When The Mental Wall Hits…And How Your Players Can Climb It

The 8th Day of the Australian Open showed how even the best professional players aren’t immune from hitting the mental wall.

First it was Dominic Thiem winning a total of 4 more games when leading Goffin 7-5 6-6 (4-4 in tie breaker)…

Next it was Istomin who, since shocking Djokovic, had continued his impressive display with a 3rd round victory and was then leading Dimitrov 6-2 6-6 from which point he won only 3 more games…

And next, Bautista Agut had fought his way back after losing the 1st set against Raonic 6-7, to win the next 6-3 and find himself at 4-4 in the 3rd with several break point chances to serve for a 2 sets to 1 lead…He won only 1 more game from that point…

And finally, with Nadal stumbling as he neared the finish line Monfils suddenly found himself back in the match with a big chance to take it to a 5th set serving at 4-3 30-0 in the 4th…He failed to win another game.

Together this group of players (Thiem, Istomin, Bautista Agut, and Monfils)….who had won 12 matches straight to get to their respective match stages, mustered a collective 8 games in the final 6 sets of their exits.

How Could This Be?

The Most Common Mental Toughness Coaching Mistake…And What To Do Instead

“Well, to be honest, I was really concerned about how I was going to feel on that center court. I was a bit nervous. I was telling my coaches, God, I feel like I’m playing first round all over again, like the same nerves. Yeah, I was probably thinking too much of what happened last year. I don’t think it was actually a good thing for me. But in the end I managed to not do what I did last year.”

Daria Gavrilova before her 3rd round Australian Open match…

I love hearing honest quotes from top players about the unintentional difficult mental experiences (nerves, frustrations, worries, fears, etc) that come with competing…

Why?

1.) It Demonstrates Vital Mental Toughness Attributes

The Kyrgios Saga Continues…Why Players Give Up

While I’ve written about Kyrgios’s issues a couple of times in the past I’ve never before received so many communications asking for my opinion as on his performance last night.

So here it goes…

Essentially, the way I saw it, Kyrgios tried for 2 and a half sets…Didn’t try for the next set and a half… Then see-sawed between trying and not trying in the 5th.

First, lets clarify the possible reasons players don’t try…There are only 3:

1.) Lack of motivation

We most commonly blame a lack of effort on poor motivation. While this is sometimes the case, more often than not I’ve found that what I first thought was a motivational issue, turned out to be a result of other issues.

2.) Caught in Helplessness

2 Mental Toughness Lessons From Day 1 At The Aussie Open…What To Do + What Not To Do

1.) What To Do: Your players should fight hardest when their opponent is trying to finish the job, because it’s more likely that they’ll play poorly at this time

It was a Major tournament master and a potential future star that taught us this huge competitive lesson to begin…

While so often players tap out and fold meekly when it gets time for their opponents to serve for the match (or close to it) champion veteran Stan Wawrinka and 17 year-old newcomer Alex De Minaur got tough at the right time and reaped the rewards.

For Wawrinka, down 4-3 40-15 in the 5th against a rampant Martin Klizan, the reward was a 6-4 in the 5th victory. And his post match quote summed up the importance of fighting till the end when not playing your best, “Wasn’t my best tennis today, but was fighting, trying to stay in the game, fighting a lot.”

For De Minaur, looking gone at 2 sets to 1 and 5-2 down in the 4th, he seemed to harness memories of Lleyton Hewitt at the same tournament to squeak out of the set 7-6, giving him a chance in the 5th.

Which brings us to the next important lesson…