Like other skill sets, mental approach can be improved.
Like other skill sets, mental approach can be improved.
14 July 2015

Tennis players with a “me against the world” attitude are hampering their own success, says a University of Queensland sports coaching expert.

School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences lecturer Bob Crudgington – who has coached athletes to medals at two Olympics – made the comments as the “bad boy” antics of young Australian Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon continue to draw criticism.

Novak Djokovic sealed victory in Sunday’s Wimbledon final against Roger Federer, while Kyrgios and former number one and fellow Australian Pat Rafter traded barbs in the media

“Top players can be passionate and feel they have received a bad decision, but generally they have the emotional skills to get over it quickly and move on,” Mr Crudgington said.

“A ‘me against the world’ mentality that some players carry is not conducive to winning at the highest level.

“Few players reach Kyrgios’s heights and face the resulting on and off-court pressures. The intensity of those pressures can be unexpected.

“Fortunately, like other skill sets, mental approach can be improved.”

All sports had players with poor behaviour, Mr Crudgington said, but those in tennis were highlighted due to being on court for sustained periods of time.

It was concerning when players abused umpires, administrators and equipment.

“Generally it’s a learned behaviour from the athlete’s formative years,” he said.

“I feel Krygios’s recent behaviour is a result of competition pressure and dealing with his own expectations at a relatively young age.

“However, right from the start of his competition career, this type of behaviour should have been jumped on.

“Even outstanding junior players should never be allowed to behave disrespectfully.

“I’m sure that people who knew Kyrgios and some other players in their junior days are not surprised to see their later on-court antics.

“The behaviour would have been evident early on and some of these people could have stepped in and nipped it in the bud, but they didn’t.”

Mr Crudgington coached the Australian women’s softball team to bronze medals at the Sydney and Atlanta Olympic Games.

He was later High Performance Manager for Diving Australia in preparation for the Athens Olympics and has consulted to the Australian Institute of Sport, Queensland Academy of Sport and national and state bodies for rugby union, rowing, volleyball, basketball and bowls.

Media: Bob Crudgington +617 3365 6172,; UQ Communications Robert Burgin +617 3346 3035, +61 0448 410 364, .