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Lessons From World Champions: Djokovic's Masterful Mindset

Many of us living in the UK recognise that being tired, stressed out and unmotivated are just some of the symptoms of living in an overstimulated society that is designed to constantly steal our attention. The weight of the current economic landscape and cost-of-living crisis is a heavy one, and it can often feel as if it is too much to bear.


You are not alone if you have turned to studying self-help books, reading articles or gazing at youtube videos to discover the latest strategies as a way to cope with this reality.


Or maybe some of you, such as myself, draw inspiration from others who are seemingly able to navigate this complex world successfully. Perhaps this is what draws so many of our eyes to the sports arena. An environment where, regardless of what they are dealing with in their personal lives, elite athletes are expected to deliver exceptional results in the most demanding of circumstances.


Recently, this inspiration has radiated from the courts of Wimbledon, where I have been following elite tennis players, always refreshingly impressed by their ability to escape all distractions and enter a state of pure focus and concentration.


When I saw a recent BBC Sport article in which Novak Djokovic talks about how he prepares his mind to perform at the highest level, I was naturally intrigued. In light of his incredible pursuit of his 24th Grand Slam title, what learning I could apply to my own life from his thoughts on mindset?


I am impressed by Djokovic’s humility and shared understanding of the key ingredient to coping under pressure. Just like so many of us, Novak describes his experiences of struggling to calm the mind in uncertain situations and having to deal with it drifting off and away from what needs to be in focus.


"People are always saying that in matches you should forget about the past and don't think about the future, to just be 'in the moment', but I don't think that's possible, in reality, because of how our mind works,”
"I like to call it a traveller, because it likes to travel through the past, present and future in 'what if?' scenarios all the time, and on court they are probably the most intense. You always think 'what's going to happen - am I going to win or not?'.

He then goes on to share…


"One of the biggest lessons I have learned about mental strength in matches is that, if you lose your focus, if you are not in the present and things have started to go the wrong way for you, then it is fine. You just have to accept it, and then come back.”

But I'm sure like myself, this is likely something you have heard before. The real question I was immediately curious to know is… how do you come back to the present moment?


Djokovic refers to the ability to accept that we have drifted off and return to the present as 'the recovery.'


What struck me was how Novak stressed that the ‘recovery’ itself is more important than trying to stay in the present moment…


“The recovery is more important than working hard to stay in the present, because it is almost impossible to stay there all the time. It's about how quickly you can get back and for me it is breathing, conscious breathing, that helps.”

This resonated with me for two reasons. Firstly, Novak’s honesty in admitting that despite his unparalleled success, he is in fact a human being, who like us all, cannot simply ‘stay present’ at all times. And secondly, his method of ‘recovery’ is conscious breathing…


An area that is integral to our holistic approach at EA5, guided breathing exercises represent a key ingredient to supporting our clients. Our experience with World Champion athletes is that they integrate their mind and body, as Djokovic references in the article, "I believe a lot in the power of movement, and its effect on psychology.”


Whilst discussing the incredible benefits of breathwork is beyond the scope of this article, it is in short an accessible way to shift our mindset. Our clients have found incorporating our guided exercises into their daily routines, prepares them to embrace the many challenges, obstacles and changes that appear in their daily lives, even if that is not on the courts of Wimbledon.


"If we talk about mental strength and how it affects performance, I feel that half the work is already done before you step out on the court, or the battlefield. It's something that, if you fail to prepare properly, you leave yourself a much bigger mountain to climb."Djokovic says.


With all the overwhelming amount of tools and self-help techniques that are out there, our guided breathwork focus on providing simplicity, so that no matter who you are, you can access a deeper sense of peace and connectedness to the present moment.


A focus of mine has been to take the guided breathing elements that we deliver within our high-performance programmes and make them more accessible here at the EA5 Academy.


Below this article, you will find a free ‘5-Minute Guided Audio Session’ focused on reducing stress and bringing you back into the present moment. To refer to the insightful words from Djokovic “conscious breathing is probably the one ingredient that I would pick out as being the most important.”


If you are not reading this on the EA5 learning hub, you can find it completely free here.


I hoped you have found this thought-provoking. If guided breathing is something you are not familiar with, join our community below to stay informed about our range of products that will be released soon. More information here.


Once you have tried the 5-Minute Exercise, if you feel it genuinely has helped, please feel free to share this article with friends, colleagues or anyone you feel would benefit from taking some time and space to be present.


We would also love to hear your thoughts and feedback on not only the contents of this article and resource, but anything that you’d like to share with us.


Please email us at contact@ea5.com and we very much look forward to speaking with you soon.

__ Zak Sylvester

EA5 Academy Director.

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