Dr. L and Coach Johnny discuss in depth examples of how others have not only gotten through, but have thrived because of adversity in their lives. Former Navy Seal and motivational speaker and author David Goggins is discussed as someone who thrives on challenges. The team gives practical strategies and a philosophy for how to create toughness in your own life.


J: Welcome to compete like a champion. You're here with Dr. Larry Lauer, mental skills specialist, and coach Johnny Parkes with USTA Player Development. Today we're talking about toughness as gaining a tactical advantage. We're going to reflect back from the incredible episode last week with Sam Jalloh who was able to come on and give us his inspirational story of adversity and persistence and toughness, and we'll also dive into some other takeaways from a book review from David Goggins, Can't Hurt Me, and we're going to relay all this back as it relates to the tennis world and what our athletes are preparing for and how we can help them the most in developing toughness on the court. Larry, it's going to be a good episode.

L: Yes, they're all good though, JP. Everything is gold, right? I'm sure the listeners might disagree, but we're going to try anyway.

J: And for those that weren't able to listen to last week's episode yet with Sam, I really encourage you to go do that. It's unbelievable. It's one of those stories you just come across once every blue moon that no matter what you're going through, just leave you inspired and motivated and actually leave you wondering like, how the heck did he do that? You know, going through what he went through and must've required an incredible amount of adversity, persistence and toughness, but we'll have a little review of that.

L: I think when you, when you think about that, how many people are in the same situation and didn't make it out? Right? So he's like one in a thousand or one in a hundred or... Right? And a lot of people, maybe they, they adapted and were resilient in other ways, but most people would struggle mightily in that situation. Good people. And so he's, I mean, impressive, but like I said on that podcast and my wife listened to it and she's like, Oh, that was amazing. So I think that, if you haven't listened to it, it's inspiring and it just gets to this whole idea, which I think we want to gravitate towards today on this episode, that how do people do the unusual things that most people cannot do? They can't bring themselves to that point. I think that's, that's what it's all about on this episode.

J: Yeah. You know, and I had some similar comments. I got some text messages from some coaches out there that were like their jaw was on the floor the whole way through the episode. They just, they couldn't believe it. And you know, you're right, how does somebody get to that point mentally where they decide they're going to use that as motivation to get through those extremely rare and tough times. I mean, it's, you know, it's unheard off to most of us out there.

L: Yeah, and it comes in different forms, right? There's a story with the running back for the 49ers, Mostert, who was on six teams, was cut five times and is now, and he rushed for almost 200 something yards in the NSC championship game against the Packers. So you'll find these unusual situations, you hear about them every now and again, but it's just really interesting to dive a little deeper into the mentality and what it was that drove them to continue to go, to push. And it's often different things, but it comes back a lot to this desire to be your best, to make the most of a situation, to help others. There's a lot of the things that I hear commonly when people talk about doing these unusual things, these really tough things and getting through them.

J: So as it relates at the minute, you know, we've got the Australian Open's going on. There's a lot of tournaments here on home soil, futures, challengers, you know, and a lot of junior events going on too. So if we talk about toughness, I know we've done previous episodes on how to deal with the heat and I know we've talked a little bit on thriving or surviving out there, you know, so if we look at what we're preparing athletes for, you know, we often hear athletes complain about the wind and, Oh, it's really cold today and you know, I have to wear something different, just something that slightly throws them off their usual routine and I know we talk about routines a lot on this podcast because we just think they're so incredibly valuable to, I mean honestly it's a life skill. I mean, you know, I just had my daughter to myself last week and I was like, I've got to establish a routine as quick as possible or else you know, I'm going to be in thriving or surviving mode.

L: You're going to be in survival mode.

J: Yeah, there's going to be a survival. So you know, but out there for the athletes when they're thrown a little curve ball, and maybe you can talk a bit, maybe a little bit about what the athletes are going through at the Australian Open. It's a little bit, you know, it's unfortunate circumstances.

L: Yeah, with the bush fires.

J: With the bush fires and quite unique. But then maybe talk about here, cause you've been going out to some of the tournaments here on home soil and it's been absolutely freezing this week. So maybe talk a little about that.

L: Well, Florida freezing, which for the rest of the country, they're not too concerned about us at all. So I mean, and certainly on, I don't want to equate what's going on with the bushfires with the weather we're experiencing in Florida, which is mild in comparison, but I think that there is a common thread and that is when the environmental conditions are not what you would expect or not optimal, how do you respond? Right? I think what we saw with the bushfires that, you know, people were worried about the air quality for good reason and struggled with the quality of that air and just the heat and making it hard to breathe. And then you're out there for two, three hours really pushing yourself, so you saw people using inhalers, you saw people really struggling. At least one person had to retire in the qualies. I think it's improved since they had some rain. It's rained a couple of times recently. But you know, those were tough circumstances. And then again, not to equate at all, I was just in Vero beach for a women's 25K and what we are experiencing was high winds, it was 50 degrees. So the people in Boston and New York and Philly are like yeah, whatever. But it was 50 but like 30 mile per hour winds and that that is tough conditions on the clay and it changed how they needed to play those matches. Because I watched tennis for seven hours one day I did not see a single ace, like serving was a challenge. And so now if you're a power player and you rely on a lot of free points off your serve, guess what, you weren't getting it on that day. And so how are you going to deal with that mentally, right? So you know, this ability to take adversity, which you don't control in the, in the environment, these conditions, and be able to reframe it to use it to your advantage or at least think like, you know, Hey yeah the air quality is bad for both and I'm very well trained so I can deal with this. And then I, I take steps to slow things down, take deep breaths, maybe put my towel over my face in the changeover. You know, obviously then you deal with the heat as well, but we talked about that in a previous podcast, but I think that one of the defining differences you see, and Carol Dweck talked about this in her mindset book as well, is that when people are presented a challenge, do they problem solve and figure it out or do they give in? And what I saw in Vero beach was a lot of players trying to figure it out, which was really nice to see. And having to stay in points longer and not going for the lines as much and not expecting a lot of freebies off their serve and being ready to play, you know, these points where they weren't getting as much advantage off their serves. It does, just from a tennis standpoint, it does change a lot, and how are you able to mentally deal with that I think is important.

J: Yeah, absolutely. And then a lot of it, to get to that point, is how do we train it? You know? And so I'm going to refer to a few comments here that David Goggins made in his book, Can't Hurt Me. If anyone doesn't know who David Goggins is, he was a Navy seal. I think now he's a motivational speaker and inspires companies and spreads his word around. But in his book he details basically the process of how he became tough. He was a, he had a rough upbringing, struggled with that. He was in a dead end job that he didn't enjoy. Think he was like, you know, he was a termite in Spain, he was a bug cockroach killer.

L: Okay.

J: So he went around to, you know, one day he saw like this massive, I think it was a cockroach nest, and he just decided like, what am I doing with my life? I need purpose. I need to do something. And so he decided to just create challenges for himself that tested how tough he was. And he dealt with some crazy things and, anyway, ended up getting into Navy seal training, into buds training. And this was one really crazy story. So he said there are 150 guys on the start of buds training, and he said these 150 guys are already some of the toughest people in the country. And by the time he got to the last, maybe the last week or two, they were down to 20-25 to 40 people he said. And to get to that point, you're going through sleep deprivation. You're going through literally water immersive training that gets you to the point of blacking out. You're going on, you know, 60 mile hikes/runs, you know, through the harshest terrains and things like that. So, and they're throwing all this at you day after day after day after day, I think for a month. And he ends up going through three of them due to injuries. But then the second try he went out, he basically got through it because he had, he had two cracked shins, like running through cracked shins. And he talked about how he wanted to callus his mind. Callusing the mind, no different than we callus our, you know, tennis players probably you have a lot of calluses on your hands out there and those calluses on your hands harden up so that you don't get blisters. They don't get soft. And he said he wanted to take that principle and do it for his mind. So he wanted to put himself through just the craziest challenges that every time his mind told him to stop, he said, I want to take somebody's soul. I want to take someone's soul. And what he meant by that was, is he tried to put a chip on his shoulder, create those chips on his shoulder that he could use as motivation. Then he went on to talk about how defiance empowers. So it's okay, well [inaudibel]. His buds training officer, he didn't like. It was his coach essentially, right? He's coaching him to get through Navy seals training to prepare him for the harshest of things when they're out there on the battlefield or on the waltzes. And he just didn't like him. So he used that as his opponent. His training officer was his opponent and he wanted to defy everything that he thought the training officer was giving to him and thought that he would fail at. And he was like, I'm not only gonna succeed in this, but I'm going to do extra because that's going to annoy him. So I'm going to defy him and that's going to empower me. And then he called that, he wanted to take real estate in their mind. He wanted to take their soul. And so I'm thinking about that and going, okay, so you know, when it comes to tennis, we often talk about that internal battle of self. We talk about connecting to their why, their deeper sense of purpose, which we've spoken about previously. How do you create that and keep it at the forefront of your mind so clearly that when you do go through those deep, dark moments where your mind tells you, I gotta stop or I don't want to push as hard anymore. You can turn around and go, that ain't gonna happen. Not only am I gonna smash past this, I'm gonna take their soul in the process.

L: Yeah. That, that is definitely a strong commitment there and he's an impressive man. You know, I think that one of the things that you see, I'm talking about it more psychologically, is the ability to stay present in what you're doing. If you let your mind roll to the future and the anticipated consequences of what you're doing. So the pain, the suffering, just the boredom or the, whatever else may be, you start getting out ahead of yourself, you're going to be in trouble. And, and certainly, you know, they talk about these kinds of things in buds training as well, that, you know, when that seed of doubt gets in your mind, you start to water it. You're getting in trouble, right? And, and certainly one of the hardest times is when one of your friends or one of your teammates who's going through the training with you is when he goes and rings the bell and says, I'm tapping out, right? And now that seed of doubt is back when that guy gets up and gets out of the water and says, I can't take any more. Now you have to deal with that thought. Right? Because Hey, he's doing it, maybe I should. I can't do this either. And so I think the ability to stay present when that comes up, and I'm not speaking from the experience of going through buds training, so I don't want to act like I am, but just through my experience in working with sport and other areas that your ability to accept what is in a pretty non-emotional way and nonjudgmental way. Like, Hey, it is what it is. This is what I'm doing. And then like you said, knowing why you're doing what you're doing. You know, and if you have, you know, for him, having that chip was so motivating on a shoulder towards his, uh, instructor that he was willing to do whatever it took and you see other athletes, not so much in tennis, but in other sports do that using a chip on their shoulder. It's pretty clear that, you know, certain athletes have a chip on their shoulder when they get drafted lower than they expected, let's take the NFL draft, and they use that as a way just to bring it to another level to prove people wrong. I think there's a lot of benefit to that. I don't think that in and of itself is sustainable for most people over time. Because at some point, you know, I think this is what, and again, I'm not in the situation, but what Baker Mayfield, quarterback of the Browns, what he deals with...

J: You had to bring him up.

L: I did. When you talk about chips on shoulders, he's got a chip on his shoulder, but now you're the number one pick. You're no longer the underdog, right? And you have a great rookie season, you're no longer the underdog. How are you going to deal with that, right? And that was a struggle this year.

J: Did he have a great rookie season?

L: He did. He set the record for passing touchdowns. See you need information, just come to me, Johnny. On football, not that footy that you play. You know, so I think it works to a point, but I think it always comes back to and Goggins, it sounds like this is in there as well, there was a greater purpose of why for what he was trying to do.

J: Yeah. And, and he says when you're going through those really tough challenges, it doesn't matter whether it's, you know, he went through buds training, which is, you know, just nothing that any of us can comprehend what he went through.

L: It's like torture methods that they don't allow anymore.

J: Pretty much. It sounds like it. I think what we can take from this though is that he talked about, it doesn't matter what you do, everyone gets to that point where they start questioning like, why am I doing this? What am I doing here? You know, you hear players out there saying it to themselves. When the negative self talk comes in, it's like, why am I out here in these, you know, these conditions? Or what am I doing? I suck and you know, do I, why do I, why am I playing tennis? Why don't I just go do something, you know, something else. And he said, everyone has those seeds of doubt. It's absolutely normal that everyone in anything that they do is going to have those seeds of doubts. When you get to that point and you start questioning what you're doing and why you're doing something or why am I playing tennis, he's like, you better have an answer ready. And if you have that answer ready, you're ready to take on that challenge. And if you don't have that answer ready, you need to do some soul searching to figure out why. If you love it, if you truly do love it that much, obviously people say things under emotional circumstances, but you need to spend time to figure out that why. And if you can't figure out that why, it's going to be a long, long road ahead to get to where your goals are. And he, you know, he details, like going through buds training, most of these are all, if not most of these 150 guys don't make it, they don't get through. And these are already 150 of the toughest human beings on the planet. So if you relate that to a tennis game, if you want to reach the top end of the game, you know, you've gotta be tough just to get in the ballpark. But to get to the real top of the game, you've got to figure out how to go an extra level to be tough because your opponents are going to keep coming at you and at you and at you. And that's going to start questioning yourself. Are you able to do this? Can I get myself through this? And if you're not able to answer that, why and why you're willing to put yourself through the sacrifice. Because toughness comes through sacrifice too. So if you're not able and prepared to, to answer that, I don't think you're equipped to deal with the challenge.

L: Yeah. And I think of a few things. One is being able to understand why would you put yourself through something and if it's something that you want to do, that you're passionate about, then it isn't really suffering. It's a sacrifice. Yes, but you hear athletes talk about that's not really a sacrifice cause it's something I wanted to do. You know, I gave up a lot of things so I could be a professional tennis player and wasn't really as, it didn't feel like a sacrifice. Cause that's what I wanted. So I skipped prom, I didn't go to regular school, you know, trained all these hours, changed my life, moved. These weren't sacrifices. These are things I wanted to do because I was passionate about tennis and being the best I could be. So again, that's all perception, how you're looking at things. You know, the other thing is the ability to delay gratification and know that this pain you're feeling now is not comfortable and it might not even be fun right now, but it's leading to something else, something greater. And you have to have that ability to do that. And if you don't, if you're relying on getting rewards right now, immediately, probably not the sport for you down the road. One thing you see is that I believe junior tennis is kinda like, you know, when you go to the carnival and you can get the small prize by making one shot, but to get the big prize you have to make like 15 or 20 and it's almost impossible. This is what we're talking about, you know, in junior tennis kids who are just mature earlier are better at a younger age, they don't necessarily have to show all this toughness to win. And so it becomes this kind of false idea in their mind that, well, because of my talent, I should make it. This should come easier and you, you cannot fall prey to that idea. Because if you do, again, I think you're not going to reach your potential in this game because it is such a tough game physically, mentally, emotionally. And you know when you start the game, winning isn't that tough for a lot of players that we work with. What is tough is deliberate practice in the work you have to do to become good. And we as coaches need to focus on that, that you know, that willingness to put in the hours and train, and I don't like using the word perfect, but to perfect something to make it as good as it possibly can be, striving for that, that takes toughness, that takes patience. And, and so watering that seed with young players that, you know what, the work that you've done to develop your game showed a lot of toughness. Now you might not always have to display toughness to win because you're just better than most players in the draw, but you will down the road and you need to understand this.

J: So I want to go back to what you just mentioned there, that a lot of the players that have a high talent level, they win through that talent to a certain level.

L: Absolutely.

J: But they form this mindset that, you know, that my talent will get me to win. And that hard, the work that needs to be put in alongside of that, uh, may not be completely necessary. Isn't that another maybe form or way that that seed has been planted in their mind? Isn't that a way of shying away, and almost, and I don't want to say it's using an excuse, because I don't think it's a conscious excuse of going, Oh, I got so much talent so I'm just not going to work hard. It's just been bred through their results of winning, it forged their mindset that yeah, I have a high talent level, so I must be doing something right. When you could look at it and go, well, could you be doing more? And so is that another, you know, maybe on an unconscious level, that seed of doubt been planted in their brain?

L: Absolutely. And I'll flip to another sport, USA hockey. The national team development program brings in the best ice hockey players from around the country at age 16 and they play there for two years. And their methodology for doing this was to put those players through very hard training, but they immediately would go and play junior players who are up to the age of 20 and you're 16 and you have a target on your back because you're getting all this stuff and you've been chosen by USA hockey to play on a national team at 16 so these 20 year olds who didn't have that, they want a piece. But through that you're starting to break down this idea of yeah, I'm talented, so it's just going to happen for me because that 20 year old missing teeth with a beard is going to hit you so hard that, uh, it's gonna knock that idea out of you. And so when those players would come back, I had a lot of conversations with them because now the seeds of doubt are planted like, can I do this? It was the first time they really faced that level of adversity during competition for many of them, not all. And you know, that's one of the ways that we see that we can help young people, is not to have them avoid adversity and stress and mistakes, but to actually put them in that situation and help them through it, support them through it. We don't just do it mindlessly or without support. I think that's unethical, but I think we do do it in a smart way where we can challenge them and help them cope with it and they can begin to learn, you know what, I have this toughness within me. I can do this. And it doesn't have to be easy for me. Some players are getting it now at 18, 19, 20, some never get it. The earlier you can get it, the better. And that's why you see sometimes players who aren't as good when they're younger actually end up being better when they're older because of the adversity they went through to get where they are.

J: And that's an amazing point because I think a lot of the time then let's say highly talented players, they like to do what they know they can do, right? They like to work on the things that they know that they can do and achieve probably a little bit more readily than the things that they know they're not sure if they can achieve.

L: Sure. They're human. That fuels the ego.

J: Right! So yeah, I think we're all like that. We all like kind of doing things that we're good at, but how much are we willing to take on the tasks that seem beyond our capabilities? Because that, I think if we can get into that mindset and it's tough to do, this is where the preparation of the daily purposeful practice we talk about is do you have that mindset that's willing to take on challenges that, that you do question whether you're capable of doing. And are you willing to do that every day? Are you willing to put yourself through that mindset of knowing that I'm going to challenge myself on something, I'm not sure I can actually do. Maybe I'll come through it. Maybe I'm not, but I'm not afraid if it doesn't happen because either way it's going to reveal something to me. It's going to reveal that I have the ability to take on the toughest challenge or what I perceive as extremely tough challenges, and if I don't come through them, then at least I learned that I am willing to put myself out there to go for it. And then if I succeed and surprise myself, then that emphasizes the point more that maybe I should be taking a few more risks on doing things that I think are beyond my existing capabilities.

L: Yeah, there is no doubt about that. And as a coach, you have to create a certain kind of environment for that to actually occur. One where mistakes are allowed, failure is learning and there's a lot of high quality feedback given and the coach or coaching staff is not reactive to mistakes because you can blow that up as soon as you start on these kids focusing on, you know, what they're doing wrong or focusing on how it's not good. To me, one of the things that I believe were we do better now is asking players to struggle and, and celebrating that. And then when they rise up and they find a way, like really celebrating that. Like, you know what, you were having a hard time, you know, rallying for five minutes without missing, but you did it, you finally got it at the end of the practice. That's awesome. That shows toughness and now you have that seed of confidence in your mind. Well, I got through that. And so the next challenge might seem a little bit easier, but it really is as Goggins says, it's kind of a mind game where you have to persuade yourself that this is important enough to do in some way and you're going to get through it. And when you do, that brings you to another level and the next time you're faced with something you're, you're a little bit more open and willing to try it. But with players with a closed mindset, you're going to have to create almost these implicit learning environments where you can't just say to them, look, look and we're going to open up your mind today and you're going to be, you know, tougher. You just throw them in situations and then support them through it. Like I said, it's not fair to put them in a situation and not help them, but make them deal with it, you know? And coaches sometimes, you know, we go back and forth on how much really do you try to create failure in practice? I think it's how you define the word. If it's making mistakes, not unable to do a drill, I think that's what you're looking for. And then you try to challenge them to do it a little bit better. But at the end of the day, what you want them leaving with is hope, right? You know what? I got a little bit better, I got a little closer to the goal. Maybe I didn't get that 50 or that five minutes in a row, but I did get to four and a half minutes and that's better than my two and a half. So again, there's ways to do this where what you want is then end up with that hope because that's motivation, right? Like I can do this. And that's watering that seed that you want.

J: Yeah. And, you know, and one thing Goggins talks about there is that most of the time, if not all of the time, you're battling yourself. Even when there's an opponent out there, a lot of the time you're battling yourself and the, you know, the really cool part about his story was how he took us through this process of preparation, basically preparing for battle and he talked about on the eve of battle, taking inventory of his mind. So we know the really best players in the world or the best athletes or what they do, pretty much do everything in the unconscious. It's just free flowing.

L: During a performance.

J: During a performance. And to get to that point I think about, okay let's take a skill like, you know, having to defend a really tough ball in the corners. Well if I know physically that I really struggled to make those balls because maybe, you know, I don't have the best athleticism in the world or my strength isn't quite there yet and I struggle with that. Then what's on my mind? What's on my mind is, oh if I get put in a corner, I can't make that shot because I can't get there physically.

L: Right.

J: Whereas if you have it in the unconscious, cause you can make that ball now and you're confident that you have that skill set in order to deal with that tough ball physically, then surely that frees up the unconscious mind to then just make decisions on the execution of the shot. So you're taking away a layer of doubt.

L: Yeah, and conscious control.

J: And conscious control. So let's take that now to the [inaudible] opponent from the mindset standpoint. The more you build up these layers of toughness and the more you take inventory of that, the more that you are able to not worry about that in battle and fight your own demons. And now you can work on, actually go back to this phrase cause I love it, take your opponent's soul. You can work on things that take their confidence away from them as opposed to doubting myself and taking confidence away from myself. So I now start working in the unconscious level of, Hey, I'm good with me. I know what I can do and I'm confident and I'm comfortable in what I'm going to be facing. I don't have to deal with that. So now let's work on how I can break down my opponent through my game, through what I know is going to hurt them. And again, so you're sort of taking down that extra layer or barrier to, I guess, the problem solving process of how to win a tennis, you know, how to win a match.

L: If you can remove the barriers and stop the tug of war in your mind between believing and then not believing and just buy in and work more automatically with less thought, then now it becomes more about finding a way to beat your opponent, right? And, and one of the things we see, I really believe this is that you take a player like Rafa, for example, who probably wins more matches than almost anybody before he ever steps out of the locker room because of what the opponent knows that he is going to have to deal with, the demands on his body and his mind that he's going to have to deal with, right? Especially in a grand slam, best of five. And it's one of the things that I, I don't think it's talked about enough in tennis and that is if you're going about your business in a good way, so when there is adversity and you are able to take that on and act as if it doesn't bother you, even though maybe on the inside you are bothered but you smile, you go about your routines, you bounce around, you have good energy, you're just always there, that then starts to plant a seed of doubt in your opponent's mind. Because especially if you go back to juniors, if a young person deals with adversity, typically they emotionally react, right? I mean that's just, it's the age, it's the stage. We're just not very good at that age and stage of managing our emotions, right? We don't have the capacity yet, but if a kid can get better at that and manage her emotions or his emotions in a good way and not show what they're feeling, it actually starts to freak out the opponent cause like, wait a second. You know when I get up 6-2 1-0 on somebody, usually it's like, you know, fast roll, a boulder rolling down the hill. This thing's going to be over in 15 minutes. People would just go away. People flip out, they freak out, they get so frustrated, throw the racket, they yell at themselves. This person looks like they're ready to keep going for another two hours. You're now, and this is the way at least I can at this point, because I haven't talked to Goggins, but this is the way in terms of I could translate this to tennis performance is it you're now getting in their head and you're taking, I guess from his stand point, a piece of their soul because you've taken away something that they're used to getting and you put that seed of doubt in their mind. You want to water their seed of doubt while you feel completely committed and hopefully believing in what you're doing.

J: And you see it all the time with individual sports. I mean, let's look at boxing a little bit. If a boxer throws a punch and breaks their left hand, which happens actually more more than you think they, they break break a part of their fist, a finger and they can no longer throw meaningful punches with that and their opponent picks up on that. What are they gonna do? They're going to come at you and know that you cannot use that as a weapon. If, you know, if a boxer rolls their ankle, I saw this with the former British or former heavyweight boxer of the world champion of the world, David Hay in a fight. He literally rolled his ankle and fractured his ankle for the rest of the fight or I think it was actually his Achilles that snapped and tried to fight on. Now he can, he can barely stand and load on his leg and he's fighting through. His opponent just kinda was cautious and sat back cause they're worried about, Oh if I try to attack him too much, he could land a big punch and knock me out. It's like, no. He's like, his mindset was unconfident in my abilities. I see a little weakness here. He's given me some confidence that I can now go and go and take the fight to him and try and finish it. You know? So I think tennis to me is a mindset, it's very similar to boxing. Obviously when you take out the punching, don't ever punch anyone in a tennis match.

L: Your punches are your shots.

J: Right, your punch is your shot. So like are you able to have that awareness of your opponent down the other end? Are you able to then take the confidence away from them? Give yourself the confidence and get through that match.

L: Yeah, and this is an important conversation because I think in the way that we coach players, we spend so much time talking about the player themselves that we're coaching, that we sometimes forget about coaching the matchup. Right? And again, when they're younger, it's really not about winning.

J: It's about, it's, I think it's about understanding and awareness.

L: It is. And I think that's, that's an important point, JP, that we play the game so we can figure out how to win the game, right? Eventually. And it's not so important that they win today, but they figure out the ways to do it, right? How to compete and competing is not just giving great effort and intending to play your game. It's about problem solving. It's about figuring out how to put that seed of doubt in your opponent's mind. You know, we talk about cracking your opponent. Is there a way that you can do that, right? In a sportsmanlike way. And these things are the things that you, you learn from competing, and so when coaches are talking to their players after matches, bring attention to that. Talk about the ways that your young player, because of the way they acted, the way they played their game in a sportsman-like way, but they got to their opponent and, and not in a nasty negative way that Oh, that person's weak or they're not tough. Like, no, everybody deals with this. Everybody can crack just like your opponent can. So how are you creating that in them and how are you solidifying your own commitment and belief in yourself? And I always see that go back to training and all that stuff that you bring in, but it really just brings to bear this idea that Hey, there's two people playing this match. It's not just you. And can you figure out how to, you know, make that person doubt themselves, taking away their strength, moving around on the return of serve. You know, finding a way that's not too far outside your game where you can expose them. And part of it is just mental of just never looking like you're backing down. Always there, always intense. You know, that's what Rafa does and he creates, he's so intimidating, and because of the way he approaches a match with his energy, with his intensity and the way he plays each point.

J: Yeah. So wrapping up here then, Larry, let's kinda recap here. Maybe give some three nuggets of advice for developing toughness on a daily basis in your training.

L: All right, so in my opinion, number one, create situations to practice this toughness response. Now they can be tennis specific on the court and coaches are far more creative than I am at this. But you know, having to hit so many targets, having to make so many balls in a certain period of time, playing somebody you don't like to play. There's so many different ways that you can practice in tennis, but you can also practice toughness in your life. There's some ways that seem really irrelevant, but you're just exercising that muscle of being able to take on something that's uncomfortable and getting through it in a good way. Taking cold showers, taking the ice bath, these kinds of things. Instead of, you know, when your order comes for your meal and it's sitting in front of you, take five minutes and visualize. Players used to hate that when I do that to them by the way. They're smelling the food and no focus on your visualization. But this is a way of delaying gratification. This is a way of being uncomfortable and getting through it. And that creates just a little bit more confidence and they seem like funny little ways, but they're important. Something you're afraid of, if it's reasonable, overcome it. You know, something you've been very uncomfortable with, expose yourself to it. If you're afraid of speaking in front of people, create situations where you have to speak in front of people now, prepare for it, get advice, get help, but take on these challenges. You will feel tougher. You'll feel more confident because of that. So, that's on-court, that's in life. I really believe in that. I think the second thing is, like Goggins, or like Sam, having a really strong why? I think they had different why's when you, you know, when you listen to them, but they had a very strong reason or reasons for what they're doing. And they could come back to that when they are in a very tough situation that, you know, Sam's desire to support his family to get out of that situation and be on that national team. And it's funny, like he wanted to close, right? Funny, but you know that's a status of something that you've achieved, right? That you've overcome. And so having that, those strong why's is so important. And you know, for a tennis player dealing with the wind and the cold, sometimes that's hard to find because maybe you know, that match at that point isn't overwhelmingly important to you. But that why might be, Hey, there's a way I go about things and I never go away from that. I always fight. I push to the end. I bring my best self. This is what I value and I'm never going to go against those values. And that can be extremely motivating as well in tough situations that there's a way that I live and I never back off of that. And then finally I think you, you really try to challenge your mind around this belief that I can do it and when the seeds of doubt are in there, accepting them and that they're normal in the situation that it'd be normal for someone to be worried about the bushfires and are they going to be able to deal with that smoke and the air quality and the heat. At the same time, if you've gotta play in that situation, you decide you're going to play, then you go all in and you go for it and you push yourself and your body will tell you if it's not able to take more. But as we always say, the mind goes before the body and so be aware when those fears come up, when those seeds start to get watered, of doubt and use that as information as Rafa would say. Okay, that's information that I'm uncomfortable right now. What am I going to do about it? Well, I'm going to really commit to my game. I'm going to work harder, I'm going to move my feet. I'm going to really make these rallies go longer. I'm going to get out of the corners faster. Whatever it is you feel that you need to do in that moment and commit to something simple that you can believe in, that you can buy into. Tennis players don't always have the benefit of having that chip on their shoulder, but you often can prove things to yourself. Prove to yourself that you can get through this situation, embrace the challenge, and that would be where I leave it JP is, these are all challenges and as long as they're not going to harm you, there's no danger in doing it, then why not embrace it and go after it and just see what you're able to do.

J: That's great advice. That's great advice. Well, I know we could keep talking and talking and talking on this topic. There's so many great examples.

L: We probably will after we turn off the mics. We'll keep going on this, but...

J: I think we're fortunate to know people and be exposed to people that could share their great stories and we hope to bring more of those to you here over the course of the year, but that's a wrap for today's episode of compete like a champion. We're going to put some links up on the, on the webpage that will give you links to Sam's book to David Goggins' book. I'd also recommend finding Goggins' book on which is, it's almost like an audio book. It's the ghost writer who is reading the audio book and then he stops halfway through each chapter and he asks Goggins his questions as he goes. So it's like an audio book/ podcast/ radio show. It's really cool.

L: That's such a cool format. I gotta check that out.

J: It's absolutely cool. I'll send you the link so we'll put those up there for you, for the listeners. And as always, I mean, please go on and leave us a review at the bottom of the podcast page and let us know and if you have any topics you'd like for us to discuss, or if you'd like, there are certain guests that you'd like to hear from, please let us know and we'll, we'll be sure to try and fulfill those requests. But until next time. That's Dr. Larry Lauer and I for compete like a champion. Checking out.