Talking Shop with Coach Paul Annacone | ATP

Annacone started his tennis journey as a high-level player, where he had a very respectable pro career that saw him peak at No. 12 in the singles rankings. But he saw the game at an expert level, and was drawn to the coaching ranks where he excelled at a nearly unprecedented rate.
He started coaching Pete Sampras in 1995, and was with him for nine major titles. He coached Roger Federer from 2010-13, and the Swiss Maestro won a Wimbledon title and returned to the No. 1 ranking during that span.
Annacone was able to use transfer wisdom through teaching methods, and his core coaching philosophy is based on three pillars.  The individual is made up of three things:
  • Their head, which is how they process stuff, how they figure out and problem solve.
  • Their heart, how well they can unconditionally compete.
  • Their physical attributes.
After digesting every bit of those components in his mind, then it was time to transfer the knowledge: “My philosophy is, how simply after that can I say what I need to say, the way they need to hear it.”
Sampras and Federer are of the greatest players to ever pick up a racquet, but as Annacone explains, they couldn’t have been more different to coach.
Sampras fit into Annacone’s “magician” category, in the sense that he could process information very quickly and didn’t necessarily need a lot of repetition to master certain elements of his game.
Federer, on the other hand, wanted to be coached and instructed thoroughly, with the caveat that he would challenge the methods and force Annacone to defend the reasons for his tactics. “I’ve never seen a guy happier on a tennis court,” Annacone said in regards working with Federer during countless practice sessions.
“The most important thing [with each player] is they knew themselves really well. Pete knew exactly how he wanted to be to achieve his goals, and Roger knew exactly how he needed to be to achieve his goals. Very different, but it worked for them.”