts. If we concentrate on one step at a time and complete it to the best of our ability, later steps will often take care of themselves. Alcoholics Anonymous have learned this with their emphasis on one day of sobriety at a time.
In the end, Justine lost to Amelie Mauresmo of France in the Wimbledon final but her focus on one step at a time helped her to, at least, reach the final.
On the second day of Wimbledon, Federer was asked how he coped with being the favourite. His success plan was the same as Justine's. He replied:
"I have to focus match by match. I cannot afford to look ahead. "
People who look ahead at all the obstacles they may have to confront tend to give up before they start. Worry about the future dissipates energy. Focus on the present concentrates it. Federer's plan worked and he became a Wimbledon champion once more.
Incidentally, some spectators at Wimbledon cannot look ahead because people in front to them are wearing huge hats. How can they do that?
Is it possible that they think that the frustrated people behind them want to focus on their hats rather than the match itself? They probably don't bother to think at all. Pardon the rant, but my negative thoughts about the mad hatters are now gone!
Throughout Wimbledon, commentators like former champion, John McEnroe, stressed the importance of thinking positively and not allowing your own mistakes or unfair line calls to make you negative.
John, the world expert on apparently negative behaviour on court, expelled his own negativity by throwing his racquet down on the court and yelling complaints at the line judges and umpires. His most famous comments are:
"You cannot be serious! The ball was out! The chalk flew up! etc.
McEnroe often mentions the importance of banishing negative ideas in favour of positive thoughts.
One example occurred when he was commenting on the Nicholas Massu v Andy Murray match. Murray started well and was soon 4 games up. One commentator said:
"The start's almost too good. "
McEnroe wasn't having this:
"Don't get negative now; don't think something bad is going to happen!"
Too many of us worry when things start going well for us. We have been programmed to be wary when things seem too good to be true. Our programming tends to bring about the decline in fortune that we anticipate.
However, McEnroe warned that Murray needed to be careful in case Massu started to believe that he could get something from this match. McEnroe, constantly stresses the importance of belief in winning matches.
However, everything was clicking for Murray and Massu was beginning to look worried. Murray won the 1st set 6-1 but Massu put up more of a fight in the second
McEnroe had practical advice for the losing player: “Massu has to gradually get back into the game. He must cut down on his errors. He must make Murray work harder for his points. " McEnroe never writes a player off. With effort, belief and a thoughtful strategy, he can come back and win.
However, Massu was looking like road runner and had to chase every point.
"Aye, aye, aye" lamented Massu. He drew the crowd in with that cry of pain.
He had to get belief from somewhere. He could think about the pressure on the 19 year old that he was playing.
But the 19 year old, Andy Murray from Scotland, was playing well and was apparently unaffected by the pressure from the home crowd.
"Massu looks like he is on an ice skating rink with sneakers on. Part of his brain is saying: ‘I am the higher rank. I should win this match. ’ Another part is saying: ‘It's not my day. People are against me. ’ The second part is winning. But he is not out of this yet. He should keep telling himself: ‘This isn't over’.
McEnroe continued: “It's not as bad as it appears to him. It's just that he is looking at the glass half empty. "
Massu went down swinging but lost the match. His glass was now empty.
McEnroe observed after Andy's win:
"The best players maintain a high level of effort and focus. A good lesson when you are up is that you keep pushing and get as far ahead as possible. "
Consistent effort pays off in everything including dieting. Those who eat a fairly relaxed diet consistently lose more weight than those who eat a stricter diet sporadically. It also pays not to celebrate too soon when your diet seems to be working - success can be doubled by pushing on instead of by taking it easy too soon.
However, the main lesson from McEnroe's commentary in this game and his own behaviour as a player is that we need to get over our disappointments about our own mistakes or life's injustices as soon as possible and then rejoin the fight with energy and determination. Cry babies don't usually win anything!
Sharapova did not win Wimbledon this year but she did progress well into the second week. Her secret is that she trains the same way she plays. Her practice matches involve the same intensity and desire to win as her actual competition matches.
This kind of attitude is also demanded in the martial arts. Instructors insist that students train as if they were fighting for their lives. They will behave on the street in the same way as they behave in the training hall.
Martina Hingis is now playing well after injury problems. She was interviewed after a practice match in which she had just beaten James Cracknell, the tall Olympic rowing gold medallist.
Martina was asked what advice she would give to Cracknell. She replied “Lots of practice like anything else!".
Agassi was 36 and this was his last Wimbledon but deep down he probably believed he should get into the second week of Wimbledon. He is a stickler for preparation. He lifted weights to add punch to his serve so that he could win easy points. He always has a game plan.
His second round match was against Seppi of Italy . Agassi is Seppi's idol. McEnroe observed that this created an intimidation factor. How can you play better than your idol?
We are all faced with this type of intimidation factor in every field of life. There is always some one who appears to be better or tougher than us. If we allow such people to dominate us and make us feel inferior, we will fail to discover the extent of our own potential.
Instead, we need to learn from our idols instead of over estimating them
Agassi, for example, taught many players to return serve with power. Hewitt, as a boy, watched Agassi and said “Hey! I can do that too!" Hewitt has the typical Australian attitude: “No worries - if he can do it, so can I. "
Agassi plays his tennis in a business like way. He never wastes a second on the practice court. He makes every ball count and practices with intensity. In his competition matches, he bustles around the court without appearing to let emotion interfere with his performance.
Eventually, Agassi won the match but was beaten later in the competition. At some point in the broadcast of this match, one of the commentators came up with this wise remark:
"Stick the racquet out and some good things can happen. "
In other words have a go; try something and you might get some good results. If you don't stick your racquet out; if you don't take some kind of action, you will never know what you might have achieved.
Wimbledon 2006 teaches us to focus on doing our best one step at a time. It tells us to get over any cry baby thoughts as soon as possible. We need to believe in ourselves and never write ourselves off.
Consistency is more powerful than occasional flashes of brilliance. We all need lots of practice. It helps to be well prepared and to have a game plan. We should spend more time learning from others rather than just admiring them. It helps to stick out your racquet and see what happens!
About the author
John Watson is an award winning teacher and fifth degree black belt martial arts instructor. He has recently written several ebooks about achieving your goals and dreams.
One of these can be found on his website http://www.motivationtoday.com/36_laws.php along with a motivational article and books by other authors.
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