Good morning and thanks for answering some questions Filippo Gioiello. Please introduce yourself and your career in tennis.
My adventure in the tennis world began back in 1990, it was June and it was crazy hot in Milan, I remember I went into the tavern of my house where my father was doing maintenance work. It’s weird Mark, I remember it like it was yesterday, I turned on the television and I saw a guy who looked more like a rock star than a tennis player. I approached the TV, I looked at him closely and noticed that he was playing tennis with jeans shorts. I also noticed that while he was standing right in the centre of the court, on the other side there was a guy who seemed to be doing more the wiper than the tennis player. He was moving right and left, right and left…
This curious scene made me smile and at the same time intrigued me a lot, I even came to think they were joking, I thought they were doing a candid camera, but instead, it was all true… That guy with the blonde wig, the unkempt beard was firing real ground-air missiles with his two-handed backhand, truly spectacular to watch, and actually, for me, it was the first time I saw such impressive double-handed backhand! That guy’s name was Andre Agassi and if I’m here today talking about myself, much of the credit goes to him!
I was just 15 years old and I really didn’t know anything about tennis, in fact, I had always played soccer in pursuit of the dreams of a father who always wanted to see me wearing the t-shirt of F.C. Internazionale. I realized I was just following my father’s dreams when I discovered tennis. Since that day I have not stopped playing and getting excited about this wonderful sport. Unfortunately for me in the moment of maximum agonistic growth I was diagnosed with “stress asthma” and I had to reluctantly give up the competition, to my great pain and regret!
So, you are the founder of Mental-Tennis, please tell us a little more about what you do and how your business works?
Yes, I indeed drafted mental-tennis as a method to train players’ mind based on almost 15 years of practical notes taken on the court while I was training them.
My method bases all its success on the usability of its own tools and the ease of learning to put them into practice once it takes place. Let’s say that this is basically the difference between mental-tennis and everything that the market offers today, in my opinion too much science fiction theory but very little practicality.
We began our official adventure in November of 2017 with my first client of this new drafted method, Francesco Galimberti, who became so passionate about my job and what I was teaching him, that asked me to work for me and to become a certified mental-tennis apprentice coach…
What is Mental-tennis? Those who play tennis know full well that the use of the mind in this sport is a key factor for ultimate success.
If your mind plays against you while you’re competing, your tennis will end up being blocked and you certainly won’t get that far in a tournament. If, on the other hand, you learn to use your mind as a powerful resource, your mind will take you for sure to a “higher level of play” by raising your performance and pulling out that part of tennis potential that was totally trapped before!
Mental-tennis was born with this goal, to provide all players with a specific mental training course that, if practiced consistently over time, will transform their mind into a powerful resource while they are playing. Mental-tennis will guide you to play better and win much more often because you will be able to increase your performance it the moment of truth, that is when you have to play crucial points, and you can’t tremble!
How does session work? We usually meet clients in the club’s bar or restaurant, then we carry out the first hour of individual interview, to understand the player’s past, to know the problems and to outline together with him the objectives on which to work during the preparation. In this first hour, in addition to counselling, we carry out specific Mental-tennis training on a specific theme chosen by the player, obviously according to the principles of intervention priorities such as: defeating fear of making mistakes, or performing anxiety, or increasing performance on court, or the ability to stay focused in crucial points etc.
After the theoretical session that can last one or two hours depending on the player’s needs, we step into the court together to put into practice what we have learned at the theoretical level in the training hour. This way, players can usually experience the difference between the before and after having worked with mental tennis.
Finally, there is a short de-briefing where you can see what went well, what can or must be improved and what needs to be changed. The session ends with the sending via e-mail or WhatsApp of a summary PDF on what has been done during the day.
What sort of qualifications do you have to go through in order to call yourself an expert in the field?
My course of study sees me graduate in business economics with a specialization in human resource development. This is a subject with a lot of psychology inside. Then in 2006 I obtained a first master’s degree in Transactional Analysis at the Berne Institute in London, then another master’s degree in Sport Coaching at NLP Italy in Milan in 2009.
If I really have to tell you the truth, titles are not the main reason why today I can define myself as an expert in this field. The main reason is the results I have produced during this period, it is now almost 15 years that I’ve been working through word of mouth. I only decided to create a valid marketing platform 2 years ago which, I have to say is really giving us great satisfaction.
Many people have more important titles than me but when they speak, they resemble peacocks, people who like Narcissus, love to see their image reflected in the water. I am not like that, I do not worry about the complexity of the concepts exposed to seem cool, I am not interested in looking perfect, when I am in front of you I will only worry about 2 aspects, the first is that you have understood really well what I explained to you during the theoretical part. Once done, I will ask you to explain it to me in turn.
The second aspect is that I will follow you on court standing behind you so that you can put into practice what I have told you, doing so, you will stop listening to your fears and concentrate yourself on listening to me and my voice instead of listening to your inner dialog. I am in fact the solution to your problem, the reason why you are paying me…
So, for answering your question succinctly, what makes me a specialist in this area? The results achieved over time on players…
Just how important is mental toughness in tennis and how do you train tough athletes?
Tennis is a mental game said Novak Djokovic a few years ago, in fact, I believe that at certain levels mind is what really makes the difference on court like in everyday life or at work. So for my personal experience I could tell you that the mind makes up 90% of this sport. I continuously see a lot of tennis players not being able to express their own potential not even at 40% when they have to face a competition and that is where I intervene. Training people not only from a mental point of view but also on how they should manage their emotions, always remembering that mental preparation, like athletic and physical preparation, requires time and dedication, otherwise you cannot reach any concrete results…
First of all, I put myself in a position to make it very clear that I do not need their money, they can’t buy me! I tell them that I might be a very demanding and a hard coach at times but if I act this way it’s because I want you to achieve results! I tell them that they have to convince me to work for them.
Why should I work with you? Which goals do you want to achieve in tennis? I don’t try to convince anybody to work with me, I’m here to produce results on you and I’ll ask for total availability, listening, ability to sacrifice, I’ll scold you and bring out the best and the worst of you, but you can be sure of one thing, I’m not scared to lose the job or I am not scared to face you. If I have to tell you things, I tell you exactly what I think to make you grow… Are you sure you want to work with someone like that?
Thanks Filippo, for that interesting explanation of Mental-Tennis. SportsProsConnect are excited to partner with Filippo and Mental-Tennis. We are sure with our synergies that this will be a fruitful partnership for many years to come. We will be working closely together with Filippo organizing Mental-Tennis Workshops initially around Europe and maybe all over the world in time.
A partnership is a partnership and we are looking to grow so using Filippo’s knowledge and experience he will also be working with Sportsprosconnect to offer our services to his clients. This is a win win partnership for both parties, so please look out for more announcements in due course.
Please contact Filippo on email@example.com or myself directly on firstname.lastname@example.org should you want more information or to book up a workshop at your club, academy or resort. You can also visit the Mental Tennis Website – https://www.mental-tennis.it/
Mark Wylam (Owner Sportsprosconnect.com)