Text fragments from the book of Günter Bresnik’s “DIE DOMINIC THIEM METHODE – Erfolg gegen jede Regel”, Seifert Verlag, ISBN 978-3-902924-61-2, € 24,95
Here you can order the original German version.
I ‘m not authorized to do it. My command of English is far from perfect. But I know, Dominic has fans not knowing German and this attempt is just for them. To be able to understand Dominic better. And I know, Günter Bresnik will forgive me not to have asked him for authorization. I would ask him if I was professional German-to-English translator. I’m not. I’m German-to-Polish professional translator . But most Thiem’s fans not being Austrians are THE WORLD. And the world speaks English. That’s the reason.
I will translate fragments, which I’m believe are telling more than others about Dominic, his family and coach. Enjoy 🙂 (and don’t tell Bresnik 😏)
I will translate as the time allows. This means, I will not publish the translation when it’s done, but add daily so much I can. If interested, look here for updates. Or let me know via contact form to be informed via e-mail
Page 143 of the original
In the summer 1997 a young man appeared at Baumgasse. Tall, slim, in the middle of his 20-ties. He told: “My name is Thiem Wolfgang”. A tennis teacher, maintaining a tennis school in Wiener Neustadt, quite successful but this was long-term nothing for him. “I’m getting mad jostling with people not really interested for tennis”.
He was interested for performance tennis.
I asked him: “Do you have experience with performance sports?”
“Did you ever play any tournament yourself?”
“A wife and a boy.”
“What’s his name?”
“My coaches are young people, who want to learn the profession. I don’t employ family fathers. I don’t pay a salary, which would be enough to maintain a family.”
“My wife is also tennis coach. She can take care of our tennis school.”
“Go home, please!” “Take care of your tennis school and your family!”
Wolfgang has shaken my hand and went away with lowered head.
I was not thinking about him anymore, but next day he was in the reception at Baumgasse again. Wearing a training dress and tennis bag.
“I had a talk with my wife yesterday. I have told her, how much I can earn here. She told, it would mean a divorce. But she added, I can do it, if I need it badly.”
Well, I like people , who are not brushed off easily.
Wolfgang turned very quickly to be my favorite coach. He was the first to come in the morning and the last to leave in the evening. He listened diligently to what I was telling him, how I was speaking with players and he was extremely good in implementing what I asked him to do.
Page 144 of the original
I cannot recall, when I saw Dominic for the first time. Wolfgang took him maybe some times to the Baumgasse and later, as we moved with the tennis school to the Südstadt, he played with Dominic regularly during his lunch pauses on a free court.
But I recall very well, what has impressed me first at Dominic. The boy could not stand quietly. Not because of being nervous or anxious., but because of violent compulsion to play. I have never seen Dominic without a ball and a racket., also when he was sitting in cafeteria or when getting out from grandma’s car. When waiting for a free court to play, he was hitting the wall all the time. Even during a talk he was rolling the ball from one to other hand or balancing it on the vertically positioned racket’s frame all the time.
“Dominic, be quit, when Günter speaks with you” was Wolfgang saying. And Dominic was instantly standing at attention. But half meter further his fingers were secretly rolling the ball and turning the racket.
The boy was all desire-to-play.
Page 145 of the original
One day Wolfgang asked me if I could play one hour with Dominic. Of course I could and it was a pleasure from the start.
Dominic was running after every ball as he would run for life. When the basket was empty, he run to collect balls quicker. When I gave him instructions, he confirmed before I could end the sentence. And was implementing everything he was told to do, not only with visible joy but also with reliability and seriousness, for which he was evidently too young: he was then seven or maybe eight years old. This was really heartwarming.
Dominic ‘s ball feeling was not substantially better than of other kids with his age, he could not jump higher or run faster (rather the oposite – he was the lowest and finest among his age-mates) and he was not learning new things instantly.
But he had from the very beginning two extraordinary features. Those two features are the base of his international career.
First – he loved tennis like nobody else among all I have ever met. This was like this then. This is like this also today.
Second – he was actually not learning faster than others but – and this is the key – he never forgot what he learned. Each hour you could rely on what was learned an hour before. This was so then and is still today. The work with Dominic is an Eldorado for the coach. You can use different skills like you use Lego bricks to build a house. I’m not aware of another player, who makes the trainer’s job easier, than Dominic does.
Page 150 and following of the original
Principles of performance and success, I have learned over decades with top sports, are the foundation of developing Dominic to world class athlete. I do believe, those principles can be applied also outside of sport.
- On the beginning you need to know the goal
- A wish is not a goal
- A good goal is ambitious
- To use patterns, you must analyze, not copy
- Learning starts when you admit you miss the knowledge
- Who has errors, in mind will commit them
- Don’t break a rule before you understand it
- Performance does not emerge from confidence. Confidence does emerge from performance
- The success justifies every effort but not every price
- Cannot rule out failures. But you can handle them correctly
- Talent does not matter
- You can be really good only in what you love
- It’s better not to work at all then to work wrong
- You can produce performance, but the success must happen
- What prevails in the end is the substance, not the surface
- The start decides about the success, not the end
- A charismatic personality must be first a personality
Page 172 and following of the original
About the way of a champion
“To reach the possible, you must try the impossible” (Herman Hesse)
Dominic’s success has nothing common with an incident. This can be explained by the fact, that for the first time in my life four basic premises were met together.
- The base of Dominic’s success is his unbelievable love for tennis and the unconditional readiness of his family, first of all – his parents, to support this love.
- This made it possible to support over years the effort needed to reach world-class performance.
- I was competent enough to control and shape this effort, so to not waste it. I owe this my parents for growing me up the right way and my mentors. This is also founded on my experience collected on tour.
- The great trust of Dominic’s parents made it possible for me to make some unconventional decisions, if necessary or apply unconventional methods.
- When Dominic was about 10 or 11 years old, I have defined the goal of our work: this was an image of a future world-class player. This image, consisting of different technical, physical and mental features and capabilities, is still an ideal, on which we are oriented in our daily work, 50 up to 52 weeks a year, five up to 7 days a week. Without any secrets or abbreviations.
- Even if this way to success may appear to be evident, when telling the story, it was rather weary.
- Still teenager Dominic needed to forget about features, which made him successful before.
- Dominic and his parents were required to survive years of losses and doubts.
- Over years Dominic needed to go to his physical and mental limits to be able to resist to the loads of development.
- Dominic could not allow to be satisfied with successes, which were coming later. He needed to invest the energy coming from these successes in the future.
- Dominic was challenged and required to survive years of an illness. This illness was so bad, it could have ruined his career.
Apart of this illness everything went as planned.
Or actually even a bit better.
Page 175 and following of the original
The first milestone
Image of the perfect player
The goal we just set up was a collection of capabilities, which should lead to the success 10-15 years after
Dominic was born in September 1993, we have met each other in 2000 or 2001. During these years the professional men’s tennis has radically changed.
In 70-ties and early 80-ties big titles could be still won with patience and some tactical craft. Which was performed masterfully by Arthur Ashe at his last Grand Slam win in 1975, as he defeated Connors in one of most legendary Wimbledon finals. And by Mats Wilander at his first Grand Slam title in 1982. He played in Paris every ball with topspin to the middle of the court, one meter before the baseline. Desperate opponents were failing on the necessity to hit high bouncing balls far behind the baseline, without tempo, without angle.
This has changed in the 80-ties. Who wanted to build up his game on deficiencies of the opponent, had no more chance to be a champion. Because not only players were going still better, also rackets and strings (Yannick Noah was in 1983 the last Grand Slam winner using wooden racket).
Who did at own will a step back into defense, was lost. More tempo, more athleticism. More aggression, to close the point also directly from the baseline: Thomas Muster was a prototype of a new generation baseliner.
In 2000 it was clear, how the future development would look like. I knew, which features and capabilities would ensure the success after 10-15 years.
A tennis match would get won principally by the player, who will deal better with tempo. This was the most important aspect.
The world-class player of the future needed to get control of rallies using the more and more important first strikes – serve and return.
For a world-class professional player this means: he must love the competition. He cannot avoid difficult situations, but he must love to be successful in such situations. What media people call “pressure” must be something, he is eager to meet. Quite obvious: only losers don’t experience pressure in sports.
Such was the background when Dominic started to play tennis.
And the biggest rivalry of our sport was just starting. Dominic was 9 when Roger Federer won Wimbledon for the first time and he was 11, when Nadal won his first Roland Garros. Federer and Nadal opened new dimensions in tempo, control, bodily and mental fitness. They delivered tennis on the level not imaginable before it happened.
This made it more interesting, but not easier.
The second milestone
Three big problems
Dominic was an extremely successful junior.
But he got with each win deeper into cul-des-sac
Dominic was winning actually every tournament he was playing in. He has got first agreements with equipment manufacturers, promotions and awards. Being 9 years old he could win championship matches in the men’s team of his club. He was seen among his age-mates as not-to-beat. Everybody was whispering about this “supertalent”, which was playing that clever, tactically mature, playfulness, patience, fighting spirit.
First media reports about Dominic were written while he was still in elementary school.
At the same time Dominic’s three basic problems were disregarded. Each one of them was big enough to prevent his professional career, also as profession in terms of finance – that is – to be at least Top100.
Moreover: these three problems were related to each other. They were preconditions and multipliers of each other.
The first problem was the double-handed backhand. All Dominic’s shots were principally clean. Karin and Wolfgang have delivered an excellent work in technical basic skills of Dominic. His shots had a coherent overall look, just how it should look like for any tennis player. But the backhand did not fit in this image.
E real chunk on the leg. Blocked, awkward, the grip did not fit. His double-handed backhand was not a shot, but a push. But just this push was seen as Dominic’s best shot, because he was able to use it to bring the ball over hours back over the net. They were saying “you cannot play Dominic to the backhand, he commits here no errors”.
End of part 1. Part 2 read here
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