Remember that game of golf you played when you shot one of the best rounds of your life ? Was it after a break of a few weeks, even months ? Why did you play so well? No expectation , no fear. Make sense?
My dad was the best golfer in town for years, he won the local championship when i was 9, he regularly could go round in par , even under, he once hit 32 on the back 9 at Albany, possibly still a record. We played in Perth at the Wembley Golf Club one year, 9 holes , I simply was happy to get within 9 shots, I was going to call it a 'moral victory' if i did. The par was 35, a shorter 9 holes , the greatest round of golf I have ever played . Usually i would shoot a bogey a hole or perhaps 5 over was my best, but this particular day something happened with my golf that i have never revisited.
We both shot 35, I expected that from Dad because he was a brilliant golfer, but me , well I can't explain it. I am not sure whether it was no fear and no expectation or simply that I was after some respect. So what's the point?
If you play a game of tennis with no expectations then what have you got to lose? It's amazing how many players go to water when they look at the draw and see a number that is next to their name that is a number that apparently gives them a chance to win the tournament. If a player is seeded, there is expectation , not just from the player , but from friends, family, players and the tournament committee , there is pressure.
What happens though in a round robin event where seeds are not as intimidating as if you draw one in a knockout comp and a player adopts a mind set of 'no expectation, no fear'?
Well that's easy to answer, that's when a player will play his best , they will play with flair and perhaps even reckless abandon because that's how they can actually play when they practice. I have not only played my best golf when i wasn't placing any expectations on myself but I have played my best tennis after a long lay off .
So what is it with tennis, golf and a body and mind that is as loose as a bloke that has been to a pub and has had 4 pints of the finest ale?
Whether you have either not played for a while or are playing the number one seed in the first round , ask yourself "where is the pressure"? If you don't place any on yourself then surely you can swing as free as that bloke who just drank 4 pints. In fact , have you ever played tennis after a few ales? No fear whatsoever......
At 2 sets to love and 4 all 40 love on his own serve in the 2004 French Open final Guillermo Coria had already written his speech in his head, the rest is history. His opponent Gaston Gaudio had about as much to lose as a broke gambler at a casino, why not roll the dice?
The best golf game you will ever play is the one where you just go for broke and hit it like you simply don't care what your score is going to be. The guy trying to protect his handicap is the guy you will beat easily.
The best game of tennis you have played or perhaps will play in the future is the one where you will just turn up , keep swinging and most importantly not be thinking about the winner's speech at the end. This game isn't that hard really, our minds are the problem , not our shots.......
Gaston Gaudio , French Open Champion 2004- a man who decided to loosen up when the match was seemingly out of his grasp. No fear, no expectation, took him nearly 3 sets to work it out.......