The Next King of the Court

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

That was the recent headline in the Wall Street Journal, referring to tennis star, Novak Djokovic after his win over Rafael Nadal and getting closer to becoming the number one tennis player in the world. Known for his good humor, athletic ability and mental fortitude, he is still considered an improbable champion. Coming from the small country of Serbia, with its poverty, years of the stress of war, lack of tennis courts and training facilities, how is it that Novak and other Serbian players are making such an impact on the game of tennis?  As a tennis psychologist, I could guess that his innate talent and strong desire to escape a poor, war torn country  kept him highly focused and motivated to maximize his physical gifts. Perhaps it’s his national pride or lack of pressure from parents? Perhaps it is the love and joy for the game? For me and other sports psychologists working with athletes on peak performance, we believe it’s what is between the ears that matters the most:  Mental skills and mental coaching combined with a personality that is both laid back and intense at just the right times.

Let’s see if Novak can rise to the top and how long he can stay there.

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