Five Pointers from the U.S. Open to Up Your Game

Five Pointers from the U.S. Open to Up Your Game

By Richelle Feigin

The 2016 U.S. Open, a two-week sports and entertainment extravaganza, is under way with more than 700,000 fans entering the gates at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. So far, American John Isner has advanced to the second round; two-time U.S. Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki has defeated a top-10 opponent for the first time in nearly a year; crowd favorite Novak Djokovic is moving on to the third round after his opponent withdrew because of injury; and 2015 U.S. Open runner-up, Roberta Vinci (who kept Serena Williams from her grand slam last year) has cruised into the third round for the sixth straight year.

You could say that these matches boil down to mental toughness. Some players feel all of the pressure and lack the self-confidence needed to pull off a win. Others focus on determination, inspiration and thrive on the thrill of victory.

What can we learn from these tennis pros about mental toughness when faced with a major presentation or meeting that can make or break your career?

Here are five tips from the U.S. Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) that business leaders can adapt and use to improve their mental game:

  1. Use positive self-talk. Eliminate the words, “I can’t,” from your vocabulary. Think only in terms of positivity. Believe you can do it, visualize it, and it can happen.
  2. Consistency is key. Develop rituals to use before a big event. It could be listening to a particular song that pumps you up or calms you down. Maybe it’s repeating a positive phrase in your head or in front of the mirror. By following the same steps each time, you’ll establish a positive mental and emotional state before each event.
  3. Be in the moment. Practice is the time to break things down, get mechanical, rehearse, and remind yourself of key messages. When the spotlight is on you, use instinct and feel as much as possible. Let inspiration take over and be your guide for a natural approach.
  4. Focus. Mentally tough people develop ways to pay attention to the important things. Turn off distractions such as email notifications. Use a “parking lot” for things that aren’t relevant at the moment to tend to later.
  5. Learn one new thing. Set it as a goal. No matter what happens in a meeting or during a presentation, ask enough questions to ensure that you leave the room having learned something you didn’t know before.


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