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A Perspective on Winning and Losing

In a recent recap of the 2012 Wimbledon Andre Agassi acknowledged how winning his first and only title there (1991) felt more like relief than anything else. “For me,” he said, “winning Wimbledon didn’t seem to last nearly as long as losing did.

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Belief Runs Deep

The jockey who came from behind and rode Union Rag to the Belmont crown today, believed his horse could win it, despite its failure to win in the past. So did its owner, a woman who had sold Union Rag, then relented and bought the horse back for three times the cost. Maria Sharapova never

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Become Aware of Your Brain: Change is Within your Grasp

In his enormously popular book, The Road Less Traveled, Dr. Scott Peck states that change is hard. Depending on what it is you are wanting to change, this can be true. Over time, however, I have come to believe that this is not quite as hard as we often make it. Change gets a whole

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Be Decisive

The other day I was on the court and a young player and after she missed a routine forehand groundstroke I asked her what happened. She tells me, “I hesitated at the last second. I wasn’t sure whether to go crosscourt or down the line.” I’ve been hearing this a lot lately–players doubting their choice

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When Setting out a Plan: Be Specific

What if the only barrier between where you are now and where you want to be is simply the lack of a specific plan? Perhaps there is a change you’ve been wanting to make on the court or in your own life but it continues to allude you. On some level, I think this was

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It’s Ok to Believe

What’s one of the worst aspects of losing? The disappointment in yourself? Or, perhaps, worst of all, finally accepting the possibility and really believing that you CAN win, but then it doesn’t work out? I was working with a young squash player yesterday who admitted to me for the first time (and to herself) that

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Nerves: Just Passengers on the Bus

There’s nothing like being in the middle of a tournament to help you get up close and personal with nerves. Thankfully I still play this great game so I can relate to all of you who get tight out there. Well, I’m playing the Finals of the 45 World Championship singles today as some of

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Be your own Advocate on the Court: The Role of Autonomy

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the differences in how players handle pressure. I talk to juniors and adults all week long about their experience in the game–what holds them back, how they worry about losing when ahead, not believing in themselves enough to beat someone they believe they could beat, worry about a

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The Epitome of Letting Go: Djokovic on Match Point

Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of discussion about “the shot”–Djokovic’s forehand return winner at double match point down a few weeks ago in the Semis of the Open against Federer. I thought it would be useful to explore this moment in more depth to help all players benefit from this amazing scenario.

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Feel Don’t Think

In Andre’s autobiography, Open, he continually references Steffi’s attempt to help him get out of his head. “Feel, don’t think,” she would continually say to him. He scratched his head at first. What is she talking about? Finally, it dawned on him that being present and out of his head was a secret he had

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Applying Mental Skills

Do you find that you get stuck in old mental habits–worrying about whether you will win or lose, getting frustrated with your errors, feeling tense? Someone once told me never to tell students that something is hard to do. I disagree. Breaking old mental habits, based on all of our past conditioning, IS hard. Being

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Mastering Your Time Between Points: Stage Three

Mastering your time between points must include, at times, some tactical or technical goal–that is, how you want to play the next point. And stage three would be the time to do it. You’ve already directed your attention away from thoughts or judgment about the last point and focused your eyes on something external

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Mastering Your Time Between Points: Stage Four

Finally, stage four is the most basic of all. Focus your attention on the spot while serving or the ball when returning. You may think you are doing this, but too often, players are internally distracted and are actually not focused on the ball. You need to get connected and absorbed into the ball. You

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Mastering Your Time Between Points: Stage Two

So, I’ve talked about getting out of your head after the point is over and putting your attention into your body—an internal focus. As I said, this should be approximately 5 seconds or so. It will help keep you present and less vulnerable to the extraneous, unproductive thoughts that swirl around in your mind. The

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Mastering Your Time Between Points-Stage One

Did you know that only 20% of your time on the court is actually spent hitting balls? Were you aware that the remaining 80% of time in any given match is spent walking from one side of the court to the other, sitting on changeovers, or preparing for the next point? This time is ripe

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The Art of Coaching: Learning How to Learn

Tennis is actually a complex game requiring good eye-hand coordination, balance, spatial ability to set up to the ball properly, strength and speed and a great deal of “task” focus. Taking these demands into consideration, it is critical that the experience as student and coach be a collaborative one. Certainly, managing a player’s approach to

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The Psychology of the Serve: Isner and Mahut Find the Zone

Of course we are all dumbfounded at not only the length of Isner and Mahut’s historic match, but how they could maintain their concentration under these conditions for that long. In an interview, Isner himself, had great difficulty articulating how this was possible: “I don’t know. I guess we both served incredibly well. It’s grass.

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