Fine margins, process and performance

Andy Murray’s epic semi-final today in the Australian open showed once again the fine margins between success and failure at that elite level of competition. With such fine margins it’s virtually impossible to pinpoint the exact difference between the players, whether it was mental, tactical, technical physical or something else (what’s for sure is that to win in the face of such tough competition you need each of those components as strong as possible). Murray’s immediate post match interview revealed some insights into the mindset of the elite performer, including the obsessive focus on inputs.

Rather than obsessing on the result, the outcome ( not 100% in either player’s control), his comments were about what he can take from today’s game, the future, and what he needs to do next. Reflecting that he would do “not a whole lot differently” from today, he said that since the last time he played Djokovic he’s “mentally stronger” and has “closed the gap”. He said he “believed I could win throughout” and “fought well”. Looking forward he said that the game would “stand him in good stead” for the rest of the season” that he has taken “huge steps in the right direction” and needed to “keep working”.

See too the way England’s cricketers mentally approached the second test vs Pakistan having lost the first. Geoff Boycott commented today “I’ve not changed my view from the start of the match. England are going to win. They can’t bat as badly as they did in Dubai, they’re good players and they’re mentally stronger than Pakistan.”

Bringing 100% of what you can, and maintaining confidence after a disappointment, are consistent elite performer characteristics.