I just read an interesting article on Yahoo! Sports by Martin Rogers about how Andy Murray is having “bizarre dreams” and is thinking about seeking a sport psychologist to work with. You can read the article HERE.

While reading the article, I had many insights about how Andy is heading down the wrong road, and actually wrote to Mr. Rogers. Here’s what I said…

Hi Martin, I am a mental performance coach and I just read your interesting article regarding Andy Murray and his “bizarre dreams.” I thought you might find my two cents (five cents) interesting.

#1 Murray is taking his dreams too seriously. Dreams are not reality, they are merely random thoughts when you are sleeping and if you don’t take them seriously, they have no power over you. Do people take guns and wear bullet-proof vests to watch action movies?!? Of course not, because they know it’s not real. Neither are dreams. The problem is, feelings actually “feel” like reality, but when people don’t see that it’s just coming from their own made up thinking, they start heading down the wrong road and try to change the situation.

#2 In your article, Murray said, “I’m staying in a quieter hotel than usual this time and trying to make sure I don’t spend too much time around the courts.” This is a red flag to me because a quieter hotel and being around the courts has nothing to do with an athlete’s state of mind. Focusing on external factors is an outside-in approach and that hurts performance and mental resilience. The mental game is internal, or an inside-out understanding so trying to change external factors is like trying to make the tail wag the dog…it doesn’t work.

#3 It worries me that Andy’s mother and Ivan Lendl are taking Andy’s dreams seriously as well. And talking to a sport psychologist will not help because sport psychologists use an outside-in approach, which include techniques, rituals and routines that lead athletes in the wrong direction. These techniques will only create more thinking in Murray’s head and as all athletes and coaches know, increased thinking during competition equates to decreased performance. The zone, or flow is a state of no thought, so it makes no sense to me why someone would want to consciously increase the amount of thought. Yogi Berra said, “You can’t think and hit at the same time; a full mind is an empty bat.” A full mind is also an empty racquet.

#4 Murray is on “an emotional rollercoaster at the time when he should be resting.” Athletes (and all humans) will be on emotional roller coasters during the course of their day, but as long as they understand that this is normal and it’s going to happen, they don’t have to take them so seriously. As a by-product, the roller coaster ride doesn’t last as long. Pete Sampras has admitted to constantly being on an emotional roller coaster during a match, but the difference is in Sampras’ relationship to his emotions. When asked, how he still was able to perform despite the fluctuations in feelings, Sampras responded, “I know that it’s just part of being a tennis player and those feelings don’t concern me.” Same situation, different thoughts about the situation.

#5 You wrote, “If the dreams threaten to turn from an amusing talking point and into a problem, the coach will be certain to take swift action.” It seems to me they are already turning into a problem if they are considering getting help. I would bet that whoever Murray decides to work with will use techniques, routines and/or rituals to try to “fix” Murray’s mental game. Well, guess what? He’s not broken! Nobody is. But sometimes we get in our own way but don’t realize it’s coming from us. It would be as if I made a scary face in the mirror and actually got scared. If people can truly understand how their minds work, they will be able to consistently perform at a high level. Unfortunately, this understanding is the only thing that will help Andy take his game to the next level and help him get over his “bizarre dreams.”

“The only thing to fear is fear itself.” -FDR

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


I am going to make a prediction.

I know who is going to win the US Open this year.

Here it is:

The winner of the 2011 US Open will be…

The player who plays best.

Let me explain.

The best player does not win the US Open, the player that plays best wins the US Open.

It’s not about rankings, it’s about how well you play. Anything can happen in sports. There have already been several upsets in both the men’s and women’s draws.

So the next time you get ready for a competition, forget about who you’re up against. Instead, focus on your strategy and giving your full effort. If you do things that will help put you in a good position to win, you will win more often.

Leave your comments below.

Ed Tseng
Director of Mental Conditioning
Monroe Sports Center




“Records are made to be broken. If you have a passion and love for the game, trust in your partner and something driving you, you can accomplish extraordinary things.”

When I was younger, I was intrigued by the Guinness Book of World Records. I would sit there for hours just reading about all these amazing people and all of their amazing feats.

Well, recently, I met a world-record holder.

When I spoke at the USTA Tennis Teachers Conference this year during the US Open, I met Angelo Rossetti, who holds the record for the world’s longest tennis rally with his brother, Ettore.

Several years ago I was rallying with one of my students and we were able to get 650 shots in a row – it took twenty minutes and we were pretty happy.

Can you guess how many shots Angelo and Ettore hit?


It took them over 14 hours and 31 minutes on September 10, 2008.

Amazing, but what I like most about this record is that they did it for charity. Several charities.

I had a great conversation with Angelo and was intrigued by his story. I asked him if he would answer some questions for my blog, which he kindly did. Here they are…

ET: What did you do/tell yourself during the rally when you didn’t “feel like” continuing?

AR: As far as a strategy, we focused on “under the ball, over the net”. If we did both we would not miss. I thought about my family, all of the supporters who were still there and about the 4 charities and the people who face diseases that they try to eliminate. Others have gone through a lot more sacrifice for a lot less reward, so it they can do it so can we. Our sacrifices of lack of sleep, food and water pale in comparison to what the starving, people with cancer and ALS go through. We didn’t let down our fans, friends and family and, above all, the people who are affected every day with (breast) cancer, hunger, Lou Gehrig’s disease and brain cancer. Sometimes you can push yourself further when doing it for others than for yourself. At the net chord at about 12k strokes I was spent. (Angelo)

ER: I felt exhausted – mentally, physically and emotionally. After the hug, I dropped to my knees and buried my face in my hands, overwhelmed by a confluence of feelings: exhaustion, relief, fatigue, dehydration, hunger, pain, joy and sorrow. In that moment, I thought of my wife Soumia, and my two children, Adam and Jasmine, both under 5 years old – and then began to weep for the children around the world who die every day from preventable or treatable causes before they reach age 5. In the developing world, mothers in many countries do not name their newborns for weeks after birth for fear they will not survive. I thought of those unnamed children. I also thought of the late Scott Wilson and the late Tim Gullikson, our honorees, and all of the victims and survivors of ALS, brain cancer and breast cancer. I hugged our Dad and gave a thumbs-up to our Mom, who was still loyally watching from the observation window. (Ettore)

ET: How did you prepare for breaking the record?

AR: One of our keys to success was a training net that attached on the top of the net that helps players hit the ball with a higher trajectory over the net and thus further in the court. It is just as much of a mental challenge as a physical one, if not more so. Doing anything for 15 hours straight is hard to do. We both were physically and mentally training by teaching 12-hour days for more than nine months. I did not eat or drink much the day or so prior as well. We had a handful of 1-hour practices throughout the year prior.

ET: Do you think that anyone can do it?

AR: Records are made to be broken. If you have a passion and love for the game, trust in your partner and something driving you, you can accomplish extraordinary things. With that said, I find it tough for anyone to rally for a longer time period as previous world records were done in half the time. We welcome anyone to raise money for charity and try for the record as we did this year and will do in future years. We secured $1M this year for anyone who could break the record back on August 15. If someone does break the record we would be committed to do it again.

ET: What motivated you to try to break the record?

AR: We wanted to raise awareness and funds for four charities that hold special meaning for us: the ALS Association, Save the Children, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation. The effort was inspired as a way to honor Scott B. ­Wilson, our fellow USPTA Professional, friend and mentor who lost his battle to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2005 at the age of 42, and Tim ­Gullikson, who died of brain cancer in 1996. Early in their careers, the brothers worked with Wilson, who was a head pro at the time. The Rossettis, who collected approximately $20,000 to date, aim to raise $25,944 by December 31 to match the number of strokes from their world record rally. Contributions to all four charities are still being accepted online at (click the logo of the charity of your choice).

The Rossettis certainly had a great purpose for their goal.

If you make a goal important enough, anything is possible. The Rossetti brothers are leaving a legacy – and they’re just two regular people…and so are you.

< br />Thanks for reading.


“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Kim Clijsters won.

Juan Martin del Potro won.

They weren’t supposed to.

Clijsters had only played two tournaments since coming back from a two and a half year layoff.

del Potro had never won a Grand Slam or ever beaten Roger Federer.

Not everything that can be counted counts.

On paper, Clijsters was unseeded. An unseeded woman had never won the US Open.

Roger Federer had not lost a match in the US Open since 2004. But he lost to del Potro.

There comes a point in a match (and life) that you start to believe that something is possible.

It is then that anything is possible.

“When I broke his (Federer’s) serve for first time, I start to believe in my game,” del Potro said.

There is no statistic for belief. There is no statistic for desire.

Not everything that counts can be counted.

del Potro started off the match obviously nervous. He did not play to his potential in the first set. Federer won 6-3. I posted a comment on Facebook…

“Fed vs del Potro…Fed is too tough, but you NEVER know, esp if del Pot goes all out…”

No one believed me.

Am I psychic? No, so what happened?

At the beginning of the match, del Potro was not playing his game. He was nervous and he looked nervous. He was holding back.

The worst thing you can do on the tennis court is to hold back. I knew if del Potro fought through his nerves and went all out like in his other matches, he had a chance.

Even if he went all out and lost, that would be better than holding back and winning.

Take a moment and think about something that you’re holding back in; something that you don’t want to do.

I don’t feel like going to the gym before work.
I don’t feel like doing the bills.
I don’t feel like studying.

Now go and do it anyway…go all out today!

Thanks for reading.


Yesterday, Melanie Oudin did it again at the US Open.

The 17 year-old from Georgia scored yet another upset, by beating Nadia Petrova.

I hope by reading my blog messages this past week, you are starting to believe that anything is possible on and off the court. Many great players have lost to no-name players. It’s not about the ranking, it’s about who plays better on that day.

In my book, “Game. Set. Life.” I talk about Brad Gilbert’s philosophy, according to Andre Agassi…

“One of the biggest things I’ve gotten from Brad is how to stay in a match when things aren’t going my way. He believes that 5 percent of the time your opponent is in the zone and you won’t win; 5 percent of the time you’re in the zone and you can’t lose. But the other 90 percent of the time, it’s up for grabs; there is a way to win. You’ve got to figure out what that is. And to do that you’ve got to stay positive. You’ve got to believe.”

Melanie Oudin is certainly following that philosophy.

In fact, written on her pink and yellow Adidas Barricade tennis shoes is this…


Thanks for reading.


“I’m not really playing for the money. I just want to go out there and have fun. I really missed it so much…”

I’m in love with Kim Clijsters. The US Open is only the third tournament of her comeback since becoming a new mother. She last played two and a half years ago.

Now she’s back.

I wasn’t a big fan of hers before her break, but after watching her play and upset Venus Williams yesterday, I am totally in love with her. She’s doing all the right things.

She is going all out.
She is having fun.
She knows it isn’t life or death.

After the match you could see how emotional she was, but also had things in perspective. She didn’t need to win. But she wanted to win.

And Clijsters knew she had a chance. Here is her “tweet” just before her match…

“On our way to the courts now. Feeling excited! There’s been a lot of upsets in the women’s draw, hopefully I can pull one today too!”

I know it’s a bold prediction, but I think that Kim Clijsters will win the US Open.

Time will tell.

Happy Labor Day everyone!


Yesterday I was at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for another beautiful day of US Open tennis.

But for some of the top players, it wasn’t so beautiful.

Maria Sharapova lost.

Andy Roddick lost.

Dinara Safina lost.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s message, anything can happen.

In the world of running, Roger Bannister ran a four-minute mile in 1954, after all the experts said it was impossible. Then, thirty-eight people did the same thing the following year.

The same thing is happening now at the 2009 US Open. The youngsters are invading. The underdogs are prevailing. They know they have a chance. And so do the top players.

My condolences to Sharapova, Roddick and Safina. Here are my tips to you…

1. Winners know that a loss is a source of feedback.
2. There is no such thing as failure, only new beginnings.
3. You don’t drown by falling in water, you drown by staying there.
4. A loss is like a knife, it can either serve you or cut you. It’s your choice whether you grasp them by the blade or the handle.
5. Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.

Tuesday I will be back at the Open bright and early doing tennis trivia in the ticket line with Denise Capriati and giving away a few signed copies of my book, “Game. Set. Life.”

Thanks for reading.