The ATP World Tour Finals Feeling
I’ve just been looking at the images of my last visit to the ATP World Tour Finals and just re-living the amazing memories. The excitement starts as you approach the O2 Arena; it has its own iconic status with the twelve giant King Posts that reach out through the dome top, it represents the staging of a catalogue of events, from music to sport and everything in-between. If you’ve ever attended the ATP World Tour Finals, you’ll know the feeling, it’s that feeling you get when you know you’re about to witness something truly spectacular.
There really is nothing quite like this event, as a sporting spectacle, it’s amazing, but from a coaches perspective it’s more than this, it represents how outstanding the stars of this event truly are. We are now in November, and these gladiators of the tennis arena have been battling through match after match, after match since January, this is just simply outstanding on many levels! Gladiators such as Novak Djokovic World No.1 on an outstanding point tally of 15,485, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal, to mention only 5 of the best of the best.
A Demanding Schedule Requires Commitment
I recently had the privilege of having dinner with an owner of a premiership football club; it was very interesting because it was a private experience with him and his family and the owner is a very open character willing to discuss his views on football and sport in general. The conversation went in many directions and led to this question, which is the most demanding sport, football or tennis; I don’t think I need to tell you which sport I was championing! The first consideration needs to be length of the season, for the top players we are talking a competitive season lasting 11 months! It’s an individual sport that requires a level of dynamic athleticism that is simply at times unbelievable. During Grand Slams the matches can last between 2-5 hours and are played every other day, this is just an insane athletic demand, if the player makes it through to the final, that’s an incredible schedule of 7 matches that could last between 2-5 hours.
As a coach I think about the long duration of a match, the level of energy output and physical trauma their bodies experience and then the recovery period, in many cases not even a day before they then go out and battle again. This means in many instances they are incurring extreme recovery debt, before their bodies and minds get a chance to fully recover, they are back out there against the next opponent. If a player is reaching quarters, semi’s or the finals they are experiencing a huge amount of physical pain, this then makes you think about the mental strength these gladiators must possess and their pain thresholds, it’s mind blowing! To push through these physical and mental challenges is just outstanding; it takes a lot more than a world class forehand, backhand or serves to make it to the top of the men’s game. These individuals have invested thousands and thousands of hours of training and devoted many, many years to their life of tennis which has turned them from a junior tennis player to the awesome Spartans of the court we watch and enjoy at events such as the World Tour Finals.
Preparing For Battle
I have during my coaching life worked with many international junior athletes who are dreaming of one day being at the top of their chosen sport, and to earn the chance to compete against the best in the world. This privilege does not come easy; most young athletes in any sport would have been subjected to a very tough environment in terms of training schedules, discipline and learning their technical craft. The very best training schedules delivered by the best coaches in the world have the ability to identify the strong from the weak, on a physical and mental level, if the young player can survive these overloads they move through the development phases that will one day see them emerge as tennis gladiators. This process in many ways is very similar to what the best fighting soldiers would have experienced in the past and now in modern days, whether that is a Spartan soldier from 480 BC or an SAS soldier operating in the field now. So while we are enjoying the skills of these ultimate sporting warriors, I think we should all appreciate what they have experienced and endured to deliver the entertainment we all enjoy!
I would recommend anyone who loves sport to visit the O2 and enjoy the whole World Tour finals experience. It’s not just about the tennis, there is so much to see and many activities to get involved with, regardless whether you are an adult or a junior visiting with the family.