Grand Slam Freelancing: Tips Learned From Top Tennis Players

In the professional tennis world, competition is at a whole new level of intensity than we’ve possibly ever seen. Unlike previous generations of greats, there is no longer just one or a few region(s) dominating the game. The landscape of today can see anyone from any country, despite not having a strong history of top elite players, having a legitimate shot at having a player take home one of the four Grand Slams, the top spot on the season ending rankings, winning the World Tour Finals, or capturing Davis Cup supremacy.

Now this global landscape of talent popping out everywhere, and everyone competing for the same goal, is exactly how the freelance industry has become. It’s actually quite funny considering that many bigger name companies would always say that outsourcing their work projects to someone from another country was never even a consideration, are probably making up most of the names who do this now as a regular practice.

So let’s take some time to see what the top tennis players in the world are doing to stay on top, and how you can apply their methods to your freelancing.

1. Not having a Signature Weapon/Skill will Leave You Flat

*Image Credit: digitalnoise

Look at the careers of two current young players considered to be as good as, if not possibly better, than everyone else, but is simply missing that one undeniable attack to get them over the hump. These players being Andy Murray and Caroline Wozniacki. Both are talented players with great all around games, but that doesn’t translate over into dominating the ATP and WTA respectively. Andy Murray has reached Grand Slam finals multiple times only to lose, and Wozniacki made it to the top of the WTA rankings only to not be able to win one Grand Slam during her reign.

What can Freelancers Learn from This:

We all, for the most part, come into freelancing with the idea that offering as many skills we have some good level of skill in will provide the most revenue. Funny thing is, that is as far from the truth as thinking all clients are nice and pleasant. The truth is to have a successful freelancing career with plenty of room for growth, you have to first niche yourself and be awesome at it. Then add other skills your’e comfortable with to add some side revenue.

2. Plan Properly for Your LONG Season

*Image Credit: Digitalnative

Saying the tennis season is long is an understatement. The season starts at the very beginning of January, and ends in the middle of November. During this time there are constant back to back tournaments going on, so this is no easy grind. Once you also add in the unpredictable events, like last year’s US Open for example, it becomes clear how well these players handle it.

What can Freelancers Learn from This:

Unlike our full-time employed counterparts, there really isn’t a lot of downtime associated with freelancing as many would hope. There are probably plenty of stories about freelancers going years without vacations, missing plenty of quality time with friends and family, and of course the crowd favorite, staying up all night to finish some project with a crazy deadline of like yesterday. A good way to fix this is proper planning, and understanding your own limitations. Working nonstop will only end up burning you out so you end up losing more time than you would have, had you taken some time off to recharge. Make sure your schedule includes daily breaks, and monthly day(s) of pure relaxation.

3. Backup, Backup, Backup, and Backup some more

*Image Credit: adamwilson 

Ever look at a tennis match and not see the players with at least five other racquets in their bags? Even though there is a top-level racquet stringer on board at the events? There is an easy answer to this, it’s because they always have to be prepared! Anything can happen on the court, and a racquet could pop a string at any moment. Getting your racquet restrung by someone other than whom you’re accustomed to may mean they can’t get it exactly how tennis pro’s specifically like their racquet, which may cost a match.

What can Freelancers Learn from This:

If you are not backing up all your files somewhere, then you are just asking for disaster. Anything can happen! Nobody ever knows when suddenly the app you’re in will crash, or you’re going to have sudden serious computer problems, or anything else that may lead to you not being able to access your files. So make sure to BACK UP EVERYTHING THAT IS NECESSARY!

4. Have a Great Supporting Cast

*Image Credit: hewy

Doesn’t matter how anybody looks at it, behind every incredible player is some pretty darn good coaching to match. It is impossible for any player to get the top of the sport without having a strong coaching staff there to help improve their game throughout the duration of their playing career.

What can Freelancers Learn from This:

No this doesn’t mean go out and email everyone in your industry who you view as successful asking for advice or to be your mentor. It just means network and form genuine bonds with others in similar professions. Each person can learn and grow from the experiences of the other, and maybe you’ll luck out and be in good with someone you’ve always highly respected or is in good regard in their professional community for their talent.

5. Practice

*Image Credit: Daniel Dionne 

Any tennis player who has made it to the professional level definitely had to learn this lesson back when they were a rising junior. This lesson being that constant practice is the only way of ever being able to reach the top, no shortcuts, just a constant practice routine.

What can Freelancers Learn from This:

In this high pace life of freelancing, there really isn’t enough time spent emphasizing the importance of setting aside some time to better your skill set and hone your craft to a higher level. It’s understandable considering how fast things change in the web industry, add to that the workload, or lack thereof, that may be affecting you. Despite all this, only positive results come from just simply practicing and learning regularly.

In Short

There a lot of things that can be learned, and applied, from tennis players to your freelancing life. Both for the most apart are solo gigs that when it’s time to actually put the work in there really won’t be anybody but yourself to praise or blame. So remembering the tips discussed above can take you to new heights in your freelancing career, or help you get that strong kickstart to finally make progress in a positive direction.


I code, write, and stuff at Five Alarm Interactive. Tweet me: @5alarmint.

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  1. Gottenberg says

    Good article! I always forget the backing up part. Good for me WordPress have nice plugins to help out!