In Sport Your Toughest Opponent is Yourself

I am sure, like 16.4m other people you were watching, or at least heard about, Andy Murray’s amazing performance at the Wimbledon final yesterday. He was so close, but didn’t quite get past the perfection of Roger Federer.

So what made it so Roger Federer won and Andy lost? At high levels of sport, such as the Wimbledon final, it is rarely the sports person’s physical ability that is the deciding factor, it is their mental ability; their ability to remain calm, focused and positive. You saw the turning point in Federer’s game, where he cast off the nerves and focused in and his game totally changed, whereas, you saw Murray do the opposite; his starting energy and focus drained away.

How can you as a sports person improve your mental ability so you can win? Well, here are a three simple tips and tricks to help you creating a winning mindset.

Use the Nerves

I don’t care who you are, you will get nervous. It is how you use those nerves that count.

Nerves can be reframed quite simply from something you are frightened or apprehensive of, to something you are exciting about. Think about something you were excited about and looking forward too, the feeling is almost identical to the nervous feeling isn’t it? It is just how you label it that counts.

Take that nervous energy and, rather than letting it scatter all over the place, imagine drawing it into a ball somewhere. A big ball of glowing energy, something you can tap into as and when you need it, like a an endless energy source.

Create a Winning Trigger

The difference between a winning mindset and and losing mindset tends to be the direction yo think in. If you spend your time focusing on the all the negatives, all the bad the performances you have done in your life and talking to yourself in an negative way, of course you aren’t going to win! But, it is easy to slip into that negative mindset, particularly if the game is not going your way. You need to create a trigger that simply and quickly resets your thinking and gets you thinking in a positive direction.

To do this follow the below steps:

  1. Think of a time when you played your very best, you were in the “zone” and felt unbeatable.
  2. Fully recall that experience; see what you saw, hear what you heard, feel how you felt.
  3. Once you are fully immersed in the memory, as if it is happening now, squeeze your finger and thumb together.
  4. After about 10 seconds, release your fingers and relax.
  5. Squeeze your finger and thumb together and see if it brings back that peak state.
  6. Repeat until it instantly brings back that mental state.

Deal with Bad Performance

You will make mistakes during the game or match. And it is important to explore and critique these mistakes so you can learn from them. However half way through the game or match is not the time to start doing this!

Create a place where you can almost physically move the memory of the experience to a “review later” folder in your mind. Make sure it can close, so the memory doesn’t pop back out again! Practice moving these mistakes in there during the game or match and then reflecting on them once it is complete.

Do I think Murray will win next year? He seems to have demonstrated his mental strength and this battle will only have improved that.

About Matt Caulfield