Showing posts with label Tennis Coaching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tennis Coaching. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

OPEN & CLOSED GROUNDSTROKES




LET'S BE CLEAR from the start, you need both options! Both open and closed stances have their advantages and disadvantages.
Here’s when it’s best to hit an open stance ground stroke and why…


1.  Better for higher balls because you can generate more power and maintain balance


2. Can help disguise your intentions on certain balls


3. Easier to recover from wide outside the court and return to the centre of the court


4. Helps maintain contact in front on deep and fast balls (returns)


5. Better peripheral vision 

When you select to play a closed stance ground stroke factors to consider are…

1.  Easier to play approach shots that are short and low


2. Helps to disguish mid-court forehand finish

3. Better suited to a later contact point


4. Preferred option on shorter balls through the middle

Nearly every ground stroke or return of serve you play can be hit with either an open or closed stance. It’s up to you to decide which option is appropriate for each ball.

Go ahead and experiment with both open and closed options and if you are weak on either of the two options take lessons from an experienced teaching pro so that you become more proficient. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

THE LONG LAST STEP



With the French Open starting this week there is plenty for us to pick up while watching the matches that will help us improve our own game.

One technique you will see a lot on the clay at Roland Garros over the next two weeks is “THE LONG LAST STEP”. It’s a technique used by the top  players to help with coordination, timing and balance as they move around the court to hit the ball.


1.           Momentum

When you run to hit a ball momentum is created. As you reach the ball that momentum has to be disciplined as you attempt to hit the ball

Because of the momentum of your body, this last step has to be longer than the other steps you used to reach the ball. 




2.          Balance

When you create a “Long LAST Step” you are trying to place a foot in a position that will support your momentum and balance you while you hit the shot.

This foot is called the contact foot and it needs to be wide…



3.          Line

What the best players do now is coordinate a Line from their head over top of their contact foot at the moment of contact.

This will give you perfect balance as you hit the ball which translates into consistent ground strokes.  



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

THE 4 ESSENTIALS FOR THE DEVELOPING PLAYER



The top players have few weaknesses in their games, and as I have said many times to reach the top it's really important you work on eliminating any weaknesses you may have.


Weaknesses in your game eat away at your confidence and usually are worse when you are under the most pressure and occur at the most unwelcome times.


The big picture when developing players for the future should also include working on strengths. 

Young players should be well rounded and be equally skilled in dealing with defensive and offensive situations.

Here are my 4 top choices when developing the offensive game of a young player:


#1 OWN A GREAT SERVE

Owning a great serve is a huge asset in tennis. If you can hold serve or even put your opponent on the defensive at the start of each point you will win a large percentage of your service games.

HERE'S WHAT TO DO...
https://thetenniswhisperer.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-two-must-have-service-techniques.html



#2 POCESS A STRONG CROSS-COURT GAME
 

Dominate the crosscourt exchange and you dominate the rally because you are constantly forcing your opponent to change out of the crosscourt exchange (to alleviate the pressure) and hit down-the-line. 

HERE'S INFORMATION ON THE CROSS COURT EXCHANGE
https://thetenniswhisperer.blogspot.com/2012/02/tennis-equivalent-to-boxing-jab.html


#3 HAVE A CONSISTENT RETURN OF SERVE

It’s not always possible to get every return back in court. But if you own a great return of serve you put a lot of pressure on the server to come up with something extra, either with their serve or during the rally. A consistent return of serve puts pressure on the server!

HERE ARE SOME RETURN OF SERVE ESSENTIALS
https://thetenniswhisperer.blogspot.com/2014/05/practising-most-important-phase-of-point.html


#4  CARRY A BIG FOREHAND

Having a big forehand allows you to finish the point whenever your opponent makes a mistake and allows you to step inside the baseline to attack.

Players today are involved in longer rallies and if you are given the chance to attack you must take that opportunity immediately. That’s the first step… recognizing the when you can attack.

The second step is to take advantage and use your big forehand as a weapon to finish the point.

Your opponent must fear your forehand and know that any mistake they make will be punished.

UNDERSTANDING THE PARTS OF THE SWING
https://thetenniswhisperer.blogspot.com/2014/05/practising-most-important-phase-of-point.html





Monday, May 20, 2019

INVINCIBILITY LIES IN THE DEFENSE...




The 3 most important words a player must remember are preparation, preparation and preparation.


Thorough preparation means that you are ready for whatever your opponent throws at you. It means that you will enter the match in the knowledge that you are ready.


But what form should your preparation take? How should you structure your preparation in the days, weeks and months before your matches?


There is an amazing quote from the ancient Chinese war lord Sun Tzu…


“INVINCIBILITY LIES IN THE DEFENSE, THE POSSIBILITY OF VICTORY IN THE ATTACK”

What Sun Tzu is saying in this quote is that you as a player or even as a coach need to work on the two opposites of Offense and Defense.  All too often players work on their offense. They train to increase the speed of their ball, the power of their forehand and the effectiveness of their serve.


Sun Tzu is saying that you must have weapons with which to attack your opponent. But he's also saying that you need to have the ability to defend equally as well also,

To better structure your practice sessions around developing both your offense and defense read the article on THE DNO THEORY by clicking on the link…

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

THERE'S A GENERATION WAR IN TENNIS TODAY




There’s no doubt that we are experiencing a GENERATION WAR IN TENNIS AT THE MOMENT .


The old guard of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are under threat from the new guard consisting of Thiem, Zverev, Tsitsipas and Shapovalov


Recent results in the lead up to the French Open have seen the new guard matching and even beating the old guard in each tournament


Most surprising during this time has been the declining form of Rafael Nadal. The former “King of Clay” has not been able to win any of the tournaments during this early part of the European clay court season. His chances of winning the French Open this year look bleak.


Federer can be excused for not winning any of the lead up tournaments but he has shown us his game is good enough to beat anyone on the day and at this stage of his career he’s probably quietly saving his best effort for the grand slam.


Djokovic is the pick of the old guard to go all the way at the French. He’s a proven winner on clay and has this incredible ability to lift his form at the most important times. Djokovic is the ultimate competitor


Within the younger brigade I pick Dominic Thiem to do well at the French. But I really fancy Tsitsipas to do the best of the younger brigade long-term.


Tsitsipas has much more potential than the other younger brigade to development further, especially physically.  I expect to see him surge in the rankings over the next few months so long as his temperament keeps him focused throughout that time.


Zverev has been a disappointment to me. If he was going to become the next dominant force in tennis he would have done it by now. This “hesitation” in his career is not a good sign.


The New Guard have knocked the door down. They are showing no respect for reputations.It’s been a long time since the French Open has been this unpredictable. But the battle between the old and the new guard is even more interesting than who eventually wins the title.


“Cometh the hour, Cometh the Man”

Thursday, May 9, 2019

WHERE DO YOU SEND YOUR AWARENESS?




“THE ABILITY TO QUICKLY SHIFT YOUR AWARENESS AROUND TO DIFFERENT PARTS OF YOUR GAME IS A KEY TO PLAYING WELL”



You need the ability to shift your awareness around as you play. Each shot requires a slightly different focus, no stroke is the same.



Here are some of the main areas you need to send your awareness to as you play a match. Some of the areas I mention may surprise you. Tennis is not just about awareness of the ball and your opponent… there’s much more to tennis than that!



1.   Court Awareness

Because you are playing the ball from different places within the court you need to shift your awareness to where you are standing sometimes.



This is even more important when you are in less familiar territory such as very deep off the baseline or very wide on either side of the court.



When you are made to play from these “special” positions on the court, shifting your awareness to where you are standing will help you factor in the height of the net, the distance to the baseline and the type of spin required.



2.  Ball Awareness

The ball tells you everything. It tells you when to move back (for deep balls), when to move forward (short balls) and the timing you will need to adjust to (slow or fast ball)



Therefore, an awareness of the ball is critical to playing well



3.  Opponent Awareness

Opponent awareness covers both where you should hit the ball (hopefully where your opponent is not!) and the type of ball you should hit to your opponent (tactical)



Far too many players are concerned only with what THEY are doing. Developing opponent awareness will take your game to the next level.



4.  Racquetface Awareness

If I was only allowed to give just one tip to a player it would be… develop your awareness of your racquet head.



The racquet head is the surface the ball takes its instructions from. If a player has no feel or control of  their racquet head they will never reach a higher level



Great awareness of your racquet head is more important than footwork!



5.  Self-Awareness

To play well you must be constantly monitoring yourself.

Awareness of your technique, confidence levels, fitness levels and the type of strategy you are using are all important during a match




Saturday, April 6, 2019

2 SIMPLE SERVE BOOSTERS!




If you can’t hold serve you can’t win the match 



That’s how important the serve is in tennis. Players with average groundstrokes but great serves have done well in tennis, particularly on the faster surfaces.



The serve is not a complicated stroke but it can be prone to break down under pressure in matches. It’s important therefore to understand the key elements of the serve so that under pressure you can focus on 1 or 2 things that will make it work for you.



Here are the 2 key elements I recommend you focus on when under pressure in matrches. Each of the two elements, if done correctly, will cover any problems you may be having with your serve.



THE FRONT FOOT:



The front foot is the “Bridge” for your serve. It’s the transfer point for your forward movement during the serve.



If this “Bridge” is weak or not operating well enough your serve will lack power, timing and balance.



The Front Foot is therefore responsible for…



1.   Supplying Power

2.  Is the source of Timing

3.  Creating Balance



THE WRIST:



The wrist puts the ball in. It adapts within the contact zone to meet the ball early, late. Left or right. It is the steering wheel for your serve.



The wrist also transfers the energy within the swing into the ball. Much the same as you throw a ball or crack a whip, your wrist can increase the velocity of the racquet head by accelerating during the swing.



The biggest single problem with most serves is a stiff/ locked wrist. Make sure your wrist is relaxed and flowing in order the transfer efficiently the energy sent to it by the Front Foot.



The Wrist therefore has 2 important functions when serving…



1.   Finding your target

2.  Accelerating the racquet head



Within these two techniques you have the answer to any problem you will experience.



During practice sessions focus on isolating these important two elements to solve problem issues that arise.



Wednesday, April 3, 2019

LEARN FROM ROD LAVER





MY FAVOURITE PLAYER  GROWING UP WAS ROD LAVER. 

What I admired most about "Rocket" was that he was just a normal guy, humble, down to earth and hard working.

During his career Laver was known for his ability to play his best tennis when it mattered most. He hardly ever lost a five set match.

Here are 2 ways for you to learn from Rod "Rocket" Laver:

#  1  Stay focused in the present. Allowing your mind to get too far ahead or beating yourself before you get on the court can be disastrous. Avoid the internal mind games by sticking to tactics and don't allow yourself to lose focus on executing them throughout the match.

Laver built up a reputation during his career of coming up with something special when a match got tight. Begin building your legacy in tight situations!


#  2  Simulate match pressure during practice sessions:  Train in a similar way to what you will experience during competition. 

Laver and many of his peers trained under the legendary Australian coach Harry Hopman. In his day Harry Hopman revolutionized  the way tennis was trained. He insisted on each one of his players being extremely fit, far beyond the norm during that era.

In matches Hopman was also famous for telling his players to "Relax and hit for the lines". 

This is how Laver trained under Hopman both as a youngster and while he was on top. By adopting a similar attitude and work ethic in your training also, you will be able to better handle yourself under difficult conditions in real matches.    

Monday, March 25, 2019

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY!



A coach can only do so much with a player who is experiencing destructive mental issues related to tennis competition.

Players who find competition mentally too much to handle and suffer from choking, low levels of self confidence or an inability to close out important matches are generally the victims of their environment. They are reflecting the environment they live in everyday when they compete in matches.

Prolonged and repeated negative mental issues in matches when competing as a junior player, also continue to be a problem for the player much later in life, even though the environment which has caused the mental issues in the first place might have changed for the better.


Considering a majority of competitive junior players suffer from an almost crippling mental war inside their heads, it would be fair to say that a majority of players never fully reach their true potential.

It therefore becomes clear that the  environment we grow up in when we start our tennis is critically important. 

Coaches can sometimes merely inherit the mental problems of their students, although in some cases coaches actually add to, or at worst create the negative mental issues.

This article therefore is for Parents and Coaches who need help in understanding how to avoid their child or student developing mental issues related to competition in the first place. It can also be a reference in how to handle players who have already developed issues mentally and ultimately how to reverse the problem.


A father recently messaged me while on his way to a tournament with his son. They were on their way to play the first day of the Nationals.

The stress in the car must have been considerable because his son had asked his father "What if I lose"?

His father had messaged me asking "What should I tell him"?

The most important thing for Parents and Coaches to remember is that in order to play at their best a player must enjoy the process of playing. Enjoyment unlocks the mind and allows you to perform to your potential. Any form of mental contamination will hurt your performance.

The root causes of contamination are broad but can include unrealistic expectations, unrealistic pressure, low self esteem, low self confidence and fear.

In my experience most of this is picked up by young players from the people they want to please the most, parents and coaches. It is therefore important to know now that what you say as a parent or a coach becomes extremely powerful... the emotion you send to a young player within your comments is magnified 5 times!

 IF YOU THINK THE SUBTLE COMMENT YOU JUST MADE WAS NO BIG DEAL, MAGNIFY IT BY FIVE TIMES... NOW TELL ME IT WASN'T MEANT TO HURT OR PUT STRESS ON THE CHILD!


I prepare myself to react to situations around players. I prepare for possible questions that may come, either in a few moments or in several days. I'm ready.

I also react to questions or situations in the third person. Often I observe myself speaking to a player from the perspective of the third person, monitoring my words, my tone and my body language.

Timing is important. Don't bring up possible stressful topics around stressful times, before or after matches for example. I'm not saying tough topics can't be discussed. I'm saying be smart with when you bring them up. 

DEVELOP EMPATHY FOR YOUR CHILD OR STUDENT

Parents often ask me what they can do that makes a real difference to their child's tennis. By monitoring how you act and what you say around your child you will create an environment whereby a happy, competitive player emerges. This is the single most important  ingredient in developing a successful player.

With enough awareness and empathy you will also be able to correct unwanted behavioural problems that have already developed.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

THE CRAZY GUY FROM KOREA





The Korean guy in the front row was losing control. 


It was 1991 and Beijing was the venue for the Asian Games.  We were playing for at least a Mixed Doubles bronze medal and Thailand hadn’t won an Asian Games medal in tennis for almost 40 years! Personally, this was the biggest match of my tenure as Thai National Tennis Coach.  


The Thai team of Wittaya Samret and Orawan Thampensri were in a match with a typically tough Korean team.  You can always count on Koreans to make it a battle.  They are always in great shape physically, mentally very strong and always 100% committed.  


I had encountered the Korean attitude in many events prior to this.  Players from Korea could sometimes over-step the boundary of what was considered good sportsmanship sometimes.  This didn’t make them any friends on the tennis circuit and I had even witnessed Korean coaches physically abusing players several times.


I’m not sure whether or not the guy in the front row was a coach attached to the team or not, but he was calling instructions between each point.  The rules of tennis clearly state that you can not communicate with the players in any way during the match, either verbally or with signals. 


Several times he had been warned about communicating with the players’ during the match but he continued to do so.  


I caught his attention and asked him to stop talking to the players.  He replied that he was not “coaching” the players which, even if true, didn’t alter the fact that he was communicating non-stop with them.



News of the match had also now spread to other sporting venues in Beijing and the Thai media covering the Asian Games started arriving at the tennis venue in anticipation of a rare tennis medal for Thailand. Every Thai television channel was represented and all the Thai newspapers were there. 


I already knew all the Thai media people from other events we had played and they had always supported me personally and written favorable articles about my work with the Thai team.  For them and me, an Asian Games medal was the icing on the cake.  



But there was still the matter of this crazy Korean guy in the front row!  As the Thai duo began to dominate, he got more and more irate.  Once again I asked him to stop communicating with his players.  This time however he began climbing the seats in front of me with the clear intention of punching my head off my shoulders!  As he climbed over the first row and made his way up to my seat he continued shouting abuse at me, the blood vessels in his neck bulging and his face turning purple. 


The media guys around me began sensing a much bigger story than the Thai Mixed Doubles team picking up a bronze medal!  Camera lenses were poised for the biggest scope of their fortnight in Beijing. I could visualize the headlines in Thailand the next day announcing “Thai Tennis Coach Involved in Brawl at Asian Games”.  


Thankfully other more sensible Koreans in the group had a firm grip of his jacket and pulled him back to his seat.  Several from the Thai Media were claiming “He was going to pick a fight with you”! Still concerned about newspaper headlines the next morning I deflected their concerns by down-playing the whole incident.  


Thankfully Wittaya and Orawan did win Thailand’s first Asian Games tennis medal for 40 years. 


For years after Beijing I never traveled to Korea.  I guess my early experiences put me off going there, believing that the place would not be that friendly and the people difficult.  When I did actually go there several years ago with players I was shocked to find one of the prettiest countries, and the friendliest people you would wish to meet.  What a contrast!  

During the month of May Korea is stunning

Today it would be my first pick of countries to live.  However if I ever did live there I might have to keep looking over my shoulder for that crazy guy from Beijing!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

THE ROLE OF THE WRIST ON THE SERVE



The wrist plays a really important role in the serve. It not only allows you to generate more power but also gives you greater feel for your targets.

In order to perform these jobs the wrist needs to be supple and relaxed.

The most common issues associated with players with serving problems stems from them having wrist that fail to function well, usually because the wrist is locked.

It's really important to have a loose wrist when you serve. Apart from a loose wrist allowing you to generate more power and give you more feel, a loose wrist will also take the pressure off your shoulder joint and therefore prevent injuries in the long term. 

Here are some key check points to help keep your wrist loose on the serve:

1.  Ensure the take back is relaxed
If the take back is relaxed it's almost certain you will hit the serve with a loose wrist. If you are stiff or tight on the take back it's difficult to change to loose during the swing.

Look to see how loose the take back is in the video. Divij Sharan doesn't "carry" the racquet back as if it's a heavy object. He allows the weight of the racquet to "break" the wrist and to relax his arm... there's no tension here at all.



2.  Hit the serve with your wrist, not your arm
The mindset to adopt is one of hitting the ball with your wrist, not your arm. The wrist is the dominant focus when you serve.

A serve with a dominant arm will always be still and lack the power and feel you need.

3.  Release the wrist on the finish of the serve 
As a check point to ensure that your serve is relaxed throughout the serve try to finish with a soft wrist. 

Avoid squeezing the finish and tightening. Often a habit of tightening the finish or the serve creeps into the whole service motion without you realizing it.



PLEASE COMMENT OR ASK QUESTIONS ON ANY OF THE INFORMATION HERE!