A few weeks ago, tennis players took to the courts and battled it out at the Australian Open. Watching the greatest tennis players and observing their performance under stress and pressure gave me some insights which I believe can also be applied to everyday life and us “normal” humans.
1. Be Strong Mentally: Tennis is a game of strategy and stamina. Whilst many players had skills which brought them into the quarter finals or semi finals, the determining factor of who won was largely influenced by their mental strength. This meant that even when they weren’t playing their best game, they didn’t let their anger of losing points to unforced errors get to them. They continued to be calm, collected and keep on fighting.
2. Embrace uncertainty: Many players mentioned how tennis is a game of uncertainty. You never know what will happen on the court no matter how much or how hard you have trained. You could have your best day ever, or you could have a bad day and finding it hard to get in the “zone.” Once you are in the “zone,” there’s also the uncertainty of if you could stay in there. Whatever the outcome, the players know that they tried their best, and there is always another match to play. You lost this match, well try again next time. The importance is not to fail, but how you get up after you failed.
3. Never Give Up : This goes somewhat with embracing uncertainty and that since you never know what would happen or what could happen, you must never lose hope and give up. Even when you are down two sets or at the final match point, miracles could happen. If you fought well, and hard enough, you could just come back and become the Champion. We saw that with Nadal and even though he wasn’t quite as young anymore, he still won.
4. Be ready always: As tennis players never know what will happen, they have to be always prepared. There were many times when we saw how the momentum can be changed the moment a player starts showing signs of wear or they weren’t in the right mental frame. The other party would immediately seize the opportunity and at times, turn situations around.
5. Positive Attitude: Some players played their best match ever when they found ‘joy’ in what they were doing. They didn’t let the pressure get to them and played because they truly enjoyed the sport, the competition and being in the moment. This year, Cornet made it into the quarter finals for the first time after 60 Grand Slam attempts. Post match, she reflected on her win and said “When I stepped on the court, I was like, You know what, just enjoy the moment because you don’t know if you’re going to come back. I think that’s what made the difference.”
Sports psychology is really quite fascinating and we could definitely learn from athletes while also at the same time having fun cheering them on. I read somewhere a very long time ago, that sports celebrates success and I agree. I’d also like to add that it celebrates perseverance and hard work. To get to the top, athletes have to work on not just physical but also their mental strength.
Wishing you all lots of love on this upcoming Valentine’s Day!