In the newest episode of his Instagram series, “The Self-Mastery Project”, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic went on Instagram Live with extreme athlete Wim Hof to discuss the importance of the mind.
For much of the episode, Djokovic listened to what Hof — who owns the Guinness World Record for fastest half marathon barefoot on ice/snow — had to say. But Djokovic related the Dutchman’s thoughts to the tennis world.
“On the tennis court I can instantly notice the difference in my own perception of this simple experience… when I make the transformation from being in a doubtful state of mind — when I allow maybe some distractions and some environmental factors to affect my focus, my presence — [to] when I’m completely aligned and I basically am present and everything flows. I’m not thinking because it’s automatic, because I already have it inside of me.”
Djokovic noted that he brings to the court confidence that he has put in all the physical and mental training he needs in order to believe he is ready to win the match. That helps him mentally on court.
“I go out and then I know exactly the distinction and when I make this transformation from good to bad or bad to good, whatever direction,” Djokovic said. “It’s really interesting what you’re talking about because I can feel it on the court. It’s the same court, it’s the same opponent, and the level of the quality of tennis doesn’t change much. It’s more or less at the same level. But I control how I feel and how I act in these situations.
“[I control how I feel by] having in a way a consciousness and awareness of this inner conversation of what is going on, the thoughts, ‘Oh, I’m not good enough, he’s great, I’m not feeling well, sun is in my eyes, someone is screaming something from the crowd’. If you start going that route and you have no control over your thoughts and it completely floods you, you’ve lost focus and that’s why you feel completely inferior towards your opponent.”
Under the same circumstances, Djokovic feels maintaining focus and controlling those thoughts could make a big difference in a match.
“Nothing externally has changed, but internally you say to yourself, ‘I trained myself, I know I’m good, I believe in myself, I have confidence in myself, I’m going to execute these shots in the best possible way. Whatever happens, I accept it, I recover, I go to the next one.” And then all of a sudden the whole game, the momentum shifts to your side. It’s really interesting because it all boils down to the power of mind,” Djokovic said. “The power of mind is something that we have, that we possess. We can’t expect someone else to grant us or to give us a gift or present or something that is going to be a cure or a secret of success. We’ve got to do that work ourselves.”