Some of the most important moments of this year’s Australian Open took place away from the tennis court and had nothing to do with a certain vaccine-averse Serbian champion.
Ben Crowe. The greatest wheelchair athlete, doesn’t do much on the court itself.
Crowe and Alcott often meet at a cafe so they check-in often during the tournament because Alcott loves being with people. Last week, as Barty prepared for her third round match, meeting Camila Giorgi, she and Crowe checked in before the walk. Molly, Crowe’s spanador, a cross between a Labrador retriever and a cocker spaniel, in Melbourne Park.
Crowe said in a recent interview: “Ash loves dogs so that makes for a good setting. “It makes for a fun place to chat. And we’ll talk about anything. The dogs or home renovation. ”
Tennis players and athletes in almost every sport have used sports psychologists and mind coaches for many years. Mental health has never been such a top focus, especially in tennis, which has lost one of their biggest stars, Naomi Osaka, for almost half of 2021 as she faces with psychological problems related to the sport and his performance.
Crowe has taken a circuit route as his mentor to some of the biggest names in sports. He worked as a marketing executive at Nike in the 1990s, trying to connect athletes’ stories with industry giants and cashing in on both sides.
He worked closely with Australian athletes, including Cathy Freeman, an Olympic sprinter, on her campaigns before the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000, but also with Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. He became close with Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, who loved both tennis and Australia.
Ultimately, Crowe realized that it was more important for athletes to really understand who they were, their back stories, and why they did what they did, rather than forcing a session. empty version of their story to a global corporation hoping to sell more than sneakers and t-shirts.
“You need to separate the person from the personality, the self-worth from the business card,” he said. “I try to get them to answer the questions: Who am I basically? And, what do I want from this madness called life? ”
Crowe has also worked with professional surfers Stephanie Gilmore and the Richmond club in Australia under the rules of football.
In addition to tournaments and matches, he talks to clients weekly for about an hour in sometimes humorous sessions focused on finding the right balance between achievement and fulfillment. There is a simplicity in Crowe’s foundational principles:
Focusing on the future or the past is a waste of energy because we cannot control either.
No point in a tennis match is worth more than any other, so why treat them differently.
If you have to do something or achieve something to become someone, you will never be satisfied.
We don’t know enough about ourselves, and the things we know we don’t love enough.
At a major tournament like the Australian Open, Crowe often watches his clients’ games from the stands, paying attention to their decision making and body language, trying to keep an eye on what they’re doing. uncontrollable – crowds, weather, opponents – can distract them. He attends their press conferences and chats with them before and after each game.
The deep work, however, comes during the inter-tournament shutdown, as he delves into them on questions of identity and purpose.
He said Alcott’s career took off and is now coming to an end because he understands that he plays tennis to help people like him lead better, healthier lives. This week, Alcott received a prestigious award, Australian of the Year, which is presented annually to top citizens. He will play his last professional tennis match on Thursday, in the Australian Open wheelchair quarterfinal final, but his goals won’t change just because he’s about to retire. .
Barty, who left the sport for 18 months to pursue cricket, is inspired by playing for her country, the natives and the team of coaches and trainers she has always trusted. for its success. She will meet Madison Keys in the semi-finals on Thursday, and is trying to become the first Australian woman to win the tournament’s singles title since 1978.
His tennis clients have learned to accept their weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well as the endless uncertainty that professional sport and life ultimately bring, he said.
“If there’s one thing the pandemic has shown that we don’t make uncertainty clear, and uncertainty is vulnerability, and we don’t do vulnerability well,” Crowe said. Crowe said. “So you either align yourself with the uncertainty or you suffer.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/sports/tennis/australian-open-crowe-barty-alcott.html Ashleigh Barty and Dylan Alcott’s secret weapon is a former Nike marketing executive