- Glenn van Zutphen
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
Updated: Jun 25, 2021
UPDATE: Osaka pulled out of the French Open after being fined $15,000 and saying that her being in the tournament was a distraction to the other players and the sport. Original Post: Four-times Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka said she won't attend any press conferences associated with the French Open. Naturally, officials at the French Open 2021 weren't too happy with her. Publicity is key, the driving force for events like this.
In fact, skipping a press conference is such a big deal that players are actually fined a lot of money and can even be kicked out of the tournament. According to the Grand Slam rule book, players can be fined up to $20,000 for skipping a media conference and events like these will have more than one. But Osaka said she was ready to accept any sanction. Wow. She must really hate press conferences!
No one can blame Osaka. Press conferences can be really stressful, especially if things aren't going particularly well. Cross a journalist the wrong way and bam, you are on the firing line. Confrontation can really screw up your mental game, which — as any athlete knows — a good mental game is key to winning.
So what's the answer? How do we reconcile players who can't tolerate the stress and organizations who really need the publicity? Is there a middle ground? Maybe.
Truth is, you are unlikely to train a whole bunch of journalists to ask easier questions In fact, their jobs depend on them asking tough questions. But what you can change in the equation - what Osaka can change - is her side of the table.
The key to media interviews is preparation. Practice. Practice. Practice. Learn to answer the tough questions so when they're thrown at you, they're no big deal. It's just another question and you have a prepared answer. Easy.
To really practice and practice well, you need to work with a media trainer — somebody who can rehearse you and give you pointers to make your answers smooth and easy. Media trainers will help you figure out exactly what to say when the tough questions come at you.
If Osaka had worked with a media trainer, she possibly could have gone through with the interview, answered some key questions and saved herself thousands of dollars.
She practices tennis, Now she just needs to practice talking.