I love this time of year. All my favourite sports come into play. Whether you are like me and love a particular sport or whether you are trying to improve your personal best at the gym, the drive and focus you need will be the same. For me I love Rowing and Tennis although I am happy to watch most sports if I have a little background about the team or the person's psychology and drives, but my passion was and still is rowing. Having competed for both Oxford and Cambridge since I was 17, I really do know the blood, sweat and tears it takes to win your race. Luckily for me I was the cox, to a lay person that's the one shouting the commands at the front while steering, but a coxswain's job is far more intricate than that. We motivate the team, we keep them focused, we use psychology to beat the odds at all costs. I find it fascinating to see what individuals can achieve together and as a team and although I went on to further train as a sports performance coach, much of my experience has come from watching the amazing crews I have had the pleasure to work with pull together (quite literally) and execute perfect technique with the mind set of winners.
The Emotional Mindset Needed To Win At Anything?
We all know, to win at any sport you need to be mentally tough. But what does that mean. It is a combination of
1. Emotional fitness
2. Psychological strength
People who have emotional fitness can effectively handle the pressure of competition. Let's take Tennis as an example seeing as Wimbledon is all consuming at the moment. People with emotional fitness can bounce back from missed shots, double faults and lost tie-breakers. They don't sweat the small stuff. They also focus on what's important. Concentration is key to winning. They don't get psyched out by anything be it their opponent's attempts at gamesmanship, the crowd, lousy court conditions or tough weather.
Psychological strength is slightly different. It is about having an unshakable belief in yourself and your technique. If you don't your game is going to be severely challenged.
There are three main principles of the Inner Game involved in psychological strength
1. a quiet mind,
2. combined with non-judgment and
3. detaching from the outcome
You need to have faith in your training To be truly good at your sport you have to leave your ego at the door. Celebrate afterwards but don't ever think you are bigger than the game itself.
You need to learn how to apply all these principles in training so it becomes second nature during competition. The same goes for the gym, it's not just about doing the right thing at the right time, it is about compounding that over and over. You have to keep doing the right thing at the right time if you want to see extraordinary results.
My clients often hear me quote if you want to win don't save anything for the swim home, and by this I mean don't pace your psychology. Your mental toughness has to be at optimum throughout the match.
Your attitude and hence your psychology that will be the basis of achieving your desired outcome.
Who will win Wimbledon?
So many people have been asking me if Andy Murray win Wimbledon. It would be super if he did, but my honest feeling is that his psychology is not quite there right now. I have been watching his game and I am definitely not going to comment on tennis technique because that is not my specialty, but from a spectators point of view I really did feel that there was an anxiety of sorts getting in the way.
Poor performance is always a direct result of having the wrong kind of focus. I am concerned that Murray's focus may be contributing to the small blips in his performance and when I say small I do mean small. However to win Wimbledon, there is no room for error and a small blip is the difference between coming 1st or perhaps 3rd. I do worry that Murray's emotional fitness might be a chink in his armour.
If you get mentally hung up in the past or the future while you're playing you can say goodbye to the ultimate win. There is a lot of pressure on Murray to win Wimbledon. He has the training and the technique to win but for me to more confidently say that he can win again I would like to see him working on his inner game and psychological strength a little more.
I am not a betting woman, I like to deal in certainty and psychology but if you had to push me I would say that Nadal and Djokovic will be in the final and although I personally feel Nadal has the stronger overall drive, (even after he crashed out in Wimbledon in 2012) I think it could very well be a close game. I would however of course love to see Murray in the final and therefore hope for once I am wrong!
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