Today, in the French Open Men’s Final, Roger Federer was leading his nemesis, Rafael Nadal 5-2 in the first set and ended up losing the set, 7-5. All he had to do was hold serve once and the set was his. Instead, Nadal won seven games in a row and gained a tremendous amount to momentum, and eventually won, 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1.

This happens all the time in sports.

Recently, I began giving one-on-one mental toughness sessions to a competitive female tennis player. One of her biggest challenges is that she cannot close out a set or match. When she has a lead, she tends to ease up, lose focus, and/or celebrate victory before it actually happens.

What happened to Roger Federer today?

Only Roger knows that.

But, for the most part, there is no excuse when you lose a 5-2 lead.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Most people play better when they are losing, so…pretend that the score is 2-5.
2. Focus on your strategy (placement, effort), not your situation (so close to winning the set).
3. Play one point at a time.
4. If you feel the momentum shifting to your opponent, SLOW the game down; take your time between points to minimize the length of the rally for your opponent.
5. Go all-out and do what got you to 5-2.

Is finishing a set or match simple?


Is it easy?


You cannot control results, but you can certainly do things to help put yourself in the best possible position to win. Focus on those things and you should be pleased with the results.


Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Julie Martin-Kolb. Happy Belated Birthday to a passionate tennis mom!

I love hitting aces while playing tennis, but there is an ACE I like even more…

ACE—Acting Changes Everything

The other day I was watching some tennis players and when they hit a good shot, they had great body language and looked extremely confident. But when they missed a shot, they had terrible body language and looked extremely negative.

Here’s what Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer know…

You don’t have to act how you feel. You can feel tired, negative or not into it, but you can still ACT like you are energetic, positive and totally into it. The best part is that when you start acting like the player you want to be, you start feeling like the player you want to be.

Most people have it reversed.


Here’s a an easy mental toughness tip that you can instantly start to use.

1. Stand or sit up straight.
2. Stick your chest out.
3. Bring your shoulders back.
4. Lift your chin up.

Now feel negative.

You can’t do it, can you?

I can tell you to try to feel confident, happy and positive, but you may not be able to.

But I can say smile, or act like the most confident person in the whole world and you can. The beauty of this is that even if you have to fake it at first, soon you will feel it.

Congratulations to Rafael Nadal and Francesca Schiavone and a special thank you to the great Angie Holmberg who snapped some great shots of Game. Set. Life. on her recent trip to London and the French Open. See below.


“When you’re hanging in there against a team you were supposed to lose to, there’s a belief that you can win.”
-RICHARD LUSTBERG, sports psychologist

Well, the impossible happened yesterday in Paris at the French Open.

Rafael Nadal was finally beaten.

It was his first EVER loss at Roland Garros.

He had a 31-match winning streak and 32 consecutive sets won.


And he lost to…

Robin Soderling?

Soderling has never beaten Nadal. In fact, they played just weeks ago in Rome and Soderling won only one game. Oh, and Soderling has never gotten past the third round in a major tournament either.

So what happened yesterday? Soderling was in the zone. Nadal was not. There is not much difference in physical ability, so that means, on any given day, anyone can win. The difference is in the mind.

Soderling went all out.

He hit twice as many errors as Nadal, but he also hit twice as many winners. By being aggressive, he did not let Rafa take charge. He did not let Nadal play his game.

I like Soderling’s mindset: “I said to myself, ‘This is just another match. I won one set, why can’t I win two or three?’ I had to play aggressive against Nadal. You can’t just push the ball back.”

After one of the biggest upsets in tennis history, the giant-killer said, “I don’t want to get too excited, I still have another match.”

Nadal, surprisingly, during his interview, didn’t seem crushed. He even made a joke.

“You can’t win all the time. I have to lose with the same calm that I win with. This just shows that I need to prepare better, physically and mentally. I just have to work harder. My next preparation is the pool at my house. Give me three days, then I’m back to work.”

I am convinced that this will only be a minor setback for Rafa. After his match, he walked out of the locker room and instead of quickly exiting, he made a point to visit the tournament’s player support and transportation desks to say, “Ciao, merci.”

That’s a class act.

Now the question remains, will Roger (Federer) prevail?

Will he relax too much and possibly lose, or will he take advantage of this huge upset and win the only grand slam that has eluded him?

Only time will tell…

Thanks for reading.


In this month’s tennis magazine there is a great article on Rafael Nadal and how he became so successful. His coach, Toni Nadal spoke on Rafa’s sources of motivation…

“These are based on two things: First of all, his mental ability, just the way he is. Second, he has been working very hard since he was a kid. We practiced with some bad balls, bad court, bad bounces. So he learned. When something goes wrong for him, he doesn’t blame the court, the bounce or the strings. He always blame himself for not doing better. So now he’s a very tough person. Tough on himself. It helps him be stronger, mentally.”

If you want to be like the great ones, you need to think like the great ones and do what they do. Your physical skills take a while to develop, but you can instantly improve today by having a winning mindset and giving your all in everything you do.

Thanks for reading.