Train Your Brain

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Train Your Brain. Photo Credit: ISTOCK/AGSANDREW

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” 
― Archilochus

Most athletes berate themselves for not being mentally strong during competition, either at the critical moments or the most important contests. What they fail to realize is that they “expect” to be mentally tough during the most important moments but they fail to “train” for those moments.

Although by definition being mentally tough is a trait. Being mentally strong, mentally resilient or mentally mature can be improved like a muscle. The brain is a muscle that needs repetition to become stronger.

Nature vs. Nurture. How much of your mindset is inborn versus learned? I’d say that it is a combination of both. Just like confidence comes in two types: static and dynamic, so does mental strength. One part you are born with and the other part you learn and earn through experience and training. Here are questions that athletes should ask themselves:

How much do you exercise versus how much time do you exercise your mind?

How often do you go to the gym versus how often do you work out your mind?

How often do you take lessons or work on your technique or skill versus how many lessons do you take on the mental game?

In other words, preparation is much more important than the actual performance. I’ve always said whoever prepares better wins not whoever performs better wins. This applies to the mental game as well. Of course preparation will lead to optimal playing and bring you closer to the by-product of winning but the sense of urgency should be BEFORE the contest not DURING. During the contest just let things happen. Let your preparation shine. If you are not practicing and training your mind then you cannot expect to be mentally strong when it counts. Just because you expect to be aware of the right things and focus on the right moments doesn’t mean it will just happen.

Sport-specific training is important for the mind game but so is general mental training. When driving to work or class and there is an accident on the other side of the road, train yourself to ignore it – don’t rubber neck. You are training your brain to focus on what’s important (the road right in front of you) and not on distractions that make you lose your focus. Whenever you think of something negative pretend to cross it off or erase it from your mind’s eye and toss it to the side – blank slate it – clear the white board.

When reading a book, are you processing each word or is your mind wandering to something else? Whenever your to do list or grocery list pops into your mind then stop and go back to when you last remember the words that you were reading.

Mind control is the first step to success in sports. The next step is to train your mind. The third step is to implement your training when it counts, in competition. The final step is to evaluate your mental performance to learn for the next time.

Rise to the level of your training rather than fall to the level of your lack of training.

I always welcome feedback at angeloarossetti @ gmail .com.

You can learn more about a couple of tennis GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ that I have been a part of:

Our Inspiration – 2 World Records 2 Minute Video
FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
If you found this article of value please consider making a donation to Save the Children. Otherwise, please share this article so that we can educate, inform and inspire others.
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Train Your Brain

Focus on Playing Well not on the Score

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Roger Federer serving. Photo courtesy Michael Dodge, Pinterest. 

Blog article by Angelo A. Rossetti, USPTA Elite/PTR Professional, USTA HP & Mental Skills Certified & 2X Guinness World Records™ holder.

The level of play rather than the score will determine the outcome and the winner. The score can change immediately but someone’s playing level usually doesn’t. Think of the score in two ways. It gives you an indication of what tactics you should be using before you start the point. It is also what is recorded after the match. The latter has nothing to do with the process. Knowing that, try not to dwell on the score. Focus on playing the best that you can in any given situation given the circumstances.

In professional tennis, it’s not a matter of time. In other sports, you can run the clock out when you have a lead. You can be done with your zone and be playing horribly now while the opponent is finding their flow.

Time runs out. You win. You didn’t play better but you win.

Tennis is not like that (except in league tennis where there is a time limit). Evidence of that is in the 5th set of the ATP men’s final at the 2017 Australian Open between Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal.

Rafa was up a break 3-1 in the 5th and deciding set. But at 3-2, after holding serve, most would analyze the score and say that all Rafa has to do is hold serve three more times and he’ll be the champion. However, if you look closely at the level of play, Fed had the same number of points won and was actually holding serve easier the last two games.

The score can be misleading. At 3-3 in the 5th Fed had more total points but more importantly made the decision to go for his shots win or lose rather than just keep the ball in play.

“I told myself to play free,” Federer said. “You play the ball. You don’t play the opponent. Be free in your head. Be free in your shots. Go for it. The brave will be rewarded here. I didn’t want to go down just making shots, seeing forehands rain down on me from Rafa.”

Sure enough it worked with Fed winning the majority of the last points, serving aces and hitting winners.

“He did not surprise me,” Nadal said. “He was playing aggressively, and I understand that in a match against me. I don’t think it would have been intelligent to try to get into too many long rallies from the baseline. I don’t think he would have won. He went for it, and it was the right thing for him to do.”

By defeating Nadal, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, to win the 2017 Australian Open for the fifth time, Roger Federer became the oldest man to win a Grand Slam singles title in over forty-five years.

Age is just a number and so is the score.

Remember play to play well. Avoid using the score as the only gauge of your level of play.

I always welcome feedback at angeloarossetti @ gmail .com.

You can learn more about a couple of tennis GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ that I have been a part of:
Our Inspiration – 2 World Records 2 Minute Video
FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
If you found this article of value please consider making a donation to Save the Children. Otherwise, please share this article so that we can educate, inform and inspire others.
Make a Donation

Focus on Playing Well not on the Score

Fun. Enjoyment. Joy

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Blog article by Angelo A. Rossetti, USPTA Elite/PTR Professional, USTA HP & Mental Skills Certified & 2X Guinness World Records™ holder. Getty Images photo.

“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” Michael Jordan

When you are a child and first play sports these are the reasons. You have fun. Yet we can lose sight of these basics. As we get older it gets more complicated.

What are my parents going to think if I lose? They’ve paid a lot of money for lessons. What is my coach going to say? I was supposed to win. What are my friends going to think? Maybe they won’t ask me to play a much. What are my sponsors going to think? Maybe they’ll drop me. What am I you going to do with less prize money? I won’t be able to afford my lifestyle.
If you think of the Bob Marley song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” then it starts to put things into perspective. At the 2017 Australian Open, that song was played in Rod Laver Arena quite often during change overs. The perspective gained from that may have helped the epic comeback story of Mirjana-Lucic Baroni. After her win over the world #3 Agneska Radwanska “I said to myself on the court don’t worry, be happy.” When that song came on during a change over she said to herself “that’s right.”
Not only is it right for her but right for any competitor. Put in perspective why you play. Play for the right reasons. Find your way. Remove worry, be happy. You’ll play your best and enjoy it more. 

I always welcome feedback at angeloarossetti @ gmail .com.

You can learn more about a couple of tennis GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ that I have been a part of:
Our Inspiration – 2 World Records 2 Minute Video
FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
If you found this article of value please consider making a donation to Save the Children. Otherwise, please share this article so that we can educate, inform and inspire others.
Make a Donation

Fun. Enjoyment. Joy