My friend used to coach the great Pete Sampras. One day he was training with Pistol Pete, getting him ready for his clay court season…his least favorite surface. Well, my friend proceeded to beat Sampras in three groundstroke games in a row, and as they were getting some water, he thought, “I just beat Pete Sampras three games in a row. He must feel terrible losing to his coach. What could I say to him to make him feel better?”

Before he could think of something to say, Sampras walked up to him and said, “That was GREAT! I really feel like I’m ready for the clay court season!”

Shocked, my friend thought, “What?!? How could he feel great after losing to a coach? That’s not normal.”

In a way, great athletes are not normal.

To me, what set Pete Sampras apart from everyone else was what was going on between his ears…his thoughts. He didn’t lose confidence when he lost. He gained confidence because he focused on the process and looked at his training as preparation, not a blow to his ego. Did he ever have negative thoughts? Of course he did.

We all have negative thoughts.

But Pete Sampras didn’t concern himself with his thoughts. He saw the game differently. Was the game actually different? No, only in his mind.

We all have the free will to look at any situation in any way that we choose. It’s not our situation or circumstances that affect our feelings, it’s our thoughts. 100 percent of the time.

The next time you find yourself in a “negative” situation, see if you can see it differently. See if you can see it like Pete Sampras.

Thanks for reading.


Recently, a tennis coach asked me for some advice. He said there was a student of his who wanted to win, but was afraid to play tournaments. She was uncomfortable under the pressure. In practice, she was great.

I told him that in order to be more comfortable being uncomfortable, she needed to put herself out there. She needed to play more tournaments. You can run from fear (it will chase you), or you can face fear (it will lose power). And I told the coach that Pete Sampras love it more when the pressure was on, so it is not the pressure, but your perception of the pressure that makes or breaks you.

When I spoke to gold medalist, Lindsey Vonn at the US Open last year, she told me that the reason why she was able to perform so well under pressure was because she put herself in those situations over an over again.

You may not be able to ski like Vonn, or serve like Sampras, but you can have the same attitude towards pressure as them.


I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of Patrick McEnroe’s new book, “Hardcourt Confidential,” which comes out in stores June 8th.

In this book, McEnroe talks about his twenty years on the pro tour as a player, coach and ESPN commentator.

I loved the stories of Agassi, Connors, Johnny Mac, Sampras, Federer, Nadal and others, especially the mental side of the game. Here is an excerpt from one of Patrick McEnroe’s matches when he was on tour…

Let me go back to 1991, before we leave Australia, to finish the story of my best run in singles at a major event. In the semis, I had Boris Becker by a set and I wrangled my way to a couple of break points early in the second; I could have gone up 4-2 if I converted either of them. But somewhere in there I clearly remember saying to myself, Shit, I could be in the Australian Open finals…

And that’s exactly when the wheels started to fall off — and Becker was too good a player not to jump in and help finish the job.

So folks, mental weakness happens to the pros, too.

Do I recommend this book?


In fact, if you are in the Princeton area on June 12 at 3pm, Patrick McEnroe will be doing a book signing at Barnes & Noble MarketFair. See you there.


Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Warren Bobrow, food critic/blogger.


Think back to the best match you ever played.

Notice how you didn’t have many thoughts going on in your head?

You just did it.

Now think back to the worst match you ever played.

Notice how you kept thinking things like, “why do you keep missing that shot?!” “what’s wrong with you?!” “you stink!”

There’s a secret formula for peak performance…

P = P – I

Performance = Potential Minus Interference

You have all the potential in the world already inside you.

If you can subtract the interference (fear of failure, focus, results, other people, pressure, what you’re eating later, etc), you will perform at the highest level.

I know what you’re thinking, how can I get rid of the interference?

There are many ways, here’s one:

Do what Pete Sampras used to do…

Focus on where you’re going to serve and where you’re going to hit the next shot.

That’s it.

Simple but effective.


For a free 10-minute mental toughness consultation for athletes, salespeople, students…anyone that wants to reach peak performance, email or call 609.558.1077.


One thing that I have learned here in Orlando talking to some great coaches and mental toughness experts is this…

Champions are not normal.

They don’t have normal brains.

Lorenzo Beltrame shared a story about when he beat Pete Sampras twice on clay during a training session. He didn’t know how to console “Pistol” but before he could think of something, Pete said “This is great! I feel like I’m playing well and ready!”

That is not normal.

And last night I spent some time with Mark Dickson, former World #32, who has beaten Lendl and was even Agassi’s doubles partner. He was telling me about the days leading up to his match with Lendl, then #1 in the world. He visualized his strategy every day and EXPECTED to beat him. In his mind, he thought, “I can’t believe I’m going to beat the World #1.” And then he did in 45 minutes. I asked Dickson if he ever went into a match thinking he didn’t have a chance. He said “No.” And when he did lose, he thought, “What a great learning experience!”

That is not normal!

Well today I will be wrapping up a great 2.5 days at the Human Performance Institute and heading back home. Next stop, Philadelphia!

Have a great day everyone!

Homework: Don’t be normal today.


So here I am at the hotel in Orlando getting ready to start a two and a half day workshop on mental toughness at the Human Performance Institute created by the great Jim Loehr, who has worked with Pete Sampras, Monica Seles, Jim Courier and many more.

I did not sleep at all. I was too excited about learning, networking and whatever else the next 2.5 days have in store. But I feel good. I feel REALLY good. In my insomnia, I read a great story from “Zen Golf” by Dr. Joseph Parent. Here it is…


A young man had a clay statue, a family heirloom. He’d always wished that it were bright shiny gold instead of plain brown clay. When he began to earn a living, he put aside a little now and then, until he had enough for his special project: to have his statue covered with gold.

Now it looked just the way he wanted it to, and people admired it. He felt very proud that he had a gold statue. However, the gold-plating didn’t stick to the clay very well, and it wasn’t long before it began to flake off in spots. So he had it gold-plated again. Soon he found himself using all his time and resources to maintain the gold facade of his statue.

One day his grandfather returned from a journey of many years. The young man wanted to show him how he had made the clay statue into a gold one. However, clay was showing through in many spots, so he was somewhat embarrassed.

The old man smiled and held the statue lovingly. With a moist cloth he gently rubbed it and gradually dissolved some of the clay. “Many years ago, the statue must have fallen in the mud and become covered with it. As a very young child, you wouldn’t have known the difference. You forgot, and thought it was just a clay statue. But look here.”

He showed his grandson the place where the clay was removed, and a bright yellow color shone through. “Underneath the covering of clay, your statue has been solid gold from the very beginning. You never needed to put more gold on to cover the clay. Now that you know what its nature really is, all you have to do is gently remove the clay and you’ll reveal the gold statue you’ve possessed all along.”


You have all of the ability and all of the gold already inside you…you just have to discover the strategies for success.

Work hard, focus on the positive and start removing the clay that has built up from years of conditioning and negative events. Don’t let society, others and your own thoughts tell you what your potential is. I already know what it is…

Solid gold.


Today’s message is especially dedicated to Justin Cohen and Kristen Carlin. Happy Birthday to two peak performers.

FEAR – False Experiences Appearing Real

Have you ever feared an opponent before you even started playing?

Why would you do that?

Once we perceive our opponent as a “threat” they own our power and our energy.

Let me put it this way…

Think back to a time when you were totally “on” your game. Did you notice that everything was “just” flowing? Did you notice that you were playing with loose focus and had very little self-talk?

We play best when we “just do it” and focus on our strategy, effort and energy (controllables).

Fear to some people is excitement to others. (Think of a roller coaster).

Supposedly, when Pete Sampras was at 5-5 in a set, a time when most people tighten up, he thought to himself, “Oh yea, this is what it’s all about.” He loved the pressure.

It may take ten years (or the rest of time) to get even close to Sampras, physically, but you can be just as good as him almost instantly by having the same mindset as him.



In this video blog, Ed reports from the Caesars Tennis Classic in Atlantic City, New Jersey with Andy Roddick, Marat Safin, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Pete Sampras and Venus Williams.


Recently, at the “Hit for Haiti” charity exhibition in California, the Andre Agassi – Pete Sampras rivalry continued…verbally. There was teasing, mimicking and violent intent.

In the video below, Sampras makes fun of Agassi’s walk and then Agassi proceeds to make fun of Sampras’ reputation of being a stingy tipper. After that, Pistol Pete hit a hard, flat serve right at Andre when he was supposed to be serving to Agassi’s doubles partner, Rafael Nadal. Apologies have been made, but there is still tension between the two former champions.

I understand keeping a light air when playing an exhibition, and as much a fan I am of Andre, what he said was uncalled for (even though he talked about Sampras’ tipping in his book, “Open”). But Pete had just as poor judgement when he tried to hit Agassi with a serve. Come on guys, we’re role models here.

Watch the video below and leave your comments…Happy St. Paddy’s Day and Happy Birthday to one of my Special Olympics athletes, gold medalist, Brad Abouchedid.

MESSAGE #677 1-2-3-4 PRESSURE…

Anyone can perform well when they feel good, or are “in the zone,” but it’s the great ones that perform well when everything is on the line.

It’s the great ones that love the pressure.

But is it really pressure?

No, it’s perception.

Does the situation make you fearful or excited?

Someone asked Pete Sampras after he retired, what he missed most about playing professional tennis. Sampras said, “I miss feeling so nervous that I would throw up before the finals of Wimbledon.”

So if you can thrive on pressure on the field, at work, in school and in your relationships, you will be one of the greats.

Thanks for reading.