Rafael Nadal is a great role model for any competitive player to follow. Here, I share five aspects that I want each of my players to learn from him:
1) TENNIS HAS ONLY ONE SPEED: AT THE FULLEST OF YOUR POSSIBILITIES, ALWAYS 💪
Some points decide most matches between players of similar levels, so every point counts.
Your job is to play each point with the same attention, concentration, intensity and determination, regardless of the score, the environment, of how the opponent's plays, your unforced errors, etc.
Press the accelerator as soon as you enter the court and don't stop until the game is over.
2) MOVE AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON THAT BALL, BECAUSE YOUR LIFE ON THE COURT DEPENDS ON THAT BALL 🎾
While many players try to ignore this fact, tennis is a game of movement.
The first half of the battle is to get to every ball, and the only way to maximize your skill is to create a habit of running for every ball, however difficult it seems.
There is no room for evaluations. In training, do as if there are no lines, RUN!!!, and then in the game, go for each ball regardless of the score and the difficulty of the situation.
It is the only way to maximize your range of motion.
3) A GREAT DEFENSE IS AS IMPORTANT AS A GREAT ATTACK!
Players love to work hard to hit the ball and attack, and hit lots of winners. However, a winner or an opponent's mistake are worth exactly the same. Work hard to develop your defensive skills the same way you do to develop your offensive skills. A great defence will earn you a lot of points and can be just as threatening as a great attack.
4) MAKE YOUR BODY LANGUAGE A WEAPON!
In general, at some point in the game, most opponents collapse when things don't go well. You see a slight drop in intensity, some frustration, non-positive body messages, some random crazy shots, etc. It may be unnoticeable at times, but it’s present. But every now and then, you play against someone who seems to NEVER give up. You can be far ahead in the score, but you feel that the opponent is always there to put pressure on you and wait for their opportunity. You know that things can change at any moment and that to win you will have to fight on every point.
At that time, having a great body language, which sends the message: “I'm not giving up, I'm coming for you”, will not only help you stay mentally stable, but will also be a great weapon for the battle that’s the match.
5) COME BACK STRONGER AFTER AN INJURY
Injuries are part of competitive play and treating them effectively can be instrumental in your career. Most players forced off the pitch by injuries tend to focus only on healing, instead of trying to figure out if there is a way to use this “free time” to improve.
Work around your injury and keep improving. Practice hitting with your non-dominant hand, improve your backhand slice with one hand if you can't hit with both hands, work on trying the serve if you can't use your legs, etc.
There is always something you can do to improve. To get back to the competition better than you were like how Rafa has done it and will continue to do so! Have the motto: “Yes, what will happen in the future but I will continue to fight.”