Being a No.1 athlete in today’s competitive world, takes hard work, determination and motivation. I sometimes ask myself, what would it be like to stand in their shoes and experience their emotions whether good or bad. I wonder, how do they motivate themselves to the point of winning their game? One such athlete Andy Murray, British No. 1 tennis player, shared how he was able to motivate himself and win the US Open last September.
Murray’s game had collapsed. He had lost two consecutive sets and looked like losing his fifth grand slam final. But then he received a stern talking to in the men’s restroom that changed everything. This pep talk he believes ensured his victory. The provider of this inspirational pep talk was from HIMSELF.
He revealed that he stood in front of the mirror with dripping in sweat and he knew he had to change what was going on inside his mind. So he started talking out loud to himself saying “You are not losing this match”; “You are NOT losing this match”. At first he started out a little tentative but his voice grew louder and louder. “You are not going to let this one slip. You are NOT going to let this slip. This is your time. You have never been closer than this to a grand slam. Give it everything you’ve got. Leave nothing out there.” Murray states that at first it felt a bit weird talking to himself in this manner but he actually felt something change inside himself. He was surprised by his response and knew that he could win the match.
The crowd on the court, knowing nothing of what was going on in the men’s restroom, was expecting Murray to lose the game and for the fifth time he would walk out of a grand-slam final in second place. Murray, before going into the restroom was expecting it himself thinking “Why do I keep losing these finals? Do I lack something? How on earth did I squander a two-set lead?” But after the pep talk to himself, he returned to the court a different player. The first thing he did was to break Djokovic’s serve and win the set 6-2.
Murray further revealed that “No matter how happy or sad I am, it sounds as if I am not bothered and I am unemotional. The truth is that I have lots of emotions inside. I cried after the semi-final at Wimbledon because I was proud to reach the final and I knew how much it meant to the country” and the British public.
The moral of the above story is that the mind is so important in top-level sport and it is critical to understand the need for a pep talk to oneself to become motivated and to go back out and win the game.