Emma Raducanu told how to conquer injury problems as Brit fights to be fit for Wimbledon
Emma Raducanu’s ongoing physical injury issues may also be in her head according to a top British sports psychologist. The US Open champion has been plagued by problems since winning at Flushing Meadows last year with her Wimbledon build-up wrecked by her latest setback.
She is missing this week’s Eastbourne International having also sat out last week’s Birmingham Classic after being hurt at the Nottingham Open. Her mid-match withdrawal there with a side issue was her third retirement in four months. She also pulled out of the Guadalajara Open with a hip injury and the Italian Open with a back strain.
The injuries have been put down to the jump in physical demands since joining the professional tennis circuit. But leading mind coach Don Macpherson believes stress is also a contributing factor for the poster girl of British tennis as she carries the weight of expectation on her 19-year-old shoulders.
“I’m not saying she is making these injuries up – they are real for sure – but they are almost certainly also anxiety-related,” said Macpherson, who works with former Wimbledon champion-turned-coach Pat Cash among an impressive client list across tennis, Formula One, rugby union, golf and snooker.
“Pressure is a privilege but at the moment it isn’t for Raducanu. She will say everything is cool and I’m sure she genuinely believes that, but I have studied body language and I would say she doesn’t look relaxed, she seems to have something on her mind. To me it looks as though her mind does not trust her body, and when the mind and body are not in sync it is impossible to be at your very best, whatever the challenge.
“If there is a problem within the mind it will affect the body, and equally if there is a physical problem then the mind will be unable to focus 100 per cent on the task in hand. The bigger the mind/body disconnect, the more likely the drop in performance.
“Anxiety tightens the body up. I’ve had this in racing drivers who get strange injuries near a big race or upset tummies. In my opinion, reducing mental pressure, especially near big tournaments, will give her body a better chance of dealing with the physical stress.”
Raducanu is having to deal with her issues without the support of a full-time coach having already burned through three inside a year. Macpherson believes she needs to sort out her support network. “In my book, How To Master Your Monkey Mind, I write about accidental mind coaches who are people around a player who offer well-meant advice which turns out to be counterproductive,” he said.
“I would ask her to identify all her ‘accidental mind coaches’. Who is helping? Who isn’t ? Decide who is and give them a chance to help you. The researchers have concluded that one of the main causes of a psychosomatic disorder is a chaotic lifestyle and Raducanu’s lifestyle is pretty chaotic.
“This is a psychological condition that can lead to physical symptoms, often without any medical explanation. Either she knows why her body keeps breaking down, or she doesn’t – either way there will be stress and anxiety leading to the mind/body disconnect I suspect is happening now.”
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