Saturday, June 3, 2017

Agassi’s role: ‘Mentor’ or ‘Coach’?

The problem with being the best is that it becomes almost impossible not to become utterly narcissistic in the process.  The belief that you are the best in the world may result in you becoming so damn full of yourself that you might just unthinkingly grab the camera out of your wife’s hands to better make kissy-faces to your audience – and forget to thank her for the daily grind of helping you with your mission.

I believe that every extremely successful tennis player risks becoming utterly narcissistic.  Heck, I almost became a narcissist myself after I finally won my first league match!  I lost my head for a moment and started telling our opponents how thrilled I was that I had finally won a match, naively expecting them to actually be happy for me!!  It took a minute for me to realize that they could actually give a crap, especially after having just been informed that they had lost to a typical loser.

Unsurprisingly, an increase in the genuine belief in oneself also naturally follows expert levels of accomplishment.  But, over time, this may be followed by expansive egotism as others keep reminding you of how great you are, as they elevate you to heady levels of regard.  It becomes hard to resist the lure of narcissism as a by-product of stellar success.

(Part 3 of 3)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

‘Coach’ Becker and the problem of narcissism

It is without a doubt that Boris Becker brought his own brand of magic to the Djokovic team.  I call it magic because that is what the psychological advantage often feels like – a magical touch that was either not there before, or had not been there for a long time. 

When Becker arrived in 2013 to Team Novak, it took them all a minute to adjust and figure out what they could achieve together.  By 2014, they had figured it out.  Then ensued three years of undeniable brilliance.  During this magical period, Djokovic won six Slams, three majors, 14 masters, a Grand Slam, and the coveted #1 ranking.  He also married his childhood sweetheart, and they had their first child.

But by the end of 2016, Djoko’s phenomenal run was spent.  After tumbling unceremoniously from #1, he split with ‘coach’ Becker, explaining that they had achieved what they had set out to achieve together.  He also alluded to “private issues” which everyone assumed to be marital in nature, though, to my knowledge, he has never confirmed this. Jelena certainly seems to have remained a fixture in his life.

(Part 2 of 3)

Monday, May 29, 2017

What does Agassi really have to offer Djokovic?

It’s pretty clear that Novak Djokovic has been going through a mental (and possibly physical) slump ever since finally winning the French Open last year.  It’s almost as if, having achieved the Grand Slam, he has struggled to hold on to the motivation to keep striving. 

This is likely because, psychologically, it takes a different kind of motivation to keep striving after one has achieved than is needed to achieve in the first place.  Early achievement is often driven by blatant hunger.  But once that hunger has been satisfied, it is important to shift your psychological motivation in order to keep achieving.  The old strivings fueled by hunger may no longer work once one has been satiated.  Djokovic seems to be a good example of a player who may be trying to figure this out.

(Part 1 of 3)