June 1, 2021

Coaching Andy Murray

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This edition of the Coaching diaries we turn the spotlight on Confidence and look at Andy Murray. We give our thoughts on how confidence or lack of it plays a significant part on the matches he has lost and why coaching in this area can help absolutely everyone.

When a client first embarks on the idea of engaging with a coach, confidence is always an area that comes up at some point during the sessions and subsequently needs to be worked on. A question we all need to consider is why we find it so easy to discredit our self-worth even when it’s often to the detriment of our health and future progression.

Confidence or lack of it, like most things stems from a number of casual factors. For some it is that inner voice of limiting beliefs, which can come from external influences or from internal misguided self-talk. External influences could come from the negative language used in childhood, such as, being told you were never good enough, not smart enough, were overweight or unattractive or it could be from an abusive or negative relationship. We all have the inner voice from time to time that feeds into our insecurities telling us information such as, a work colleague always delivers everything much better than you, they look better, they earn more or they simply deserve the promotion more.

Recently I started to look into the effects of this increasing phenomenon. I wanted to identify potential sports or media personalities and see the effect lack of confidence could have on them on a public platform.

As a big tennis fan and fellow Scot, I of course follow and chose to explore the great Andy Murray. Having watched his games from Wimbledon to the Opens and Davis cup, I, like millions of others have cheered and groaned at every win and loss. But throughout them all what has become apparent over the years is that Andy is a self -perpetuating doubter of his abilities. I know many of you will question that statement but let me explain.

Appearing confident, winning numerous trophies, and being told you are the best is not a guarantee that you always believe it and depending on who Murray is playing will allow that self-doubt and inner voice to affect his game. Watching each game more closely I can now see in his eyes when he has mentally lost that match. Murray like most will feel the pressure when playing his fierce rivals Federer, Nadal, Djokovic. It has been well documented of the rivalry between Murray and Djokovic, born just a week apart, Andy being a week older. They trained together as teenagers at the same camp and Murray won their first match as teenagers. Since then the pair have met 36 times with Djokovic leading 25-11.

It is without question that Murray has been a leading light for us Brits, his success uplifting a nation who love a British champion and thrive on national patriotism. So given all this adoration from the public and a wealth and talent most of us would dream of, why you may ask does our Andy lack Confidence.
Watch a game, notice how when under pressure and possible defeat he stops looking up towards the sky and his head lowers downwards towards the ground. His body language changes, his posture, his mood and from then onwards a defeat is imminent. I have watched it time and time again and I do not know if he or team Murray are aware, but the mental shift is without doubt the catalyst to the subsequent defeat. The team will undoubtedly blame injuries, needing to improve his second serve, forehand, consistency etc but the reality is this, under pressure he loses the mental advantage and confidence affects the match thereafter.

When you delve deeper into the psyche of any individual, the surface persona is such that without addressing our inner demons, our limiting beliefs, our values, you cannot fully reach the full potential that we all possess within. True confidence is so much more than an outward impression one gives to the public eye. It is one that has an inner strength and belief that is unquestionable. The external influences we mentioned before need to have been addressed, reconciled and put to bed. Inner voices need to become positive and believed and often to truly do this we need to undertake counseling or coaching to enable the catalyst for healing and change to begin. This is when our true confidence and success can start to shine through.

So, we have touched upon the pressures our Andy puts himself underplaying his rivals and the confidence play around this, but there are also possible past events that can affect on a deep-rooted level the shape of both our top athletes and any sufferers of a tragic event.

It has been documented that Andy was a student at the Dunblane primary school in 1996 when the horrific massacre took place. Thomas Hamilton killed 16 children and a teacher before taking his own life. Murray has proclaimed he is too young to remember and avoids during interviews to answer any questions regarding the event. But in his autobiography “Hitting back” he wrote that he attended a youth group run by Hamilton and his mother had given Hamilton lifts in her car.

When an event happens in our life, good or bad, our reaction to it can help to shape the individual we choose to become. Now it is not anyone’s place to speculate on how or if Andy has taken steps to ever discuss this event. But others who have undergone similar life-changing ordeals can go through the guilt of being a survivor and can later succumb to imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome (also known as imposter phenomenon, fraud syndrome or imposer experience) is a psychological pattern, whereby people doubt their own accomplishments and have an internal fear of being exposed as fraudsters. Despite evidence and facts to dispute this and prove that they are clearly qualified and competent, they continue to remain convinced that they do not deserve the rewards and success they have. Any proof given is often dismissed as luck, to do with timing or because they can deceive others into thinking they are better, more competent than they are.

Now contrary to how this syndrome sounds, you would be mistaken into thinking that you could categorise it into a group. It is not a mental illness nor is it a personality trait; rather it has been identified as a reaction to certain stimuli and events. Thus it is actually something almost everyone will experience.
Common signs to look out for are individuals who are:
Perfectionists, Overworking, Afraid of failure, discount any praise and undermine their achievements.
Thoughts that will accompany this will follow the lines of:
“I must not fail”, “I just got lucky”, “I feel like a fake”.
Imposter syndrome sufferers will often be experiencing either a state of stress, anxiety and even depression during this period.

When you are faced with any life-changing event this will undoubtedly affect your confidence and it is key to consider the changes needed to realign the negative thought pattern, change the limiting beliefs, and start to truly believe in you and all the wonderful gifts and qualities you bring to the world you live in. True confidence is learned not earned and the rewards are life-changing if you get the support to make it happen.