Were you ready to see this? I was caught off guard by Novak’s poor timing.
In the match between Novak Djokovic and Bjorn Fratangelo, on Sunday, March 13, 2016, Novak had poor timing in the first set, but he was able to get his timing mostly back in control for the next two sets. That match went to Novak 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Timing is much more than hand-eye coordination. The following list are some of the attributes of athletic timing with examples of how Novak’s poor timing showed up in that first set of that match.
Accuracy: In that first set, Novak had 2 double faults, but only one more for the whole remainder of the match. Also in that first set, Novak had 18 unforced errors, to Bjorn Fratangelo’s 9. Double faults and unforced errors are measures of poor acuracy.
Perception: (yes, perception is managed by the athlete’s timing): In watching that first set, I saw Novak misjudge where the ball would land or where it did land, so he lost line call challenges. And, he even stood immobile, in shock, when a blooper landed ‘in’, right in front of him.
Reaction Time: His reaction time was off, so that he was not able to respond well to incoming shots, which he normally has been able to. In the case of the blooper that landed ‘in’, right in front of him, he was in such a state of shock, he did not even try to respond to that ball.
Coordination: Because his coordination was poor, this of course affected his shot accuracy.
Speed: Because his speed was reduced and his coordination and accuracy were also reduced, this affected his shot choices. So, he returned shots directly to Bjorn instead of making Bjorn have to move to respond to his shots.
These examples give you a small sample of how an athlete’s timing affects many aspects of that athlete’s performance.
Timing is the basis of execution of all the skills athletes have developed over their career. So, when an athlete’s timing is ‘off’, the majority of the athlete’s skills will be poorly executed.
What athletes need is way of regularly measuring the state of their timing, and a way of fine-tuning their timing when their timing is ‘off’.
What was your reaction to that first set?