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The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness

What allows a door to open or close is its hinge?a door without a hinge just doesn’t work. Doors are entryways into or away from one area to another. In our lives, The Hinge connects who we are with who we become. It will be the people, events, or moments that make all the difference and it only takes one! All of us will experience The Hinge at various points in our lives. Although we don’t know how events are going to turn out, we have to be ready. Our role is to be prepared and to act. In order for The Hinge to connect, we must possess mental toughness. Mental toughness allows The Hinge to connect. It’s the skill that keeps us in the moment, to keep our head when others are losing theirs. Mental toughness involves grit, resiliency, and hardiness, traits that enable us to perform well under pressure and to cope with struggle. We all will experience times of pressure and breakthrough moments and we will also experience roadblocks, setbacks, hardships, doubt, and frustration. We control the door-our mental toughness, and in order for The Hinge to connect, the door must be strong. We also control the handle-our decisions or actions that reflect our mental toughness. Thanks to The Hinge, the door can swing either way, positive or negative. The experience may seem negative at first’a...

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Re-Focus

“There is no breakthrough without a breakdown.” – Tony Robbins During the 2011 Masters, Rory McIIroy held a four shot lead at the beginning of the final round. He still had the lead on the 10th hole, but yanked his drive way left into the trees, made triple bogey, shot 80, and finished 15th. Dustin Johnson held the lead at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by three shots. At the second hole, he tried a flop shot, in which he barely made contact with the ball, made triple bogey, shot 82, and finished t-8th. At the 2010 PGA Championship, Nick Watney held a three shot lead heading into the final round. He made double bogey at the first hole, shot 81, and finished t-18th. These top players all experienced a collapse, caused by one shot. Each of these leaders followed their poor shot and hole with extended bad play. They could not recover. These players confirmed the catastrophe model of anxiety.68 When under extreme stress and anxiety, one bad play or shot causes a steep decline or complete drop-off in performance. The anxiety levels spike so high causing the athlete to have to manage the anxiety, rather than the task at hand. Unfortunately under the highest of stress conditions, it only takes one poor play or bad shot for everything to deteriorate and performance to break down dramatically....

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Pete Sampras & Focus

“Nothing is more important than this day.” – Goethe On Januray, 24, 1995, during the Quarterfinals of the Australian Open, two heavyweights, Pete Sampras and Jim Currier, faced off. Currier won the first two sets and Pete battled back to win the next two sets. During the fifth set, Sampras became obviously emotional, crying during a serve. Later, we learned that Tim Gullikson, Pete Sampras? coach and friend, had a brain tumor. Jim Currier saw what was going on and offered an olive branch that turned into a weapon. He asked Pete during his serve, “You okay, Pete, we can do this tomorrow, you know?” 47 Pete Sampras took the remark as sarcasm by Currier and used it to his advantage. He said, “It kind of woke me up to be like, “OK, let’s focus”.” Pete Sampras ended up winning the match. ————————– Mental toughness is a focus only on the task at hand. This shot, this point, this day? The more we can center only on one shot at a time, the better we will accomplish it. Can you achieve a relentless type of focus?   Dr. Rob Bell (DRB) is a certified consultant of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology. He has PGA Tour credentials as a Sport Psychology consultant, has coached winners on the PGA Tour and caddied on Tour. He also was the Sport Psychology coach for...

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FOLLOW THE “GOLDEN RULE” OF TENNIS BOOK EXCERPT FROM “TENNIS: WINNING THE MENTAL MATCH” BY ALLEN FOX, Ph.D

FOLLOW THE “GOLDEN RULE” OF TENNIS BOOK EXCERPT FROM “TENNIS: WINNING THE MENTAL MATCH” BY ALLEN FOX, Ph.D., c  Allen Fox, 2010, all rights reserved    The “Golden Rule” of tennis is the one simple rule that, if followed, will keep you out of more trouble than anything else. It is:  Never do anything on court that doesn’t help you win. Granted, it sounds absurdly obvious, but few people consistently follow it. Adhering to this rule requires one to test any action before taking it with the simple question, “Will this help me win?” If the answer is not yes, don’t do it. The great players rarely lose track, at least at some level, that the object of the game is to win the match. The average player, by contrast, often seems mindless of this elementary fact. Yet even professionals get caught up in the emotions of the match on occasion and forget. A truly bizarre example of what can happen was provided by my friend, Jeff Tarango, a brilliant, funny, Stanford-educated tennis professional at Wimbledon in 1996. Tarango, then 26 years old, had never before won a match at Wimbledon. But this year he was in the third round and had an excellent chance of reaching the round of 16 because he was playing Alexander Mronz of Germany, whose name in the tennis world was hardly a household word. During...

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Interview with Daniel Mario Spatz, tennis coach from Argentina

1/ How the adventure with tennis started in your life?     Started when I was 12 in my country Argentina, because of Guillermo Vilas influence. 2/ How tennis has changed in last 10 years?   I would say in the last 23 years when Andre Agassi broke into scene, power tennis and hitting on the rise was the biggest change in our sport. 3/ Which WTA or ATP player’s improvement and progress impressed you the most in last two years and why?   Novak Djokovic improved fitness and match play mentality, also Viictoria Azarenka has improved the same things. 4/ How popular is tennis in your country?   very popular! Since 1974 when Guillermo Vilas came out as a tennis star.Now we have Juan Martin Del Potro and a lot of good players.   5/ Is tennis coach supposed to take role of mental coach or rather these two functions should be split?   Both roles, unless the player need a more professional advice from a PHD Sport Psychologist.   6/ What kind of mental abilities or skills are necessary for tennis coach nowadays?   The ability to motivate the player so well , and the ability to take some of the pressure off before the matches.   7/ Does coach should motivate tennis players or being impact on player’s motivation?   Help the player to discover his/her motivation...

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Tennis Psychology – To be the Winner!

By: Jan Stanski, Pawel Habrat (Love4Tennis.pl) Back in the days one of the most intriguing question is: what makes the difference for being the winner or potential winner? There are many features for sure, but when we say about true tennis gladiators we mostly imagine the players taking the trophies up. Although being the winner is something more. For being the winner at first you have to be the winner in the mind and inner game. From the beginning it is needed to see the way – not easy way, often very difficult way – to become the true winner. The tennis gladiator is the personality which do not give up from making the dream about winning and victory come true. The winners are the personalities which can imagine themselves in the situations in taking the new challenges and winning them in both perspectives ? the close one and the further perspective as well. It is also worthy to say that for the winners the defeat or loss is the argument for better self-improvement and taking effort for more effective workout. The winners know that it is worth to believe and prove that the next match, competition or tournament will be much better. The winners are coming in on the tennis court with the thought in mind and attitude to win the match not not to lose it (yes, these...

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African Tennis – experts opinions: Johan Kriek, Lan Bale, Sadili Oval

By: Jan Stanski (love4tennis.pl) Sadili Oval (director and head Professional, Kenya): “we run the largest tennis program in the East and Central Africa region, with about 600 children annually. Our programmes are distributed amongst the poorest in the region (who train for free and form 88 percent of the population) , to the richer communities. We handle beginner to top level juniors and take a select team to the ITF events. We just opened the Sadili Talent Training Academy to develop very talented juniors as well as provide homeschooling, and have successfully taken some to university in USA on scholarship. African tennis has a great future, only if we take control of the direction and pace that it is taking ourselves. There is over-dependence on ITF to support country activities, control of the associations by people who have the interest, but lack the skills to take the game to the next level. And more, there has been a “skills darin” with the best talent leaving to live and play outside of Africa because there exists no opportunity for growth. ITF also needs to re- look at their way of assisting Africa, and re-organise the grand slam fund, and create a clear point system so that those who are really improving tennis get more funding.” Johan Kriek: (two time Australian Open champion, tennis coach): “As far as tennis is concerned,...

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ROGERS CUP

In the mouth of canadian lions By: Jan Stanski (Love4Tennis) First big event for men belonging to the US Open Series started in Canada, precisely in Montreal. Most of the top10 players took part in this event apart Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Roger Federer who turned 32 years old during this tournament in 8th of August. Happy birthday Roger! The competition is special for Canadian players as well as for the local audience where they warmly supported their players. The crowd behavior will let go for under the estimation of the other fans. For sure clapping and applause in the case when one of the players made double fault is something in the bad taste on tennis arenas. For the lack of surprises the fans should not complain. David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Murray, John Isner – all these players drop out from the tournament earlier than they expected. Canadians – Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic set the clash in semifinal making dream come true for the spectators in Montreal. The first one beating two Czechs (mentioned Berdych and Radek Stepanek) and The American Giant John Isner – also having a bit of lucky in quarterfinal with Nikolay Davydenko – proved that in front of his fans he is the real threat for other more experienced players. Milos Raonic who is the one of the best...

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Is Poland the mine of tennis diamonds?

Polish tennis is definitely in the process of rebirth and fast development By: Leszek Rudz – Jan Stanski Polish tennis is definitely in the process of rebirth and fast development. Polish players? latest results at Wimbledon signal that something good and interesting has been happening. Thanks to these players the way of thinking about tennis has been changing in the country situated in the Central Europe, and it’s not only the matter that generally speaking tennis has been almost always treated as a posh sport available only to rich people. The attitude towards this sport has been changing; the message that gates should be opened also for those from different parts of society has been received. Let me give you few numbers. There are approximately 300 tennis clubs in Poland, private as well as those funded by the local government; there are about 5000 courts and about 250.000 tennis players at various levels of playing. In comparison to other European countries it?s not so much. For example in Germany or France there are about 4 million people playing and 50000 courts. And last but not least, or even the most important, is the budget of Polish Tennis Association (PZT) seems to be grotesque in comparison to LTA or FFT. Even though, since the greatest names of Polish tennis – Jadwiga Jedrzejowska (Wimbledon finalist 1937) or Wojtek Fibak (great doubles...

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Dr Jim Taylor is a world class sports psychology specialist.

By: Jan Stanski (love4tennis.pl) 1. Why sport psychologist is needed in tennis? Like all sports, tennis is very psychological. At the highest level, everyone has natural ability, great fitness and technique. What separates players on any given day is their mind. Some players figure out the mental side on their own. For others, just like with having a fitness trainer and coach, they need help with the mental side of the game. That is where tennis psychologists comes in. 2. How important is developing mental skills in tennis? Essential for players to play their best. Motivation, confidence, intensity, focus, and emotions are five of the most important areas that players need to master. 3. What psychological features/attributes/traits you consider as the most important in tennis? A tennis player must be confident, mentally tough, motivated, and able to focus and re-focus effectively. In a sport like tennis where the difference between winning a set (or match) can be determined by a few inches, a player must be able to focus on the shot at hand, not be distracted, believe that they will win, and utilize their passion to win. 4. What age is the best to start workout with mental abilities/factors? Although how the mental concepts are communicated to the player will change based on their age, integrating them into a tennis workout can begin as soon as they pick...

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