After the Wimbledon final, when the media asked Novak Djokovic to review the match then he had made a statement which was a bit of surprise for the people present there. He had said:
“I try to play the match in my mind before I go on the court. I always try to imagine myself as a winner. I think there is a power to that.”
Djokovic thinks that visualisation gives him power. Mental imagery as a winner is one very important part of his match preparation.
What is the visualisation technique which Novak spoke about?
The Serb is an impassioned advocated of pre-match rehearsals in his head. Novak loves to use imagery and he started this practice as a child. Novak’s first coach Jelena Gencic encouraged Novak to use mental imagery. She asked him to visualise his shots while listening to classical music
Gencic had once told the Serb that if he felt down in a match then he has to remember the music and after that, he will feel much stronger. She made him hold a small trophy and then declare himself as the winner of Wimbledon and rehearse this several times.
In the match, the crowd was almost totally favouring Federer and wanted him to be the winner so whenever Djokovic played a winner, there was a silence and whenever he made mistakes there was cheering and whistling from the crowd. This attitude from the crowd can be extremely demotivating for any player. The Serb spoke about how he used mental imagery to ‘transmute’ the noise made by 15000 people present in the Centre Court.
There are definite advantages of this technique and when a 16 time Grand Slam winner is advocating it then one should not underestimate the power of visualisation in tennis or any other sport. In one of the greatest examples of the power of this technique, the cyclist Mark Cavendish says that he used to imagine and riding the road he is going to take in the match at least 3 times and he was able to memorise any potholes and blocks resent on the road. He believed that his heart rate was lower in difficult situations than other players by the power of the visualisation technique.
Bianca Andreescu had surprised the tennis world when she had reached the finals of the Indian Wells tournament at the age of 18 and she spoke about the same visualisation technique which helped her.
“I do creative visualizations techniques in the morning. It’s only for 15 minutes. I used to do hours and hours of it, but I found that 15 minutes has really helped me and it’s not time-consuming at all.
It’s something I got online from a course. My mom introduced it to me when I was 13, and I have been doing this since.”
Djokovic seemed calm and collected during the finals and that may have come from his visualisation technique and mental rehearsals to face these tense situations in advance.