Discussion of post Choosing a tennis racquet

I received a lot of comments on post “Choosing a tennis racquet” with Bruce Levine.

I published here some comments and hope you find them informative and interesting.

Steve Benson: “Choosing a racquet is a very personal choice regardless of the level of play. The most important thing to consider is the fact that although some racquets can help reduce or contribute to arm and shoulder problems, the bottom line is that good vs. bad technique on every stroke always will be the by far major contributor to arm and shoulder problems. Roger Federer by far has the best overall sound technique of any player I have seen during the past 40 years and he has had no injury problems from head to toe during the past +12 years of his pro career”.

Mili Veljkovic: “Agree… just grip to be about right size and all the rest is technique. Last 10 years there are no bad rackets in the production by known companies. Similar story is with strings. For high quality players – racket’s balance and racket’s composition (with string quality and string tension) makes difference and some fit them more depending on game’s “style” – but after the adjusting period for really good player that difference disappears.
P.S. With wooden racket and fishing strings I came to semis of Serbia veterans – we had the same discussion and I proved it”.

Alex Yep: “I think choosing a racquet that is more comfortable to your grip is good. But most important on your performance in my opinion is not your racquet. It is the type of strings you use, depending on the style of your play.
Don’t think you going to play like the pros when you choose the same racquet as they are using. They are the promoters of that racquet. The racquet they use is not exactly the same as the ones you buy. The racquets the top pros use are modified for the pros specifications. The racquet just looks the same as the pros”.

Julius Switlik: “A good tennis player can feel somewhere 1 gram difference in weight and very slight diffidence in tension of the strings. Ask such a veteran like Ilie Năstase.
I started playing wooden racquet about 385 gr. and 20 kg on strings. It was so long ago, I may be mistaken :)”.

Rebecca Boyce : “I teach adult women beginner beginners (ages 20’s to 60’s). I start them off on a factory Head stock racquet and then am requested to suggest a racquet that will take them from beginner forward. Demos are really not warranted since they generally haven’t a clue as to how a racquet should feel. So far I recommend the Head TiS6 which they generally seem to like and handle well”.

Alex Zotov : “If you are a Pro you just stick with the same racquet for the rest of your life unless you want to change something. Pros get their racquets repainted every time a new “trend” comes in. The best professional racquets are still from the early 2000s when Wilson and Head were in their prime. Babolat picked the trend later”.

I think that a good tennis racquet does not make you play perfect, but it can help you play to the best of your ability. A bad racquet sabotages your efforts and forces you to play under your ability level. The perfect racquet for you is one that fits your unique playing style. If you decided to change your tennis racquet, ask your coach or a tennis racquet specialist about assistance.

Interview with Mitch Bridge, owner and head tennis coach of Southern California Tennis Academy

Yesterday I talked to Mitch Bridge, owner and head tennis coach of Southern California Tennis Academy.

Q.: What is your philosophy as a man as well as a tennis coach?

A.: My philosophy as a man and a coach is to pursue your passion. Wake up each day and work at what you love and it is not really work at all. If you enjoy what you are doing, you will learn to do it well and share it with others, either by playing well and having fans enjoy watching you or training with others and helping them progress while you also progress.

Q.: You have a significant experience as an owner of tennis academies. Four years ago you moved from Colorado to California and used to work as Head Coach with Advantage Tennis Academy for three years. Why did you leave it and launched your own Southern California Tennis Academy?

A.: I have been in full-time academy ownership for 14 years. I started with Junction Tennis Academy in Colorado, where we developed many Division 1 college scholarship players. I was recruited by Advantage Tennis Academy to partner with them in 2008. After 3 years at Advantage, I decided to pursue my own program so that one development system would permeate the whole academy-one voice. In tennis you have to decide if you are going to use one technique or another, and it is very important that each player is clear on which path is best for his/her development. With one opinion at the top of a company it is easier to keep that information and development path clear for all players.

Q.: Tell me about your tennis academy. What is difference from others academies?

A.: The difference in my academy is that each player receives daily instructional semi-private lessons. This individual attention makes all the difference because the players can work on specific technique to overcome their weaknesses. It is pretty simple. Work on your weaknesses everyday to make them better so your opponents have a harder time exploiting them.

Q.:  Do you have a selection process at your academy or accept everybody?

A.: You have to be a tournament level player to attend Southern California Tennis Academy. Half of our players are ranked in the top 100 in Southern California in their divisions, and this is an incredibly strong section of the USTA.

Q.: What about your goals?  Do you want to develop Grand Slam Champion?

A.: My main goal in the next five years is to create a professional champion. I lived in Colorado for 13 years and didn’t have the talent pool, climate and tournament system to create successful touring pros, so now that I am back in Southern California, and I have a strong tennis academy, I can work on creating top level players. I will do this with players by having them succeed in Southern California first, then ITF, then ATP/WTA.

Thank you for your answers Mitch. I hope to get an interview with your tennis professional champion in five years. Good luck to you!

Special Training for Tennis Players

Today I’d like to talk about conditioning for tennis.This is an article about special training for tennis players. It is written by Diana D. Chalikov and Robert A. Walker from The Zen Tennis and Fitness Team.

The importance of cross-training and weight training for tennis players is based on maintaining balance and symmetry. There are many tennis specific exercises that increase strength in areas that will benefit your game. Without Cross-Training and Weight Training the chance of injury and setbacks are very high.

Fortunately, this can be greatly reduced by regularly training your body with light weights to build strength and muscle in any weak or sensitive areas. The reality is that tennis players are rarely at 100% health, so they must develop skills to play within what their body allows in the best way possible. Players should train themselves in such a way that will enable them to make adjustments in the future as needed. Elite level tennis can be hard on your body, so it is best to take every step available to protect, preserve, and maintain good health.

Cross-training should be done in a way that gives a person time to listen to their own body. It should not be too competitive or overly intense, but rather done in a style that is calm enough for the person to feel and sense the sensations in their body and search for small refinements in their movement and weight distribution that will satisfy the demands of any weaknesses. Biofeedback is the essential aspect of cross-training.

Heart rate monitors, attention to breathing, and breathing exercises are good additions to the process. On court play demands focus on the elements of the game and competition, so all the off court work needs to be done in advance to support and keep the focus on one place.

Personal equipment, devices, and such can be used to aid a player in their off-court training. Each player has individual needs for their body, created by their unique game and style of play. Common training products may be of benefit, but it should be considered a creative process.

Using stretch bands and warm-up tools are good habits to get into, as well as using mini-soccer balls to kick around using quick stepping and lateral movements. This helps inspect your body for any injury as well as warming up the muscles slowly before picking up a tennis racquet.

Remember that tennis is a high-intensity sport that places a lot of stress on your body. Take care by using correct form on and off the court. With dedication, hard work, and proper maintenance, your body will serve you well for a longer period of time.

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Roland Garros – The 2012 French Open

The French Open (French: Les internationaux de France de Roland-Garros or Tournoi de Roland-Garros,  named after the famous French aviator Roland Garros) is a major tennis tournament held over two weeks between late May and early June in Paris, France, at the Stade Roland Garros. It is the premier clay court tennis tournament in the world and the second of the four annual Grand Slam tournaments – the other three are the Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon. Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam held on clay and ends the spring clay court season.

Yesterday I discussed this upcoming tennis tournament with some my friends: Who will be winners, how Americans will perform on Roland Garros in Paris? I’d like to share some our thoughts about what may happen and who have chances to become heroes in France.

Serena Williams has shown in this year that she can still dominate, so we have to assume that, as usual, it is her tournament to lose. Maria Sharapova’s movement and flat strokes don’t help her on clay. Carolina Wozniacki has the game, but maybe not the guts. There are probably five-six more women with a chance to win, like Petra Kvitova, Vika Azarenko, Samantha Stosur and Agnieszka Radwanska.

In our opinion that Rafael Nadal should dominate in Paris. David Ferrer can give him a fight but he can’t beat him. It’s not the best surface for Novak  Djokovic, Roger Federer, or Andy Murray. French tennis players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gaël Monfils are very good on clay, but they are not able to win seven straight matches for two weeks marathon.

About American men players, we think that only John Isner has a chance among the Americans to be in the second week, probably he can reach a quarter final of The 2012 French Open.

Choosing a Tennis Racquet

Choosing a Tennis Racquet

We continue to discuss with Bruce Levine, Technical Adviser for Tennis Magazine and tennis.com for racquets and strings, how to choose a right tennis racquet.

Q.: There are a lot of brands on the market: Babolat, Wilson, Head, Prince and many others. All of them say that they use “unique” new technologies that make player’s game more effective and consistent. What is your opinion?

A.: Each of the brands has its own technologies but in general there are trends that these technologies perform. First it was making lighter racquets and using titanium, then it went into intelligent materials… The big trends today are that the vibrations are dampened in the frame and grip systems and that frames have intelligent materials in their make up.

Q.: Value and non-value of new technologies. How can you define them? How can an average player can understand all this tech and marketing information from producers and sellers?

A.: It depends what a player is looking for in a frame. The “game improvement” category of racquets will have visible technologies and many bells and whistles. Most of these are visible and have clear “benefits”. Big grommets are a good example. Volkl has this technology in their new Volkl Blast (as well as several other frames ). The whole for the string (the grommet) is larger and allows more string movement which increases the movement of the string on off center hits and allows the ball a better chance to get a better hit.

The more playeresque a racquet is, the less technology you will generally find moreover the less change you will find in the frame from generation to generation.

To understand technologies, I think one must read what the manufacturer writes, read our Gear section in http://www.tennis.com/  and feel free to e-mail and ask. Technologies are a tough area to understand and changes happen often in the industry; do your homework.

Q.: Recently, two former #1 women players Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki changed their racquets brands. Now Maria Sharapova plays Head (was Prince) and Caroline Wozniacki plays Yonex (was Babolat). Why?

A.: I believe that changes that are made are for two main reasons; #1 money and #2 playability. I n the case of Sharapova I believe she felt she could no longer play inure free with her Prince racquet and this looked around and found something that gave her comfort and the playing characteristics she wanted.

Understand that players’ frames are customized in many ways to make the frame play the way he/she wants; in all ways.

Q.: Your personal opinion. What is the best tennis racquet brand?

A.:  This question I cannot answer.

OK, I understand you. Thank you very much for your answers.

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