Petra Kvitova’s coach David Kotyza has the right idea. He has encouraged the Czech star to get away from the tennis courts when she is at a tournament. He has opened her eyes to the sights and sounds of a city by...
Petra Kvitova’s coach David Kotyza has the right idea. He has encouraged the Czech star to get away from the tennis courts when she is at a tournament. He has opened her eyes to the sights and sounds of a city by visiting museums and galleries, sampling the local foods (within reason because players have diets to stick to) and getting a taste of where they are. He has helped with focusing her mind with what is necessary on court and in training by distracting her off court with things that also include playing chess which develops concentration. It was something the late coach Vic Edwards would also do with tennis legend Evonne Goolagong. Tennis players have such opportunities but not nearly enough take advantage of what is at their doorstep. They are travelling the world, visiting the greatest cities imaginable but instead of getting out and taking the time to see the attractions and opening their eyes, the vast majority confine themselves to their hotel rooms, a stadium, practice courts, maybe a local restaurant because it’s convenient and then the airport for when they have to leave. Absolutely the prime focus is to do well at the event they are at and hopefully win, but there is still time for them to wrap their arms around what is around. I truly believe developing a pattern of seeing cities will help them to relax and even joy their work more. That sense of appreciation is so important, it’s enriching and helps to make one worldlier. The former Australian player Ray Ruffels who became coach to the legendary doubles combination of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde made sure the guys would get out and see the cities they played in. He would take them to the finest restaurants and to the theatre and to exhibitions and it allowed the guys to feel freer on court. There was less tension and it helped them to play in a more fluid manner. It was all seen as part of their training regimen. By getting out of the hotel rooms and exploring opens the mind so much more and that can only help when on the court. It is a break from the norm which always helps invigorate the mind and allows a different perspective … just like that cliché says; a change is as good as a holiday. More than likely it is one of the reasons that Roger Federer has enjoyed such longevity at the top of the sport. He is not afraid to take a bit of time out in a city to enjoy himself at the finest restaurants or see something of a place rather than sit in a closed up hotel suite possibly playing video games. What an education the museums are in places like London and Paris and Rome and even New York, and so many are free. Go down New Bond Street in London and visit Sothebys and cast your eye across the amazing art and it is all for free. How many players would have walked on the Great Wall when in China or visited the Hermitage in St. Petersburg or marvelled at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul or climbed the Harbour Bridge in Sydney? Yes these things take time and there is the issue of fans being intrusive when you want that time to yourself and the people around you but that is a small price to pay. So many players are not aware of the world at large. These are the things for a player’s future that can be invaluable and it is such a shame they do not embrace it nearly enough. It can only be of benefit now and into the future. The world maybe your oyster but I don’t feel too many players have discovered what a pearl it really is and how easy and important it is to access.