Another Conversation with Tim Mayotte: The Kinetic Chain

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This past June I was fortunate enough to have a second interview with Tim Mayotte.  Mayotte is an incredibly nice person with a lot of well-rounded interests.  In that conversation, we discussed multiple things, but when it came to tennis Mayotte explained that the Big 3 in men’s tennis all share certain commonalities in how well they move and how their movement sets up their strokes and how their strokes feed into moving to the next ball.

He has studied the relationship between their movement and ball striking, Novak Djokovic’s in particular, in great depth.  He has also compared their movement and ball striking to that of other players.  I will not go into great depth here, but in short, he found that all 3 are efficient at getting to the ball in a manner that allows for an easy transition into swinging and that their form allows for an easy transition back into moving.  This piece by Paul Fein will give some greater depth to Mayotte’s important work.

My Two Takeaways:

A. I have marveled at how well Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic transition from a defensive spot to an offensive spot during a point.  Mayotte’s work gives new vocabulary for understanding how they accomplish this.  David Foster Wallace spoke of “Federer Moments” in 2006 in which Federer seemingly did the impossible on the court.  However, we have also seen Rafa and Nole seemingly steal points by getting to a ball and hitting it back with an attacking placement and/or spin from a seemingly losing position.  If these three players, grab points that were seemingly lost everytime they step on the court, they are likely over the course of an 11-month season or a decade-plus career to win more frequently than everyone else.  The positive feedback their movement produces for being set to hit a good shot and the positive feedback their form has for any future movement they do is not trivial.  It is a competitive advantage that has led to them combining to win 13/16 Australian Opens, 13/16 French Opens, 14/16 Wimbledon titles, and 10/15 US Opens since 2003.

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B. I have tried to use the general ideas of Fein’s distillation of Mayotte’s Method since June.  I have especially tried to position my backfoot so that my body is more coiled at the start of my groundstrokes ensuring that I hit through the ball with some authority.  This has led to me playing some of the best tennis from the backcourt that I have ever played.  My shots just feel better and my confidence in my shots has risen.  I have never been a natural mover on a tennis court.  However, this tip of the iceberg from Mayotte’s work is helping my tennis and I am sure it will help yours too.

I cannot wait to read his full book, but until then I would advise any tennis player to look at Mayotte’s youtube videos and to read interviews with Mayotte about what he is doing.  Especially spend some time reading Paul Fein’s interview with Mayotte.

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