Are you Fearless on Court?
So you just can't convert a break point, win that tie-break or hit like you do in practice? How's your head? Both teams and athletes are spending bucks and time on their mental games these days. Heinz Gunthhardt, Ana Ivanovic's new coach for example, is working to get a struggling Ivanovic to "un-think" her game.
The Fearless Mind: 5 Steps to Higher Performance, is a great new read on the topic. Author, Craig Manning, PhD, has played tennis on both collegiate and pro levels in addition to coaching BYU’s Division 1 tennis program into a national Top 20 program. He has practiced and played with many of the world’s top professional athletes, including Pat Rafter and Wayne Arthurs. He is now a sports psychology consultant and as such had six client athletes at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Manning explains how athletes can become successful through developing a fearless mind that sets realistic goals, beats mediocrity, embraces greatness and ultimately builds game. Most of his examples come from the court, useful from this reader's point of view; I don't get as much out of psych books that use football and such to illustrate points.
"High-performing athletes are very disciplined at directing their attention to the task at hand and not feeding their own egos," says Manning. "It is important to be setting goals that drive effort. They must also be ones you have control over." For example, You have control over executing balls. A goal for the weekend warrior might be: If you generally make 2-3 balls cross court before missing in a match, make your immediate goal to hit 5-6. Goals for high-level players would go hand in hand with their level of play.
The Fearless Mind refers many times to keeping a "Mental Skills Journal" that keeps goal records. You can buy one Manning has created at Visualize One.
The Fearless Mind is published by Cedar Fort Inc, and retails for $14.99. I got a lot out of it.