During his press conferences in the end of year Masters in Shanghai in 2006, Roger Federer finally explained the one major thing which turned his career around, from the early years when he regularly lost to the top players such as Lleyton Hewitt, who at the time was the number one player in the world.
This aspect was clearly evident when Federer played a match against Andy Roddick at Shanghai, saving 3 match points to eventually win (including being down a set and 4-1 in the second set tie-break, with Roddick to serve).
His secret sounds so simple yet it made all the difference to his career.
Federer said his career finally went golden when he learned not to panic on the court when he was down or under pressure – and that rather than giving up, he now “hangs in there and hopes for the best whenever things are down”.
Federer attributes his success to this one simple decision, and said it has been the best choice that he has ever made in tennis.
Federer indicated this again after the Roddick match, when he mentioned that it appeared that he was going to lose the match for sure – and that he just decided to “keep playing and see what happened”, just in case Roddick got nervous or something dramatic should happen that might change the match.
And as is so often the case, Federer escaped from a seemingly impossible situation to register another victory.
One could say that Federer wins these matches because of the amount of inner belief he has from the incredible win/loss record he amassed from 2003-2006, but the fact is that he did not begin to amass this record until he first began believing in himself.
Federer realized that, in order to become a champion, he had to first begin thinking like one – and this made all the difference to his career. This is actually the opposite of how most players think – as most believe that once they start winning lots of matches, “the belief will come”, which will help them win more matches.
But this is not how it works – because as Federer discovered, it’s actually the other way around. The secret is that you have to first create the belief, before you will begin winning lots of matches.
So how do you increase your belief? In the same way, as you master anything else – you develop your belief by practicing it regularly. Here are a few things that help increase belief:
Regularly visualize yourself winning matches by running powerful, vivid and emotional images of success through your mind, seeing yourself playing brilliantly in every department of the game.
Never talk yourself down, and make sure all the inner dialogue that constantly goes on in your mind is positive and upbeat, rather than critical and negative.
Reinforce your belief by regularly reminding yourself of all your past victories, rather than completely forgetting about them as most players do.
Apply the Federer method to your own game whenever you are playing a match, and simply refuse, from now on, to ever give up – ever again. Hang in there, keep playing, and see what happens.
If an increasing inner belief can make such a major impact upon Federer’s game, just imagine what it can do to yours.
“The Mind controls the body, and the Mind is Unlimited”
The best of success, Craig Townsend