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The Federer connection. You are not gonna believe this....
I posted an opinion-piece by a coach from tennis-one.com a while ago. This is what he said:
Similarly, at the Bank of the West tournament in Stanford, watching both the matches and the practice courts, I observe effort, I hear unimaginable grunting, I note players warming up around the practice courts with a jogging routine that appears more plodding than gliding, and all the time I am looking for grace, for fluidity, for the real thing.
Well enough about where I am coming from – I have watched Sania Mirza both in a qualifying match, and then in the first round of the main draw. She plays with uncanny precision, but without a trace of effort. She hits with disguise, she brings it to the opponent, but somehow without the customary grunting – I think Sania has the tools to go quite far in the women’s game, to my eye she is the next “real thing.”
To my eye, Sania plays with just this type of pinpoint offense, with equal parts disguise and economy. One of her opponent’s coaches has termed her style “first strike tennis” but I would add first strike with unusual accuracy, without a trace of effort, and with disguise that I more associate with the maestro Federer. Watch this young player - she is on the way up!
This was written by a fellow-poster a while ago for which he recieved much ridicule it must be said :
All I can say for sure is that Sania has the potential to be entertaining in the same way that Federer is today. She's just that special.
Now take a look at this. Its incredible....
Any questions? :cool:
I made a post in the steffi graf thread a while ago, about how exceptional muscular co-ordination, and balance was the basis for the wrist-snap that makes sania, roger, and steffi's forehand's special. You'll understand why i've posted some of these pictures. There's clearly something similiar in the way that they both maintain their centre of balance.
BTW' i'd appreciate it if y'all don't rush to post this on GM or something. The board will crash. Save it for when she starts to figure out what to do with that forehand. ;)
yes done..it does look realy simlar though..But roggie somehow manages to give a lot of topspin on the ball and sani baby hits basically flat...But yeah the body balance is veryy simlilay..:yeah: ..never noticed that before must say..Also Sani baby can actually think of changing racket to something like rogers I personally think...She has such a good technique power will come automatically..She can definately do with a smaller racket head maybe..But nice job tennisrox
hey nice job dude... luved this post !
the body posture and angle of racket face are amazingly similar. if a coach speaks like that then sania's game has definitely got something special. i think we just need to wait some time and see her game blossom for good.
Another thing you'll notice is that federer has the ability to come to a complete standstill from a dead run in a single step without sliding around, while other players take two or three steps to absorb the momentum. He does this by getting down on his haunches, lowering his centre of gravity such that he can absorb all the momentum without overbalancing. Tell me, what do you see sania doing here? ;)
The most interesting point about these pictures is the head position. Federer keeps his head still and eyes on the ball almost upto, and perhaps even after the point of contact with the ball. Its not until halfway through the follow-through that he actually lifts his head.
Sania is very similiar, and you can see it in these pics. Absoutely erect back, head still eyes on the ball uptil the point of contact. She watches the ball after it leaves the racquet through her peripheral vision so there isn't too much movement or instability of the head, which of course would mess up the vertical axis. Watch her very closely, and you'll see her snap her head forward only halfway through the follow-through. A lot of players, from davenport, clijsters, serena, to sampras and agassi himself turn to face the net before the ball even makes contact with the racquet. Juan Carlos Ferrero is another player with exaggerated stillness like Federer, although I don't know how aware he is of the point of contact.
Actually you should try it yourself and you'll see that your accuracy improves by keeping your head still, and eye on the ball. I find it impossible to watch the ball at point of contact, as my hand-eye co-ordination isn't great, but delaying it as long as possible has improved my accuracy a bit. This picture you posted illustrates the point beautifully. Her head is still facing the point of contact rather than the trajectory of the ball, even though she is halfway into the follow-through:
I was trying to figure out why her head was like that in alot of her pictures so thanks for figuring it out
How to play like Jesus Fed
Ok forget the stuff about the stillness of the head. Thats important, but it is not unique to him and its only a very small part of what makes Roger federer the player he is today. What makes one player a genius and another just a champion? I think I may have the answer. This is going to be a long post, but bear with me. Its worth it.
A month ago I made a post about how my tennis had improved beyond belief through meditation. I have been practising meditation for two years now. It started out as a way to kick my smoking habit ( :o ) , but I never realised just how powerful it is. Two months ago I had my first glimpse of the immense powers of the mind. I won't tell you what happened because it'll sound crazy, and I have plenty more crazy stuff to tell you anyway. Let me tell you, every one of us uses less than ten percent of our brains. The other 90% is capable of things you could never imagine.
Two weeks ago something incredible happened to me. I learned how to go into suspended animation. Its is a state in which the body shuts down completely. It is in fact the state between life and death. I was wondering whether i'd fallen asleep, but it was so much more intense than that. I asked a freind of mine to keep an eye on me to see what exactly I was doing. He said I stopped breathing completely and I stayed like that for 14 minutes. He even threw a glass of water over me b/c he thought I'd die if I didn't breath. I was completely oblivious, and i'm still very much alive. Suspended animation is the most intense form of meditation that the brain is capable of (think about it. 14 minutes without air). There are very few people in the world who have experienced it. Even many people who teach mediation haven't experienced it. I was very lucky.
This is the incredible part: ever since that day I have been able to hit Sania's forehand. Not merely a shot similiar to it, but the exact same shot! From the wrist-snap to the posture, to the timing, to the incredible power, to the stillness of the head everything is identical. I have a single handed backhand which used to be a pretty poor shot. Not any more. It is now almost identical to Roger Federer's backhand, but I think the timing of the shot is a little better than his. It is what his backhand could have been had he been gifted with the perfect backhand instead of the forehand. My slice backhand, and posture is very similiar too. Like him I hold my head still, back straight at all times, and my balance is perfect. And its very true. Add topspin and Sania's forehand turns into Federer's. Hit the ball late, and it turns into Steffi's. I have to say that having hit both, sania's forehand is actually slightly better than steffi's.
So what does it all mean? What it means is that when it comes to hitting a tennis-ball Sania and roger have the most intense form of concentration that the brain is capable of, and that is why Federer is considered technically the greatest talent the game has ever seen. From the concentration comes the timing, the perfect muscular co-ordination, the perfect posture, and from all that comes the wrist-snap that sets him apart from the tour.
There are plenty of players who time the ball very well (Justine, Baghy, agassi etc.), so what sets Roger apart? Roger is not merely a good timer of the ball, his timing is absolute perfection (i'll say it because i've experienced what it feels like to time the ball like him). What is the difference between his level of concentration and agassi's?
To understand that we have to go back to the photographs I posted.
The first part of meditation is about learning to empty your mind of thought and focus on a single object. I learned using a candle. Even this part is very difficult. Most people take a couple of years to learn how to focus on a single thing for a even few minutes. Invariably you'll find yourself frowning with the effort of focusing on one thing and one thing only. This is what top players have the ability to do. They have the ability to focus only on the ball and the shot they are going to play, and that is why they are so good at hitting the ball. Most of them from Steffi, to agassi to Sampras focus on a single thing, and the effort shows on their face.
What do you notice about Federer? This is strange part. Federer's face, and sania's are almost expressionless. For them, hitting the ball is effortless.
The most advanced form of meditation is about learning to focus on absolutely nothing. Its is that absolute blankness inside us that you all experience in the few moments before you fall asleep (and thats why sleep is so relaxing). In advanced meditation you can hold on to it without falling asleep, and it is much more intense. When I first started to hold onto the blankness (this is where the expression 'as black as death' comes from), I noticed that my face started to change. I felt as if my skin was being stretched and pulled. I realised that for the first time in my life my facial muscles were completely relaxed. All the creases have disappeared, and now my face is always expressionless because I've learned to stay thoughtless even with my eyes open (trust me, this stuff works better than Botox!). In the last month I have seen only 3 people with an expressionless face because as I said, all of us just think too much to ever tap into our potential.This is what separates genius from the rest of us.
The most intense form of mediation is about losing yourself in that blankness (suspended animation) so that the concious brain ceases to exist for a few minutes. When you do that you can start to tap into the most advanced centres of the brain. And that is how I learned to play like Federer. Federer doesn't play with his concious brain. He plays tennis using the most advanced parts of his subconcious brain. He was gifted with the ability to focus on the blankness inside him when he hits the ball, and thats how he can do things that no-one else can. The purest form of concentration is so intense that it is completely effortless, and that is why sania and federer's faces are almost expressionless. Having hit sania's forehand (and her double-handed backhand is a killer too. I started hitting some unbelievable angles, but I prefer a one-hander), I can tell you that the shot is completely effortless. The kind of power you can generate from just perfect timing is simply unbelievable. The difference in timing between Federer's forehand and sampras is just a thousanth of a second. It is that level of concentration that separates genius from mere champions.
I think I also understand why sania can't seem to win matches anymore, and why federer spent his youth as a headcase. Its incredibly difficult to focus on nothing for any length of time. She improves her attention span through practice. Practice is a very primitive form of meditation because you focus on your work during practice. Through actual meditation you can improve your attention span infinitely faster, and learn new shots at record-breaking pace. In two weeks I have learned to hit some of the shots that it took Federer a decade to learn. Its just that simple when you stop thinking.
This post may sound insane, but I promise that every word I have typed is the gospel truth. I am not exaggerating in any way. Everyone on the planet has a Federer, or a Ronaldinho inside their heads.
this is one of the best and most inspiring posts i've read in a while. thanks.
actually, yesterday, there was one tennisweek interview with sania in which she touched the same topic. she almost reached the same truth u were talking about but just missed it. :-)
Tennis Week: Have you been doing anything in terms of mental training?
Sania Mirza: Well, I'm not a yoga person. I've been told to try yoga. I just can't get myself to do yoga. I pray four or five times a day so it's about 10 minutes of total concentration God during those prayers so I really think that helps me. a lot with my game also because when you're trying to focus only on God, you're trying to get everything else out of your head and just have that single focus. Trust me, it's very hard to do that four or five times a day. I mean, it's hard enough to do it once a day, but four or five times a day to just switch off the world and focus everything on God is difficult to do and I do try to do that four or five times a day. I think that's one of the reasons yoga is not part of my routine and I feel this is better because I am actually being constructive, but in yoga I'm just going blank.
its exciting to hear that, but i dont know if it will ever come true to be realized
i would love for her to achieve half of that much
well thats really a fascinating read!! Sania definately has a lot of problems with the concentration level you mentioned..But also its much harder for sania as shes veryy temperamental..Shes veryy short tempered and hates it when she misses a shot maybe causing more distraction for herself!!
Anyways for those who r interested I saw her matches (esp part of yesterdays) and this is the exact type of player sania hates(Lino)..It would be a bigg step if she wins this match!! This player just mixes up everything in the world and trying that sania is well 10 meters behind baseline and sania has responded well to it..Esp those low slices,sania has no problems hitting short angles with those..(I saw her practicing with her coach with her coach giving her sliced BHs to her BH a lott of times!)Anyways hope she wins this one again..The weather looks grim again..Maybe more stupid rain
About Sania's temper, she has always had a short fuse, but I do think she's worse this year because she's being forced to curb her bashing. The thing is sania's temperament is a little unusual. She isn't like Marat who is ruled by his emotions. She blows her top, feels better, forgets it and gets on with the game. I actually think its good for her to let it out once in a while. When you keep your emotions locked up and let it fester you drive yourself crazy. She may never be as self-contained as federer, as she is much more emotional, but she doesn't let her emotions rule her. She is however ice cool under pressure, which is when it really counts.
This brings us to the part that is driving everyone crazy: if she is indeed a talent in the class of King Fed and i'm positive she is, why is she the wildest, most indisciplined waste of talent on the wtatour? I have the answer to that too.
The day I realised that I could hit a 100mph forehand, I couldn't wait to get out on the court and try it out. It wasn't as easy as I thought. It is very difficult to hit a ball with such immense power and keep it in the court without topspin. I am not fearless like sania. I am a complete wimp in tennis terms. I was holding myself back, playing conservatively so I wouldn't hit the ball out by miles and look like a moron. The wonderful forehand, and the federer-esque backhand completely deserted me. I couldn't time the ball at all, and I was even worse that I used to be. I couldn't fathom what had happened. When I was practising against the wall I could hit harder that I could believe (I even broke a small plastic swicthboard that would take an incredible amount of power to shatter). The key to sania's power is her fearlessness. She can hit it that hard, and hit insane shots because she's never afraid to hit the ball out and look like a fool (and quite a few people are under the grossly mistaken impression that she is not a smart player). So the next day I stopped worrying, and let rip. The next few days, I hit the ball out by miles, looked like a moron, and let it pass. Within a few days those shots had started to land in. This is how sania's game developed, and this is how her mind works (or rather doesn't ;) ). If she tried to curb her bashing instincts she wouldn't be able to do anything right, and the amazing groundies would disappear. I think that is what has happened to her this year. She has to develop patience, variety, and learn when to go for it, but everything has to be done through experimenting during practice. During a match, no matter what the situation, if she feels like bashing the ball she should go ahead and do it. It will take a while, but it will work in time. Will an instinctive power-hitter like her ever incorporate finesse? I think she will, because she's not afraid to try anything. I used to hate volleying because I have (had ;) ) pathetic hand-eye co-ordination, but over the last couple of weeks I used a different method to develop net instincts (thoughtlesness), and i'm improving. I'll see how it works, and i'll share it with you, because I think this technique might work for her too. She can if she wants develop, and in fact re-invent any shot in the book. She is that kind of talent. But for now, the instinct to bash must be given a free rein ;) . I doubt she will stagnate as a basher, because at this point, luckily its not enough for her to win. She is one of the few players out their with the timing to really develop all the shots. Most players today, because of coaching methods geared towards developing the concious brain simply don't have the timing to do so. Hopefully she doesn't waste that gift.
Its funny she should say this, because I actually started out with the exact same attitude as sania. A friend of mine reccomended yoga as a way to get me to quit. I was too lazy to try, so I opted for meditation. Mediatation is a step up from yoga. In Yoga you concentrate on a set of ecxercises, so the mind has something concrete to focus on, and doesn't wander. In meditation you have to focus with nothing to keep the mind busy. It requires even better concentration. Sania has gotten things the wrong way around, but she's got the gist right. She's past the stage of yoga.
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