Johanna Konta’s remarkable winning run of 16 matches was ended by the two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the US Open last night. Konta can keep her head held high though, maintaining that she’s fulfilled a childhood dream by getting to the last 16 in a major competition.
It’s an especially noteworthy achievement given than Konta ended last year ranked at 150 in the world. After her winning streak, Konta is set to rise to the top 60. Konta believes that her momentum is at least partially attributable to her decision to hire her ‘mental coach’ Juan Coto. Reports from a number of sources give insight into the work that has contributed to her impressive winning streak.
It has been suggested that major improvements have been observed in Johanna Konta’s self-belief, which have been critical to her success. In the words of Konta: “If I would go out against some of these players and see them as their ranking, then I probably would have already lost before I even stepped on the court”.
Indeed, a wide range of research has demonstrated that self-belief is an important predictor of success not only in sport, but also within academia and business 1. Not only this, but the resulting success has reciprocal effects on self-belief levels. Crucially, this can help to build the momentum which has helped Konta to rapidly climb the rankings ladder.
Andy Murray believes there may have been another reason for Konta’s unprecedented success: an improved work-life balance. Murray notes that Konta has been travelling more with her boyfriend, providing her with more time to switch off from tennis.
It goes without saying that a work-life balance is equally as important within business, given the extensive findings linking a work-life balance with lower stress and absenteeism levels. A recent CIPD report has found that a quarter of workers feel that they are not achieving the right work-life balance. Just as within tennis, organisational success may therefore be defined by the ability to successfully achieve a work-life balance.
Konta has been reported to have said that she is trying to ‘stay present’. What this means is that each time a bad shot is played, rather than unhelpful analysis spilling over to impact the next shots, Konta focuses on the present shot. This focus on being present is central to the growing field of ‘mindfulness'.
Ever since Google celebrated the universal impact of their mindfulness course ‘Search Inside Yourself’, organisations have become increasingly intrigued by mindfulness. Research has associated mindfulness with a range of outcomes which may be beneficial to business and sport, including improved mental performance and psychological wellbeing. So it’s no surprise that Konta’s investment in mindfulness has been accompanied by a newfound ability to conquer her nerves.
In conclusion, Johanna Konta’s story is another lesson that success at an elite level relies as much on psychological outlook than on natural ‘ability’. Similarly within business, for individuals to reach their potential means equipping themselves with the right psychological techniques as their talent alone won’t allow them to reach their full potential.
Marsh, H., Chanal, J. & Sarrazin, P. (2006). Self-belief does make a difference: A reciprocal effects model of the causal ordering of physical self-concept and gymnastics performance. Journal of Sports Sciences, 24(1), 101-111.