Overcoming Mental Game Challenges
A hallmark of championship athletes is their ability to recognize the mental barriers that limit their performance. Three years after winning his first grand slam title at the Australian Open in 2008, Novak Djokovic’s hoisted the Norman Brooks Challenge Cup for the second time, defeating Andy Murray 6-4 6-3 6-2 in the 2011 Australian Open.
In the time between Djokovic’s two titles he endured criticism and periods of self-doubt for his lack of success. He was labeled “the one slam wonder,” and began to question his ability to compete at the level he was once capable of.
Rather than making adjustments in his serve and the way he played, Djokovic focused on overcoming the mental challenges that kept him from reaching his potential.
The burden from his lack of success became a “mental issue,” Djokovic told reporters.
“Every time you get it there, you know, you want to win it badly, but some things go wrong. You’re thinking too much. You’re worrying too much in your head. It’s a mental battle, definitely. Bottom line is that this is a very mental sport in the end,” said Djokovic.
After his triumph at the Australian Open 2011, reports asked Djokovic what he changed about his performance to get back on top of his game.
“Something switched in my head. It’s been a big mental struggle, because I was trying to separate my, of course, professional life from my more private life. If something isn’t working off court, then it’s going to reflect on the court. I managed to overcome that problem and dedicate myself to the sport which was a big success for me as a person,” said Djokovic.
Djokovic’s ability to recognize the mental struggles he was having on and off the court allowed him to develop a more confident and focused approach at the start of 2011.
Many of the tennis players I work with have the physical skills and talent needed to succeed, but a weak mental game keep them from reaching their potential. I teach my students the following tips to help them apply the mental skills they need to overcome the mental barriers that limit their performance.
Four Tips for Breaking Mental Barriers:
- The first step is to unlock your self-imposed limits of your own success. I want my students to identify their own mental barriers and unhealthy beliefs that prevent them from consistently playing their best. If you think you are not capable or breaking a performance barrier, then you most likely will not break through.
- Step two is to eradicate unhealthy expectations and irrational beliefs so you can unlock your own success. For example, once Roger Banister broke the four-minute mile, everyone broke it because the barrier had been shattered. The first step is to break your own self-limiting beliefs that limit your potential.
- Don’t follow the crowd. The top athletes in the world are not conformers; they do not let their thinking be confined by the expectations of others or what others think is possible.
- When performing, do not focus on the outcome or the record you are trying to break. Focus on one shot, one play, or serve at a time instead. Focusing on the process is the key to winning performances. You have to give each and every play or shot the same intensity no matter how close you are to breaking a personal record or long-standing record.
Are you (or your players) performing up to your ability in competition?
Do you bring your best and most confident game to matches?
Successful tennis players have learned how to perform with ultimate confidence in tournaments.
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What are mental game customers saying?
“Thank you for all the knowledge, tools, material, and guidance you have given me throughout this course. It was truly a great experience. I am looking forward to integrating this mental training system not only to students at the club, but as well bring this wonderful education outside to athletes that truly are committed, and strive towards reaching their peak performance.”
~Tim Whitehead, Head Tennis Professional, MGCP
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What are tennis players saying?
“Danielle did really well with controlling her emotions during the matches today. We were very proud of her for not showing her frustrations during the match; I think that was a big accomplishment. She really looked in control of her emotions even when she double faulted or made mistakes. The changes we saw on Danielle’s behavior in less than 24 hours were AWESOME! Thank you for your guidance!”
~Jennifer Alamo, Tennis Parent
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Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with personal coaching.
You can work with Dr. Patrick Cohn himself in Orlando, Florida or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone. Call us toll free at 888-742-7225 or contact us for more information about the different coaching programs we offer!
What are our mental coaching students saying?
“Maggie had such a great weekend. As always, after she works with you she just seems more grounded and focused. She’s less likely to look around and get distracted during her match. She’s more focused on one point at a time. Also, as a parent, I’ve learned to encourage her process goals and not outcomes. Consequently, she played well and won her first doubles match, upsetting a seeded team in a really really close match!”
~Katherine Johnson Cannata, Maggie’s mother