When I was at the Indian Wells Tournament, I was more interested in watching the pros practice rather than play.  To me, I learned much more about how to improve my own tennis game.  For example, after watching Nadal practice and then play later that day, I was able to appreciate his efforts and overall victory a bit more.  I understood what he did to get himself into a position to be victorious.  I walked around the grounds while some of my favorite players played including Roger Federer, Gael Monfils, Leander Paes, Ivo Karlovic, and Stan Wawrinka.  This is what I noticed:

  • They focused on their strengths.  I saw Ivo hit monster serves, Federer pressure the second serve return, Nadal hit forehands and Wawrinka hit backhands most of their practice.  These are the strengths of all of these athletes.  Try to figure out what your strengths are and make sure they are reading to go before your matches!

  • They practice based on their personalities.  Federer’s practice was very laid back as he was joking with his coach, Stefan Edberg while Nadal’s practice was intense.  He was constantly getting feedback from his coach and working on improving and tweaking his shots.  What is your personality?  Have a consistent type of practice that helps you feel at home and helps you feel confident before a match.  

  • They all hit before their matches.  There wasn’t a player in the entire tournament that didn’t hit before their matches.  Try to set up a time before your matches to hit.  Can’t find someone to play with?  Hire an instructor, rent a ball machine or simply hit against a wall.  

  • They have a supporting cast.  Each player had a team of people that were there for specific reasons.  Nutritionists, personal trainers, family, and coaches were all part of the players’ support teams.  What is your support team?  I’m not saying go out and hire a nutritionist or trainer but you can definitely make sure you are eating right and in shape.  Also, including your family in watching your matches will give extra motivation that might also bring you closer together.  

The next time you are getting ready for a tournament or even a match, consider the practices of the top players of the world.  I always have said, if it’s good enough for the pros, it’s good enough for us!  Happy hitting!