Important Lessons Competitive Tennis Players can Learn from Roger Federer

Roger Federer is arguably one of the best player of all times and his legacy to the game is invaluable.  Roger retired in 2022 at the Laver Cup after winning 103 titles and spending 310 weeks as the top-ranked player in the world.

These are some of the most important lessons that any competitive tennis player should learn from him:

1 – Play for the Love of the Game

Many players in the shoes of Roger Federer would have retired much earlier than he did. He has more money than he will ever need, and he has accomplished everything that one could aspire to as a professional player. At the same time, he started to lose his dominance and worked harder and harder to maintain his performance level.

So, why was Roger still working as hard as he could? Simple, he loved it! And that is the only way to achieve your potential. If you do not enjoy hard work and thrive by pushing yourself on and off the court, you will never be the best player you can be. So, play for the love of the game, everything else is limiting your development.

Roger Federer practicing at the 2015 Madrid Open.
Roger Federer practicing at the 2015 Madrid Open.

2 – Develop a Complete Game

All else being equal, having more tools at your disposal improves your potential as a player. Work on developing all areas of the game to feel comfortable anywhere on the court. Develop variety and the ability to change the height, direction, spin, speed and length of your shots.

Although some players achieve great results by specializing, the magic of Roger has been his ability to use different tools against different opponents and to be able to adjust his game throughout his career. Do not limit yourself!

Roger Federer practicing at the 2015 Madrid Open.
Roger Federer practicing at the 2015 Madrid Open.

3 – Efficiency is a Valuable Asset

Even more impressive than 20 Grand Slam titles, are Roger’s records of 43 semifinals and 53 quarter finals. That is consistency and longevity to the max. Unbelievable!
The bottom line is that Roger is one of the most efficient players of all times. His smooth strokes and movement ability allow for maximum results with minimum effort, keeping him healthy and consistent year after year.

Roger Federer practicing at the 2015 Madrid Open.
Roger Federer practicing at the 2015 Madrid Open.

Although Roger’s smoothness will be hard to imitate, it is important for any player to strive for efficiency by constantly monitoring his/her performance and working to achieve the same results with the least amount of effort.

The question to ponder over and over in practice is: Can I play at this level of intensity and at this speed with less effort or muscular force? – Then adjust accordingly.

4 – Balance and Stability are Essential

Roger had an uncanny ability to track the ball and maintain his head still through contact, and that is something that every player should consistently attempt. Although it has been proven that it is impossible to actually see the exact contact point between the strings and the ball, trying to do so dramatically improves performance by enhancing timing, balance, and focus.

Roger Federer practicing at the 2015 Madrid Open.
Ideal contact point despite difficult contact height.

5 – Be Graceful in Defeat

Although Roger rarely lost, he consistently remained objective in evaluating the match and always acknowledged the skills of his opponent. The truth is, no one is interested in the reasons behind your underperformance on a particular day. The indisputable truth is that, on that specific day, the opponent outperformed you. Therefore, acknowledge your opponent’s skills and continue progressing. It is not necessary to appreciate it, and exceptional competitors never do, but derive knowledge from it and continue moving forward. Honor the competition!

Roger Federer practicing at the 2015 Madrid Open.
Roger Federer practicing at the 2015 Madrid Open.

6- Never be Satisfied

Over the years, we have seen Roger reinvent himself many times: using more slice, serving and volleying, chipping and charging, the SABR (Sneak Attack by Roger), and lately his incredible down the line, shoulder-level backhand drive to counter Nadal’s high-bouncing forehands.

Roger, at the pinnacle of his career, was the epitome of continuous improvement.

So, in competitive tennis, the old saying applies: If you are not getting better, you are getting worse! Never stop working on your game! There is always something to improve!

Although he ended his career in 2022, Federer is a great role model, champion, and teacher. He will always be! Observe and learn as much as you can!

Video insights into the training of the Madrid Open 2015.

From 2014 to 2016, the TennisGate experts and the TennisGate media team worked as analysts for the ATP 1000 tournament in Madrid. Even though we were able to observe and analyze all the top players during this time, such as Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Wawrinka, Dimitrov, and many others, there was an electrifying atmosphere when Roger stepped onto the training court. This was true for us experts as well.

In the video, you can see great shots in slow motion and real-time. You can jump to different chapter markers in the video.