Posts Tagged intuition

Federer Plays Chess on the Tennis Court

He just won Wimbledon and the most Grand Slam titles of any player ever. He may be the greatest player ever. How is he so good?

A coach of 50 years, Frank Adams (who’s ideas and videos are on this site) said that Roger has better instinct and intuition than his competitors.

Writer Cynthia Gorney said “…Federer — who usually has uncanny on-court telepathy about what his opponent plans for three shots hence and exactly how to wreck it…”
(From a June 21, 2009 New York Times Magazine article by her about Rafael Nadal.)

Looking ahead reflectively at chess moves is essential to be a champion. But to do it as well on a tennis court? I have enough trouble anticipating just the next shot coming back at me. How does a pro predict three shots ahead? Let’s see, if I hit here, then he will hit there, then I will hit there and he will hit here…all in fractions of a second. I suspect his brain and reflexes work faster than most humans, so that he has more time to react and plan. Plus he has superb—actually the most superior—handling and placement skills. The tennis announcers are always saying he has great hands, great feel.

There are men I play with who claim they can look at the angle of the server’s racket and anticipate which side of the serving box the ball will go to. I can’t. Some of the other guys don’t believe the first guy can actually do that. Can you?

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Advice from a Tennis Coach As To Why The Top Pro’s Are So Much Better Than The Rest

Learning from experts is helpful obviously, and Frank Adam’s 50 years of experience coaching and knowing or playing with many of the top tennis pro’s of his lifetime gives him a broad and wise perspective. We met yesterday, so that I could take some pictures for his manuscript and also some videos demonstrating his unique swings and moves. I will post some of the videos here later.

The philosophy Frank has discovered and describes calls upon us to just use natural, familiar motions that are second nature and incorporate them into our game. We don’t think about how to use a rake or a shovel, how to grip a hammer or sweep with a broom. Those movements are basic and simple. And that is how he teaches tennis for the past 20 years. His approach has definitely worked for me and improved my game.

shovel motion

shovel motion


rake motion

rake motion

racket motion the same

racket motion the same

He discussed this on the video snippets I shot and at lunch afterwards. A delight to hear about matches and specific points he remembers involving Federer and Nadal, McEnroe and Connors, but also old-timers like Don Budge, Rod Laver, Pancho Gonzalez, Ed Moylan, etc. And Frank recalls specific kinds of backhands or turnarounds in tight games. He has unending anecdotes. A real thrill.

Knowing mostly about the contemporary pro’s, I asked him what makes the top two in the world (Nadal and Federer) so superior to the rest of the top 10? I have been to matches and seen some of the top five play. I have also seen the huge distance in talent between players two to 10 and those who are in the 20 to 50 rankings. Same thing in squash—big difference between pro’s I have seen in the top 20 to 50 rankings and those in the 70 to 120 brackets. I hear that the very highest level squash players are also way more talented than those with just slightly lower rankings.

Frank thought that the very top guys use more instinct and intuition. They can sense better where the ball will come to them, kind of an ESP (extra sensory perception). I heard that same comment from the squash coaches and top players—you just learn to anticipate where to be. Of course the very top champions can not only guess or feel that better than their lower ranked opponents, but they are also incredibly skilled at running for the ball, placing their shots and having astonishing endurance. They must also have a superior mental game.

With a few years of practice, most of us can anticipate better where the ball is likely to be hit. There must be some kind of zone one can enter to play the game sort of mystically. I don’t want to sound too ethereal or (out of) spacey, but I know there is this other way of performing. Read the rest of this entry »

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