A Letter from a Kid to Tennis Parents

As a de facto coach and tennis parent I always see crazy tennis parents behave in strange matters when their kids play. Yelling, calling balls out, trying to coach , not talking to others etc.

Parents, shut up

Last Sunday, I sat next to tennis parents who made me imagine, what if the kid could speak back to them in a way that he could make his or her points? What would the kid say? So, this is what I imagined…

Mon and Dad,

I want to tell you 10 things for you to consider:

1. Do you realize that tennis is one of the most unfair sports that there is? I mean we come
to a tournament and there is only one winner out of 32 people. My chance of winning is
1 in 32. Do the math, please.

2. In tennis the higher up I go, the more the entire outcome of the match is decided in a
few points. Do you realize how nerve racking this is? Yeah I’m nervous.

3. The pressure to win does not come from you if you want me to win. It comes from my
desire to be a champion from within. And none of your yelling or anyone’s can bring that
out. What if I don’t have it?

4. It is my desire to have fun, but you guys add pressure to win and remove the fun. What
is up with that? It’s the weekend.!

5. I am a kid, not a little person, I will make hundreds of silly mistakes. Why do I have
to hear about them from you after I did what I am supposed to, make mistakes. The
score tells me I made them. I am aware, seriously.

6. Have you even been subject to this much pressure, how would you react? because
your questions and body language tells me you have not. Otherwise you would back off.

7. After I win and lose, can we just not talk about it, I just wanted to play.

8. Please understand the score in tennis. It is the only sport in which you can be winning
the majority of the points in a game and still lose it. Get it?

9. I will double fault, because we simply don’t practice it enough.

10. I love you, but please this is just a game. Not a reflection of your income, your
frustrated dreams, your poor knowledge of the sport or anything else. It is a way to have
fun. Can you look that up please. Thank you.

From now on here are the rules: if I win I pick where we eat. If I lose you do. That is all I want, and spend the weekend with you.

Thanks.

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Stunning Return to Indian Wells for Serena Williams

Serena_Williams-DFourteen years can certainly be a long time in sport, and nobody knows this better than Serena Williams, who made the brave return to Indian Wells earlier this month after her sensational exit from the tournament in 2001.

Indian Wells, which today is hosting the BNP Paribas Open, holds particularly painful memories for Serena. Back when she was just 19 years old, she was due to face off against her older sister, Venus. When Venus pulled out of the match with a tendonitis injury, Serena was met with taunts from the crowds, as well as racist remarks and claims of match fixing by her father. She vowed to boycott the event from there on.

Today however, Serena has made a brave and indeed triumphant return to the tournament. The World Number One saw off stiff competition from Timea Bacsinszky to make her way into the semi-finals of the event, and now, spectators everywhere are heading over to www.bettingsports.com to place a wager on Serena taking the title.

Top seed Serena managed to beat the Swiss 7-5, 6-3, extending her total winning streak to 15 matches. She will now play Romanian Simona Halep in the final four. Whilst some bettors may have their eye on Serena to take the title however, it seems she is just happy to have made it as far as she has, but the star also admits she can play better.

She said: “I’m just happy I was able to get through and still be alive in this tournament when I haven’t clearly been the Serena that we all know.

“The only thing is I know can I play a lot better. I really take a lot of solace in that. “Even if I don’t win this event, I know I can play a tremendous amount better than what I have been playing.”

Over on the men’s side, both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray advanced to the semi-finals recently. It was a particularly satisfying win for British side Andy Murray, who, with 497 wins, has now overtaken Tim Henman who the highest amount of career wins by a Brit in the Open Era.

With the sensational return of Serena Williams and Andy Murray’s added motivation to take the title, we could just be in for one of the most exciting BNP Paris Open finals in the event’s long history.

Tennis Talent Is Great, but the Math Says You Have to Win

I have been following one particular tennis player whom I find incredible talented, Dustin Brown. A guy who can beat a top ten player anytime and lose against a top 1000 anytime. For my kids I use this particular player as the best example of “unpredictability”. All tennis players need a good dose of unpredictability and this player has loads of it. The problem I see is that; though this superb unpredictability is an asset that even the best players don’t have, if not properly handled this same skill turns into your worst enemy.

Camila_Giorgi

The second lesson from this particular player is that; though he may be very talented, it serves very little if he does not win. On the woman’s side there is another player with this same level of talent and poor results, Camila Giorgi. When one sees Brown or Giorgi play, and compares them with someone like: David Ferrer, who is probably the best tennis player in the tour who is not a genius. One can only conclude that hard work will always beat talent. These two players are proof of that talent though important, if not used properly it is better to have less of it and win. Than to have loads of it and not.

The third lesson is you must win and use you tennis talent to actually win or the tour just becomes an uphill financial, and mental drain. I have seen him at Delray on February 15 and today is March 24th, a grand total of 38 days between tournaments. He has played, Delray, Indian Wells, Irving Challenger and the Miami Open. In all four tournaments he lost in the first round or qualifier rounds. In the past 38 days he has played a total of 5 matches and made Delray $4,800.00; Indian Wells $10,400; Irving Texas $1,300; Miami approx. $2,000.00 , the sum of $18,500.00 at first this may seem like a lot but one has to consider that the year has only 11 months, for an argument let’s say he makes this amount for 11 months. Then his pay would be $203,500.00. This may seem like a reasonable amount but, if you add: taxes, travel, insurance, strings, sparring partner, hotels etc. This amount of money is simply not enough. If you lose in the first round often, you cannot afford a coach or a physical trainer.

If you lose you have only played in 38 days 5 competitive matches compared to someone who wins who could play easily 20 matches.

So, after playing for 38 days you barely have any money and actually have very little competitive tennis. Contrasting that, with a player who wins; they have 400% more matches, easily 400% more money and can easily afford a team of everything. This is brutally hard. Add those stats to the next few months and you are starting the next month with less competitive play, less money and less of a chance to win.

So, what to do? In the brutal game of tennis, where all the riches go to the top. There is only one thing to do. WIN. So, coaches, how are you instilling the drive, discipline, dedication, mental toughness and skills to your kids so they have a winning chance in this brutal game we all love. If you are not working on this, then you are not preparing your kids for the wild world of “you eat what you catch” of tennis”.

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Training movement

training movement

Training movement isn’t only about speed and agility, it’s about teaching the athlete to anticipate and react quicker.

Believe it or not, the most important element in creating a great mover in sport is actually developed and trained between the ages of 4 and 12. And what is this great characteristic found in the best athletes you ask? Anticipation.

Ever watched a player who doesn’t visually appear to have the physique to be athletically quick, but somehow seems to get to every ball or be in the right place all the time?

Ever wondered, besides other great attributes, why Roger Federer, soccer star Christiano Ronaldo or squash wizard Ramy Ashour, are at the top of their sports?

Why is it that they seem to be in the right place at the right time?

Here’s why:
The best movers on the court, not only have great footwork and movement skills, but also have the ability to read the game and anticipate. They see the play before it happens.

Even though the required muscle and properly trained movement patterns are essential in developing a great mover, it’s the athlete’s ability to react and their reflexes that determine just how well they will move in their chosen sport.

Simply put, all movement starts with the brain telling the body that it needs to move. The neuromuscular system or ‘brain to body wiring’ as I like to call it, needs to be continually trained.

Good anticipation and response skills are essential qualities to being a good mover on a tennis court. Knowing the opponent’s next shot, the one that’s coming back, allows players to move early and into the correct position to be ready.

The key to a good mover in sport is that they react faster. They are earlier into position and ready. Reaction and anticipation exercises should be included into all movement programs, not just athletic based skills.

These skills are developed best in the ‘skill hungry’ years (between ages 4 and 12). This is when an athlete is more teachable, pliable and receptive to acquiring the skill. The later an athlete is left to acquire reaction and anticipation skills in their development, the less chance that athlete is going to be a great mover.

It’s highly recommended that a coach or trainer develops and works on these motor skills in their kids’ sessions by including lots of games that involve challenging the child’s ABC’s: Agility, Balance and Coordination skills (catching and throwing).

Even still, when I’m giving my professional athletes a movement training session, I include anticipation and reaction skills as part of their routines. Great movers in sport read it early, they see it before it happens.

Train it early, when they’re young, and remember, all great movers are great anticipators!

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Thoughts about Milos Raonic

milos-raonic.IW

It was a great day at Indian Wells for Roger Federer lovers, of which I am one. But the tennis wasn’t of the highest quality. Of course it is very hard to play well against Milos Raonic, and it’s probably necessary to win on his errors because his game is so severe. There is a lot of pressure on his opponents to capitalize on the few opportunities he provides, and even the best may falter under these circumstances. (as Rafael Nadal did yesterday in the 2nd set tiebreaker when he missed two consecutive serve returns on Raonic’s second serve, one at match point).

Moreover, there is something very scary about Milos Raonic on court. I have nothing personally against the young man, but I can’t help but think of Frankenstein as I watch his lumbering walk and totally impassive facial expressions. Once he gets a grip on an opponent he goes about the business of finishing him off with all the emotional expressiveness of a boa constrictor.

Allen Fox, earned a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA. He wrote the tennis best sellers, “If I’m the Better Player, Why Can’t I Win?” and “Think to Win,” and most recently, “Tennis: Winning the Mental Match.” Allen Fox website: http://www.allenfoxtennis.net/

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