6 Great Lessons From One of the Best Tennis Matches Ever

This past weekend I watched one of the best tennis matches I have ever seen. It was the Australian Open Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer. They are two of the greatest men’s tennis players ever.

Federer ended up winning the match, but it was extremely close, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. It was Federer’s 18th Grand Slam singles title. These two have played against each other a total of 35 times. They know each others strengths and weaknesses well.

The interesting thing is that neither one of them was supposed to be in the final. Federer was the 17 seed and Nadal was the 9 seed. Nobody expected this matchup including them. They were both coming off injury layoffs.

Key Lessons

1) Preparation – Hours upon hours of preparation went into this match. Both players practiced for hours, they ate a planned diet, they had recovery regimens between matches, they studied their opponents and they had a game plan for each match.
How do you prepare? What is your game plan? How often do you practice?

2) In Game Adjustments – The players made adjustments during the game. As an example Federer moved closer to the baseline as the match progressed to take away the height of Nadal’s volley shots.

What adjustments are you making in your work?

3) The Mental Game – Tennis is a very demanding game, not only physically, but mentally. The match went 5 sets and lasted 3 hours and 26 minutes.
There were times in the match when one of the players would make a mistake and the mistake would eat at them. You could watch their mental state change based on the mistake.
There was a point late in the match that was the key to the mental game. There was a point that took 25 volleys. Federer won the point and this appeared to be the point where Federer took over the match.
Do you let mistakes continue to eat at you and multiply or do you forget them and move on?

Mistakes impact everybody. The best of the best have the ability to forget mistakes and move on fast.

4) Body Language – During the game each of the players had different body languages. They tended to play to their body language. If their body language was strong they played well. If there head was down and shoulders slumped they did not play as well.
They each had times where they used triggers to quickly change their mental states. They would fist pump or use other positive body movements to immediately change their emotional state.
What do you do to change your emotional state? Have you ever stood up and raised your arms in the air like you just won a race or done a fist pump like you just got a big sale or won a big contract? How did that feel? Try it now. Do you notice the change your current emotional state?
5) Power of Self Talk – They both talked to themselves during the match.  This is similar to body language. If they spoke positively, it lifted them. If their self talk was negative it impacted their game.
How do you talk to yourself? Do you say things like “I can do this”, “I am going to get this sale”, “I am great at ….” or do you say things like “I can never do that”, “I always fail” or “I am not good enough to …”. The choice is yours.

6) They used their Cheerleaders – They got energy from the crowd. There are two crowds in tennis, those in your box and the rest of the crowd. Your box includes your coach, friends and members of your family.
They derived extra energy from the crowd. When something went well or they were frustrated they looked towards their box for encouragement. When the crowd was rooting for them they got stronger. The crowd helped them to dig deeper when they were tired.
Who are your cheerleaders? Who do you listen to? Who are the people that uplift you? Hang around people that lift you up. Stay away from negative people and those that tear you down.

Be Great!

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