Tim Henman – And Mr Henman

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Another summer. Another Wimbledon. Henman Hill packed with expectant fans. Living on hope. It’s been like this for years. Hope followed by disappointment.

So what, if anything could Tim Henman have done differently to have broken his personal stop situation and taken the Wimbledon crown.

If I had been providing sports psychology services for Tim, I would have suggested a radical experiment. It is one he may not have liked. I would have asked Tim to tell his father Anthony to stay away. Every year you see Mr. Henman alongside Mrs. Henman and Lucy Henman. Perched right over the court. In all that time I have never seen Anthony break into a smile. It is rare that he applauds. He keeps his emotions totally in check.

Tim has been a losing semi-finalist on four occasions. He clearly has the talent. What is missing? It’s a question the radio phone-ins demand of the sports psychologists again and again.

The missing ingredient is something deep down. It’s that something which is unfettered. It’s a freedom of expression. An ability to be free of constraint. The ability to handle the unknown. It’s the quality of a champion.

If Anthony Henman was not sitting austerely over the court, it may have freed Tim up. Free to truly express himself. Free to take his game to another level. Free from the paternal holding pattern. Free from the influence of emotional control.

But as I say – he may not have liked the idea.

Sports Psychology Note: Emotional control has both a positive and negative aspect. The positive is connected to discipline, the ability to stay focused, the ability to ride emotional roller coasters with equanimity. The negative is the inability to feel free enough in yourself to go beyond your known limits.