Details.... Those little things that make all the difference!

Written by Pablo Giacopelli

In tennis like in life, it is the small things that make the biggest impact or difference in a situation. Often people ask me what is the main difference between a junior and a professional player and I always give them the same answer. A professional pays attention to detail where as most juniors don’t take the time to do this as they don’t see them as important.

This principle can be applied in every area of a player’s repertoire. In my years as a coach on the WTA Professional Tour, time after time I have seen players results and even careers turn around in a dramatic way because they listen and begin to do those small things properly, which in time and after consistent application make the bigger things shift and change.

You see in sport like in life we control very little. We like to think that we have control of most things but in reality this is not the case at all. Many players are endlessly trying to control and affect the big things, like the outcome of a match, a  tournament, a training block, etc. Many of them come to the end of these situations frustrated and with a worst set of results than before they started. This is because they are focusing on those things that they can’t control and missing the opportunity to control and affect the few things they can.

One great example of this was when I started working with Shahar Peer from Israel. Shahar had an ingrained habit of trying to control things that were out of her control and that she could never control anyway. One of these was always trying to think ahead of what was going to happen, instead of focusing on what was happening at that very moment.

In matches she would start thinking three points ahead instead of just playing the point that was coming up next. Time after time she wasted opportunities trying to work out what would happen ‘if’…. this is a small detail but it affected her in big ways and robbed her of many opportunities.

03-022- image1Staying and playing in the present is a very small but very powerful detail that as Shahar began to apply it, her results began to fly, as she began to take the opportunities in front of her each time. With this, she controlled the present and because she did this so well, often when she arrived at the future, she found that this also went her way most of the time!

Another example was with another player I worked with that had no real warm up routine before a match. Believe it or not this was a player ranked inside the top 50 and yet had no real way to prepare her mind and body before a confrontation. Naturally I suggested we explore together a way of helping her to prepare herself, to which she answered ‘well I got to the top 50 like this why change it’? Good answer but not good enough.

You see just because you accomplished something good it does not mean you can’t go on to accomplish something great. Usually the  difference between good and great is a small detail. The player in question adapted a few small changes in her warm up which in comparison to the rest of her preparation and career was a small detail but I believe it was one of the small details that helped her to reach the Quarterfinals of a Grand Slam and a much higher ranking than 50.

03-022- image2The great players, are great, because they understand this principle very well and so they look after those smaller things. Like their emotions between points, focusing on playing one point at a time, turning up to practice on time, making sure their equipment is in good working order, eating properly, thinking the right way, working on one thing at a time, etc, etc…

Small details are like snow flakes. On their own they are weak but put several of them together and they can stop traffic or in this case take an ordinary player and turn them into an extraordinary one!

Be faithful in the small things and more will be given to you. Always remember and apply this principle, and as you look back you will see the huge impact you are having because you are paying attention to those little things that make the big difference!