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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Training with Federer: Jared Donaldson on Five Things He Learned from Roger in Dubai Last Month

Finalist Jared Donaldson addresses the crowd at Kalamazoo
When I heard back in November that 17-year-old Jared Donaldson had been invited to train with Roger Federer in Dubai for several weeks, I asked Taylor Dent, who Donaldson is now working with, if the Kalamazoo 18s finalist would be interested in writing about his experience for ZooTennis.com.  Having interviewed Donaldson several times at Kalamazoo, I was impressed with his analysis and his candor and thought his impressions of the experience would be valuable to other juniors, to coaches, to parents and to fans of the game.  And so it proved. Donaldson's post:

Roger, Dubai and Me 
by Jared Donaldson

First and foremost team Federer and the USTA were very kind and generous to extend the invitation to me to train with Roger in Dubai.

5 lessons learned (or relearned):

1. You don't have to be a jerk to be the best! I've heard people say that you have to be mean, or a jerk to be great. Roger flat out proves that wrong. He's one of the nicest and most sincere people I've ever met in tennis.

2. Surround yourself with a good team. Everyone that played a part in Roger's tennis was very supportive and honest. They all got along very well, and for the amount of time they spend together, that's a must.

3. Make practice specific. The only time Roger would just hit, would be the warm up. After that, every drill had a specific purpose for HIS game. Nadal may not do the exact same drills as Federer, but I'm sure he makes his workouts specific to his game just like Roger.

4. Intensity. Roger didn't practice 5 hours straight. He took plenty of breaks and drilled for about 2 hours. But when it was time his intensity was at 100%.

5. His level. Watching him play on TV or even from the stands does not do his game justice. Hitting with him gives you a whole new appreciation for how good he really is. His ball quality is so good that it's tough just to get the ball back in play. The amount of spin and heaviness he hits is eye opening. Not the "flat" ball as seen on TV.  I also feel that his speed is as big of a weapon as his spin. He moves so well that it is extremely difficult to hurt him.

Another part of his game I noticed from playing with him was his ability to take the ball early and on the rise a lot of the time, giving me less time to get set and ready.

Lastly, his serve was a huge weapon as well.The pace on his serve was great, but I felt that his incredible precision and accuracy with his serve is what made it so difficult to get into the point.

Again it was a true privilege to get the invite out. I wish him and his team an incredible 2014!


USA Tennis said...

Really great article and experience for Jared Donaldson.

Did the USTA PD read number 3 on his list because after seeing the Boca practices, they need to design practices according to the players, not have every court look the same.

I hope more older juniors get this experience because this is exactly the main purpose of the USTA PD should be, create opportunities and create positive experiences to our American players.

One of the good guys... said...

Many juniors have had this experience over the years, ya just haven't read about them. Federer has been inviting junior players to Dubai for a long time. The guy gives back in many ways that aren't publicized.