Roger Federer is arguably the best player of all times and his legacy to the game is invaluable. These are some of the most important lessons that any competitive tennis player should learn from him:
1) Play for the Love of the Game
Many players in the shoes of Roger Federer, would have retired a long time ago. He has more money than he will ever need, and he has accomplished everything that one could aspire to as a professional player. At the same time, he is starting to lose his dominance and it is getting harder and harder to maintain his performance level. So, why is Roger still working as hard as he is? Simple, he loves it! And that is the only way to achieve your potential. If you do not enjoy hard work and thrive pushing yourself on and of the court you will never be the best player you can be. So, play for the love of the game, everything else is limiting your development.
2) Develop a Complete Game
All else being equal, having more tools at your disposal improves your potential as a player. Work on developing all areas of the game to feel comfortable anywhere on the court. Develop variety and the ability to change the height, direction, spin, speed and length of your shots. Although some players achieve great results by specializing, the magic of Roger has been his ability to use different tools against different opponents and to be able to adjust his game throughout his career. Do not limit yourself!
3) Efficiency is a Valuable Asset
Even more impressive than 20 Grand Slam titles, are Roger’s records of 43 semifinals and 53 quarter finals. That is consistency and longevity to the max. Unbelievable!
The bottom line is that Roger is one of the most efficient players of all times. His smooth strokes and movement ability allow for maximum results with minimum effort, keeping him healthy and consistent year after year.
Although Roger’s smoothness will be hard to imitate, it is important for any player to strive for efficiency by constantly monitoring his/her performance and working to achieve the same results with the least amount of effort. The question to ponder over and over in practice is: Can I play at this level of intensity and at this speed with less effort or muscular force? - then adjust accordingly.
4) Seek Balance and Stability
Roger has an uncanny ability to track the ball and maintain his head still through contact and that is something that every player should consistently attempt. Although it has been proven that it is impossible to actually see the exact contact point between the strings and the ball, trying to do so dramatically improves performance by enhancing, timing, balance and focus.
5) Be Graceful in Defeat
Although Roger does not lose often, he is always matter of fact in his assessments of the match and always gives credit to the opponent. The reality is that no one cares about why you could not play your best on a given day. The undeniable fact is that on that day, the opponent was better. So, credit your opponent and move on. You do not have to like it, and great competitors never do but learn from it and move on. Respect the battle!
6) Never be Satisfied
Over the years we have seen Roger reinvent himself many times: using more slice, serving and volleying, chipping and charging, the SABR (Sneak Attack by Roger) and lately his incredible down the line shoulder level backhand drive to counter Nadal’s high-bouncing forehands.
Roger is the ultimate proof that even the best can get better, so in competitive tennis the old saying applies: If you are not getting better, you are getting worse! Never stop working on your game! There is always something to improve!
Federer is a great role model, champion and TEACHER. Observe and learn!