At the US Open a few months back, Novak Djokavic was geared up and all but certain to win another match and possibly grand slam. He had a perfect year on the court up until his lapse of judgement during his match against Pablo Carreno Busta.
In the first set, Djokavic was down 6-5 and out of frustration recklessly hit a tennis ball in the court. The tennis ball ended up hitting a line judge in the throat, causing her to fall on her knees and required medical attention.
Djokavic was immediately disqualified for hitting a ball “dangerously or recklessly within the court, or with negligent disregard of the consequences” which is in the US Open rule book to avoid instances such as this. He tried to plead his case for over seven minutes to the referee for a second chance, but a second chance never happened.
The referee stood his ground against the best tennis player in the world and sent a clear message that no one is above the rules, especially when the rules ensure the safety of everyone on the court.
Many times in sports we see the best players in their respective sport get a pass on instances like this, but not this time or at least not in this tournament. He will get another chance at the French Open to win his 18th grand slam, but more importantly there is a lesson to be learned from this situation.
The lesson is this… Lack of character and the inability to manage emotions can derail success as quickly as having high character and the ability to manage emotions can lead to great success. In the end it comes down to choice and a willingness to raise one’s awareness and learn how to manage those competitive emotions especially when things aren’t going your way.
We all have a great opportunity to learn from one of the best players in the world in a way we may not have expected. It doesn’t matter how highly ranked you are or how many titles you’ve won in the past, but what truly matters is that you compete with dignity, win with grace, and lose with humility.
Here are 3 strategies athletes can use to help them avoid situations that could compromise a desired outcome
- Remember The Future– Use your imagination and think about your upcoming event. Think about anything that might not go your way or that could go your way , then see yourself handling that situation perfectly calm and under control.
- Deep Breathing– During competition find small windows of opportunity to take a deep breathe in for 4 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. This increases oxygen to the brain, which also calms the mind and allows you to think more clearly.
- The Power of Why– Ask yourself the following question repeatedly both in and out of sports. Why does everything that happens to me work in my favor? Your mind is an answering seeking machine. Ask yourself the right questions to see better results. Disclaimer: Asking this question doesn’t mean challenging or unenjoyable situations will never happen. However, it does mean they are happening because it’s what you need to become a better and more grander version of yourself.
It’s go time! Learn to be aware and manage your emotions. Feel yourself improving and make the choice to get a little better today. You’ll be so glad you did!