RAFA, by Rafael Nadal
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by Miguel De La Fuente, TS-Coach.
I love helping people become Exceptional.
What does it take to be a champion? What does it take to win big?
This week we have one of my favorite books on the topic, by one of best tennis players in history; Rafael Nadal.
This is a great book for anyone with the commitment to become his or her best. It´s a must read book. You can get it here,
This September, 2019, Rafael Nadal just won his 19 Grand Slam title by winning the U.S open. He is ONE Gram Slam victory from all time winner Roger Federer (as of today, 20).
Rafa epitomizes the WORK HARD mentality and massive WORK ETHIC. He has endured for MOST of his life a SPARTAN regime with NO whining and NO complaining allowed.
A regimen where there is NO place for excuses or explanations. A regime where you fight for every ball, play with pain and where “constructive” suffering is part of your daily life. A place where you PUSH YOURSELF to the LIMITS of your ABILITIES constantly, and regularly, and where you FIGHT TO THE VERY END. A place where you play every match as if it is the last.
A true champion hangs in there, no matter how remote his chances of winning are. A champion pushes himself to the VERY LIMIT OF HIS ABILITIES and try his luck. The key to winning resides in your mind and a clear and strong mind can overcome almost any obstacle, including pain. Mind can triumph over pain and over matter.
A deep commitment to become the best he can possibly be. Rafa is probably one of the hardest working tennis player in the world, with very few days off during his whole career. No wonder he is also one of the best in history.
This is what it takes to be a champion. It´s what it takes to become your ABSOLUTELY best. You have to grind and endure.
As Nadal says, he works the hardest to quiet the voices in his head, to shut everything out in his mind but the game itself, and to CONCENTRATE EVERY ATOM OF HIS BEING ON THE POINT HE IS PLAYING. If he made a mistake on the last point, he has to forget about it, only the present point is important, and the only thing that matters is GIVING HIS BEST IN EACH POINT.
By the time he was 14 he would share with his friends the dream of one day playing at Wimbledon and WIN.
Many times is not a player´s ability or the quality of his game that fails, but what’s going on inside his head. Losing hurts, but it hurts MUCH more when you know you had a chance to win and you are the one who screwed up.
His uncle Tony (he coached him until 2016), the toughest of the tennis coaches anyone who could ever had. He even criticized him when he won, in a constructive manner of course, to help him become tougher and the best he could possibly become.
VICTORY IN TENNIS, AS IN ANY OTHER SPORTS TURNS ON THE TINIEST OF MARGINS.
Victory comes from tiny things that accumulate. Sometimes YOU WIN ON THE PURE CONVICTION YOU HAVE INDISE OF YOU, the belief in yourself and that you will win. Think something like this, “Today I am going to have the best day of my life, I’m going to be at the very top of my game. I am going to dominate”
YOU HAVE TO BEAT YOUR OPPONENT MENTALLY IN ORDER TO WIN.
The more you train the BETTER You tend to feel. Tennis is a mind sport, it is the player WHO has those great feelings and sensations on the most days who tends to win.
It is the player who can ISOLATE HIMSELF FROM FEAR, AND DOUBT AND FROM THE UPS AND DOWNS who ends up winning the most.
Between the top 5 tennis players there is such a small difference in skill that most of the time the mentally toughest tends to win the games.
If HE CAN SILENCE HIS DOUBTS AND FEARS INSIDE HIS HEAD AND EXAGGERATE HOPES, HE CAN WIN HIS BIGGEST GAMES. That’s how Rafa enters competition.
This idea by Rafael summarizes the mindset of a tennis champion or a champion in any other sport:
“YOU HAVE TO CAGE YOURSELF IN PROTECTIVE ARMOR, TURN YOURSELF INTO A BLOODLESS WARRIOR. IT´S KIND OF SELF-HYPNOSIS, A GAME YOU PLAY, WITH DEADLY SERIOUSNESS, TO DISGUISE YOUR OWN WEAKNESS FROM YOURSELF, AS WELL AS FROM YOUR RIVAL”
Playing sports at a professional level pushes your body and mind to limits that human being are not naturally inclined to do. Most of the time you have to play with pain and injuries. Rafael plays with pain MOST of the time. You learn to suffer, to play with pain and discomfort.
SUCCESS IS ELITE SPORTS RESTS ON THE CAPACITY TO SUFFER AND EVEN TO ENJOY SUFFERING. YOU HAVE TO GRIND AND ENDURE. There is no other way. It doesn´t matter how much talent you have or skills you have develop.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS IN THE BOOK:
MY FAVORITE BOOKS ON MENTAL TRAINING AND MENTAL TOUGHNESS:
If you are looking for other exceptional books on mental training as well as mental toughness here are my favorites, the ones I have personally read:
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I keep updating this list regularly….
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This is a great book for anyone with the commitment to become his or her best. It´s a must read book.
You will understand the suffering and the level of commitment you need to have to become exceptional at something.
I love some of Toni´s message to Rafel. I believe his stoic and Spartan training helped him become one of the best ever in tennis.
Here are some of Toni´s messages in challenging moments:
“ENDURE, PUT UP WITH WHATEVER COMES YOUR WAY, LEARN TO OVERCOME WEAKNESS AND PAIN, PUSH YOURSELF TO BREAKING POINT BUT NEVER CAVE IN. IF YOU DON´T LEARN THAT LESSON, YOU WILL NEVER SUCCEED AS AN ELITE ATHLETE”
Endurance, a Spartan philosophy of life.
As he told Rafa at 2008 Wimbledon,
“BATTLE TO THE END AND ENDURE. IT´S ALL IN YOUR HEAD, IN YOUR ATTITUDE, IN WANTING MORE, IN ENDURING MORE THAN YOUR RIVAL”
And Toni continued….
“You´ve got 2 roads to choose from: TELL YOURSELF YOU´VE HAD ENOUGH AND WE LEAVE, OR BE PREPARE TO SUFFER AND KEEP GOING. The choice is between enduring and giving up”
“PEOPLE GET CONFUSED: THEY FAIL TO GRASP THAT YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL BECAUSE OF WHO YOU ARE BUT BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU DO”.
This is so true because the things that come as gifts, unless they have a special sentiment attached to them, you don´t tend to value them, or at least you don’t value them as much as you do the things you had to work and fight for.
Toni, Rafa´s uncle and his ex-coach has a fascinating philosophy towards discipline, and giving your best. It reminds me of Michael Jordan´s ex-coach Tim S. Grover. His book “Relentless” from good to great to unstoppable is one you must read.
And these are my favorite lines from Toni:
“Don´t say you can´t because ANYBODY WHO DIGS DEEPER ENOUGH CAN ALWAYS FIND THE MOTIVATION THEY NEED FOR ANYTHING. In war, people do things that appear to be impossible.
The truth is you can do it. What you can NEVER ALLOW is to fail because of a loss of will. You can lose because your rival played better, but you can´t lose because YOU FAIL TO GIVE YOUR BEST. That would be a crime.
But you won´t do that, I know it. BECAUSE YOU ALWAYS DO GIVE YOUR BEST AND TODAY WILL BE NO EXCEPTION. You can Rafael”. You really can!?
Miguel De La Fuente, Life and Business Coach Exceptional. +507-62463797