Novak Djokovic is a great role model for any competitive player. Here are 5 things I wish every one of my players would copy:
1) Flexibility is a Weapon
Flexibility is one of those factors that is considered important in theory but in practice it is often neglected. It is associated much more with injury prevention than with performance enhancement. However, Novak has shown the world how to use flexibility as a weapon by achieving balance and stability, hitting aggressively from stretched positions where most players would feel totally defensive. Take flexibility seriously If you want to maximize performance. It deserves a much more predominant role in high performance tennis.
2) To Perform your Best Everything Counts
Competitive sports are all about maximizing your potential, and in order to do that you have to look at the whole picture. In the same way that Novak discovered that a gluten free diet helped him performed better, you need to take a close look at every element that may influence your performance and tweak it until you optimize it: equipment, nutrition, sleep, tournament schedule, rituals, routines, practice environment, fitness components, mental state, etc. Everything counts!
3) You can Always Improve your Technique
One would think that if you are ranked in the top 5 in the world, your game has already matured and technical work is a thing of the past. However, one of the most important aspects that consolidated Djokovic's game and allowed him to finally truly challenge Federer and Nadal was a technical change in his serve. Prior to 2011 he used to serve with a low elbow and a little bit of a catapult motion, which limited his effectiveness. By early 2011 he had cleaned up his motion, and the rest is history. The lesson here is: never stop working on your game. There is always room for improvement!
4)The Battle is Against yourself First!
It is hard to believe that one can lose confidence after being one of the most dominating players of all times. However, no one is exempt. We saw it in golf with Tiger Woods, and Djokovic certainly had his own problems. Pressure is a constant in competitive tennis and a crucial part of the challenge. Everyone has their own demons to defeat during a match and unless you are able to achieve an ideal mental state, the opponent is the least of your problems. The real battle is against yourself!
5) Perseverance is an Essential Aspect of Competitive Tennis
The road to the top is not a smooth ride. It is a bumpy trip full of ups, downs and hidden obstacles. It took Novak a long time and many difficult losses to regain his form - not easy after being the dominant player on the tour, but that is tennis. Competitive tennis is extremely challenging and the sooner you accept that, the better. You give your best one day at a time, day after day, regardless of your performance. Everything else is a waste of time!
Novak is a great role model, champion and TEACHER. Observe and learn!