How to be a “smarter” tennis player

Posted by · September 1, 2010 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

When I was 12, my father told me that I should beat him at tennis by the age of 14. I only managed to win matches against him by the age of 18… 

Now, don’t get me wrong – it is not because I was not trying or because he was that good. In fact, he was a very good player even though he started to have health related problems (sore knees, etc.). He still managed to beat me all the time. And that frustrated me badly!
I didn’t understand how an older man, who was barely able to move to the ball, could still beat me!
Now, as a tennis coach and “older” player, I find myself looking back to those moments and I can understand why I couldn’t beat my father.
Tennis is like life – the smarter the decisions you make, the better your life is going to be.
My father was better at winning matches against me because he was outsmarting me on the court (and off). 
He knew that he would not be able to run with me on the court and chase every ball that I would throw at him so he had to make smarter decisions in order to win.
 Every ball he hit was a calculated move. Every serve was thought out as far as placement and spin. Before starting the point, he knew ahead of time what he was going to do to win it… sometimes adjusting to find the right tactic in certain situations.
How do I know that? Because now, I am the “older” player. I am playing kids that I teach and they are as young as I used to be when I was playing my father.
For me to win against my students, I have to outsmart them. Otherwise I would be running all over the court having to deal with strokes that are sometimes more powerful than mine.  I wish many times that my students would see tennis the way I see it now: like an “older” player. I wish they could combine their flexibility, speed, and stamina with the power of seeing the tactics of winning through an “older” player’s eyes. (more…)

Affirmations and Self-Talk

Posted by · September 1, 2010 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

We love our sports and sometimes we are completely frustrated in them; or I should say, ‘our’ performance and ‘our’ outcomes in them.  What does it take then to become an even better athlete and create even higher levels of performance?  Is this something only available to the elite, Olympic, or professional athlete? The answer is absolutely “No”!  Anyone who is willing to put in the work of mental  training can achieve greater and greater levels of success.  But like any achievement, it takes work, commitment and practice.

The late Dorothy Harris, PhD, who was a professor of sport psychology at Pennsylvania State University used to say, “The only difference between the best performances and the worst performance is the variation in our self-talk and the self-thoughts and attitudes we carry around with us.”

It is important to understand the direct link between self-confidence and success.  Using affirmations and positive self-talk are crucial in changing one’s performance and thus the desired outcome; it is the difference between a good athlete and a great athlete with all other variables being the same.  Pete Sampras, who retired in August 2003 after a stunning career, is one who used positive affirmations and self-talk to remind himself, that he can conquer an opponent even if he is behind and not playing well.

Most of us don’t realize that we spend a good deal of time talking to ourselves, and are unaware of our internal dialogue.  We ‘know’ what the right things are we need to say to ourselves, and sometimes even do say positive things, but more often than not, there is another  level of dialogue going on within us, that may not be so supportive and positive.  Those are the thoughts beneath the surface that have been there often our entire lives that we share with only a few, if anyone.  The beliefs and thoughts we hide; those are the beliefs that need to change to change our performances and thus our lives. Those are the ones that actually “rule” our lives.  What we ‘think about’ we create! (more…)

You know exercise is good for you – but do you know how good?

Posted by · August 10, 2010 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »


The road to health does not involve the cultivation of enormous muscles. Innumerable systems of exercise have been exalted as leading to healthfulness. All sorts of extraordinary springs, bicycles, walking machines, dumbbells, and similar apparatus are alleged to lead the user directly into vim, vigor, and vitality, the three objectives of the physical culturist.

Exercise is a means of stimulating the action of the muscles, improving the co-ordination of nerve and muscle, and improving the circulation of the blood. The chief value of exercise is to stimulate the general chemistry and physiology of the body through its effect on the circulation and on elimination. That’s why a healthy person feels better after exercise.

Everyone should have sufficient strength of muscle to carry on the ordinary activities of life, and to permit some exceptional use in time of emergency. For young people exercise has the value of stimulating body growth. Competitive sports of a vigorous kind, such as running, tennis, handball, football, and baseball, are useful, but should never be tried by those not physically fit to undertake them. Among muscular activities suitable to people of all ages are swimming, walking, golf, horseback riding, fishing, and gardening. These sports cultivate endurance and grace. They may not make the heart beat faster, but neither will they make it hesitate or stop. Before undertaking any kind of strenuous physical activity let your doctor determine the capacity of your heart.

Here are the proper amounts of muscular activity for people of various ages: four hours of muscular activity at the age of five years, five hours daily from the age of seven to nine, six hours from nine to eleven, five hours from eleven to thirteen, four hours from thirteen to sixteen, three hours from sixteen to eighteen, and two hours from eighteen to twenty. (more…)

The Role of Agility Training for Tennis Players

Posted by · August 1, 2010 · Filed in Uncategorized · 2 Comments »

Agility is such an important component when it comes to an athlete being fast. Tennis requires the athlete to be fast over short distances, in multiple directions and have the ability to develop explosive starts from various positions.

Agility training is sports specific and it has to simulate the exact movements required by your sport. For athletes that require linear speed then agility training will have little benefit.

Agility refers to the ability of an athlete to speed up, slow down and change direction while maintaining balance and control. Athletes in sports such as soccer, football, netball, basketball, lacrosse and tennis are just a few sports where athletes need to be agile.

Trainers who believe that one drill fits all do not understand the true meaning of sports specificity! Greater improvements will be found when training for your sport. (more…)

Increase Your Chances Of Winning The Point In Tennis By

Posted by · July 24, 2010 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

It’s amazing how many people lose the point in tennis by hitting the tennis ball at the bottom of the net. If you observe carefully more people hit the ball into the bottom of the net then miss the ball by hitting it wide or long.

How does one increase their chances of winning the point in tennis or for that matter winning the tennis game? Simple…Don’t miss the ball and it is literally impossible to lose. However, for this article I want to share with you how to increase your chances of winning.

Many times over and over again, I instruct people who have taken tennis lessons from me. Hit the tennis ball 3 to 5 feet over the net. That’s RIGHT! When you hit the ball 3 to 5 feet over the net it is literally impossible to hit the ball into the bottom of the net. (more…)

Why You Need a Pre Serve Routine in Tennis

Posted by · July 23, 2010 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

The serve is considered by most tennis experts to be the most important shot in the game of tennis.

After all, if you can serve well and hold your serve during a match then you cannot lose, or at the very least you will end up in a tie-break situation.

It is also the one and only shot in the game that you have total control over.

Unlike every other shot and situation that occurs during a tennis match where you are reacting to the shot of your opponent, the serve is the first shot of every point and as such gives an opportunity to the server to deliver the ball in a manner that totally suits them.

The direction, the pace, the spin etc. is totally at the mercy of and is the decision of the server and no one else.

It is for this reason alone that you should make full use of this fact and develop a delivery that can at least put you in the driving seat for the point if you don’t manage to hit an ace or unreturnable delivery.

The big thing that most players overlook is the fact that just as the physical actions that make up the serve itself need to be practised, so do the physical and mental elements that surround the preparation of the shot in order to maximise it’s effectiveness.

This means the development of a physical and mental pre-shot routine to help you reproduce the best serve you can again and again and again and again.

All of the top players use pre-serve routines before every serve. This ranges from the very simple ball bouncing of Roger Federer to the complex almost compulsive sock, hair and pants adjusting routine of Rafa Nadal.

Just as no two players have the same forehands and backhands or indeed service actions, there are also differences between all the players in regard to their physical pre-serve routines even though they all will share some fundamentals such as:

I. Taking up of a comfortable stance.

II. Ball bouncing and/or some kind of regulated motion for rhythm.

III. Visually honing in on the target area.

The same can also be said of the mental pre-serve preparation, where important elements include:

I. Positive decision making about where to hit the serve.

II. Deciding what type of serve to hit.

III. Visualization of the balls flight to the target. (more…)

Fast Tennis Serves for Consistent Aces

Posted by · July 20, 2010 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

Before I tell you about the single most effective upper body exercise for increasing the power of your tennis serve, I want to tell you that increasing the explosiveness of your serve isn’t created JUST from explosive upper body strength. you’ll need to develop explosive power in your lower body and be able to transfer this power up your body to your racquet. Secondly, you must develop strength endurance and the ability to recover between points, so that you can give 100% on every shot.

If you’re not able to increase your endurance and have the ability to recover quickly between points, your power will diminish as the match goes on.. (more…)

Differences Between Singles And Doubles In Tennis

Posted by · July 19, 2010 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

Singles, the greatest strain in tennis, is the game for two players. It is in this phase of the game that the personal equation reaches its crest of importance. This is the game of individual effort, mental and physical.

A hard 5-set singles match is the greatest strain on the body and nervous system of any form of sport. Singles is a game of daring,  dash, speed of foot and stroke. It is a game of chance far  more than doubles. Since you have no partner dependent upon you,  you can afford to risk error for the possibility of speedy victory. Much of what I wrote under match play is more for singles than doubles, yet let me call your attention to certain peculiarities of singles from the standpoint of the spectator.

A gallery enjoys personalities far more than styles. Singles brings two people into close and active relations that show the idiosyncrasies of each player far more acutely than doubles. The spectator is in the position of a man watching an insect under a microscope. He can analyze the inner workings.

The freedom of restraint felt on a single court is in marked contrast to the need for team work in doubles. Go out for your shot in singles whenever there is a reasonable chance of getting it. Hit harder at all times in singles than in doubles, for you have more chance of scoring and can take more risk.

Singles is a game of the imagination, doubles a science of exact angles.

Doubles is four-handed tennis. Enough of this primary reader definition.

It is just as vital to play to your partner in tennis as in bridge. Every time you make a stroke you must do it with a definite plan to avoid putting your partner in trouble. The keynote of doubles success is team work; not individual brilliancy. There is a certain type of team work dependent wholly upon individual brilliancy. Where both players are in the same class, a team is as strong as its weakest player at any given time, for here it is even team work with an equal division of the court that should be the method of play. In the case of one strong player and one weaker player, the team is as good as the strong player can make it by protecting and defending the weaker. This pair should develop its team work on the individual brilliancy of the stronger man. (more…)

A Training Session for Roger-Federer

Posted by · July 17, 2010 · Filed in Uncategorized · 7 Comments » All the talk about how improved is the training of top tennis players is a bunch of hogwash! Why?

Understanding The Psychology Of Physical Fitness For Tennis

Posted by · July 16, 2010 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

Being physically fit is one of the most important requirements of playing tennis. Strength, intensity and sensitivity to tennis are only possible if all the physical, mental, and nervous systems of an individual player are in tune with one another. To achieve heightened this level of preparedness requires regular and methodical training on the part of the tennis player in order to succeed.

To keep and maintain the body’s peak efficiency, a tennis player needs regular hours of sleep and a healthy diet. Eating the proper diet is particularly important in order to be able to perform at peak levels and not sustain unnecessary injury or losses on the court. A tennis player should not drink nor smoke as these two substances will certainly degrade any amount of physical fitness and preparation in a very short period of time. Both substances affect a person’s ability to think clearly and objectively and affects a player’s ability to sustain prolonged physical activities which may be necessary at any given point during match play.

During the game itself, tennis players need all the concentration they can muster and this is only possible if their body and mental preparation is well done before the game. It is useless to worry before, during and after a match, what is important is to be able to play the game with all your heart including mental and physical abilities.

Never allow yourself to get nervous before a match as this would definitely slow you down. (more…)