Tennis Book Review

Locker Room Power
building an athlete's mind -
By David Sammel
Bath, United Kingdom
Reviewed by Rich Neher



Applied Psychology

David Sammel calls his book "essentially a collection of honed and tested methods of applied psychology" that he has collected over his sports career. He says, "Although I am not a qualified sports psychologist, my involvement in professional sport as a player and latterly as an elite coach has given me a thorough knowledge of delivering psychological support for athletes across many disciplines." He describes his book as a reference to return again and again to

Strengthen your Mental Toughness
Build your Locker Room Power

I can understand mental toughness. Read many books about it, foremost Dr. Allen Fox's "Tennis: Winning The Mental Match" - the bible of mental tennis in my opinion. Saw many matches on the pro tour were mental toughness were the only distinguishable difference between two players. But the term "Locker Room Power" puzzled me at first. What does it mean? How am I supposed to put this in the context of tennis, mental toughness, and winning matches?

Understanding Locker Room Power is a powerful driver behind the development of a tennis mind

I like the little anekdotes and sayings David Sammel uses to illustrate his point that LRP can be universally applied to any sport, not only tennis, and also in most situations in life. Here are some examples:

Lenny Krayzelburg, American swimmer and winner of 4 Olympic Gold medals in Sydney 2000 planted tiny seeds of doubt in his competitors' minds:
He wanted to instill in his rivals the mentality that they were "racing for second place, and that when it came to major events like the Olympic games, the gold medal was already gone."

Muhammad Ali said:
"If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologise."

Muhammad Ali also said:
"The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - in the mind, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights."

Pete Sampras said:
"I let my racquet do the talking. That's what I am all about, really. I just go out and win tennis matches."

Mary Pierce at the US Open:
In the 2005 US Open semi-final between Mary Pierce and Elena Dementieva, Mary took a 12-minute injury time-out after losing the first set. During the time-out, Mary re-grouped and Elena lost her rhythm, complaining after the match that effectively this was gamesmanship on Mary's part.

Locker room power is described as the perception that a player is better than he actually is. This positive aura is being created by other players talking about his or her game. This positive aura surrounding a player can be thought of as the X-Factor in a competition.

The contest was won before the fight began

Sammel is able to describe LRP, how an athlete can create it and consolidate it, and how that same athlete can also torpedo it with complacency and arrogance. He also describes how proper mental training and physical skills and talents pave the way for great LRP. And one can quickly see that, although tennis is his passion and expertise, the book is not just about tennis. The concept of LRP can clearly be applied by all athletes and also generally by people who want to succeed in life.

I liked the format of this book. Individual chapters like "Fear, Nerves & Intimidation" or "Personality used as a weapon" always finish with a summary Sammel calls Quick Points. He reminds us in one of those summaries that "...LRP isn't just created in the pool, on court, in the gym or in practice but also at press conferences, dining areas and anywhere at work where you are watched and analysed."

An individual who has belief in their own abilities will always succeed to a higher level than someone who does not

One of my favorite chapters in Locker Room Power is 22: Self-Belief. Sammel writes about champions who say they cannot believe they have won Wimbledon or Olympic Gold, but what they are really saying is that they cannot believe how soon it happened or that what they have always believed in has finally happened! Andy Murray is a player who has always believed in himself. "He has never had a problem visualising himself competing at the very top level so it is really no surprise to him when he gets there."

Bjorn Borg said, "My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories."

Sammels Quick Points for chapter 22 are:

  • Believe in yourself as a person as well as a player.
  • Decide what you want to achieve.
  • Focus on the task at hand, not the result.
  • Question your game and your tactics but never your self-belief.
  • Think positively - consider your glass to be half-full, not half-empty.

In my opinion, this is an excellent book for anyone who wants to improve and become successful in whatever goal they are trying to achieve. I had the pleasure of meeting the author at the 2016 US Open in front of Arthur Ashe stadium and I was thoroughly impressed with his bio, his expertise, and his passion for helping athletes and especially tennis professionals to reach the top of their abilities.

"I am lucky enough to learn from David direct, the next best thing is to buy his book, Locker Room Power."
Liam Broady - British Tennis No. 3

"LRP is an extremely powerful concept for players and coaches and is a major factor in the achievement of consistent success at the top of any sport. This is a top book by a top coach."
Judy Murray

"When I was called to court, I walked out of the locker room; Boris however stayed in his and made me wait in the corridor for a good few minutes, in these final moments I became a little unsettled. I realised afterwards that he totally dictated the time - he sent the message that the match would be played according to his terms."
Tim Henman - Wimbledon Semi-Finalist

"We all know this aura exists. What I like about this book is that you give it an identity."
Tim Henman - Wimbledon Semi-Finalist

Author and Creator of Locker Room Power (LRP) David Sammel, is an International Tennis Coach and widely respected consultant across the spectrum of professional sport.

Named as a world top 50 coach by Nike from 1996-2002, he furthered his coaching career with prominent roles as National Coach for Men for the Lawn Tennis Association. In 2006 David set about founding the Monte Carlo Tennis Academy in Monaco, alongside Jez Green. In the goal to establish a top International High Performance Tennis Centre in the UK, the academy was relocated to Bath and in partnership with Bath University, became TeamBath-MCTA of which David is now Head Coach.

David has over 25 years in world tennis, coaching international players to career high rankings, many of whom have represented their countries in the Davis Cup and Olympics. David is an official ATP Coach member as recognition of his many years on tour. David currently coaches Samantha Murray, Richard Gabb, Marcus Daniel and Toby Martin. In addition, he regularly contributes to interviews by the UK tennis media including BBC Radio 5, The Times, SkySports and a contributing editor for Tennishead Magazine and

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David Sammel
Bath, United Kingdom


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