Courage. deed. epic. Epic. Anyone who has written about Rafa Nadal has worn out his thesaurus. Because we have already lost count of the winners at critical moments that changed the course of the finals, of the unlikely comebacks when defeat seemed the only possible outcome. Over and over we wonder how he does it. We know that, without a doubt, he does it thanks to his talent. But not only. More important still is his mental strength. Who knows, maybe one day the dictionaries will include a new meaning: Rafa Nadal: mental strength.
Because it is that, mental strength, which has allowed the tennis player from Manacor to stand out from his rivals for more than two decades in a sport of enormous physical and psychological demand. The one that has caused him to never lose concentration despite adversity and to be able to overcome them. You may be wondering where that strength comes from. Let Rafa Nadal himself explain it to us in this video from Telefónica's Better Connected platform.
Talent and technical prowess are indisputable in someone who has won 21 Grand Slams. But if there are some words that Rafa Nadal repeats over and over again as the basis for his success, those are integrity, effort and dedication. “When you do everything you can, you don't have to do more,” he explains. “What I always demand of myself is to have a good behavior, to try hard and to be there until the end,” he says.
The sum of all of them, together with self-control and the ability to manage frustrations and difficulties, make up mental strength, the factor that has made Nadal one of the best athletes in history. There are innate psychological circumstances that influence it. But, broadly speaking, it is a talent that is built over time, that can be trained, and that can improve the life of anyone capable of developing it and putting it into practice.
In Nadal this learning has been exhaustive since his very childhood. "Mental preparation is worked from day to day," she explains. And in a sport as demanding as tennis, it requires determination and the best attitude at all times. Not just in the game. The important thing is to always go to train "with a clear goal" and from there "improve and control frustration, even if there are difficult moments," Nadal acknowledges.
Difficulties and disappointments are, of course, part of the sport at the highest level, but also of the daily life of any person. Gaining mental strength helps you face them and react, moving forward and learning along the way. As Nadal shows us in every game, self-control is essential: "Of course I have nerves sometimes," he says, but he rarely gets overwhelmed by them. This is how he is able to "keep a cool head to analyze things with a proper perspective," he says.
That self-control also functions as the root of personal and professional progress. "When you're on the court, anything can happen and in tennis everything changes drastically in a few minutes," says Nadal in the video of Telefónica's Best Connected. Getting carried away in good times or when, on paper, you are superior to your rival is as pernicious as giving up when your opponent is being better. If the physicist respects, and with the correct control of the mind, the reaction is always possible: “This is my success, not letting go, always looking for the solution and enjoying that process of overcoming, demanding the maximum from the rival to that I win you”.
Because, beyond the results, always giving the maximum of oneself is the greatest victory. True success is having to give it your all. “Effort is always worth it. This is the main message that I would leave”, she observes.
Rafa Nadal is an example on and off the court. Whether they come to him well or badly, he always takes the positive side, respects the rival, he is grateful to those who accompany him day after day and fights to the limit of his strength. All this, as we say, based on a psychological strength trained with determination.
No one doubts that he is a high-level athlete with unique physical and mental qualities. But we can also exercise that mental strength that will help us to be better, that will lead us to face adversity in a more positive way. And in this training, we have the best guide, we have the example of Rafa Nadal.
Let's see what we have been able to learn from the teachings that Rafa has given us in more than two decades of career. Let's follow these tips and we will be exercising our mental strength:
We are all capable of doing many more things than we think. But we have to eliminate these inner voices that tell us, when something is complicated, that we can't do it. Because, at least, we can always try.
As Nadal tells us, “along the way you will have learned and, when you have finished, you will have the personal satisfaction of having done what was in your hands so that things turned out in the best possible way”.
The great tennis players, Rafa tells us, are those "capable of always living in the here and now, not only when things are going well". You learn a lot from what has already happened, but it is already past. Tomorrow, meanwhile, is yet to come. As Nadal does, we must focus on the current situation, on how to find the best solution and leave aside all the aspects that we cannot control.
Many times, our emotions are the aspect that most limits us. Therefore, knowing how to identify them, analyzing the situation with perspective and visualizing the objectives is the main part of developing our mental strength. From there, it is important to always maintain a positive attitude towards what we do.
Work to advance. Only then will we get closer to our goal. Here too Nadal is an example: “Of course I have nerves”, she says, “but I keep a cool head to analyze things with a proper perspective. Sometimes they go well, other times they go wrong, but it's a technical issue. At the decision level I don't usually make many mistakes”, he comments.