Tennis Psychology: Andy Murray – The Meltdown!

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Tennis PsychologyAndy Murray’s pre Ivan Lendl career was blighted by moments of the Scotsman loudly berating himself. On court. Under pressure. For all to see. Especially in the big matches.

The canny Lendl seemed to help Murray overcome this trait. No more beating himself up on court. No more letting his opponent know how he was feeling. Simply, putting the mistake behind him and staying right in the moment in a state of lucid concentration. A stronger mentality outweighing a highly charged emotion.

So yesterdays meltdown to Novak Djokovic, came right out of the blue. Right out of Andy Murrays back catalogue. In control of his game and well in the match, Murray allowed things to get to him. Back came the shouting and dark looks. And with it went his concentration, his energy and the match. His emotions had outplayed his mentality.

During the Lendl years, it was as if the coach transfered some of his ice cold detached presence to his player. Thus, not being disturbed or troubled by external events, or mistakes. No emotions when none were needed. For emotions dont usually win high level tennis matches.

But Lendl didn’t change this old pattern in Murray. He simply held it at bay. Like having a night club bouncer on the door, preventing undesirable elements entering the club. It would have taken a longer period of time for Murray to have made that change his own, such is the strength of the old behavioural habit.

So without Lendl’s cover and not having established a new pattern himself, Andy Murray’s old emotions came back to haunt him. Triggered by perhaps a perceived sense of injustice at Djokovik’s injury ‘problems’, the emotions came flooding into his mentality, causing a severe loss of focus. Emotions that have been held back for a few years. But loaded up and ready to roll.

Murray wouldn’t have been expecting them. Maybe thought they were a thing of the past. But the lessons of Melbourne 2014, are that if he wants to take the next step and join the games elite, he needs to address the issues of emotional interference.

Understand his own emotional reactions and begin the task of rebuilding them. With a mindset aligned with that of a twenty seven year old twice Grand Slam winner, rather than that of an angry teenager.