What Novak Djokovic Can Teach Us About Mental Fitness
“When the crowd is chanting Roger, I hear Novak.”
The 32-year-old tennis player, Novak Djokovic, said after his historic win against ‘people’s champion’ Roger Federer in Wimbledon finals.
In calling this match the ‘biggest mental challenge of his career’, the 32-year-old champion suggested that mental strength and courage might just be as important as physical expertise in sports.
‘The Pressure is Real’
Vaibhav Agashe, sports psychologist and mind coach, explains that one cannot undermine the pressure that athletes go through.
On Djokovic’s experience, he agrees that a lot of cheering for the opponent may make it difficult for a player to concentrate on the game. In such cases, it’s best not to focus on the crowd.
Djokovic attributed a major part of his victory to his ‘mental stability’: “I just try to never lose self-belief, just stay calm, just focus on trying to get the ball back.”
FIT spoke with Shayamal Vallabhjee, a sports scientist and performance coach, who asserted the importance of confidence and self-belief in athletes.
He added, “As a sports scientist, I have to ensure that my athletes walk on the field with a very high level of self-belief, because in the field of sports, that is everything.”
Individual Sport Versus Team Sport — Is There a Difference in Pressure?
Experts believe it is difficult to say one type is better than the other in terms of the amount of pressure.
Agashe suggests that it is actually a bit complex. Even though in individual sport, the player is alone to bear the pressure, he/she also has certain advantages.
“The results are totally in your hands. You can decide what you want to do, how you want to take the game forward. In team sports, while you have people to share your stress with, you also tend to depend a lot on other players’ performances,” he said.
Mental training and conditioning could help. Coaches, parents, and sports psychologists can help sportspersons stay grounded and deal with stress, anxiety and even defeat.
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