6 July 2015
Watching some of the world’s greatest players thrash it out on court at Wimbledon, playing during some fairly uncomfortable conditions during last week’s heat wave, it’s hard not to feel inspired. Roger Federer’s now infamous trick shot and the modesty with which he talked about it during interviews afterwards is just one example of the sporting excellence on display, both on and off court.
Yet, while some players are cool, calm and collected, others seem not to be faring so well, feeling the pain of early exits from the tournament. What are the winning athletes doing that their defeated opponents are not? Whilst regular, consistent practice is the only way to get to the top of your game in your chosen field, I don’t believe there are many top players neglecting this area. So what’s compromising their performance?
Personally, I think a lot of it comes down to belief. There’s nowhere to hide on the tennis court and that’s got to create an immense amount of pressure. As a sport, tennis requires people to breakthrough mental barriers as well as physical ones. Not only that, but it takes a lot of focus to remove the distractions of everyday life and channel your energy into setting goals for success and visualising your victory long before stepping out onto the court.
When it comes to the players who have already been knocked out, there is one crucial thing to remember; as Vincent Lombardi once said: “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” Success is a journey and it rarely, if ever, comes overnight. Look at Andy Murray, who has gone from strength to strength and achieved remarkable breakthrough moments in a sport that Britain has sometimes struggled to compete in at the highest level. It’s all about self-belief and, as Murray said himself once, about understanding yourself and how you react to pressure on court.
As the competition heats up, I’ll be looking forward to seeing how this great British tennis player uses his focus and self-belief to his advantage. Who would you like to see winning Wimbledon?