Interview with Toni Nadal - TENNIS
Coach of Rafael Nadal (Spain)
Antonio "Toni" Homer Nadal belonged to the best tennis players in Spain. He gave up his studies in favor of a career as coach and to run a tennis academy in Manacor, Spain. Toni developed Rafael Nadal into one of the all-time tennis greats.
COACHING & PERSONALITY
What are your thoughts on coaching and how do your transfer these ideas ?
As a coach, you have to understand your sport in depth. In tennis, for example, one must know that a player can make mistakes and still win. Some days you play very well, other days not so good - it's like in life. A player has to cope with situations and make the best of them. And a coach must convey contents understandably and help players in learning and implementing the tasks (by talking) - that's my job.
Why do you think the personality of the coach and a personal relationship are so important ?
It is important, how I say things and the moment I say something. I've watched many good coaches saying many things, but their player doesn't hear it, doesn't want to hear anything or is not ready for advice. Furthermore, the motivation is an important factor for the success of an athlete-coach-combination. The question "How do I motivate my player ?" also adds to the quality of the cooperation.
Rafael Nadal & Team
DEVELOPING RAFAEL NADAL'S GAME
How has Rafael Nadal's game developed ?
From the beginning of our cooperation, we kept developing Rafael's style of tennis, adapted it to the requirements. When Rafael was young, he played very aggressive. He had a very good forehand and hit many winners. Then, at age 16, he played at the ATP tournament in Monte Carlo (Monaco) for the first time. There he competed with adult players, playing with more force and Rafael couldn't prevail with his aggressive style.
What were the next steps in development ?
After the first success on clay courts we wanted to develop Rafael's game on the other surfaces. For example, we had to find out how he could compete successfully on hard courts. In the course of Rafael's tennis career there were always some kind of "evolutions" - developments that have improved his game and allowed him to win tournaments like Wimbledon, the US Open or the Australian Open.
What changed in your cooperation since the junior days ?
In the early days I had to take responsibility for training. Over the years, I transferred more and more of it to Rafael and he clearly expresses his opinion nowadays. Over the years my work impacted our cooperation, his personality and his life.
Interview with Toni Nadal
I observed your training for some time. I noticed the intensity and constant communication.
It is part of my work, to observe the training all the time and talk about it. I find it important to communicate with Rafael. And I'm not just talking about technique or tactics, but I'll speak about an idea "we have to do this" or "in this moment you did not do enough."
I had the impression that you observe and comment on every move and every rally. What does it mean ?
Since Rafael's youth we always played with very great intensity. That is normal for us and I constantly give feedback. This way we achieve a high concentration and a great intensity in training. At the beginning I spoke more, because I was older. But with time I transferred more and more responsibility to Rafael, nowadays we exchange opinions in training, discuss improvements and his development.
Toni Nadal Interview Eurosport
COACHING WITHIN THE FAMILY
You are coach, mentor and have your own experience as a tennis player. How does it work to train a family member ?
In my mind, it is easier to train my nephew then to work with another player. As his uncle I have a more direct access to him, and there's more openness and closeness, to develop Rafael as a personality.
Does your relationship influence your work and the attitude ?
My interest and commitment as a coach for my nephew is certainly greater than it would be with another player. With a stranger, I would work for money and very professionally. But I love working with Rafael and I identify completely with him as a person and experience all the successes - as well as failures and problems - in a different quality.
Pfaff, E. (2015). "We never work with a structured plan!". - "Wir arbeiten niemals nach einem strukturierten Plan !". Leistungssport, 45 (1), P. 39-42.