Can you suffer from Federer Syndrome? It would be great if you could!
Simon Barnes writes in the Times today how Roger Federer won his 15th Grand Slam title through the brilliant tactic of not losing. Federer’s drive not to lose was immense; Andy Roddick’s desire to win was palpable. In the end, the unwillingness to lose out lasted the desire to win. As Barnes says, “Federer didn’t want it more than Roddick, don’t think that for a second, nobody could have wanted it more than Roddick.”
There is something very special about the winning mindset that allows someone to be fully focused on making sure they don’t lose. Lesser mortals cannot simply focus on this defensive mentality and hope to win. Federer’s confidence, knowledge of how to win majors, immense belief from his fitness levels and his ability to play one point at a time better than anyone else in the game allows him to take that global goal of not losing, and turn it into a series of discrete battles. Focusing on not losing, safe in the knowledge that you have all the equipment to win, is a huge position of strength. Focusing on not losing without the equivalent foundation of compelling evidence that you can win will only ever result in nerves, inhibited decision making and the occasional choke.
So, if you have a tendency to be defensive in your approach to situations, so you do the equivalent of not losing, make sure you spend a great deal of time working out why you, more than any other person, have the ability to win. Roger Federer has a remarkable 6 year body of evidence staring him in the face which makes it a lot easier for him to be able to play both defensively and offensively, with equal potency. If your body of evidence isn’t quite so compelling, just get great at the offensive bit of the equation first so that you begin to build your own personal performance legacy.
It makes you wonder how good Rafael Nadal will be over the next few years as his performance record begins to match an incredible ability to never give in, never know when he’s beaten – a natural born not-loser!