By: Gregg Steinberg, WGCA contributing writer Serena Williams almost had a tennis season for the ages. In September, she came within two matches of winning the calendar grand slam for 2015. Williams won the first three majors, but lost in the semi-finals at the U.S. Open. Although disappointing, Williams has had a fabulous year, as well as an amazing career. When you look at Serena Williams, you see an amazing-looking athlete. She is extremely fit and muscular. She regularly out-powers her opponents, and according to most experts, Williams has the greatest serve of all time. Underappreciated, however, is her supreme mental toughness. And one of her key mental toughness weapons is her positive self-talk. A wonderful example of her self-talk process happened when Williams was playing doubles with her sister Venus Williams. They have won 21 titles together, but on this afternoon, they were losing decisively. They needed to grind it out to win this match, but Venus was not particularly focused and looked despondent about their chances of winning. Usually during a changeover, the sisters talked about anything from movies to shopping, but during this changeover, Serena gave her older sister an earful. She said, “Listen, I don’t care what you do on your side of the court, but I’m not going to miss on my side. We will not lose this match.” Then Serena went on to say, “Look, Venus, no matter how you feel about your game, you have to show up at the court, right? You have a choice about whether you want to compete well or compete badly. I’m going to make the choice to compete well. Why don’t you do that, too!” All champions use positive self-talk. All successful golfers use self-talk. They routinely pump themselves up with the right words at the right time. Serena Williams talks herself and everyone around her into a winning mentality. Here are two key methods to help your students talk themselves into becoming a champion on the course: 1. Develop a Best Friend’s Journal. Get a small notebook and call it your best friend’s journal. At the start of every day, write one positive self-statement like:
- I will have great confidence today.
- I will have great energy today.
- I will focus well today.
- I will have a great attitude today.