Tennis: Toni Nadal on Coaching Rafael Nadal

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.


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.

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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.