Andy Murray's Motivational Notes Show Simpler Is Sometimes Better


It's a rare glimpse into the tactical mind of Andy Murray.

At the Rotterdam Open, on February 13th, a Dutch journalist stumbled upon a note apparently handwritten by the British No.1 with motivational messages on it.

"Be good to yourself," it says. “Try your best. Be intense with your legs. Be proactive during points. Try to be the one dictating.”

It’s all a bit bleeding obvious, not a million miles from “Get the ball over the net” or “Follow through properly”.

You’d hope Murray’s well-paid sports psychologist might come up with a few shinier pearls of wisdom than these.

TENNIS-NED-ATP-AMRO : News Photo

Nevertheless, now the entire planet, including all of his ATP rivals, knows exactly what Murray is saying to himself during matches.

“Focus on each point and the process,” he adds on the notes. “Try to keep him at the baseline. Make him move. Keep going for your serve.”

Could Murray’s enemies use this information against him?

Hardly. It’s about as simplistic as you can get. It’s the kind of stuff tennis coaches tell eight-year-old kids.

You might argue, however, that leaving this note lying around is the tennis equivalent of an army general posting invasion plans on the internet. Or like Barack Obama leaving his laptop on the train home.

Mental motivation is one of the rare weapons that players can keep safely guarded. While their match technique and tactics are there for all to see, what’s going on inside a player’s head should be a state secret – known only by his closest confidantes.

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN : News Photo

Not any more, Muzzer. Now every player in the world has an insight into your cereal-box sports psychology.

“Stick to the baseline as much as possible,” Murray continues. “Stay low on passes and use your legs.”

Of course, these notes were written in advance of Murray’s quarter-final defeat to Gilles Simon. Scrawled on what looks like the back of a fan letter, they aren’t indicative of Murray’s approach to every match; just his match against Simon… which he lost 6-4, 6-2, by the way.

Although it’s not clear who actually wrote the note (Murray himself? His coach? His mum?), there’s one message on it that he should take particular heed of: “Try to be the one dictating,” he writes.

Leaving this not lying around is hardly being dictating.

The journalist in question who picked it up was a sports writer and presenter called Wilfred Genee. He said he’d been intrigued to see Murray continuously consulting the note during his match “as a kind of ritual”.

Genee managed to take a photo of the note after the match (“Don’t ask how I did it”) and said he thought long and hard before revealing it on Twitter.

But finally he decided other professional athletes could learn from Murray’s simple approach to motivation.

Learn what exactly? That the top echelon of tennis’s sports psychology is about as incisive as a pre-match pep talk for five-year-old football players?

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Unibet are offering odds for the next Grand Slam, the French Open. Murray is fifth favourite to win at 21.00.

Ahead of him are Rafa Nadal at 2.15, Novak Djokovic at 2.38, Stanislas Wawrinka at 13.00 and Roger Federer at 16.00.