What can you learn from Roger Federer?
Roger Federer is the current king of men's tennis. 2005
was an incredible year for him as he entered 15 tournaments
and won 11 of them including Wimbledon and US Open for the
second consecutive year. His 4 losses came in one quarterfinal,
two semifinals and one final.
In 2006 he already won Australian Open and Wimbledon and played
in the French Open final.
But how did Roger Federer become such a good player and what
are his special abilities or mental traits that make
him such a superb player?
If you take a look at his career you'll find that his path
to the top was not easy at all:
In 1998 - aged 17 - he entered 4 ATP tournaments and lost
3 times in the first round.
In 1999 he played 21 ATP tournaments and lost 8 times in the
first round and 4 times in the second. He won one challenger
event in the whole year.
In 2000 - aged 19 - he lost 5 times in a row and later 7 times
in row in the first round but started to get higher and higher
in the tournaments. All in all he lost 14 times in the
first round! Interesting fact - he lost to Michael Chang
at Halle on grass in the 3rd round!
In 2001 he finished the year at nr. 12 but still lost 6 times
in the first round (or his first match he played since he
had a "bye" twice in the first round. That was also the year
he won that fantastic match against Pete Sampras in Wimbledon
7:5 in the fifth set.
By 2002 you might think that he has already achieved his mental
mastery but he still had some very tough losses:
- against Tommy Haas in Australian Open (R16) 6:8 in the fifth
- against Davide Sanguientti in the finals if Milan 1:6 in
- against Agassi in the finals of Miami - 1:3 in sets (Agassi
later commented in his interview that "when Roger Federer
learns how to play tennis at this top level we're all in trouble".
- lost in the first round of Wimbledon against Mario Ančič
Finished the year at nr. 6.
In 2003 he lost in the finals against Felix Mantilla in Rome
0:3 and 10:12 in the final set tie-break. Lost in the first
round of French Open against Luis Horna and then won Wimbledon
for the first time!
He lost in the finals of Gstaad just after Wimbledon against
Jiri Novak and hadn't lost a final until the masters cup 2005
against Nalbandian. That's an incredible run of 24 consecutive
wins in the finals!
So what can we learn from Roger Federer?
First, he had to go through very tough times - he lost 5 and
7 times in a row in the first round in 2000. Many players
would make the conclusion that they can't make it, that they
are losers and so on. But the past does not define the future
unless we decide it to. Roger Federer didn't think that because
he lost 14 times in the first round that year he can't make
it big on the ATP tour. He practiced harder, smarter, learned
his lessons and MOVED ON.
He also lost 2 finals (and later some more) and didn't allow
that to become his nightmare scenario. He knew this is just
a part of the learning and growing process that every player
His later achievements reflect his transformation when it
comes to finals - 24 consecutive wins in the finals. We've
all heard and seen players who get really nervous when it's
the finals day. Why? Because of negative thinking. They are
thinking what a waste it would be if they lots this final.
They really don't want to lose this opportunity.
Roger Federer on the other hand seems to explode in the finals.
Last year's US Open against Agassi was a perfect example.
Roger didn't play at his best a couple of previous rounds
but when he started the match against Agassi he was simply
destroying him with aggressive and attacking play.
How does Roger do that?
He is focused on what he wants. He wants to win, he can feel
how it would be to win and with that feeling and that positive
thinking he generates a lot of energy. He goes for what he
wants and doesn't think what he wants to avoid. The only thoughts
in his mind are about the winning, the trophy and his feeling
And that is his next special ability - he can enter the zone
almost on command. He is the master of the inner game where
he plays instinctively, courageously and creatively.
We can easily detect that when we observe how his head remains
still after the point of contact. The reason for that is that
his mind is still at the point of contact. He is not worried,
afraid, doubtful in thinking ahead. He is fully present in
that specific moment of striking the ball. And he moves on
with his mind and body when the stroke is finished.
The other inner game quality that he possesses is the ability
of non-judgment. Roger Federer is not perfect (even though
some think so…) and he makes unforced errors too. But you
will rarely see him show any emotion about that. He accepts
them as a part of the game and remains focused on his goal
- what he wants - instead of that he doesn't want - to make
Roger Federer had to learn the game the hard way. But he didn't
allow the setbacks to define his future. Remember that when
you lose a first round match or a final.
He is focused on what he wants and he goes for it. This is
very important because we have the ability to control our
thinking if we decide to. Focus on what you want.
Roger Federer plays in the state of acceptance. He accepts
negative or disturbing events and his own mistakes and limitations
as a part of the game and a part of himself. He doesn't judge
them and feel bad about them. It would immediately take him
out of the zone.
Observe that in him and other tennis players and look for
the moments when you experience that. Then build on that until
it becomes your second nature. And then you'll be free.
Tomaz Mencinger is a sports consultant and a tennis
coach. He teaches tennis players how to apply tennis
psychology to make their mind their best ally. More resources
at his website http://www.tennismindgame.com
Article Source: http://www.articles2k.com
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