Yesterday I revealed some surprising truths about Roger Federer…
He’s sometimes totally unmotivated and it took him years to figure himself out mentally, just for starters.
If you haven’t already read that post be sure to do so because it contains 4 priceless lessons that you can apply to your game immediately.
You can read it right here.
Today we’ll be dissecting mental key 5, 6 and 7 taken right from an interview he did earlier this year.
Let’s jump right in:
5: “I still get nervous, sometimes I still don’t play very well, but I can trust myself.”
This is a key difference between elite performers and average performers in all walks of life…
When the average tennis player has nerves during a match, or completely loses their forehand, or gets distracted by the people watching them play their first response is something like this: “Holy crap, what’s wrong with me!! If only I could be like the pros, then I’d be calm, focused and precise all the time…”
Federer experiences all of those feelings and frustrations, and so does every other professional player!
The difference between them and us is the word Roger used in his interview: “trust“. He knows that nerves and poor performance are part of competition. He understands that nothing is wrong with himself and there’s no need to try and fix it.
Instead, high performers put all of their focus and energy into solving the puzzle of how they’re going to defeat their opponent that day, with whatever amount of their full potential they have to work with.
Understanding this alone can make a huge difference in your performance on the court, especially when the pressure is on.
6: “You have to see the positives in some tough moments.”
This is a close cousin to number 5, but a slightly different wrinkle…
High performers understand and accept (number 4 from yesterday) that things aren’t always going to go their way. When they bury that forehand in the middle of the net or lose to a player they were supposed to beat, instead of whining and complaining and shaking their fist at the sky they figure out what they can learn from the situation.
That way they’re constantly improving, constantly growing, constantly developing even when times are tough.
Most of us are tempted to take the bait and feel sorry for ourselves or tell everybody around us what SHOULD have happened…
Not champions like Roger.
A good friend of mine likes to say “it’s not failure, it’s feedback“.
If you change your mindset to look at “failures” in that way the emotional response is totally different, and you can come away from tough situations with huge lessons learned.
7: “You can’t win them all, but you can try your very best. That’s what you always should strive for.”
Please, fight the urge to look at that quote and write it off as cliche.
Instead, ask yourself this question: “What is my ultimate goal when I walk onto a tennis court?”.
Go ahead….answer it.
There’s two different, broad categories that your reply could fall into: results or process.
Results based answers could be “win”, or “improve my rating”, or “move up to the next team at my club”.
Those answers are dangerous…
Because a LOT of different variables need to fall into place for them to take place and we don’t control many of them (like how good of a day our opponent has or how many other players in your area are ahead of you in line to move up).
If your ultimate goal is results based then every day those outcomes don’t come to pass can feel like a failure. Like you’re coming up short. Like you might be wasting your time.
Process based answers could be “stay narrowly focused on the technique elements I need to improve”, or “execute two high quality training sessions per week”, OR what Roger suggested: “try your very best”.
Guess what: you can actually control those day in and day out!
Plus….paradoxically, its only through high quality, consistent focus on those process elements that you can ever achieve the big picture results you dream about.
If you combine this mindset with number 6 (see positives in tough situations) then you’re virtually guaranteed to stay fulfilled and motivated as you continue through your journey in tennis.
If the only way you’re happy each day is having an outcome that’s exactly what you wanted then get ready for a rollercoaster ride of frustration….
That wraps up this special series diving deep into the mindset of Roger Federer.
I hope it was really enlightening!
Which of the seven “secrets” was the most revealing or helpful to you?
Shoot me a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.