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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NEWS: Gotta Play Tennis at the 21st Annual Blackwood Pumpkin Festival

The Gotta Play Tennis table was located in front of the food vendors. Yumm!
On a bright and Beautiful Sunday, October 14, the 21st Annual Blackwood Pumpkin Festival was held on side streets and in parking lots of downtown Blackwood in Gloucester Twp. Although it might seem a little odd to be promoting tennis in the fall, I still find that most parents are not aware of the opportunities kids have to learn this great lifetime sport all throughout the year from Gloucester Twp. Recreation and Gotta Play Tennis™. 

As someone who has worked with youth spring, summer and fall for many years on the court, I am more excited than ever to bring an alternative to the saturated sports of soccer and football where kids can easily get lost in the shuffle under the guise of "team". The reality is, from speaking to many parents, that over-coaching and team politics can sometimes get in the way of the fun, challenge and entertainment that a sport should provide. Since tennis is more about you meeting and then overcoming the limitations of your own athletic ability, there is none of the favoritism exhibited in some sports where only the best players get any significant field time. 

Don't misunderstand me. I am all for kids having the chance to experience every different type of sports activity and then navigate to the ones they enjoy the most. But what I find most disturbing are the parents who won't even consider tennis as a possibility. It's as if they do not understand that it is not only a world-class sport played all over the world, but in addition, it is one of the best cross-training sports available to athletes of all disciplines. At the Gotta Play Tennis table, parents were given a tentative spring schedule for 2013 as well as a flyer explaining the benefits of tennis to adults and kids of all ages.

As you can see, getting the word out was my mission at the festival, and it continues to be my passion as we come to the conclusion of another very successful tennis year.

Friday, October 12, 2012

FAVORITE SITES: Timeless Tennis by Gary Bala

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012
Historical Greats: Bjorn Borg–the ice man

Let's take a brief look back at one of the all-time greats, the legendary Bjorn Borg. Borg won eleven (11) Grand Slam titles read more...

Thursday, October 11, 2012


In his famous and well-known book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", Dr. Stephen Covey explains to the reader how much one can learn from actually teaching something they have learned. Although this may sound a little like a non-expert teaching another non-expert, I can personally attest to how effective this is. Case in point: I teach kids to play tennis, and therefore, I must already know how. Granted, I do know much about this game from several decades of involvement. But when working with students, and I'm talking the 10 and under variety, I must always consider how to most effectively explain what takes place between the racquet face and the ball. After hitting hundreds of thousands of bright yellow fuzzy spheres, I can honestly say that I have learned as much about striking a ball from teaching students as I have from my own personal study and experiences.

Cause and effect is a wonderful thing. By striking the ball in a certain way, I CAUSE  the ball to move forward. The EFFECT is generated by what parameters the CAUSE consisted of. In other words, did I drive through the ball or brush its back from low to high or high to low. This sounds so simple, but complexity is always simple at its underpinnings.

As I played tennis last night with my hitting partner, I thought about what I have taught others as it related to what I was doing myself. If I hit a good shot, I pictured my demonstration of a well-hit ball. If I hit a poor shot, I visualized the modeling of a poorly struck ball.  It is almost like I could draw upon my lessons–not taken, but given–as a minds-eye reference of what-to-do or not-to-do on the court.

I was fortunate enough to play very well, and our rallies definitely ended more on winners than on errors. I felt confident, as I approached each ball, that I could dictate or decide how and where the ball would move. This is a sensational feeling on the tennis court, and I almost didn't want to stop for fear of how long it would take to achieve this utopia again. But then I realized something: I get to teach more students this weekend. It will be through these experiences that I will continue to charge-up the positive forces in my game and once again be able to re-apply them. In essence, I will learn by teaching.

Stephen Covey knew how powerful this formula can be. His book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", is one of the most valuable books I have ever read in my life. Interestingly enough, I have heard his philosophies echoed over and over throughout the years by many others as they too drew inspiration from this valuable tool. If you would like to learn the seven most valuable lessons in life that you will ever learn, read the book. I cannot recommend it too highly. And if you want to learn something really well, learn it from another and then teach it to someone else as soon as you can. You may be surprised by the result.

In memory of Dr. Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012)
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

EPISODE 93 (Podcast): Why tennis adults are just big kids

When you get down to the true principles of tennis, kid or adult doesn't matter. At any age, one can learn and display the fundamentals of this game. 

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