Magnus Norman: The Art of Shaping Champions

After his incredible win over Novak Djokovic in the US Open finals to win his third grand slam title, Stan Wawrinka’s coach Magnus Norman wrote a wonderful letter on his website which showed the true bond between a coach and his student which spans across trust, confidence, and faith. Here are some of the lines from the hight impact letter from Norman.
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1) “Hard work and belief often pays off. I admire Stan for many things. One of the things i really like is that you will always get a straight and honest answer from him. He has no hidden agenda. He will always be honest. No matter WHO it is. No matter if the answer will make him look ”less good”. He is not afraid to show vulnerability. This goes for his tennis as well.”
A coach should know his student head to toe both physically and mentally. Magnus knows every aspect of Wawrinka. Both Stan and Magnus have mutual respect for the other which helps in the blossoming of a strong coach-student partnership. According to Magnus, Stan is totally open about his weaknesses and considers it as a positive thing for it helps Magnus in carving Stan into a better player and organizing their strategies accordingly.
2) “He got shit nervous before the final in US Open- he was honest with that as well. You don’t hear a lot of athletes totally open and with this mindset. For me it shows courage and great personal foundation in life.There is something very strong and human in showing emotions and it takes pride and strength to not hide away.”
Minutes before the finals, Stan Wawrinka, the 31-year old broke down in tears in front of Norman. The third seed was shaking and was nervous in the locker room until his coach decided to become his therapist. Magnus reminded Stan that he had the firepower to him to come through. Hours later, Stan lifted the elite US Open trophy. Had Norman taken this as a timid behavior of Stan, things would have been different. Instead, he took it as a positive thing to express and rebuilt Stan’s confidence.
3)”Its not until you accept your limits and your shortcoming that you can start pushing past those limits.”
Before Wawrinka, Magnus was in charge of Robin Soderling, the French Open 2009 finalist who defeated Rafael Nadal on clay during his period of dominance. For Magnus, it is important to give in some extra resistance against your weaknesses which might overcome you. When asked about the most important drawback of Stan and Robin he worked on, this was his answer:
“I think maybe the main thing I changed about both Robin and Stan is the mental aspect. Robin was a guy who was wasting a lot of energy on things that were not about his tennis. It could be spectators or his opponent, could be the sun or the wind. And I think I did a good job with that. I think the same with Stan, who always has been a little bit nervous and a little bit soft when it came to tough matches.”
4)”I personally feel like I have the best job in the world. I feel very blessed and feel very privileged to work with such a gifted and talented player and in a team that are so knowledgeable.”
Last but not the least,  a coach should be proud of the various skills he instills in his student, the way in which he draws his student into a better player every day and above all should love his job. Magnus Norman is arguably one of the best coaches that modern tennis has seen.
Magnus also mentioned the importance of Pierre Paganini, the architect who built Stan into the fit powerful man that he is. Paganini’s motto is simple, “In sports, as in life, you look at the details.” A fitness coach for Stan and Federer, Pierre Paganini has earned Norman’s respect over the years.
And what about the student’s point of view? This is what Stan had to say after his victory,
“You have to accept to suffer and you have almost to enjoy to suffer. Because I think this Grand Slam was the most painful, physically and mentally, Grand Slam that I ever played. As I said, I was feeling tired already at the beginning of the match. I was feeling the cramp coming in the third set. In the fourth set I had some pain, but most important was what was clear with Magnus before was not to show anything. Not to show anything. Give everything and keep fighting and go try to win it.”

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