I (Howard) do see in the tennis world some people dealing with adversity much better than others. There are many players that would have started and had kind of a meteoric rise. Then when they come up against adversity, they just fall off the edge of the cliff. So, they’ve not prepared themselves. On the way up the mountain, there’s a journal called The Rocky Road of Talent in which if you’ve got a player, that is doing great, beating everybody and every tournament is very easy to the player. That’s a red flag. That’s a big red flag. You have to do something about that.
So, one of the things you might do is within training put constraints in terms of drills with the players to make it harder for them to win and get them to train with or from time to time compete with the older players. You may even sign them up for a tournament ill prepared. You want to create what they in the journal would call talent trauma. A straight line up is danger. It needs to be a little more up and down. Players needs to both be great players but also have robustness and the resilience alongside that. That’s important and it needs to be trained.
Iga Swiatek who won French Open is working with a sports psychologist. Some commented that it was strange that she’s working with a sports psychologist, but Sport psych is a huge component. It’s a lonely place on the tennis court. It’s not like any other sport, where when you make an error. Your teammates can get around you or you can go missing for five minutes while you get your thoughts together. On the tennis court it’s all on you. So, the resilience, robustness and the whole psychological side alongside being a great tennis player is very important.