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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Episode 76 (Podcast): Sometimes Bad is Good

Have a bad day on the court? That might be the best thing for your game. Tactical mistakes, errors in judgement, and poor technique can be used to your advantage as long as you insist on seeing the glass half full.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FAVORITE SITES: Timeless Tennis by Gary Bala

Monday, August 29, 2011
The Perennial Philosophy of Mental Tennis

The Perennial Philosophy (Latin: philosophia perennis "eternal philosophy") refers to universal insights and truths common to all the world's major philosophies and religions. 
The idea of Perennial Philosophy originated in…read more

Saturday, August 27, 2011

REFLECTIONS: Coaches and Instructors are perhaps siblings but not twins

An instructor is defined as someone who teaches another. A coach is also someone involved in the training of an individual or team. Looking only on the surface of the definition, both appear to be about the same. But when we look at the synonyms, we get a better handle on what I perceive to be the difference. Synonyms, just as a middle school refresher, are alternate words that mean roughly the same as the original. Thin, for example, can be a synonym for skinny.

So what about Coach? One of the prevalent synonyms for this word is Mentor. But when we look for an alternate to instructor, we get words more like Tutor or Schoolmaster. A Mentor is one who advises or inspires, while a Tutor is someone who educates. 

As the school year begins and girls tennis teams begin their season, I think it is wise to differentiate between the two and consider the role and value of each. As an instructor myself, and a certified school teacher as well, my role is to work with a tennis players on the nuts and bolts of stroke production, strategy & tactics, and court movement. A coach's role however is to focus more on teamwork, belief, encouragement, and support. Most of what I have seen in high school tennis coaches does fulfill this role. But there is a huge gap, resulting in the lack of producing more solid players, that exists in the overall landscape of a tennis season. 

This gap can be filled by certified tennis instructors, either in semi-private or private lessons, and this can make all the difference in both enjoyment on the court and wins on the scoreboard. Coaches and instructors together make for an awesome one-two punch that can knock out competitors and result in a successful season. It is simply very important that each knows the role they play. They need to support one another in their efforts so that kids will have a positive experience in this game they can play well beyond their high school years.

Remember: mindlessly hitting more tennis balls in drills during practice, or running laps and suicides for endurance, does not make a better team. These high school players need to be given a conceptual framework and specific goals if they are to achieve success. If this cannot be provided by a teacher who coaches after school, simply because he or she does not have the knowledge of a certified tennis instructor, then they should seek out opportunities for their athletes to get the training they need. Be realistic coaches! Everyone has their role to play and we each need to be proactive in our efforts if these students are to achieve their very best.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

NEW CONTENT OF NOTE: Gotta Play Tennis now on Stitcher Internet Radio

Our show is now on Stitcher!
Listen to Gotta Play Tennis on your
iPhone, Android Phone,BlackBerry and WebOS phones.  

Stitcher is Smart Radio for Your phone. 
Find it in your app store or at stitcher.com

Monday, August 22, 2011

Health is becoming a big issue in today's grueling game of tennis

Professional tennis is spectacular to watch. It requires an iron will, commitments to diet, fitness, unending practice, and it is a constant test of one's emotional, physical, and mental health. Travel all around the world is necessary to be a serious competitor, and the season is grueling with one tournament following the other each and every week. Now perhaps for those lesser players who fall in the early rounds, the toll may not be as draining. But for those constantly in the thick of the Quarters, Semis or Finals, week after week, month after month, the tank is bound to get depleted and the incredible machine we call the body always has the potential to break down as a  result of the constant pounding, stretching, twisting, turning, and running put upon its muscles, bones and cartilage. 

And just how bad has the pro tour gotten with its brutal schedule and overdrive power game that measures shots in miles-per-hour close to 100 and reaction time in split seconds? All we need do is take a look at recent results just in July–August of 2011. In the Rogers Cup tournament played in Montreal, Canada, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired from his semifinal match with Novak Djokovic because of an apparent right arm injury. Mardy Fish, losing to Ernest Gulbis at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles, dropped out of the next tournament, the Washington Classic, citing a heal injury. And Tomas Berdych quit with a shoulder injury after losing the first set of his semi-final against Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati Open. Novak then went on to retire in the final against Andy Murray  with a sore shoulder issue in the second set. All told, there have been about 500 recorded injuries on the men's tour as of August of 2011. 

These are only the obvious results that affect the playing or completion of a match. When we take into account the burnout and exhaustion seen in the eyes of these players, the game played on the tennis court today creates a very thin line between realistic and unrealistic expectations of players on the ATP tour.

What is driving this madness? Players can, to a certain extent, say "No" to a few tournaments and choose rest instead. But maybe it isn't about fame, titles, or even money. Perhaps it is about fear. Famous jazz legend Louis Armstrong once said that he feared not practicing every single day because there was always someone out there looking to "cut" him or take his place at the top. Are the players so fearful that walking away, even to rest, will make them too stale to compete at their best? Only they know for certain. What we know, the casual and not-so-casual observers, is that injuries and lackluster play continue to pile up. Let's hope we have enough top players healthy enough to compete in this years 2011 U.S. Open.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Episode 75 (Podcast): Racquet face "in the hood"

When a racquet meets a ball, things happen. But what really counts is the orientation of that face upon contact. In this podcast I address how different swings and even grips may lead to the same path "in the hood."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FAVORITE SITES: Timeless Tennis by Gary Bala

Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2011
Book Review - "Tennis: Winning the Mental Match", by Allen Fox, Ph.D.

"Tennis is more difficult mentally than most other sports. Because of its one on one personal nature, it feels more important than it is. Competitive matches can be highly stressful, and losing can be very painful."
-From Tennis: Winning the Mental Match, by Allen Fox, Ph.D.

Friday, August 5, 2011

NEW CONTENT OF NOTE: How to get 10andundertennis stuff

One-stop shopping link for purchasing your very own 10 and Under Tennis equipment that utilizes the QuickStart format of smaller nets, racquets, softer tennis balls and other accessories.