All athletes can win once. But not everyone can overcome a match against. With the same physical potential, or even diminished by fatigue, only one element is capable of rewriting history and signing the comeback: the mind.
“With your talent, if you keep your game level at 50% and your mind at 90%, you will win. But if you keep your game at 90% and your mind at 50% you will end up losing. ” Brad Gilbert to André Agassi.
The shortest distance between a loss and a comeback is the one that separates the physical potential of an athlete from his mind. All athletes can win once. But not everyone can overcome a defeat. That is the distance I dedicate my time and effort to and it is the distance I want to travel with you on this blog. My passion (you will see) is to connect both points in multiple sports disciplines.
It is a distance that Sergio Ramos knows well . On Saturday, again, the defender once again showed that, if he is an expert in comebacks, it is because he knows that there is a determining factor in them: the mind. An athlete does not go back because of his physical form, but because he is capable of adopting a winning mentality, redirecting the game and conjuring the rest of the team towards victory. “Comeback mentality”, Ramos synthesized at the end of the match against Real Betis.
The history of sport is peppered with matches in which this comeback mentality has been able to change a ‘sung’ ending. The 1999 Roland Garros final is one example. Its protagonist was André Agassi who, after two sets with the score to zero, was ‘running’ just in the opposite direction: the resounding and bitter defeat. It was the intervention of his coach, Brad Gilbert, who was responsible for shaking Agassi’s mind to achieve the great comeback.
Perhaps many of you know him. Gilbert, a former tennis player, is one of the coaches who has best understood the principle with which I have opened this article. A theory that he was in charge of demonstrating in the field – and synthesizing, incidentally, with great quotes. Although he was not a player with special potential, he was aware of it (of the lack) and became a player capable of thinking, analyzing and acting on the pitch based on it. He only had to identify the weak point of his rival and try to be better. It was the mind that made him stand out as a player, and it was the mind of Agassi that shook the American tennis player to achieve the long-awaited victory (the Grand Slam that he had not yet conquered). Agassi had the blow, yes, but he could not find a way to control the game when an opponent surpassed him.
Beyond the physical, sport is full of examples in which this universal principle makes its way. A principle that may well have been formulated by Young & Rubicam’s publicists 26 years ago when they shaped one of the most famous slogans of all time. Does it sound familiar? “Power without control is useless . “
Who does not remember Carl Lewis (‘the son of the wind’ ) about to start a sprint dressed in nothing more and nothing less than red heels? It was an unforgettable campaign composed of two very, very powerful elements: a slogan with a strong idea and an image that also remained for posterity.
More than 25 years have passed since that image. More than 25 years in which that slogan has transcended and has become a timeless reflection: the necessary relationship established between power and control, beyond the parallelism between tire and engine. Especially current, as we will see, in the world of sports.
Like Agassi, if you want to become an unstoppable athlete, the first thing you must learn to manage is your mind. And yes, I’m talking about how the mind is like the tire for an engine: the perfect ally to optimize our full potential. Because an athlete can have a very powerful ‘motor’, but without control to drive it… they won’t go too far.
Those athletes who learn to achieve mental control over their own physical potential so that it takes the right direction in a lasting way are the athletes who learn to travel the distance between defeat and comeback with the least effort (or with the optimal effort).
If I have learned something throughout my career accompanying elite and professional athletes, it is that the difference between those who want to be better and those who achieve it is not (only) effort or sacrifice. I have seen many people work tirelessly to improve and achieve their goals. Very much. But why, despite the effort, do they get stuck somewhere along the way? Blocked.
This happens because the physical potential of an athlete can be out of their own control. From your mind. Effort is necessary, essential, but working hard without working your mindset will only lead to burnout, stagnation, and ultimately frustration.
Here you can find eight tips to know how to increase your mental strength.
As Gilbert was able to make Agassi see, there are some times a year in which an athlete and wake up perfect, full, infallible. But those times will not be the ones that will make you a successful athlete. But the others. Those in which the physical does not accompany and it has to be the mind that leads its potential towards the comeback.