“The mental was strong today.”
– Roger Federer
Competitors understand that every game, every match is a new slate. Past experiences or victories don’t guarantee future W’s. They can help create mental confidence, a resilient mindset, experience, and growth in strategies. But, as Mr. Federer was quoted, being mentally tough is as much a learned skill as being fundamentally sound with one’s technique.
Federer said the above quote in a press conference shortly after winning another of his record setting Majors. He knew if his mental game wasn’t sound, all the best technique in the world would never earn him s shot at a Major, let alone any professional tennis championship whether at Wimbledon or Cincinnati.
Two people with Canadian connections understood this truism as well. Singer/song-writer, Neil Young, whose father Scott, considered Canada’s number one hockey writer from the 50’s to the 70’s, had an entire album devoted to this maxim – Rust Never Sleeps!
Or, the Zen Master himself, Phil Jackson, winner of more NBA titles than any coach/player in history, felt this was his primary emphasis as a coach beyond the famed triangle offense. He placed equal emphasis on mental and soul development as honing one’s fundamental skill-sets (check out Sacred Hoops). He gives a lot of credit for his life philosophy to his Swift Current born mother, Elisabeth Funk-Jackson. A preacher’s wife who emphasized to young Phil and his siblings that personal growth was to be a consistent priority; not a now and then option. He said his parents were two of the most holistically sound people he has ever encountered, that modeled mental toughness which could be transferred onto the court.
How’s your mental game? Are you rusty? Remember one achieves what they emphasize!