Friday, August 31, 2018

Back to School at the U.S. Open

The staff just came back from a trip to the U.S. Open. It was the hottest days of summer for sure.
Players like Michael Youzney, Kevin Anderson, Ryan Harrison, etc were visibly shaken from the extreme conditions in Queens. The humidity was off the chart.  I took frequent breaks from watching, and sat under an umbrella in the court yard, drinking soda water with ice, I couldn't imagine how those players could handle this. Fans were attended to in the stands by NYC medics. Increased breaks in the day matches were implemented. Finally the sun began to set and the the later rounds of the day session were winding up. Those players had the lucky time assignment. I couldn't help being motivated in seeing the level of play that exists when sitting a few feet away from the greatest players in the world. When you look at Djokovic you see the body of a triathlete, one who can play long grueling points, over an extended period of time, recover, and then repeat over a ten day period. The quick points do exist, when players hit a winner or make an error, but the style of play is different than it used to be. The serve and volley in singles is over. The returns are just too good to come to net. Defensive shots on baseline rallys have improved greatly with slice forehands and backhands, and buggy whips, and yes defensive lobs! Serving power is the new serve and volley.
It's a one hit wonder. When returning serve, players stand closer on the first serve, and try to block it back with a small forward motion of the racquet. The kicking serves were returned far back from the baseline with a drive or a punch slice. Breaking serve is a big deal in singles, because it gives you the chance to serve out for the set if you can hold your serve. If I had to say one thing, get a better serve, because it gets you more short points, helps you hold, and gives you more energy to attack the return games. If you have difficulty breaking serve, and have to play long serving games, then the pressure is totally on you to hold, and you can get worn down. That's why a great serve, actually saves you energy over the course of a match.

As we head back to our Fall routines, this may be a great time to work on your serve and return. I have several observations that I'll share soon. Stand by for more insights. Until then, get in shape for tennis by eating well, sleeping well, and training hard. We have some work to do.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Seven Insights For Tennis

This is a 13 insights series that helps you visualize on the court that help you navigate the
game of tennis. Many times we get stuck on the how to and lose sight of the the bigger picture of the court and the game itself. I'll edit and add to each insight over time. Here is the list:

1. Visualizing the shot before you hit the ball.
2. Tracking your shot.
3. Squaring the court, ignition launch.
4. Volley balance and priorities
5. Creating Space on the court. the ball and from your opponent.
6. Serve realities.
7. Strength's management and weakness exploitation
8. Practice disciplines
9. Conditioning routines
10. Calendar Management
11. Tennis Diet
12. Destinations
13. Your Club's Program

Visualize the shot before you strike.............

Think in terms of the flight of your shot, the shape, spin, depth, and effect after it hits the court. When you are doing this you are hitting with a purpose. Choosing your shots carefully and based upon your goals is what's most important. If you tend to think just over the net, that's what you'll tend to get. If you think of a heavy ball, with spin and depth, you are more likely to get that. You also tend to think about what your doing, instead of how to do it. When you drive a car, you don't think about every detail, about how to drive, you do it automatically, but when conditions change, you make decisions, and visualized desired outcomes. You have a goal as to where you are going, and a road visualization.
You get there.

Pro's think in terms of shapes of the ball, spin and depth. They hit with a purpose. That is how you must think as well. By knowing what to do, gives you incentive to create your shot and execute it.Here are some examples of visualization:

1. You visualize loading and jumping up into your serve and hitting flat to the corner of the service box. You visualize your opponent going out wide to make the return. Anticipating his/her responses, youve, preplanned your response, to any of those possibilities, and visualize the shot shape on that ball. That's a lot. But its there. If not conscious, it's unconscious. Your reply is natural and automatic.
You can see the spin of your shot and the depth.

to be continued....................

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

10 ways to improve your game without a court.

1. One Minute Workout
    Abs & Planks

2. Agilities

3. Jump Rope

4. Diet

5. Medicine Ball Workouts

6. Stretches

7. Strength Training
    Bands/ Weights/ Machines

8. Watch Instructional Videos
     Pros and Coaches.

9. Start a journal of your Tennis and                  practice routines and Drills.

10. Practice shot making and visualize strategies in your mind. Practice with a purpose in your mind, i.e. return cross court, cross court, short ball, approach up the line, volley, overhead. Practice with intensity.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Return of Serve

1. As server tosses ball in the air take a forward or diagonally forward leap.

2. As the server hits the ball, you get a read as to where its going.

3. If it's going right touch your left foot on the ground to create a step out with the right foot. Use the opposite footwork to move left.

4. There is a compacted backswing, with little dip below the ball, as you need more time in front of pace!

5. Then, extend out through the ball with a more guided extension, and slow smooth swing, with a full finish.

6. This type of returning gives you the best chance of hitting consistent deep returns.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tennis Etiquette


Here are some basic tennis etiquette rules to follow:

1.The server calls the score before the first serve. The receiver remembers it. Please do not say second serve or call the score again before the second serve. It's annoying. No one's memory is that short. Also give the receiver a moment to get ready. Rushing play is rude. By the same token, stalling is just as bad.

2.  Don't over-rule your partner in doubles on a call unless you're damn sure an error has been made. This creates communication problems with your partner and you become part of your opponent's resource for questioning your team's calls. The player closest to the ball makes the call. Distant calls don't go well, nor should they!

3. Never take a point you don't deserve (your opponent called your clearly out ball good). It's cheating if you know for sure that you hit a ball that landed out. Serves are an exception to this rule because you don't want to dictate the flow of play calling on your opponent's side of the court. The primary purpose of the rules is to make accurate calls, not winning points.

4.. Call the close ones good if you're not 100% sure they're out. Your opponent gets the benefit of doubt. IT is a lady's and gentlemen's game!

5. When you hit a ball to your opponents in doubles avoid "hinders" by allowing them to hit without:
yelling commands to your partner, hitting your racquet against the ground (beating it like a tom   tom), scuffing your feet (creating a squeaking noise of hideous proportion), dropping your racquet, and pretending their ball to be out by body language and then casually returning it.

6. When going out to your court avoid doing so when people are playing a point or about to start a point. Wait till their point, better game, is over. Ask to pass after a point is better than moving across like cattle in an art gallery. And then thank them for granting you access to your court. This way they can hold off till you pass. Heading out to your court before the bell is rung is a no no, unless you've asked permission from the desk. Never cross anyone else's court to get to your court. Don't bang the curtains and have conversations when others are on the courts. Never walk on someone else's court, lessons included, while that court is reserved.
It's tremendously rude.

7. Talk quietly between odd games if you must. That is when you may take a quick drink. No one wants to be disturbed when playing their game of tennis. Be considerate. Loud talking and noises are very disturbing to all the courts. Yelling at children taking lessons is never a good idea. If you have a problem, quietly discuss it with the pro. He or she will gladly provide a better environment. The same is true if you have a problem with another court, politely ask them to keep the chatter down, and thank them, and that you are glad they are having fun.

8. Applaud your opponent's great shots rather than blame your miss on faulty technique or equipment, injury, eye's, and any other excuse. No need to say nice shot if you make a bad error.

9. Start a match with new balls if you can. In tournament play the winners keep a new can of balls. Allow yourself at least ten minutes to go through a proper warm-up with groundstrokes, volleys, overheads, and serves. Always bring a new can in your bag, in case you lose a ball, a can is flat, or everyone forgets a can.

10.  Regarding breaks: you get about 20 seconds to get a point going, you get 90 seconds on the odd games, you get two minutes between sets. Rushing play or delaying play is not appreciated or fun. A three minute bathroom break is permitted once on a change over or at the end of a set. That would then take care of the injury time-out if you need it. When indoors, and court time is finite, keep the play moving a little faster, because it's doubles, and you don't have all day.

11.. Shake hands first with your partner and then with your opponents at the end of a doubles match.
      Say something positive regardless of the outcome. Again, don't make excuses. Use anti bacterial gel on
      your hands. Cold and Flu isn't fun.

12. Switch sides with your partner on the odd games. That's a great time to communicate positively.

13. Bring an extra racquet in case you break a string. It keeps play flowing and you don't have to go on a racquet hunt.

14. Get to the club 15 to 20 minutes early and take care of money and reservations before you play. After you're done playing it's nice to socialize a bit before you leave. Avoid running out the door like you've robbed a bank after a loss. There's a good way to enter and leave!

15. Never use the lobby area as a forum for complaining: the courts aren't bright enough, the water is not cold enough, those people bothered me, my partner played terrible, that wasn't good tennis, he or she played poorly, my strings are bad. and those line calls!,

16. If you lose track of the score try to remember the points as they happened with the other player(s).
If neither player is willing to concede a score or play deuce, if you cant agree, flip a coin to see who's score shall be played.

18. Do not reach over the net to hit a ball unless it has already bounced on your side of the court. If you don't wait then you lose the point. If you touch the net at any time a point is in play, you lose the point. You have to call it on yourself!  You have to call reaches over the net on yourself and touches (if a ball nicks you).

19. Do not demean your opponent by celebrating point victories in an offensive manner. Especially if your opponent has made an unforced error and then has to watch you make a fool of yourself. Quality of play is more important! Celebrating a good point no matter who winds it, is what we strive for. No one wants to win easy points. There's no challenge there, no excellence. 

20. Avoid a "circus atmosphere" (laughing loudly, making a comment after every shot, etc..,etc..,etc.) on your court which disturbs all the other courts. Everyone likes a circus but you don't have a tent over your head so be quiet. Thought Id say this one again!

21. When someone is hurt. Try to help them. Give them time to recover. Wouldn't you want that treatment if you were hurt?

22. Do not bring little children and adults as spectators on the court who can't defend themselves against a miss-hit during a match tend to be distracting.

23. Don't use the net as a coat rack. Anything on the net becomes part of the net once play has started.

24. If you disagree on a call with your partner the ball on a call, the ball is always good!

25. Don't wear yellow clothing on a tennis court. It's hideous and screens the ball. Worse, is to wear a Kelly green shirt with yellow tennis balls on it. Keep some sense of respect for the game.

26. Never swear. It's a Lady's  and Gentleman's game.

27. Wear tennis shoes. Do not mark the courts with running shoes or hurt yourself
with weak lateral support. If your shoes leave black marks stop playing and get the right kind of shoes.

28. There is no such thing as good or bad players. There are different levels of the game.
You should be willing to play up or down (within reason) or at level. That's the way it is.
Of course you want to challenge yourself as much as possible.

29. Never try to over direct a partner on the court. Games aren't fun when your being told what to do all the time. That doesn't mean you can't work together as a team and discuss positioning
or strategy. Just try to fit as best as you can with whom you are playing. That way you'll be a better team. Avoid trying to make your partner your dream of perfection.

30. White is the traditional clothing color of tennis which started in England. It is still the primary
color to wear. You can't go wrong wearing white. Remember to wear what a lady or gentleman would wear. It's nice to respect the game.

31. Avoid wearing strong scents on the court. They give people headaches and are distracting.

32. Never use your cell phone on the court unless there is an emergency. Put it on vibrate or turn it off.

33. Never equate your value with winning or losing. The game stands alone.

34. Look for quality of play rather than results.

35. Stow your water bottle in your bag when playing. Open stuff gets knocked over. 

36. Never take another first serve if there was but a brief interruption on the court.

37. If a ball comes in play from another court only call a let if it interferes with safety on the court.
It is not sporting to call a let behind a player hitting an easy smash so you won't lose the point.

38. Never hit a kill shot point blank at a player. That is not sporting. Especially if they have conceded the point with body language (they have turned their back to you). If you hit players repeatedly, you have to fix that. No one is out here for a pay check. We are trying to have fun together! Would you want someone to hit a ball at you? If you've noticed, pros never hit each other, unless its during a quick reflex volley exchange. Never on a overhead! That's the worst!

39. If you are levels above others it is nice to keep some balls in play so that you both have some fun. Don't keep drilling the weakest player. Hit the ball so you get some practice out there, perhaps work on a new shot or strategy. That is not the time to showcase your abilities and put winning ahead of quality of play. Winning sometimes has to be redefined! 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Singles Approach Shot

When do you come to the net in singles? I've seen professional matches with little net action.
In today's game there are times where you have to go in. Here are some tips for the club player.

1. Defensive Approach:your opponent is scrambling for a corner shot or retreating. Sensing their defensive position, you capitalize, charge the net and finish the point, taking the ball above the net.

2. Short Ball Approach: you decide to rush the net based upon your forward movement into the court, and the depth of the ball. Its best to hit the ball that most challenges your opponent, be it down the middle to reduce angles of pass, to the weaker side, or up the line. typically it is difficult to cover cross court approaches, due to the speed and accuracy of passing shots. Even down the line can be tough, if you opponent possesses a great cross court angle, with spin. A fast opponent with control can be a sticky wicket for sure.

3. Serve and Volley Approach: If you can move your serve around, with pace and spins, it can force weaker returns, that can be volleyed, above the net preferably. This quick pressure can force the opponent to make unforced errors, and destroy their rally timing. You don't see it much these days, but I believe there's still a market for it. You have to make sure you practice this style as you would your forehand and backhand. The more you do it, the better you get.

4. Return and Volley Approach: This is can be extremely effective, just as the serve and volley. You take the ball inside the baseline and charge the net. Some players use the "chip and charge," hitting a slice or backspin approach. A drive approach can also be used. The problem is that once you've decided to do it, you are committed, and there's no turning back. It's a difficult play against a hard server as there is little time to measure your shot.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Creative Tennis Workouts

Off Court Tennis Conditioning

Have you ever been playing a point and said--I could of got that shot if I were down just a little lower, if i stayed with the shot a little longer, if I had just a little more breath, if I had a little more spin, if I had a little better timing, if I were a little less nervous, if I was a little stronger, etc. I constantly search for ways to win when I compete. Training has never been a favorite ritual for me. I'm talking about the off court stuff. This summer I've tried something new.........I call it self training. What is that Kev?

It starts with a realistic evaluation of your own strengths and weakness in all areas of your game. For example: your ground strokes, volleys, overheads, serve, speed, endurance, etc. Then decide to improve your weapon a little and reduce your biggest weakness.....even if just a design your own program.

I know I need work on fitness, and i don't like gyms so I decide to "Rocky" it.
My son was cutting down a birch that was too close to the house and he fashioned a neat long slightly heavy bat club out of it. I take this thing a swing it.....kind of fun, a cross between "Walking Tall" and "Cast-Away." I dribble a soccer ball while holding this thing....bat stones with it.....and swing two handed shots with curls...presses.............shrugs...My dog, Cassi has her head tilted to the side as she watches me do this routine........I then ride my bike with her by my side..........come back to the a few push-ups............a few hundred jump ropes........... and then grab a baseball bat and practice serve and volley movements, with over-heads....then a few knees bends with a medicine ball...which I then explode up and throw up in the air........I would have used a small boulder if there was one around. A couple of quick sprints with the dog and I'm finished............This was all after a 45 minute hitting session which I will share with you soon.

There it is. This to me was a terrific conditioner for tennis....It addresses my weaknesses and my strengths......serve and volley movements.......I did something.
In the fall maybe I'll swing the rake like a big long racquet.....I don't know yet.
I admit that I do have a basic understanding regarding cardio, strength, flexibility,
speed, and of course--tennis. So if you do something like this make sure you keep good core posture, form and breathing. Don't try to lift a car just yet......but do have a little fun......Why can't conditioning be fun? Put on the Rocky theme, you'll be on top of the world.

Your pro in the trenches,