The 2016 Men’s Australian Open: The Big ‘4’ is Now the Big ‘1’

When Novak Djokovic lost to Stan Wawrinka in the final of the French Open last year, I wrote this in my post-match review:

XXX of ZZZ plays a forehand in his Men's Singles Final match against XXXX of ZZZZ during day 14 of the 2016 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 31, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.

“His (Djokovic’s) efforts strongly indicate that his march towards becoming a master competitor is complete…Quite simply, his ability to maintain consistent competitive effort throughout the challenges of both his semi-final (in which he beat Murray in 5 sets) and final was hugely impressive…With the histrionics and hitches that were a feature of his early career play becoming almost nonexistent, unless players can repeat Wawrinka’s incredible level, it looks likely to become a Slam fest for Djokovic in the coming years.”

Funnily enough, it was the way Djokovic lost that convinced me that he had overcome the final barrier (his occasional low stress tolerance) to becoming virtually unbeatable in the Slams…

And He Has Improved Since Then…

The 2016 Women’s Australian Open: 3 Resilience Stories…

In 2011 when Angelique Kerber arrived at the US Open, she was nearly 24 years old, had been on the tour for 7 years, and had passed the first round main draw of her previous Grand Slams on just 5 of 19 attempts (and had never been past the 3rd round).

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 30:  Angelique Kerber of Germany celebrates winning the Women's Singles Final against Serena Williams of the United States during day 13 of the 2016 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 30, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

From the outside looking in, most observers I’m sure would have already pigeonholed her career as a journey woman destined to be a perennial early round Grand Slam loser until career end.

The On-Court Coach Communication Style Critical to Player Mental Toughness Development…

When we get this one on court coaching communication style consistently right, it’s about as powerful a mental toughness promoter as there is…

That’s the reason that we all should focus on it until it’s fundamental to our coaching (especially when players get frustrated after missing a shot/losing a point during practice).

But because of our competitive brain it’s hard not to fall for the trap of doing a poor job of this when working on improving an area of a player’s game….I know I catch myself not doing it very well regularly.

And I’m guessing if I watched you coach I’d see you regularly trip up on this one as well…This video is about how to gradually boost your players mental toughness by using this simple communication style.

Do you agree or do you think there’s something more important than this?

Let me know in the comment section below…

The Independent Athlete Myth…

One emerging theme in player development involves the idea of creating independent players.

Independent Athlete Image

But this goal underestimates the importance of the coach-player relationship. And brain research has shown that it’s not possible to create an independent player anyway.

So how can we balance players’ best interests by simultaneously encouraging the coach-player relationship while also supporting their developing autonomy?

Let’s take a look.

Varying Time Between Practice Rallies to Develop Competitive Skill…

Typically, when players miss a ball during practice, they tend to feed the next ball in quite quickly (generally a couple of secs) without intentionally refocusing before the start of the rally.

When players do this, however, they miss out on a great opportunity to develop basic competitive skills.

Here are 2 activities I complete with players regularly to help them practice intentionally refocusing and committing to a helpful process for each new rally (you can also see me explain and complete the activities with USC freshman Jack Jaede in the video above where he is completing the ‘calling the attention’ activity I showed you in an earlier video post…)

Activity 1: 5 Secs Between Rallies