What do tennis and sport have to teach for areas such as careers and financial markets? A lot, especially if these lessons are given by one of the greatest coaches in the world, responsible for coming back on top of one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
we are talking french Patrick Mouratoglou, coach for nearly a decade of the American Serena Williams, 40 years, and, more recently, young talents such as the Greek Stefanos Tsisipas, the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and the American Coco Gauff.
On a recent visit to Brazil, Mouratoglou, 51, spoke with the EXAM Invest and he told from his training method to the characteristics that are present in victorious people, no matter whether on the court or off.
“The potential of each person, and that’s not just for tennis, it comes from mindset. If you have the right mindset, that is, if you believe in yourself, you have self-confidence and a big difference. When a person doesn’t believe he can achieve something, he doesn’t make the effort and is very limited. Most of the problems come from this,” he said.
The French participated in the BTG Bankers, event promoted by BTG Pactual (BPAC11, from the same group that controls EXAME) and aimed at clients, self-employed agents, managers and other professionals in the market.
In the conversation, Mouratoglou told what drove him to be one of the greatest tennis coaches in the world. Since 2012, he has coached Serena. Of the 23 Grand Slam tournaments the player has won, he has coached her in 10.
He also told about how he managed to reconnect Serena with herself when training began in 2012. The American had just suffered her earliest loss in a Grand Slam, in the first round of Roland Garros, and was far from the top positions in the rankings . In just a few weeks, Serena was back in her best tennis, to the point that she was champion at Wimbledon and the US Open and won gold at the London Olympics.
Check out the full interview below:
Your coaching career is exceptional. You coached tennis players like Grigor Dimitrov, Serena Williams and Stefanos Tsisipas. You now have the biggest tennis academy in Europe. What passion or desire drove you to become one of the greatest coaches in the world?
My passion for tennis dates back to 4 years old. My life goal was to be a professional player. But my parents wouldn’t let me, they said it was too risky. For them, the chance of being successful was low and they made me stop when I was between 15 and 16 years old to focus on studying.
That was a blow to me because it was my dream. So I decided to dedicate my life to helping young players achieve their tennis dreams. I opened my gym when I was 26 years old.
Can you talk a little bit about how your training method works?
I believe that being successful at what I do comes from the fact that I don’t have a method. My philosophy as a coach is that there is no method, but a good way to train each player and my job is to find that way. For this, I observe and listen to each one of them to understand their needs.
Is there a way to know if a player has the potential to be great?
It’s not an exact science, but yes. I believe that the potential of each person, and this is not just true for tennis, comes from the mindset. If you have the right mindset, that is, if you believe in yourself, you have self-confidence and already have a big difference.
When a person doesn’t believe he can achieve something, he doesn’t make the effort and is very limited. Most of the problems come from this.
The child has the doors open because he has no idea what he can and cannot do. She doesn’t question herself, she just does it. They say walk, she walks. He doesn’t mind failing.
But when a person gets older, he closes several doors. First, because someone might have said she wasn’t good at something. Second, because there may have been bad experiences and the person ends up closing doors for himself.
Now, when she is able to persist, to keep the doors open – and she is able to do that when she has high self-esteem – it is possible to go far beyond what they say.
Are there differences between coaching younger players like Tsitsipas and more experienced players like Serena?
For sure. One is still discovering, the other has great experience. Serena knows herself very well, knows what to do in various situations, having studied many plays. For her, it’s more about helping her bring new things to the game and also keeping her mindset.
For players like Stefanos [23 anos] or Coco Gauff [17 anos], who are younger, you, as a trainer, have to help them discover themselves.
Serena has an unstoppable mindset, but she doesn’t always keep it that way. When I started training her, in 2012, she was not at a good time. She wasn’t in the right mindset at the time. So I helped her pick up on that thought she had when she was at her peak and she managed to succeed again.
How did you do it?
Making her reconnect with the same ambition she had before. For example: we started training in 2012, after Roland Garros. When she was in the semifinals at Wimbledon that year, she came and told me, ‘Whatever happens, I’m now in the top five in the world. Isn’t that amazing? What do you say?’
I said to her: ‘So what? Who cares about being in the top five?’
For Serena, being in the top five is nothing. Then, at the end of that day, she called me again and apologized. He said: ‘It was ridiculous. Being top 5 is really bad and top 2 too, by the way.’
I talked about this situation with Serena, but just to show that when there is an exceptional person and she is hurt by her failures, she starts to think in a different way. She starts processing differently, forgets to process like a champion. And if she doesn’t think like a champion, she won’t succeed.
Last year, you released UTS [Ultimate Tennis Showdown], pointing to what he believed could be the future of tennis. What has changed since then?
I believe the big change was proving the concept and this is a great achievement. It’s a new concept. We showed that tennis can be completely different from what was seen, with a shorter format, faster, with gamification, the possibility for spectators to interview players.
I wanted to make sure that the format would work, that the players would like it, the media, the younger people. We had great success. The format is designed to reach younger generations. It’s important that we have younger people watching tennis and that they might also come to love the sport.
You have several activities throughout the day. Could you talk a little about your routine? What time do you wake up and go to sleep? What are your hobbies?
When I’m not on vacation, I wake up at 6 am, even if I travel or have jet lag. I wake up, walk with my dogs, exercise, take care of the children, take them to school and then start my day at work.
I believe that having discipline is extremely important. Discipline saves you, you can’t always count on motivation.
In addition to tennis sessions, I have a lot of businesses, gyms. I will launch a training platform next year. I take care of these things, see if everything is going well. I spend about half the day at the office. I return home around 20:00.