French Open Lessons for Performers

tennis-fun-2-1398396While writing this article, I’ve been watching the 2013 French Open, one of tennis’ premier Grand Slam tournaments.   Let’s see what we can learn from these performers on the clay courts in Paris.  It took the 12th seeded German player, Tommy Haas, 4 hours and 37 minutes and 13 match points to beat American, John Isner in five sets in the third round on June 1.  Then Haas met and beat Russian, Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets in just 90 minutes.   Youzhny, all too unhappy about this, annihilated his racquet on the sidelines.

These wins make Haas the oldest men’s quarter-finalist since 1971.  He’s also the oldest player in the top 100.  Tommy Haas is 35 years old.  There are more players age 30 and over than ever before in tennis right now, but 35 is pushing it.  In tennis years, 35 may be around 45 in actual man years.

You may be thinking, so what—what does this have to do with me and my performing or what can I learn from a tennis player?   Haas, even at 35, is highly committed to playing his best tennis no matter how old he is.  He is really showing up and staying in each match—even if it takes fighting off 13 match points to do it!  His next opponent in the quarters is 26-year-old No. 1 in the world, Novak Djokovic.  What do you think is going through Haas’ mind as he prepares for this match?  Who do you think expects Tommy Haas to win?  Maybe one person—Tommy Haas!  You can bet he will go on that court and chase every ball and play every point to the fullest.

The lesson performers can learn from Tommy Haas is that no matter what the odds, expectations placed on you, or the pressure you are facing to perform your best, it is your choice to go out there, face your fear, and DO it anyway.  As I write this, no one knows whether Haas will win or lose to Djokovic in the quarters, but I bet neither one of these players is focused on the result of the match.  They are too busy focusing on playing each point as it comes—staying in the present moment.

Whatever you face in your own performing, remember Tommy—the old man on the court—every once in a while.  If Tommy Haas, at 35, can face his fears, doubts, and distractions to perform his best—so can you.

                                   “Never, never, never give up.”  —Winston Churchill


If this has helped you or you have something to add, I’d love to hear about it.  Please leave a comment below.

If you would like to explore this further, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Would you like to learn how to develop your own unique pre-performance routine and your most effective performance mindset?  Then, check out The Relaxed Musician:  Mental Preparation for Confident Performances.   Download Day 1 of the workbook and audio to see how the program can work for you.  With purchase, you will receive 2 great bonuses—Your Pre-Performance Checklist and the e-book, Letting Go of the Need to be Perfect!

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  1. Jeffrey Baer says:

    Thank you so much for this post.
    I am 65 and still feel my best performances are ahead of me. I do want to know how to developer myself into a more exciting and dynamic performer.
    Thanks Jeffrey

    • Dr. Diana Allan says:

      Jeffrey, I’m happy that this article spoke to you. Thank goodness that we musicians don’t “age out” like tennis players, gymnasts, basketball players, and other athletes. We actually can improve with age and an attitude like you have that your “best performances are ahead” of you! You are an inspiration. I would love to know what you play or if you sing? There are so many facets to exciting, dynamic performance, it’s hard to know where to begin. Of course, you have to start with great musical skills. Nothing beats great musical preparation. However, another key ingredient is to possess or cultivate a mindset that you already are exhibiting—one that is concerned with growing as a performer, not trying to constantly prove that you’ve got what it takes. It is evident that you are still striving to become better. Add to this growth mindset a strong belief in your abilities & skills and keen focus on what matters most to your performance and you’re going to start feeling the excitement. I would love to talk with you more. Feel free to go to contact me directly through my contact page. Thanks for joining the conversation!

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