Wow… Djokovic is playing like he’s from another planet in this year’s french. But this past weekend, he wasn’t the one we got a Master lesson in strategy from.
Well, technically it was a lesson in what NOT to do, so we’ll let “The Novak” slide on this one.
But get this. This week’s tennis coach wasn’t even a tennis player at all. It was a race car driver.
The widely popular Dale Earnhardt Jr, one of the greatest drivers in professional racing history, demonstrated something for us that’s actually incredibly crucial to your success as a tennis player.
Over the weekend, he showed us just how important it is to pace yourself throughout a race (…or in your case a match) when he let what could have been one of the biggest victories of his career slip away.
It was horrible. He’d been without a meaningful win in years. And he almost had it in this one, the Coke 600. I mean, it was right there for the taking.
Everyone could feel it and was eagerly awaiting the celebration that was surely seconds away. And he LOST it!
How!?! Because his car *RAN OUT OF GAS* down the final stretch. Yes, everything down the toilet, down the drain, out the window… (whatever you want to call it).
But it was GONE and evaporated into thin air because he wasn’t prepared in monitoring his output.
Right, he used too much too early, and when he really needed to punch it at the end, he didn’t have enough left in the tank, literally.
Now, whether you want to blame him or his entire team, it doesn’t matter. They both should have known better.
But hey, either way, the end result still remains, a horrible (…and preventable) defeat that they’ll all remember for a very long time – singing the “what if” ballad we talked about last week for the next decade.
Now I don’t think you want that same type of thing happening to you when you feel a big match or championship win well within your grasp, right? Absolutely right.
But mind you, it’s not enough to say, “I don’t want that to happen.” You have to act on it, and do something about it – walk the walk instead of just talking if you will.”
That said, the first thing I suggest you do is internalize a small yet powerful piece of philosophy by the German Chancellor of 1863, “A fool learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise man learns from the mistakes of others.
So, learn from Earnhardt’s catastrophic mistake. Don’t wait until you have an experience like his, so you can say, “Oh I see what you mean Dale.” That’s a hugely unnecessary and a HUGE waste of time.
I mean hey, if a player yells obscenities at a line judge and gets tossed, do you really have to try it out for yourself to see if you’ll be forced to forfeit the match as well?
Or better yet, if a friend of yours burns their hand on a scalding hot stove, do you really need to touch it before you learn not to put your hand there? Make sense?
So, the next time you’ve got a match scheduled, don’t come out guns blazing and your game kicked into overdrive from the jump.
I understand, you might say, “I’m just being aggressive.” But you can be aggressive without doing your max. You don’t need to activate the NOS (…fans of Fast and The Furious movies know what I mean here).
Hit it at the wrong time, sure you may get off to a fast start, but you’ll be running on fumes when you need it most. NOT GOOD!
So, be careful. Make it a point to periodically monitor (…and keep a close eye) on how much energy you’re using and have used. Don’t wait till late in the match to start doing this.
Make it a routine, something that you do consistently. I suggest conducting a self-analysis of your energy and stamina levels during *EVERY* change over.
Eat your bananas and drink your water or sports beverage, but while you’re sitting there, check your vitals. That’ll give you a better indication of when you may NEED to pull back a little so you can punch the gas and hit the throttle if you need that extra push to close one out, say in a final set tiebreak.
You’ll know if you should go for a moderate serve instead of a monster ace. It might not be worth diving to catch a ball that’s part of a 15 shot rally. But you won’t know what to do out there if you’re not monitoring your fuel levels.
I’m telling you, there’s nothing worse than losing a big match that had nothing to do with your backhand, forehand, serve, or volleys – because you got tired?!?!
Oh yeah, that’ll really hit the spot.
So, pace yourself.
Have a great day, and an even better game,