How Andre Agassi Read Boris Becker’s Serve… by Watching his Tongue

Andre Agassi 1999 French Open

How often do you notice something about another person? Be it a word or phrase they repeat in conversation or the way they gesture or move. Reading people is a skill useful in many walks of life. But who knew that it could be the key to defeating one of the tennis world’s best serves?

Andre Agassi is undoubtedly one of tennis’ greatest returners. His anticipation, balance, and technique certainly played a huge role in this, but recently the world learned of a rather surprising little advantage he had in his locker.

In a video published by Tennis TV, Agassi explains how he uses a slightly unusual skill to get a read on the formidable Boris Becker service. The German had powered his way to the top of the game with a booming serve. Agassi, like most players, was finding it impossible to get a handle on, until, he noticed a bizarre little tick from across the net.

Andre Agassi vs Boris Becker: The Tongue Points The Way

As Becker prepared to launch one of his howitzers he, like most players, had a repeatable motion. The German would rock back and forth slightly before his toss and, unbeknownst to even him, he would stick out his tongue during this motion. Not only that, but Agassi began to realize that Becker’s tongue was the big giveaway to his serve.

If the German’s tongue pointed straight out of his mouth then that meant he would be launching a serve down the middle. If the tongue pointed out of the side of his mouth then a wide serve was incoming. Amazingly, Agassi spotted this from across the court and was, therefore, able to use this information at key times in the match to get a jump on the direction of the serve. Pretty important when reaction times are so reduced by the speed of the service.

Oktoberfest Confession

Agassi finally told his great rival about this tick over a beer in Germany one day, and Becker was totally stunned. He was finally able to understand why it seemed like Agassi could read his mind for all those years.

So the moral of the story here is to always be observant, pay attention to people, and, most importantly, try not to stick your tongue out and point it!

Watch the incredible story, in Agassi’s own words.

Main Photo from Getty.


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