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What Can We Learn from Milos Raonic’s Approach to Big Matches?

01/11/2016, 5:00am PST
By Kelvin Cech

We’ve all had that fleeting moment where we step up to the line, weapon of choice in hand, and we consider our options for conquering our opponent early and often. Do we go with power? Technique? A hybrid of the two?

Oh man, what should we do?

That moment of powerful energy evaporates and we’re left with only our indecision, which eventually leads to a quick and painful demise.

This is about tennis, by the way. 

Milos Raonic has been taking the tennis world by storm for the past couple years, in particular here in Canada. The Thornhill, Ontario native won his 200th match in 2015 and was ranked number four in the world, the highest rank of his career.

Raonic and Genie Bouchard are the pride of Canada’s tennis community, dedicated athletes who’ve been obsessed with improving their craft from a very young age. Fortunately for Canadian tennis fans, Raonic has used the habits developed over his career to come up big when the lights have shone their brightest. 


A Championship Routine

“It’s April in Vancouver. He approaches the service tee at the baseline — his “executive office.” First, he shifts his weight forward onto his left foot. Next, he bounces a Yonex tennis ball six times with his left hand, before briefly cradling the racquet’s neck with a couple of his left-hand fingers. He rocks back onto his right foot once, twice . . . and wham.”

That’s an excerpt from Oakland Ross’s ebook, How Tennis Star Milos Raonic Served His Way to the Top.

Approaching each match in the same manner - with the same amount of pre-serve ball bounces, the same equipment and clothing - allow Milos to concentrate on the match at hand. He needs his skills sharp, and maintaining the same routine before and during the match prioritizes those skills and the sharpness of his mind.

The Serve

And after he bounces the ball six times? Part of Milos’ routine is delivering one of the most feared serves in the game today, one that can reach speeds of 230km’s per hour. Every match starts with a bang, every point with a strong and precise strike deep into enemy territory. 

It’s a lot easier to adopt Milos’ routine than it is to adopt one of the world’s best serves. However, for two reasons, it’s still an element we can learn from Milos:

  • the serve is still powerful relative to his peers
  • athletes aren;t born with specialized skills, they nurture those

This means that focussing on your serve can still grant you an edge on your competition. You’re not playing against Giraldo, Federer or Djokovic, after all. Even Milos had to work on his serve despite being gifted with natural tennis talent.

Oh, and tennis size.

Being Huge

Milos Raonic approaches big tennis matches with a huge yet humble personality. Perhaps it’s the Canadian in him, but despite being taller than average and a Canadian grassroots sensation, Milos puts everything he has into every single match. 

Now, we can’t control our height. Our fitness, our strength, our speed? Sure, to a degree. Milos Raonic possesses not only the determination, work ethic and playing style craved by the tennis world, he possesses natural gifts for the game. 

However, with those gifts come drawbacks as well. His weaknesses lie in his speed. Because of his height, smaller, more agile players can get the jump on him. 

But Milos doesn’t allow his weaknesses to creep into his mind. With a stable routine and his trademark serve, he always brings the best he has. 

And more often than not, his best is better than the rest. 

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