Be Smart in Managing Your Energy


Roger Federer has just announced that he plans to take a two month break following the Indian Wells tournament in March to spend time with his family and prepare for the clay court season.

I’ve previously talked about planning ahead like the pros and this also needs to be done with your own context and ability in mind.  In Federer’s case, at the age of 31, he recognises that he can no longer play 20 or more tournaments a season and expect to maintain the high standards that he has achieved previously.  Instead he’s playing less and aiming to be prepared for the tournaments he’s playing.  Rumour has it that he’s targeting regaining the world number one ranking, in a recent interview he said:

“My big focus is on making sure that every tournament I enter I am perfectly prepared. I am hopeful I will get enough matches but if not my schedule can be changed.”

“I strongly believe I have more Slams in me,” he said. “Which Slam do I favour – does Wimbledon over-weigh the rest? Maybe…”

Clearly he’d love to win more slams and his game does suit grass, however, targeting the right tournaments and preparing well may well get him back up there.  Missing Miami (after Indian Wells) is not such a big deal for Federer, after a brilliant start to last year he lost relatively early in Miami, so does not have a lot of points to defend.  He will come back in Madrid in May and it will be interesting to see how he performs, as he won it last year – so, as always, preparation is the key.

So it will be interesting to see how this strategy works for Federer – what will happen in Madrid come May and at Wimbledon in the summer?

Sometimes we need longer breaks from time to time, not always easy in the demanding world of work but the more you are aware of your own energy and the ups and downs the better you can manage your overall performance.


Are you prepared for today’s performance?


So we’ve seen major matches in all sports, Murray and Djokovic, who have known each other since they were 11 years old, are waiting to come out yet they don’t talk to each other, it’s not that there is any animosity they’re focused on the match ahead.  What you don’t see is them talking on their phones, or checking emails!

So why, in our working days, before and during important meetings check our phones or blackberry’s or answer other calls?  We all know it happens, or aware of the time when we’re on a conference call that someone (if not ourselves) is focused elsewhere on reading and/or answering emails rather than being engaged with the meeting.

No wonder then that so many meetings are ineffective.  Of course it may be because so many meetings are badly set up, or poorly run (see for a tongue in cheek quiz questionnaire for the corporate athlete) .  That is no excuse for our lack of engagement, if it’s somebody else’s meeting we owe it to them when we turn up to be engaged.  If we are not, why on earth are we there? We might not be there to win a match or beat someone, as in competitive sport, however, there should be a purpose to the meeting and we should not only be aware of it but also be focused on an appropriate outcome.

If it’s your meeting you might find using the five Ps helpful

1. Purpose – ensure you are clear about the purpose of the meeting and that this is communicated clearly to the participants

2. Preparation – make sure you prepare appropriately and thoroughly

3. Participants – have the right participants for the purpose and the outcome you want

4. Process – think through how the outcome you want is to be achieved

5. Product – the output from the meeting

If we’re developing elite performance then we need to prepare and be engaged. In many corporate settings meetings are key performance arenas and, whether as chair or participant we need to prepare so that we perform at our best.

Focused Preparation…


To re-inforce some of the things about preparation that we’ve raised recently it’s worth considering what Andy Murray said this week in an interview.

Murray has had his best year, winning his first Grand Slam and Olympic Gold, also reaching the final of Wimbledon and getting off to a good start in 2013 by reaching the final of the Australian Open, beating Federer for the first time in a slam on the way.  He has stated that he is not going to play Davis Cup in the next round as this interferes with his preparation for the clay court season.

His stated primary goals for this year are the slams, as you would expect for any top five player.  he believes he has a chance of winning all of them.  However, the next is the French, played on clay and Murray recognises that, despite having got as far as the semi finals before, clay is not his best surface.

To give himself a chance he needs to get as much time on clay as possible and the next scheduled round of Davis cup will interfere with that.  It illustrates the focused and long-term planning, as well as the attention to detail that elite performers have.  In the interview (available on the BBC website) he also talks about how he has discussed this, not only with his coach, Ivan Lendl, but also with the other members of his team.  Planning is a collaborative effort for the player, coach and rest of the support team.

Working alone is far less productive than working as part of a cohesive team but also working collaboratively gets everyone involved aligned.  Directive management is far less engaging.


Taking Ownership


We saw another outstanding performance in the Australian Open last weekend, as Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray in four sets.  Djokovic is undoubtedly a prodigious talent – In January 2008, aged 20, on reaching the semi final of the Australian Open he became the youngest player to have reached the semi finals of all four grand slams.

Although talented, the contrast between his performances in grand slams up to 2010 and from late 2010 on is revealing.   While he went on to win his first grand slam title, beating the unseeded Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in four sets, he had the fortune to play a clearly fatigued Roger Federer in the semi final, suffering the after effects of glandular fever.  This was the first time he had beaten one of the big two (Federer and Nadal) in a slam.  In fact it wasn’t until late 2010 , in the semi finals of the US Open that he managed to do it again.

In fact from the semi finals of the US Open in 2007 until 2010 he rarely competed against Federer and Nadal in the slams, rarely winning a set and on occasions retiring. It was a common theme in post match press conferences that there was something else to blame – an injury, health,etc.

So what happened that led to the change that we’ve seen since he beat Federer from two match points in the US Open semi final in 2010.  He did the same again in 2011.  Since then in 2011 he won the Australian, Wimbledon and the US Open and had the second longest winning streak in open history. In 2012 he won the Australian again, beating Nadal in one of the all time classic finals, got to the final of the French (beating Federer in the semis), the final of the US (losing to Murray in five sets) and won the end of year Masters, again beating Federer.

Nadal was still a force in 2011 and 2012, winning the French Open in both years.  Federer, despite reaching 30 in 2011, continued to play well, winning Wimbledon and regaining the number one ranking for a period in 2012, if anything some aspects of his game have improved in the last two years.  So Djokovic was not playing lesser opponents.

So what of the changes? Djokovic changed to a gluten free diet in 2010, he has clearly worked on his fitness and his movement has undoubtedly improved.  However, the one change that is little talked about is that the excuses about fitness or injury after losses have ceased.  Djokovic has taken ownership for his performances, win or lose.  This has enabled him to deal with matches like last Sunday’s final – while Djokovic played slightly better in the first set, Murray edged it in the tie break.  In the second set Murray was in the ascendancy, yet Djokovic was able to edge it and then upped his game to edge ahead in the third and come out an easier winner in the fourth.

Without taking ownership, when we are not at our best, taking ownership of the mistakes we make, it is impossible to improve effectively.  In so many aspects of life and work it is easy to blame other factors for mistakes we make.  Taking ownership and acknowledging when we’re not at our best or when we make a mistake will help to improve performance.