Rafael Nadal is a great role model for any competitive player. Here are 5 things I wish every one of my players would copy:
1) Tennis has only one Gear: All out!
A few points decide most matches between players of similar levels, so every point counts. Your job is to play each point wit the same care, focus, intensity and determination regardless of the score, the environment, the opponent’s antics, your unforced errors, etc. Step on the gas as soon as you enter the court and do not stop until the match is over.
2) Move Like your Life Depends on it, Because in Tennis it does
Although many players try to diminish this fact, tennis is a game of movement. Half the battle is getting to the ball, and the only way to maximize your ability is creating the habit of running to every single shot. There is not room for evaluations. In practice there are no lines, you run, and during the match you go for every single ball regardless of the score and the bleakness of the situation. It is the only way to maximize your movement ability.
3) Great Defense is Just as Important as Great Offense
Players love to work on hitting the ball hard and attacking – hitting winners. However, a point counts the same whether you hit a winner of your opponent misses. Work as hard to develop your defensive skills as you do to develop your offensive skills. Great defense will win you many points and it can be just as threatening as great offense.
4) Turn Body Language into a Weapon
In general, at some point or another most opponent will cave when things are not going well. You can just feel it – a slight drop in intensity, a little frustration, a few wild shots. It may be subtle but you can sense it. However, once in a while you play someone who does not seem to go away. You could be way ahead but the pressure is there. You know that things can change any minute and that to win you will have to fight every single point. A great body language, that sends the message: “I am coming after you,” will not only help you stay mentally stable but is a great weapon for battle.
5) Come Back Stronger After an Injury
Injuries are part of the competitive game and dealing with them effectively can make or break your career. Most players when forced off the court by injuries tend to solely focus on healing, instead of trying to figure out if there is any way to use this “off time” to get better. Work around your injury and continue improving. Practice hitting with your non-dominant hand, improve the one handed backhand slice if you cannot hit two handers, work on throwing if you cannot use your legs, etc. There is always something you can do to improve. Come back stronger, Rafa does!
Rafa is a great role model, champion and TEACHER. Observe and learn!