Leander Paes' Four-Point Mantra On How To Deal With Success, Failure And Pressure

How do you manage stress, cope with pressure and deal with expectations? Above all how do you keep both your mind and body in sync and fit to be able to deal with all that in an optimal way? Nowhere does this matter as much as in competitive sports, especially at a global level.

Leander Paes
Leander Paes, 43, has played international tennis for over 25 years. He has dealt with pressure, expectations and controversies aplenty – both on the court and off it. Here are four tips from him that helps him deal with them:

1. Keeping yourself focused and motivated:

Every year around the middle of December Paes sits down to plan his years ahead. He sets a five-year, three-year, two-year and one-year goals for himself. And then the next one-year goal is broken into three-month bands with specific targets. Then he sets targets for the next three months, broken down to daily goals. All of it working to help him achieve the short term and also his long term goals. For example, last year in November when I met him, he had already set out his target to go to the Olympics, his fitness, playing schedule etc so that he peaks around the Olympics this year.
Leander Paes

2. Dealing with pressure & failures:

Paes says he has never gone out to prove to others what he is all about. Quoting what he said: “I live on my own terms. I set my own rules. As long as I can prove to myself that I worked hard and gave it my best. I have maximised every talent I had as a human being, no matter what aspect of life – professional or personal. I know I can be the best I can be. And I have no regret (success or failure).” There are expectations – being out there in competitive sports, that is unavoidable and something one cannot control, he says. “I do not deal with that emotion (expectations). Instead, I focus on what it takes to win the game, get that medal. And be tightly focused on that aspect. Get on that stage and perform,” he says. That works. It shuts out all the unnecessary noise that might be distracting.

3. Tapping into experience:

Leander Paes
Life is as much a physical as a mental game. Even in competitive sports. And while one strategises how to do deal with issues, mental and emotional makeup, strategies and resilience plays an equally important role. They go hand in hand, he says. According to him, this is where experience plays a critical role. When there is a mountain ahead of you – do you circle it, climb it, drill right through it? What’s the best way to cross that mountain – that comes only from experience. “It’s the journey I enjoy. The euphoria of the destination lasts brief,” he says.

4. Maintaining physical fitness:

Here are some fitness tips from a sportstar who has been one of the longest playing tennis stars in the world. Of course find time to do your workout. On food he says having small meals/healthy snacks through the day – like granola bars, fruits and juices (beetroot is his favourite) – is great. He has his carbohydrates – like pasta – for lunch. He avoids carbohydrate after sunset. He says proteins, veggies, fruits, quinoa work great for dinner. His dinner is mostly about grilled chicken and salads. “You cannot eat the same thing that you ate when you were 21 years,” he says.

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