Optimism in Sports

The following post is an excerpt from Emotional Aptitude In Sports NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order

ea-in-sports4a_finalThe beauty of sports is that we “get” to participate…we don’t “have” to participate.

In my experience, optimism is the quickest path to greater achievements. It’s the booster of the rocket ship… Findings prove that optimistic athletes enjoy benefits that their negative counterparts miss out on. Examples include:

  • Happiness and Gratefulness
  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Inner Peace and Calmness
  • Confidence and Trust
  • Popularity (Sunny dispositions attract others…)
  • Complain and Worry Less
  • Hopefulness and Openness

Having a growth mindset (Optimistic) requires the willingness to try new solutions. Below are six common scenarios that play out in the minds of many athletes. Athletes have to replace their old pessimistic thoughts with new optimistic thoughts. When the fixed mindset states something negative, the new improved growth mindset should answer with a positive solution to the problem.

Fixed-Mindset: says, “Maybe I don’t have the talent. I shouldn’t waste my time training 100%.”
Growth-Mindset: answers, “Even if lose a bit now, with a customized development plan and effort I can build the skills necessary to succeed.”

Fixed Mindset: says, “Confrontation is so intimidating and frightening. It’s scary and unsettling.”
Growth Mindset: answers, “High-performance sports are confrontational, but it’s not personal, it’s the nature of the environment.”

Fixed Mindset: says, “What if I fail… I’ll be seen by peers, friends, and family as a failure.”
Growth Mindset: answers, “Most successful athletes have failed hundreds of times throughout their career. Failure is a natural part of growth.”

Fixed Mindset: says, “If I fake an injury or don’t try, I can protect my ego and keep my dignity.”
Growth Mindset: answers, “Lying to myself is automatic failure. Where’s the integrity in that?”

Fixed Mindset: says “If I can’t be perfect, there’s no use in trying.”
Growth Mindset: answers, “Champions in every sport are simply excellent not perfect. I’ll shoot for that. Perfectionism is toxic.”

Fixed Mindset: says, “It’s not my fault. The coach doesn’t like me. My parents are pushing me…”
Growth Mindset: answers, “Solutions stem from developing life skills like taking responsibility, persistence, resiliency and better organizational skills. What can I do to progress?”


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Dealing with Adversity

The following post is an excerpt from the Second Edition of The Tennis Parent’s Bible NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order

QUESTION: Why does my daughter become irrational when cheated?

Frank: The human brain simply can’t stand being treated unfairly. It’s that resentment of injustice which triggers the downward spiral. Youngsters feel they deserve a fair chance of any reward being offered and with that taken away … so goes their rational decision-making abilities.

How to handle unjust situations is not a tennis issue, it’s a learned life skill. When a tennis opponent is repeatedly cheating and provoking your athlete, a full-blown meltdown is often the result. Biochemical reactions in the brain distort rational reasoning and the fight or flight syndrome overtakes the situation. That is unless your athlete has been trained to insert the correct protocol- which is the solution to the problem.

Taking back control begins by understanding Channel Capacity- a term neuroscience has assigned to the brain’s inability to process multiple forms of important information at one time.  A common example of channel capacity is texting and driving.

“The human brain cannot solve two complicated tasks simultaneously.”

On-court, the creative line caller systematically pulls your athlete away from the present (performance state of mind) and into the past or future (outcome state of mind.) Understanding this phenomenon is key to salvaging seemingly catastrophic matches.

So instead of little Zack focusing on his performance goals such as “ I’m going to serve to the backhand, hit high and heavy ground-strokes and crush short balls.”, Zack finds himself stuck in the wrong thought process. He is thinking “This guy is such a punk!!! I can’t lose to such a jerk, what will my friends say? I can’t believe I lost the last set, he’s ranked 57 spots below me…” The creative line caller has now got Zack right where he wants him-mentally far away from his performance goals.

If your athlete has issues playing against cheaters, ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away is not in their best interest. I recommend practicing their pre-set protocol during practice sessions to reinforce their match tough confidence. Arrange a few practice matches each week with the opponent being allowed to call any close ball out. Learning to deal with adversity and staying on the correct side of your brain under duress is a skill set that must be rehearsed.


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Competitive Focus

The following post is an excerpt from the Second Edition of The Tennis Parent’s Bible NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order black_ebook_design2

 QUESTION: My child’s mind wanders off in matches, how can we fix that?

Frank: Lapses in concentration are so very common.

Focus is a key mental/emotional skill set. Without it, even the most gifted ball strikers are usually early round losers. Focus requires the athlete to understand that their mind is like a muscle that needs to be continually tightened and toned. Remember from the previous section, an un-toned brain can easily slip back and forth between its under-arousal state of mind, to its optimal emotional conduct state of mind to it’s over arousal state of mind.

Let’s look once again into the thought process of these three different “head spaces.”

  • In the under-arousal state, the athlete often begins to detach and slip into past or future thought scenarios. After the mind wanders off, athletes often report that they choked.
  • In the ideal performance state, the athlete stays deeply entrenched in their calm, happy, confident script of patterns. This mental, emotional state of readiness lasts throughout the match. The athlete often reports that they’re in the zone.
  • In the over-arousal state of mind, the athlete slips into the over hitting, rushing, and reckless style of play. The athlete often reports that they were trying to play better than they actually needed and simply panicked.

The initial key to solving this issue is to ask the athlete to begin to notice where their thoughts are at certain stages of the match. (This is best done through match play video analysis.)

Remember, triggers are used to get an athlete back into their script of patterns. Triggers are both verbal and physical.  Triggers serve the athlete in two very positive ways: it inflates their energy while deflating their opponent’s energy and by sending the message that they’re in it … to win it.


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PTR GB Wimbledon Conference 2017


Keynote Speaker Frank Giampaolo

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Competitive Dramas: Internal Struggles

The following post is an excerpt from the Second Edition of The Tennis Parent’s Bible NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order



QUESTION: What does emotional conduct have to do with winning?


Frank:  Maintaining peak performance is dependent on a player’s emotional intelligence. Let’s look deeper into where an athlete’s focus shifts during competition when they leave their optimal performance state of mind.

Optimal emotional conduct is a performance state of mind which allows a competitor to reach and maintain their peak performance level. It’s important to note that even though stroke mechanics are solidified in a non-stressful practice environment, poor emotional control can cause solid fundamentals to faultier under stressful match conditions.

“Pre-setting appropriate solutions is emotional readiness.”

Champions in their optimal emotional state of mind report being very happy, confident, dialed into the moment, flowing not forcing, feeling confident, safe and secure, performing on script, being ready and optimistic about the match.

Often the difference between a great competitor and good competitor is the understanding and implementation of their optimal emotional conduct.

“Average athletes unknowingly drift in and out of their competitive script – floating through their under and over arousal state of mind. This instability allows their performance level to drop significantly.”

Very few athletes have been taught to be aware of their emotional state of being. An athlete’s optimal emotional state is dependent on their ability to spot their under-arousal and the over-arousal states of mind.

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Prepare Properly

The following post is an excerpt from Emotional Aptitude In Sports NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order


Prepare Properly

If you want to make your own good luck, look towards your future athletic competitions as opportunities and bring to these opportunities exquisite preparation. When proper preparation and opportunity meet, the athlete will shine…

Spectacular Preparation Preceded Spectacular Performance

Jarrod, Evans younger brother by 9 minutes, is a very gifted athlete but a bit unevenly developed.  Emotional aptitude is his most unnatural component and so far he’s not interested in improving it. Jarrod would sabotage his tournament performances before they even began. Of course, Jarrod believed that his poor starts weren’t his fault. They were just plain bad luck.

The night before an away event in Indianapolis, I called Jarrod to discuss the incoming storm and the news reports of the morning flood-like conditions. “Jarrod, let’s plan on leaving earlier tomorrow.” He replied “Nah… I want to sleep in…We’re good”. Fast-forward to the next morning. The plan was to meet in the hotel lobby for breakfast at 8:00 am.  It is now 8:158:30 … and still no Jarrod. It turned out he decided to skip breakfast before his day packed full of 6 hours of intense National competition.

So, we began the hour drive to the site. Visibility through the windshield was about 20 yards due to the pelting storm. All we saw for an hour and forty-five minutes were break lights. This, along with him deciding not to put fuel in his gas tank caused unnecessary unspoken anxiety. An hour into the drive Jarrod said, “I’m so hungry”.

Thirty minutes away from the event I gently reminded him to begin his visualization routine. Leaving the “normal” teenage headspace behind and morphing into the character of a warrior. As I began to remind him again about the emotional benefits of pre-game visualization Jarrod talked over me saying, “I’m fine,” as he decided he didn’t need it and reached over from the passenger seat and turned up the rap station on the SUV’s stereo. Memorizing rap lyrics and tweeting friends were more important to him than the mental imagery of ensuring a peak performance in his upcoming match.

Arriving on site late meant that instead of casually enjoying a relaxed 45 minute warm up. Jarrod now had only 15 minutes to rush through his fundamentals. This brought about feelings of being under prepared which is a confidence killer. As the tournament director blew the whistle for the players to gather, I asked him if he remembered to prepare his equipment, drinks, ice, towels, etc.  Jarrod said, “Oh, can you get me a water… And find me a towel?”


Preparing properly for battle doesn’t guarantee victories, but choosing to neglect proper preparation sabotages one’s chance of performing at peak potential.


Jarrod’s athleticism didn’t cause another loss. The loss was caused by his lack of emotional aptitude, as seen in his distorted thinking and behavioral patterns in preparing for his event. Needless to say, Jarrod’s game was off from the beginning. He never recovered and went down in flames.


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Neuro Priming For Success

Frank Giampaolo
An athlete’s routines and rituals define their success….or failures. Anything we focus on, on a consistent basis, will most likely manifest. The challenge is that, all too often, focusing on problems will attract more….problems. It’s called the laws of attraction.

“Tournament success or failures aren’t the results of a singular performance, but rather the results of the athlete’s routines and rituals.”

I hate to say it but only conditioning an athlete’s strokes will most often result in competitive disappointment. Competitive success demands purposeful conditioning of not only an athlete’s fundamentals but also their mental and emotional states. Match tough athletes understand that overcoming performance crisis, found in every tournament, demands character.

The holy grail of tennis tips for struggling tennis players isn’t hitting another basket of backhands, it’s developing and believing in with absolute certainty “their” game.

Parents and teaching pros routinely say to the athlete before a competition, “Just play your game!” Then I ask the athlete: “What’s your game?” they reply “Haven’t a clue!”

Let’s use acting as an analogy. In acting, they call it “getting into character”. In tennis it’s morphing into an athletic warrior, understanding their best system and style of play. In acting, they call it memorizing their script. In tennis, the athlete’s script is their most proficient patterns including serve, return, rally and net rushing shot sequences. (Note: Often, an inexperienced athlete’s favorite patterns aren’t their most proficient patterns.)

The athletes I see have serious potential. But most don’t take correct action. Yeah, they rally back and forth for hours a day but disregard mental rehearsals. So they don’t apply neuro priming and therefore never achieve the results they’re capable of achieving.

Here’s the light bulb moment: Success truly begins by adding mental rehearsal to lock in the absolute certainty of one’s skills. This is done nightly by visualizing to perfection each of their strokes, shot sequences and emotional protocols to handle performance anxieties faced in heated competition. Once again, it’s simply the laws of attraction. Studies show that visualizing peak performance patterns nightly attracts the correct motor programs and mindset athletes seek. Then along with on court pattern repetition, athletes become confident in their skills and with confidence comes peak performance potential under duress.

With my clients, we customize a series of mental, emotional and stroke scripts. The athlete then reads their solutions into their cell phone’s digital recorder. This allows them to listen to their script, in their own voice, and visualize to perfection with mental rehearsals. By visualizing perfect performance, the athlete attracts positive belief. And as positive belief develops, the athlete is better equipped and motivated to make the appropriate changes needed in modifying their course of action to maximize their potential. As I stated at the beginning, an athlete’s routines and rituals ultimately define their success.

Frank Giampaolo
Amazon #1 Best Seller: Emotional Aptitude in Sports
Frank provides a Customized Match Video Analysis Service. To receive a detailed assessment of your athlete’s performance under stress- Frank:


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The Art of Winning

The following post is an excerpt from Emotional Aptitude In Sports NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order



The Art of Winning


  • Developed Strokes will get you into the tournament.
  • Strategies and Tactics (Mental Components) will push you through the ‘gatekeepers/retrievers.’
  • Endurance & Stamina will move you into the final rounds.
  • Emotional Skill Sets (Handling Performance Anxieties) will earn you the winner’s trophy.


Frank Giampaolo

Amazon’s #1 Best Seller: Emotional Aptitude in Sports

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  • Are Energized & Entertaining
  • Teach Much More Than Fundamentals
  • Are Optimistic & Laugh-Out-Loud Fun
  • Provide Short & Long Term Goals
  • Open the Athlete’s Mind with Praise & Hope
  • Are Knowledgeable about Current Sports Science
  • Touch the Athlete’s Heart with Passionate Story Telling
  • Have a Deep Understanding about Biomechanics
  • Offer a Deliberate, Customized Developmental Plan
  • Inspire Confidence & Love of the Game
  • Are Focused Empathetic Listeners
  • Are Content Being Great Coaches!


Please Share With Our Industry Friends. Thanks, Frank Giampaolo

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Three Tennis Control Dramas

The following post is an excerpt from the Second Edition of The Tennis Parent’s Bible NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order




To understand on-court control dramas, take a minute and think of a tennis match as a control contest. Each player is attempting to pull their opponent into their style of play to gain command of the match.

Three Control Dramas Seen in High-Level Tennis:

1) The Power Contest

2) The Speed Contest

3) The Patience Contest


To simplify the process, the goal of competition is to choose the contest your athlete performs best. Then formulate a plan to PULL their opponent out of their own world and into your athlete’s world. Let’s look a little deeper, yet keep it simple:

I have a top 300 WTA player training with me.  We have customized her game plan to hide her weaknesses and expose her strengths. Her body type and brain type play a major role in customizing her success.


Ann is light in stature. Her opponents are generally much bigger and stronger. We checked off and excluded the “Power Contest” from her A game plan. This is not to say that she might use power as a B or C game plan. Ann also has focus issues. We checked off the “Patience Contest” and excluded it as her A game plan.


Ann possesses great speed and anticipatory skills. We chose the “Speed Contest” as her A game plan. Ann is extremely intuitive. She can sense when the opponent is vulnerable and knows “How” and “When” to move in and take away the opponents recovery and decision-making time.

When Ann chooses to play her “Speed Contest”, she most often is able to move the bigger girls enough to force errors. She can also pull the retrievers off the court to open up winning angles. When Ann chooses to get into a “boomball-power” contest with bigger, stronger girls, she loses. When she chooses to out moonball a “World Class” moonballer she loses!

As I mentioned earlier, this section should be a conversation opener with your athlete and their entourage.  Knowing who you are is an important step in formulating your most successful game plans.


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