The Roger Federer Guide to Becoming Great at What You Do

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Roger Federer

Roger Federer. Perhaps the greatest tennis player ever to have lived. Watching him play tennis is something similar to what it was like watching Michael Jordan play basketball or what it would have been like to watch Michelangelo paint pictures. When I think of Federer I think of words like discipline, focus, poise, accuracy and finesse. I think of the word champion. In this post I am going to show you how to become great what you do the Roger Federer way.

Why Roger Federer?

Some of you may be asking why I chose to write about Mr. Federer. Well, to put it plainly, the man is amazing! The Australian Open is on at the moment so for the last month I have been privileged enough to watch Roger play in quite a few matches. And every single time I sit down to watch one of his games I am truly inspired to become better at what I do. That is the power of this man’s tennis – his expertise inspires people all around the world to become better.

Who is Rodger Federer?

In case you have been living under a rock, asleep in a coma or lost in the desert for the last ten years I thought I would give you a bit of background into who this man is.

Roger Federer is widely known as the greatest tennis player ever to have lived. He was born in Switzerland and has been ranked number one for a record 237 consecutive weeks. If he wins the Australian Open final next week he will go down as the most successful tennis player of all time, having won more Grand Slam matches than anyone else in history.

Roger is renowned the world over for his cool temperament and his fiery self discipline. The best way to illustrate who this man is to show you a clip of some of his more “Federer-like” moments. Only then will you be able to appreciate the man’s skill and finesse.

The Roger Federer guide to becoming great at what you do

Using the example of our man Federer I would like to show you a few simple but crucial things that you need to do if you want to become great at whatever it is that you do. It doesn’t matter if it is tennis, truck driving, basketball, soccer, meditation or writing – these tips apply to everything.

1. Practice, practice, practice
Of course, the most obvious and the most important. If you do not practice hard you will never become great at anything. All skills take time to improve and it is only with time and practice that you can become great at anything.

I once heard Roger say something very interesting about this. He had just won an important tennis match against and Australian player who had recently been lifting a lot of weights to improve his game. The Australian media had hyped this player up saying that he would “out muscle” Federer with his new-found strength. Federer killed him. When the media asked Federer if he ever lifted weights he just calmly replied, “I just hit tennis balls.

It is a fantastic lesson and one that we should all take to heart. If you want to be good at what you do you need to “just hit tennis balls”. Practice, practice again and then practice some more. It is the only way.

2. Master your emotions
One of the most admirable things about Roger Federer is the fact that he is a master of his emotions. He very rarely gets angry and as such he is able to keep his cool and win more matches. Back in the days we had kids growing up watching John McEnroe lose his temper and behave like a brat and now we have kids growing up watching the calm and collected Federer. Here is an example of how not to do it:

When you lose your temper you are basically giving in to your weaker side. Everybody would love to get angry and cry and scream when they are frustrated but the true champions like Federer know that this is a weakness. It takes strength to keep your cool and it takes discipline to overcome your negative emotions.

This applies to all areas of life. If you constantly lose your temper you are going to find that you don’t have a lot of resilience and you will not have the energy or mental toughness to progress in your art. Learning to control your emotions is one of the most crucial aspects of becoming good at what you do.

3. Be prepared
Fortune favors the brave but it also favors the prepared. If you want to become great at what you do you need to be prepared. Never expect anything to happen by chance and always give yourself the best shot at success.

Here in Australia we are in one of history’s biggest heatwaves. The temperature has soared above 40 degree Celsius for the past five days and many people are suffering from heat exhaustion. The tennis, however, must go on and the Australian Open has continued despite the heat. Some players have not been able to handle it and have withdrawn from the competition. Not Roger though. Roger came prepared. Even though he is from a relatively cold climate he has been able to stand the pressures of Australia’s climate. How does he do it? Simple, he spends a month before the Australian Open training in Dubai – in the middle of the desert. He prepares for everything.

Always put a solid effort in to your preparation. Study hard and do your research. Find out things about your art that you probably don’t need to know. Talk to people who you might never have talked to. Do things differently in order to be the most prepared that you can be. This is a key to greatness.

4. Never give up
One of the most important things to remember is that you must never give up. Even when it looks as if the odds are impossible you must keep pushing on. This is something Roger Federer does extremely well.

Last week Federer looked as if he was down and out when playing Del Potro. He was two sets down and after two hours of play things looked pretty bad. But in typical Federer style he came back to win the match after being only a few points away from defeat. His steely resolve was incredible. To get on top of your nerves and come back from the brink like that is truly inspiring. It was a great life lesson for everyone who witnessed it.

You must never give up. As long as you are alive you can keep going. This is the most important lessons to take away from this post – never give up if you want to be great.


Greatness is possible for everyone. Each and every human being has it within them to be something or someone special. In truth it takes a lot of hard work, discipline and mental toughness. But, if you can incorporate these things into your “game” as Federer has done you too will rise to great heights.

7 thoughts on “The Roger Federer Guide to Becoming Great at What You Do

  1. Awesome post. I am a huge fan of Roger Federer and really looking forward to the final on Sunday its going to be quite a match!
    These are some great points and I think everyone can learn from Roger just watching him play tennis is a very calming and invigorating experience. Definitely one of the greatest athletes of all time!

  2. Great article, i think the most important point i would take is keeping your emotions in tact, it is something that i am good at myself.

    Also, being responsible and not giving up are certainly great factors to have.

  3. Could this article come in a worst time? (lol!)

    The man cried like a baby after losing to Nadal’s firm winning game. We all know by now that Nadal is a kind of kryptonyte to Federer, but a superman doesn’t exactly cry when his powers vanish (well, I never seen that). Federer’s speech was weak, full of tears and lacked honoring Nadal (although it was expressive and sincere, like he is). The same happened to the AusOpen organization, who honored Federer more than Nadal — which is a true shame in my opinion. Nadal, 22, was a giant, humble and true winner. I wonder where Federer is heading after crying twice in a row after losing to Nadal. Is he losing his greatness?

    The Guide now should be The Rafael Nadal Guide to Become Greater than The Great. Which should include all of the above plus the one Federer forget today: NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP. And believe in yourself even when the crowd doesn’t.

    Hats off to Rafael Nadal.

  4. Get your facts straight. Not only you misspelled the name a few times, he was 2-0 sets down against Berdych, not Del Potro.

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