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Interview: Faq's - Key Components of the Mental Game


Phil: What would you say are the key components to the mental game?
Rob: The mental game is multi faceted; it’s often looked at as a mystery. However, my job is to unlock the mystery. While not wanting to oversimplify the mental game, following few questions that junior players can think of and try to answer:
1.What are the things they can control, what would happen if they focused on these elements?
2.What are the necessary steps or ingredients that must happen to win?
3. How can you learn from setbacks, obstacles and failure?
4. If you were not afraid of losing? How would you play? What’s getting in your way?
5. Who do you know that competes well? What do they do? What can you learn from them?
Phil: What can a player do in preparation for a match?
Rob: This comes back to focusing on what they can control. That is monitoring their diet, hydration, and sleep. Also, ensuring they are entering the match from a place of calm, the evening before doing breathing exercises, insuring all their equipment is laid out. Before the match it is important to warm up, get a sweat going and simulate their key stroke patterns. Once on the court, its about adapting, adjusting and making the best choices.
Phil: What can a player do between points?
Rob: Between point rituals are key for all players, these rituals help the player to let go of the previous point, center themselves, strategize and do their physical ritual. The key is creating a ritual that is individualized to the player, one that they want to do. If it becomes another thing they have to do it will interfere.
Phil: What can a player do at changeovers?
Rob: The key here is to decompress, regroup, and just let go for a moment. The match will always be there. But more so it is important to approach the next few games in a clear present place. 
Phil: What kind of questions can a player ask after a match?
Rob: Post match is a great time for self-reflection. However, it is important for the player to have time and space to separate from the match. This will allow for clear and thoughtful reflection. I would to consider questions such as:
1. What worked for me in the match?
2. How can I build on what worked for next match and how can I work to improve what didn’t work?
3. How can I place myself in a stronger position to hit the shots I want to hit and at the same time minimize my weaknesses?
4. What is my goal for the next competition? What are three specific things I need to do to reach them?
Phil: What do you advise players in regards to goal setting?
Rob: The key here is to understand the difference between a process goal and an outcome goal. A process goal is something that the player can control; such as I will hit 5o serves out wide each day in practice. An outcome goal is something like I will hit 5 aces out wide next match. The key is to be aware of the outcome goal, but focus solely on the process of what it will take. Goals should constantly be evaluated and adjusted based on the progress of a player. 
Further, the goal setting process should include short term goals, here it is particularly important to set specific process goals, the idea being if the player reaches these process goals they will put themselves in position to reach the outcome goal. Once a player reaches the outcome goal, lets say of winning a tournament, another goal should be set. The idea is to open and close new goals, always striving for continual improvement.
Phil:  Rob Thanks for your time and insights...I know the P3 Academy players will benefit greatly from them!