Tennis Psychology: Andy Murray – You Should Be In Bed!

It’s late Saturday night in Melbourne Park. Jamie Murray has just secured his first mens doubles title. In the players box recording his victory speech is his brother Andy. A nice touch. Apart from one thing. The next day Andy will be in the Mens Singles Final against the force that is Novak Djokovic. Is this the best mental, physical and emotional preparation for Andy Murray to secure his first Australian title? Seemingly not. From very early on, it is evident that Murray is off his game. Looking low in energy…listless…unable to put any pressure on the defending champion , […]

Read More...

Tennis Psychology: Angelique Kerber – The Steffi Graff Effect!

So Angelique Kerber secures her first Grand Slam title.  Holding her nerve to win the third set. when she might have been expected to buckle under Serena’s big-game pressure. It turns out that Kerber received a textual message from her idol Steffi Graff on the morning of the match. Can a textual message win a player a Grand Slam? Not by itself. But it can carry influence. We don’t know what the German legend texted, but it was probably a droplet of champions wisdom accrued from securing twenty-two Grand Slams. Because of Angelique’s idolatry for Steffi, it’s equal to receiving […]

Read More...

Tennis Psychology – Novak Djokovic: The Sanctuary Of Success

It’s Novak Djokovic talking to courtside interviewer Jim Courier, straight after his outstanding Australian Open semi-final win over Roger Federer. Courier is discussing Novak’s current frame of mind. He asks if his quarter-final five set struggle against the awkward Gilles Simon left him with any lingering self-doubts. Novak is very clear. ‘Your convictions have to be stronger than your doubts’ is his response. To be a multiple Grand Slam winner and champion your mind cannot be riddled with doubts. That doesn’t mean that you dont experience them. But its in how you process those doubts that allows a champion to continue […]

Read More...

Tennis Psychology: Johanna Konta – The Ball…The Net…The Lines!

‘I’m hitting a yellow ball across the net into some lines’. It’s Johanna Konta speaking after her Australian Open quarter final victory over the qualifier Shuai Zyang.  She is explaining to the press her perspective about the game. It’s rare to hear a professional player speak with an almost childlike simplicity about what they do. And yet it’s this simplicity and clarity that is key to Konta’s emergence and success. It’s as if the reason why she plays the game has not become corrupted by the demand for results and outcomes. Of course it helps that Johanna is winning. This […]

Read More...

Football Psychology: Ashley Young – Penalty!

‘If Ashley Young is a Manchester United player then I’m a Chinaman’. It’s Roy Keane speaking bluntly on ITV’s Champions League coverage after United’s narrow Old Trafford win over CSKA Moscow. With the score at nil-nil. Young has sought to con the referee with an obvious dive in the box. It’s only brought him stinging criticism from ex-professionals, instead of the game changing penalty he sought. The dive has been part of Young’s repetoire for a few years now. As if he has lost trust in his natural ability to beat a man in the box with quick feet or […]

Read More...

Football Psychology: Jose Mourinho – Beyond Us v Them!

It’s been his go-to strategy for most of his illustrious managerial career. Whenever he needed to sharpen his teams focus, or guard against success-inducing complacency, then Jose Mourinho would manufacture an enemy. Familiar targets – Biased Referees; The Media; The FA; Arsene Wenger…all served their purpose as acting as a false enemy (The THEM). Opposing forces who wanted to stop Chelsea succeeding. All designed by Jose, like Sir Alex Ferguson before him, to create a force field around his group The US. The bigger The THEM, the stronger The US becomes. And it’s a strategy that served him well. Until […]

Read More...

Football Psychology: Louis Van Gaal – Roulette!

Lucky!’ That was Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal’s assessment of Middlesboro’s Old Trafford shoot-out win last night. ‘It was more like the casino. Red or black’. It’s an old argument that you don’t hear trotted out too often in the modern era. The notion that what happens from twelve yards after extra-time, is seemingly in the lap of the footballing gods. A lottery. Out of the managers hands. So…the Dutchman is either putting a protective managerial shield around his players. Or failing to see the obvious. That the spot kick misses from Rooney, Carrick and Young weren’t unlucky. But […]

Read More...

Rugby Psychology: England – Fly Me To The Moon!

When the late Brian Clough managed Nottingham Forest, he was prone to conduct unusual team-talks. For example, he would go into the dressing room pre-match and say. ‘Right Lads. Close your eyes’. Then Brian would take a song from the Frank Sinatra songbook, such as Fly Me To The Moon and sing it. To the team. On conclusion of the song, he would say,’ I’m a good singer arent I lads?’ Now go out and show everyone what good players you are!’ Cloughie wanted his supreme confidence to become the players supreme confidence. His sense of freedom, to become their […]

Read More...

Football Psychology: Blackpool – A Club Without Will!

One of the compelling features about Saturday nights England/Wales World Cup encounter was the total commitment the Welsh team gave in their desire to find a way to win. Commitment that could be seen in their energy, hunger, desire, collective spirit. Each player appeared to be giving his all for the cause.  Digging deep into their well of resources. It’s like witnessing the best of the human endeavour. Seeing people build their character through acts of will. When we discover that someone has taken performance enhancing drugs to succeed, then it leaves a bitter taste, knowing that they have not […]

Read More...

Rugby Psychology: England – Game Management!

If the Rugby World Cup was a competition determined by the singing of the National Anthems, then England would surely be crowned champions. In the pre-match ceremony v Wales, the hosts belted out God Save The Queen with the nationalistic fervour of a team about to go to war. Loaded with emotion and heartfelt desire. Tapping into the hype and expectancy, this was an England team who wanted to let everyone know they were up for it. But maybe that was the problem. An excellent first half hour showed them to have the measure of the Welsh. But then, as […]

Read More...