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5 lessons in mental strength from US Open champ Bianca Andreescu

Learn how to give your mind topspin

"I guess these visualizations really, really work."
"I guess these visualizations really, really work."

Bianca Andreescu is the first Canadian to win a singles Grand Slam title, and the first person ever to win the US Open in their tournament debut.

How did she do it?

While her tennis talent is formidable, what sets Bianca Andreescu apart is her devotion to building her mental strength. And the tactics Bianca uses to train her mind are available to anyone, regardless of the state of their backhand.

1. Visualize, visualize, visualize. Bianca Andreescu has found that about 15 minutes of visualization each day is all that she needs to get her into a championship state of mind. She imagines holding the winner’s trophy…perhaps with New York City as a backdrop…

“I guess these visualizations really, really work,” Andreescu said in a post-win news conference.

2. Write the check. Another Canadian, Jim Carrey, made motivational check writing famous when as a broke, anonymous actor he wrote himself a check for $10,000,000 for “acting services rendered.” Bianca did the same, writing checks to herself for winning the US Open and adjusting the amount each year as the payout changed (this year’s check that Bianca has in both motivational and real form is $3.85 million USD). Your mind loves inspirational props that make your dreams tangible.

3. Be present. Andreescu has a thriving meditation practice. Anyone who is familiar with meditation knows that it teaches you to stay in the present moment, not in the past where you may have just double faulted or in a fearsome future where your opponent has just broken your serve, but in the present moment with the shot you’re taking right now. Everyone can benefit from mental training that enables a laser-like focus on the present moment.

4. Breathe! The crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium was not in Bianca’s court, especially as the legendary Serena Williams appeared to be making a miraculous comeback in the second set. Hearing thousands of raucous fans cheer your every mistake is enough to trigger the fight-or-flight stress response in even the strongest competitor. Breathe deeply and you signal your mind and body to calm down. Deep breathing exercises can be part of anyone’s daily mind-strengthening regimen, so that whenever the crowd is against you, you can take a deep breath and relax.

5. “Dream big and get big.” Bianca Andreescu’s mantra that she learned from her mother is to have big goals so that you can grow into them. 

What big dream can help make you bigger? Can you turn it into a short visualization movie and bring your dream to life with a prop? And how can you support your dream’s realization with a daily practice of meditation and breath work?

May you win your US Open, whatever that means to you.

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