Showing posts with label tennis drills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tennis drills. Show all posts

Thursday, September 26, 2019

COMMON COACHING PHRASES I USE ON-COURT




An important coaching tool I use every day is the repetitive use of phrases. These common phrases help the student and I stay on the “same page”. They can also be used to set the tone of the lesson in terms of intensity.


Here are some common phrases I use and the meaning behind them


 “COACH YOURSELF”!
Every lesson has a purpose and often that purpose is introducing new techniques or patterns to the player. Once the new technique or pattern has been explained I’ll most likely go straight to live points and challenge the player to reproduce the lesson topic while under pressure.

To do this successfully the player needs to recall the key parts of the new technique or pattern and what I tend to do often is gently nudge the player with “Coach Yourself”! I’m asking for self-awareness, self-discipline and I higher degree of focus from the player when I say this. 


 “YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT”!
Rather than being a negative statement I use this phrase to demonstrate to the student that I believe in them and I believe in their ability.    

I’m telling them that I expect better and they should too!


“YOU’RE NOT HERE TO PRACTICE”!
This will sound strange I know! What I am trying to do with this statement is to get the message to the player that winning is important, even during our “practice sessions”. 

I don’t see any point in treating points during practice or tournaments differently.  Points are to be won… otherwise why play them?

Often the players I’m repeating this phrase to during practice sessions are having trouble competing in tournaments mentally. I’m attempting to change their mindset from “I’m practicing to improve” (Future) to “Points are to be won, not practiced” (Present).


 “HOW DOES THAT FEEL”?
I’m constantly asking players how they feel in practice because I desperately need their feedback on new techniques or patterns they are trying to adopt.

From their feedback I am able to either help them immediately with a solution, or stand back and let them continue to develop further at their own pace. 

I gain understanding from their answer. 


“DEMONSTRATE TO OTHERS WATCHING”
Often a player learning a new technique does so better when they are asked to observe themselves from “outside”, as a bystander would. This “observer” mindset helps them overcome their lack of confidence in performing the new technique correctly.

If they are applicable to the particular lesson I’m doing, I’m repeating these phrases often. I’d rather repeat the same thing often than talk non-stop on a variety of themes. That’s confusing for students. 

Be careful to always keep the scope of your on-court verbal instruction to a minimum if possible. The student has to focus on many things when they practice and therefore if your instructions are too frequent, they have no opportunity to self-learn.




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”

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, 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! 


Friday, February 22, 2019

4 STEPS IN UNDERSTANDING & MASTERING CONTACT: "The Three Parts of a Swing"




THERE ARE 3 PARTS OF A SWING and each part has its own unique function.

The 3 parts are (1) The Backswing (2) The Contact and (3) The Follow Through. Here is a break down on each of these 3 parts of the swing.

THE BACKSWING: The purpose of your backswing is to supply power to your stroke. The bigger the backswing the more power you can generate.

A return of serve for example doesn't require much backswing generally because the power you need is mostly coming from the serve you are trying to return.

Strokes where you commonly  want to generate more power than normal, are mid-court forehand and shoulder height groundstrokes. It's common to see players taken big backswings on these two options because they want to generate extra power.

THE FOLLOW THROUGH: The Follow Through is the release of energy from the stroke you just completed.

The size of your follow through should be directly related to the amount of backswing you created to hit the ball - no more, no less... they are related to each other, backswing creates power and follow through releases that power.

Follow through also has another very important function to perform. It creates spin.

The higher your hand finishes after contact, the more topspin you can achieve.

If your hand finishes low after contact (chin height), there will be less spin on the ball. If your hand finishes above your head after contact, there will be a lot of topspin.

This demonstration of a running forehand shows the 3 parts of a swing working together to achieve a desired shot...


(1) Because the ball is fast and deep the depth of the backswing is less because his opponent has created all the energy required for the shot. 


(2) The player has positioned the racquet face at the correct angle to send the ball over the net at the desired net clearance. 


(3) The finish is extreme because all that remains for the player to do is create arc and "tail" at the other side of the net to keep the ball inside the baseline.

THE CONTACT: Of the 3 parts of a swing, Contact has perhaps the most important role to play. Contacts' job is to get the ball over the net and in the direction you want.

The racquet face position at the moment of contact will determine where the ball goes. The ball goes solely where the racquet face tells it to go.

In Summary:

1.  The 3 parts of the swing described here all have different functions. Very often players' try to vary these roles. The most common instance of this is when players try to spin the contact in the belief this will give them elevation over the net.  Net clearance is the job of Contact, not spin.

2.  Every stroke is different. Players need to learn when to adjust the amount of backswing, Follow Through or Contact depending on their needs in the point..

This is the third part of 4 STEPS IN UNDERSTANDING & MASTERING CONTACT.  By understanding the clearly defined roles of Back Swing, Follow Through and Contact you will gain greater mastery over your groundstrokes in terms of feel, versatility and adaptability.



Please feel free to comment below to begin a discussion on this post.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

4 STEPS IN UNDERSTANDING & MASTERING CONTACT: "Late & Early"





Lesson 1: LATE & EARLY CONTACT...

When you hit a ball with late or early contact, that can be a positive thing or a negative thing, you either did it on purpose or by mistake, 

Let's look at late and early contact in the positive sense first...


To master the tennis rally you need to be able to direct the ball both down the line and cross court at will. This is where the ability to hit late and early on purpose is crucial.


If you contact the ball early within the contact zone the ball will go cross court.  





If you contact the ball late within the contact zone the ball will travel down the line or inside out ( depending on how late you hit the ball)



This is the positive aspect of late and early contact.

However, most players think of late and early contact in the negative sense. This is when they struggle with timing the ball in the right spot within their contact zone.

Here are some reasons you may be hitting the ball late unintentionally:


  1. Your arms dominate your swing
All swings should start in the ground, it supplies the timing and power for your stroke. If you are not injecting "Ground" into your stroke as you start the swing then you are asking your arms to generate timing and power, neither of which the arms are able to do as well as the legs when interacting with ground.

  1. You don't begin your swing from the ground first
Sometimes you might be under pressure to set up "Ground" because the ball is either too deep or too fast for you ( or too deep AND too fast at the same time) to prepare.

This will lead to timing problems and invariably late contact.
  1. Your swing is manufactured and not practical
Another common reason for late or early contact mistakes is a players' fixation with producing "copy book" form.

Most early stages of tennis coaching involves showing the new student where to take their backswing and where to finish their follow through

The problem with this type of coaching is that it does not take into account the ball!

These players then continue trying to produce the "perfect" backswing and follow through on all balls, rather than "reading" each ball and adapting to the situation. 

In summary, 

1. Train yourself to be able to change the direction of the ball by adjusting the contact point.

2. Also, be adaptable to each and every ball by adjusting your backswing and follow through according to the properties of the ball you are hitting.

By working this first of 4 Steps in Mastering & Understanding Contact you will gain greater control and feel for this important fundamental.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

VETERANS DOUBLES: 7 TIPS TO BOOST YOUR GAME


It's a thrill for me to coach veteran players. Veteran players are all so open  and receptive to the lesson. Perfect students!

Because tennis singles is such a physical game, doubles is the most popular form of tennis for veteran players. 

Here are 7 doubles tips for veteran players that will help boost your game immediately.

1.   Serve Wide
When you start the point serving wide you are positioning your opponent off-court from the first ball.  The Returner now has 3 options, a more difficult cross-court return, a risky attempt at a down-the-line passing shot or a lob. 

All 3 of these options put you the server at an advantage!

2.   Keep the Ball Low
This will help in two important ways… it limits your opponents' ability to attack the ball and will also provide you with many more opportunities to attack the resulting high balls (high volleys & overheads)

3.   Get Fitter
One of the biggest factors in Veterans Tennis is the physical limitations that come with age. Speed, strength, endurance and recovery time are all factors that affect your performance. 
Commit to getting in better shape.

4.   Dominate Cross-court
The team that dominate the cross-court contest will dominate the match. Dominating the cross-court exchange forces your opponents to change direction down the line or to lob, both play into your hands!

5.   Make Your Opponents Lift the Ball
Look for ways to force your opponents to lift the ball. Think "one-two punch" by either keeping the ball low or hitting to your opponents’ feet. Both these tactics will force your opponents to lift the ball. 
Any ball that you can contact high puts you in an attacking position .

6.   Focus on the Serve and Return
The two most important shots in doubles are the serve and the return. In both cases, if you serve or return well, you will be giving yourself an excellent chance to win the point. When serving, focus on getting a high percentage of first serves in play.
When returning, focus on consistency, getting lots of balls back into play. consistent returning puts pressure on the serving team.

7.   Keep Their Feet Deep
If you are playing a very strong team, or any team for that matter, its important to keep their feet deep in the court when they hit the ball. If your opponents are hitting their shots while standing inside the baseline, chances are that they are dominating the match. 

Keep their feet deep and make them play their shots from behind the baseline.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

SHOT SELECTION MADE EASY

CORRECT SHOT SELECTION GIVES YOUR GAME COHESION AND MEANING

At any given time during a point you are in one of three conditions, Defense, Neutral or Offense. You need to clearly define which condition you are in to compete successfully.

If you attack the point at the wrong time, or have an opportunity to attack but fail to take that opportunity, it doesn’t matter how well you stroke the ball your overall game will lack cohesion and meaning.

So how do we define when we are in a Defensive situation, a Neutral situation or an Offensive situation?  What exactly are the factors which put you in a defensive mode? When are you able to attack the point with a high degree of confidence that you will be successful? How do you know that you are in a Neutral situation during the point?

Whether you are in Defense, Neutral or Offense depends on two criteria and you must constantly be aware of these criteria as you play.  Those criteria are:


1.   THE POSITION OF YOUR FEET WHEN YOU CONTACT THE BALL
If your feet are behind the baseline when you contact the ball, you are on Defense. If your feet are inside the baseline when you contact the ball you are on Offense.


2. THE HEIGHT OF CONTACT IN RELATION TO THE WHITE BAND OF THE NET
If you contact the ball above the height of the white band of the net, you are on Offense. If you contact  the ball below this white band you are in Defense.


NEUTRAL
If your feet are inside the baseline (Offense) but the height of the ball is below the white band (Defense) you are in the neutral condition such as when you are approaching the net and have to hit a low mid-court ball, or when you are playing a low volley at net.

If your feet are behind the baseline (Defense) but the ball is above the white band of the net (Offense), you are in a Neutral condition also. An example would be when your opponent loops a high ball during the rally.

This is called the DNO Theory (Defense, Neutral, and Offense).

Many players fail to clearly define their role with each shot during the point. This leads to poor shot selection and ultimately unforced errors. Learn to constantly access which condition you are in for each shot, Defense, Neutral or Offense, and respond  correctly to each condition.