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
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?
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
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.
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
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."
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
Sammels Quick Points for chapter
- Believe in yourself as a person
as well as a player.
- Decide what you want to achieve.
- Focus on the task at hand, not
- 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.