Murray’s Monkey Mind in Melbourne

This guest post is by Don Macpherson the Mindbender

Andy Murray played possibly his best ‘big’ Grand Slam match yet at the Australian Open last month. True he still lost, but he came very, very close to beating Novak Djokovich, and played well…..much better than in previous ‘big Slam matches’…..at the semi-final, or final stages.

How did Murray do it? Was he technically or biomechanically better? No, not really. Was it the Lendl factor? Well yes, it was, but not in the way you may think………

Mind Management

Andy Murray’s much improved performance was all about better mind management. This time he was able to control the ‘voice in his head’, his monkey mind, which prevented mental fatigue from setting in.

Monkey mind is what the Chinese call the chattering voice in your head…..the analytical, logical, thinking part of your mind. This voice is like a monkey swinging aimlessly from tree to tree in the jungle. This is your conscious mind. When you are playing your best tennis you are playing subconsciously, the voice in your head, the monkey, is quiet and under control……so now you can play your best tennis.

Against Rafael Nadal in the 2011 semi-final at Wimbledon, Andy Murray totally failed to control his monkey. This for sure cost him a place in the final and possibly a place in history as the first British Wimbledon Champion for thousands of years.

The Lendl Factor

Had Lendl given him a better serve, a winning forehand, a wonderful new backhand? No. Had he created a new mind management program so Murray no longer mentally imploded in big Slam games? No.

So what did Lendl do? The answer is…….nothing.  He just sat in the stadium, where Murray could see him. This was enough for Murray to be able to control his monkey mind, and have the correct mindset that allowed him to keep on playing the winning tennis everyone knows he is capable of.

The reason it was this simple is down to one thing……..respect. Murray was no longer shouting abuse at his ‘team of helpers’ up in the players box, he had too much respect for Lendl. This forced his monkey to behave.

The same thing happened whenever McEnroe played Borg…….there was none of the ‘you cannot be serious’ episodes because he had too much respect for the Swedish maestro. The difference is McEnroe was very unusual in that his monkey mind was not as destructive as Murray’s.

So, there you have it. As long as Lendl is present in the players box at the semi and final stages of Grand Slams, Andy Murray has a great chance of finally breaking his Slam hoodoo.

The lesson to all you competitive tennis players is…….control your monkey mind, or he will control you!

Don Macpherson is a UK based mind coach who has been involved with sports personalities for more than 22 years. He has appeared on television and radio several times for the BBC, and has been a regular contributor to various UK national newspapers such as the Sunday Times. Over the years Don has worked with all sorts of athletes including Tennis Grand Slam winners, Ryder Cup Golfers, Premier League soccer players and Formula One Champions. Visit his website to learn more.