Mind Games… Mentality in Sport- The Crucial Element for Success

Mentality is the fine line between success and failure in whatever sport you play. It can lead a player to victory or defeat. The mind is the hardest thing to control when things are or aren’t going your way, and we have seen many examples of this over the festive period just gone and also many in the past few years. Here are just a few examples of how mentality has affected a team/player or match.

PDC World Darts Championship- Alexandra Palace, 1st January 2014.

Michael Van Gerwen vs. Peter Wright

I love watching this over the holidays, the atmosphere, the quality of the darts and the entertainment that comes with the spectacle just thrills me, and this year the final was one to really admire. Michael Van Gerwen came out on top 7-4 against Peter Wright, but it wasn’t so straight forward as it seemed after four sets. MVG stormed into the 4-0 lead, leaving Wright powerless and the nation stunned. But this is where the mentality factor came in. I think it was a mixture of not giving in by Wright and complacency by Van Gerwen. Before you knew it, it was 4-2 and then 6-4. Wright missed a crucial double to make it 6-5 and that mistake allowed MVG to cross the finishing line and take home the title of “World Champion”. But the fighting spirit produced by ‘Snakebite’ Wright was admired and perhaps he earned the title of “People’s Champ”.

2013/14 Ashes Test Series- Australia

Australia vs. England

Well… what can I say that hasn’t been said already? Embarrassing, disappointing, not good enough. The England team were whitewashed 5-0 by an Australian team that in my eyes, aren’t still as strong as they can be, we just weren’t at the races. Yes, credit to the Australian bowlers, they were tremendous, especially Mitchell Johnson, but in that final test, the mentality of the England team was all over the shop, being bowled out in just 32 overs.  Alistair Cook in particular looked mindless, and he must review his performance and make a judgment on his future career as England Captain. Trott leaving after the first test and the shocking retirement of Graeme Swann didn’t help the tour side either, it’s going to be tough to bounce back from this for everyone involved with England Cricket.

Uefa Champions League Final- Istanbul, Turkey-2005

AC Milan vs. Liverpool

This has to be one of the best moments for not just Liverpool fans but British fans of football and the Champions League. 3-0 down at half time against the Italian giants, Liverpool must have felt down and out of the contest. However, it was completely the opposite. Rafa Benitez and his team showed their spirit and mentality to go out and win the match in that second half; again it can be argued Milan may have been complacent, their mind telling them the trophy was won in the opening 45 minutes. 3 goals from Gerrard, Spicer and Alonso followed by some goalkeeping heroics from Dudek, Liverpool came back to win the Champions League on penalties. This was a huge achievement for both Liverpool and for Britain; who from then on became the dominant force in the competition for the next few years.

Olympic Tennis Singles Men Final- SW19, London- 2012

Andy Murray vs. Roger Federer

2012 was tough for Andy Murray; a Wimbledon final defeat against Roger Federer had me worrying about how he would respond.  What he produced though was outstanding. From the tears when he delivered his runner up speech to today, where he has become a legend in the game. It all started on that warm day in August when the Scot defeated Federer in the Olympic final.  He has since won a Wimbledon title and risen up to number two in the World. This is due to the mentality he had which was that he wouldn’t give up from that defeat in 2012, in fact it would be his springboard to success, it drove him even more to go one better in 2013, and that’s what he achieved.

So what’s your greatest sporting moment in which a player’s mentality has helped or hindered them? Was it one of the above or another moment? Why not tweet me at @leeham1996 or Facebook me at Liam ‘leeham’ Richner with your choice?  Look forward to hearing from you

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