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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Nerves of Playing in the Olympics

"Every match here for me is like a final." - Switzerland's Roger Federer

The importance of the Olympics is not lost on Roger Federer, nor his opponents in the 2012 Olympic Tennis competition. The Olympics come around once every four years and the players are treating this competition with a specialness that may surpass the Slams.

"I am just happy to go through for my country. I hope I will continue like this." - France's Jo Wilfried Tsonga
With the amount of importance placed on the Olympics there is a corresponding rise in anxiety. Many seeded players looked nervous in their first round matches. Many survived the early round nerves, but not all. Berdych and Radwanska both fell in the first round and Djokovic and Federer survived scares.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Elena Baltacha Reframes Pressure: Olympic Quote of the Day

Elena Baltacha of Great Britain discussed the pressure of playing for her country in the London Olympics. 

ELENA BALTACHA:  I was quite nervous before the match. I think once I put my GB gear on, it relaxed me more because I've been looking forward to this for such a long time. I thought, you know, I've got an amazing opportunity. That kind of relaxed me a bit more. Once I started going on court, seeing all the home support, them getting right behind me, that kind of got me more confident and kind of more relaxed. So it was lovely. (Quote from ITF website)

Baltacha's perspective on the immense pressure of representing your country in a home Olympics is an excellent example of reframing. Reframing is a mental technique where you take a situation and how you are thinking about and frame it in a different way. Baltacha was thinking about the pressure of playing in the Olympics. When putting on the GB gear she was able to frame the situation differently - "I've got an amazing opportunity".

Something else I want to point out. She said she relaxed when she put on her gear. To get your mind in control many times you need to relax, usually by taking some deep breaths and exhaling to let go of the tension, so you can focus your mind on more effective thoughts. Combining relaxation with mental techniques such as reframing allows you to take stressful situations and see them as opportunities. This in turn helps you to look forward to big matches. It is amazing how just looking forward to something is enough to allow you to play well.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Andre Agassi on Focusing on Executing the Game Plan

Tennis is like a game of chess. Your opponent makes one move and you react and make your move. It is an ongoing battle of action and reaction. The ability to read your opponent and the situation is crucial to success. Those players that have great "IQ", "Smarts", "Court Awareness" are excellent at reading the situation and making good decisions.

Decision making, like many things in sport, is affected by a player's focus, stress, confidence, goals, game style to name a few things as well as by the opponent, momentum, score and so on. If a player can impose his or her game plan on an opponent chances are that he or she will win. However, if the opponent can dictate play chances are that you will lose.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Federer's Aggression the Key to Winning Wimbledon

Roger Federer won Wimbledon because he attacked the net off of his excellent groundstrokes. Craig O'Shannessy's Brain Game blog on the ATP World Tour web site reveals the numbers (and the patterns) of Federer's success at the net versus Andy Murray.

Brain Game

As I posted last night it was Roger's willingness to be aggressive and go and take the championship that allowed him to win it. This stems from his belief in his game. For example, against Julien Benneteau Federer was two points from being ousted from Wimbledon. He missed numerous backhand volleys and struggled at the net against a player that does not hit a crushing passing shot. Fed gutted out that match as he did the match against Malisse.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Federer Defeats Murray for Wimbledon Championship

About a week ago Federer was playing Xavier Malisse and he was down two sets, and his back was causing him difficulty in moving. Everyone thought he was finished. I thought he still would come through and win that match and win Wimbledon. I was right, but truly it was based on a hunch. In fact I took these notes:

Roger 2 sets down, back issues, no way he is winning Wimbledon but yet I think he will

Here are 3 reasons why I think Fed will win Wimbledon:

1. First-strike ability
2. Coming to the net, all court game
3. He is driven win #7
Anyway, doesn't matter I didn't post it prior to Federer going down in history tied for the most Wimbledon singles titles. The more important story here is that when things were looking bleak for Roger he pulled a huge comeback against Malisse. How?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lisicki Defeats Sharapova by Going for Shots

Sabine Lisicki is on another run at Wimbledon. She upset #1 Maria Sharapova in the round of 16 in straight sets. The formula of victory was similar to what we saw in Week 1. Big serve, big groundstrokes. Believe it or not Lisicki hit her way through Sharapova and is one match win from equaling her best run at Wimbledon (in 2011).

What were Lisicki's thoughts on the victory?

"I just went for my shots. I love the surface. It's my favourite tournament."
"I'm a fighter. I fight to the last point. The last game was tough but I fought it out."
What a great attitude to have in such a big match. Like Rosol the attitude that works is to go for your shots. Now, that does not mean hitting bombs from behind the baseline, but it does mean swinging through the ball and hitting with depth, spin, and pace.

If you fear losing the victory you probably will lose. Go for the win and great things can happen.