All tennis fans are pretty well versed with Rafael Nadal and his tennis court rituals. We have seen him follow his match routine day-in, day-out, without fail in every match he plays. But what if I told you his obsessive mannerisms are not exclusive to the tennis courts?
Nadal walks onto the court all set and ready in match-mode. His rituals start well before he even comes near the court. About 45 minutes before his match, Rafa takes a freezing cold shower. It helps him get into the zone, and once he does, he only has eyes for the match.
Every fiber of his being is activated for the match. And we can see that too; he plays every point like his life depended on it.
Rafael Nadal and his “superstitions”
Once Nadal is on the court there are many more such rituals he goes through, before, during and after the match.
How many times have we seen Nadal take his time in placing his bottles carefully, or not stepping on the court line(except during points) or tweak his hair and shorts? In every match, that’s the answer.
He follows all these things so meticulously that one would think it’s these actions that are responsible for his glittering career rather than the man and his hard work.
A funny incident comes to mind when I think of Rafa and his bottles. During one match at the 2015 Australian Open, while Rafa was serving the wind knocked over one of his 2 bottles. A ball boy quickly scurried across and carefully placed the bottle back on the spot. Rafa himself could not help but smile broadly.
Many label Rafa as superstitious because of all these habits of his, but Rafa has a different explanation.
“If it were superstition, why would I keep doing the same thing over and over whether I win or lose? It’s a way of placing myself in a match, ordering my surroundings to match the order I seek in my head.”
I must say that makes for a much better explanation than merely ‘superstitions.’ You watch Rafa long enough and you realize he is all about control. He likes to be in control, he wants to be in control. Once there is order in, and around the match, he can concentrate on his game.
Once you understand the mindset and psychology behind his habits, it’s not surprising to know he is somewhat similar off-court too.
Check out this video a young tennis player posted. In it you can see Rafa wiping down a treadmill in the gym before using it. He even wipes the belt which he was about to run on.
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If we all were as dutiful and diligent as Rafa, perhaps we would be as good as him at what we do. I guess I should finally get to wiping the dust off my 2-year-old laptop.