"Stan missed a first serve and then it was a second serve, step in and stay aggressive, come to the net and finish. You vision it, and you do it. And it's so simple, and when you can't play that way. everything becomes so complex. I know I am riding a wave right."
He added: "I think as long as the body is this way and I can remind myself, don't play with fear and don't play with too much pressure and don't try to do well, I'll be able to play like this. But the body needs to be there so the mind will follow."
The first part of this quotation shows the importance of having a strategy, visualising it and sticking to it! It may sound a bit simplistic but it’s so important to make a definite plan and stick with it. The added aspect of visualisation reminds me of Jack Nicklaus who once said that he never hit a shot that he hadn’t first gone through in his mind.
He then goes on to say, “and don’t try to do well”. In my opinion, this is a key factor in achieving effective mental performance. Of course Roger wants to win but even at this late stage of his incredible career he has managed to discover another level of mental abilities. Playing without “fear” and “too much pressure” has allowed him to express himself to a higher level than ever before. What a change he has made to his backhand return of serve and the general use of coming over the ball more in rallies with this shot. It has now become a new weapon for him! He could always do this but the mental looseness to go from someone who generally blocks the ball back to a player who looks to attack at any opportunity is a massive change and requires awareness of how to control your emotions and be willing to lose.
I’ve heard Roger talk about how he accepts the possibility of losing. This is all tied up in the new, even more relaxed Roger. By allowing himself to accept the possibility of losing the match in his own mind gives him the freedom to focus on the emotional control of the “here and now”. Staying in the moment, being in the zone are expressions we are all familiar with hearing but how do you get there?
Roger appears to have found a way of finding that magical state of mind on a regular basis but doesn’t take for granted the importance of the body which must be there in the first place. You can be as mentally relaxed as you like but if the body can’t get you to the ball it ain’t going to happen!
So what do we need to do to emulate Roger?
- Train hard and practise with purpose looking to improve always. If the GOAT needs to improve then why not you?
- Accept the possibility of losing and stop trying so hard to be a winner!
- Decide what your most effective game style is and stick to it – Roger had previously beaten Stan on hard courts with a different game style but had the courage to stick with his new one.
- Don’t be defined by your age!
- And most importantly come on a Tuscan Tennis Holiday and we will help you on your road to becoming a better player whatever your age!