Rafael Nadal is known as „The king of clay” because of winning spectacular 10 French Open titles. He is definitely one of the best players in the history so we are fortunate to experience journey of the spanish athlete and learn from his experiences. Why do Rafa is so successful? How is he able to maintain such a great performance for many years? Let’s find out.
When Rafael entered professional world of tennis everyone was following first steps of this young phenomenon. There were 3 factors that made Nadal different than other young guns. Nadal looked like a bodybuilder, had tremendously effective topspin forehand and his fighting spirit was out of this planet. There are many youngsters who can play well in 1 or 2 tournaments but later on when opponents get to know their playing styles , strengths and weaknesses, and favorite tactical patterns, they are no longer as dangerous as at the beginning. Rafael survived for many years and even now when he is over 30 years old he still wins Grand Slam titles and punishes much younger opponents than he is.
There is no doubt that career of Rafael Nadal is close to the end so now we can analyze his long-term experiences from the bigger perspective. Definitely his career wasn’t always easy and he had to struggle many times to deal with injuries, personal problems as well as expectations which got bigger after every won title.
What’s the secret of Nadal’s successful story? Nobody is the same like Rafa but there are some general lessons that we can learn from this champion and incorporate into our career to get to the next level. Here is why Rafael Nadal is one of the best players in the history:
Rafa was working hard, is working hard and will be working hard to the end of his career. His training sessions were never easy but he understood what it takes to get to the top. There are no shortcuts – Rafa knows that he has to work hard to stay on the top and achieve great results consistently.
- Long-term relationship
His relationship with Toni is something that we all should admire. There are many examples of players like Radwanska, Wozniacki or Williams who had own family members as tennis coaches but at one point or another they decided to split. This never happened to Rafa and Toni even when results were not as good as expected. Their respect and trust to each other was stronger than momentary problems so that is why they formed the team that was so successful.
- Responsibility – No complains
Nadal is a typical example of responsible athlete. If he loses the match that is his fault. When he plays badly that is never the fault of the racquet. If he has injuries it is not the reason to fire fitness coach immediately. Rafa owns his career and he takes full responsibility for everything that happens to him. This approach allowed him to always strive for more and that is why he has so many titles in his bag.
- Mental and physical fighter
It doesn’t matter if he is 18 years old or if his age is over 30 Rafael Nadal will never stop fighting. He can be losing during the match or deal with the injury but you won’t see Rafa not running to every ball or not giving his best. He has too much respect to the sport, to himself and to the people who attend his matches. He is a 100% fighter. Both physically and mentally. This ability let him go through tough times in the past and was a reason why he was able to bounce back after missing tournaments because of injuries.
We can’t be Rafael Nadal but we can definitely learn from his experiences and create our own version of Nadal. His career was fruitful and it doesn’t stop yet so it shows that his decisions and methods are proven and worthy to use. The secrets of Rafael Nadal’s success is not difficult – what is arduous is motivation and willingness to apply these simple things day after day for many years in a row.
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website http://tennisisland.us. Marcin has been working with USTA, top 50 ITF and WTA/ATP players. He is a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines and he was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA.