Playing with G.R.I.T

Grit is a word banded around a lot at the moment and rightfully so as it's one of the key qualities required to succeed both on and off the court.  Here's my take on how to become more 'gritty'.

Are you prepared to Grovel and slum it when you have to.  There's a time simply to make balls. to hustle one more down, give your opponent one more chance to miss.  We can be so obsessed with playing pretty and perfect tennis and are not prepared to go toe-to-toe and have a good old fashioned brawl!  Adopt the value of, 'I touch it (the ball) I make it!'

Respect what your opponent brings to the court.  Play with humility.  That way you'll be prepared to put yourself fully on the line rather than duck a challenge.

Improvise.  Days when you're not firing on all cylinders are great opportunities to improvise, to go with what you've got and find a way to be competitive.

Turn your disappointments into opportunities.  In my book 'Everyball' I discuss in Chapter 3 how disappointment and suffering produce perseverance, and how that in turn develops our character and ability to withstand the intense scrutiny and pressure that tennis provides.  Remind yourself that there is always something valuable to be learned or gained from difficult times.

Go play with G.R.I.T!

10 points common to all 'the greats' - by Dan Maskell, CBE

In 1986 Dan Maskell wrote an article Tennis Champions I have known.

In it he summarised 10 points all 'the greats' have in common, especially one he knew best, Fred Perry.  Highlighted in bold are some words and phrases I think are of particular relevance to our young players today. 

Might be worth 'self-scoring' out of 10 on each point.  For example, do you seek out and thrive on high competition?  In other words, do you seek out the strongest opposition or is your tournament programme geared around maximising 'points' from every event you play?  Are you ducking the challenge of playing your own age-group simply by playing 'up' in what are often lower pressure/higher point reward events?

1.  Loved hitting tennis balls
2.  Enjoyed practicing purposefully
3.  Strove hard and long to build a sound technique - not a fancy stylish one.
4.  Had ambition to reach the top, some an all-consuming one.
5.  Sought and thrived on high competition and never flunked a challenge.
6.  Knew exactly where they wanted to go and had the nous, will and courage to get there.
7.  Showed a dedication to total fitness and willingness to train.
8.  Consciously developed a match-winning temperament and self-discipline.
9.  Had pride of performance and the ability to withstand the pressures both on and off the court.
10.  Relied on intense concentration and self-motivation to a very high degree.

Thanks to Nick Leighton our CEO at Halton for unearthing this article.

Email breach and apologies

Michael James's email account ( has been compromised.

Please ignore a post on here just deleted and any email you receive, ostensibly from Mike, about a folder called 'Contract'.

Thanks and apologies.

Hill walkers and alpinists

Nothing wrong with being a hill-walker.  Nice activity and exercise, fresh air, thermos flask and a picnic for the day.  From the hills the mountains look quite inviting - maybe a nice thing to do one day.  Most people can be hill-walkers and they are pretty normal.

Alpinists/mountaineers on the other hand aren't so normal.  They somehow look a little different.  There wear different clothes, eat different food, have a far-off, slightly crazed look in their eye.  There is a rage inside.  A rage to master.  

Coming off the mountain and meeting hill-walkers is an interesting moment for both.  I'm not sure they truly understand each other.

Can hill walkers become alpinists?  Some will, most won't and that's ok.  But in order to become an alpinist you've got to get out of the hills and closer to the mountains to really appreciate their sheer power, size and reality.

Analogy courtesy of Peter Keen having attended a workshop with him yesterday.  A highly refreshing, thoughtful time with a man who has clearly done his homework on British Tennis.  

Today is the official launch date of 'Everyball' on Amazon and other outlets

Today sees the official launch on Amazon and other outlets of my recently written book 'Everyball - Reflections, anecdotes and observations from a life in tennis aimed to tool you up for the game of life!'.

If you've read it (and hopefully like it) and get a chance to 'review' or 'like' on Amazon, I'd very much appreciate it!  If you haven't I'd equally appreciate you buying it!

Thanks so much for all the amazing support so far.

Kindest regards,


Ed Taylor rejoins the Everyball Team - welcome back Ed!

We are delighted to announce that from half-term Ed Taylor will be back with us on the Everyball Team here at Halton UK!

Here is a little summary from Ed of what he's been up to these last months (pictured below with Tim Henman)

Hello all,

I have been away for a period of time to go and chase what was my ambition to play full time tennis and compete internationally.

I remember the first session I had at Living Tennis at Bisham Abbey was a fitness session at 7 am and all the younger players who had been at full time tennis a lot longer than me were outlasting me at everything and I was knackered to say the least even after just the warm up!  This drove me to push myself more and more and within no time I had caught up and was also beginning to perform well on the court. 

Countless early mornings and late nights on court and in the gym helped build my character and resilience. I kept telling myself every morning at 5:45 that I was getting up to pursue a life goal which helped my mindset for the morning sessions and for the rest of the day. Of course somedays I would struggle to motivate myself and I would lose hope but once I stepped on court I would lose myself in the hard work.

I carried on training full time whilst supporting myself with coaching work in the evenings. I would do one fitness and one tennis session in the morning then a second fitness and tennis session in the afternoon, a total of 5 hours of training a day followed by coaching in the evenings which ranged from performance squads to private sessions and schools.

I managed to travel abroad and play a few tournaments alongside domestic competition. I was clearly improving and it was all great experience as I learned so many new skills while being away, connecting to so many new people and being able to talk and communicate with different people from different countries. 

A time has now come in my life where my goals and ambitions are changing and I 
am ready to come back home to Halton and pursue my career as a coach.  I see myself continuing to stay close to the 'playing' side of the game by being able to travel with players and use my experiences that I have gained, whilst also coaching across all ages and abilities as I simply enjoy helping others get better and seeing the joy they get from the process!  The relationships I have built and will continue to build over the next years are so valuable to me and I have already met some extraordinary people through our amazing sport!

I am very grateful to Halton for encouraging me to explore my dreams and ambitions and always supporting me and I am delighted to be able to say that I am coming back home to develop my coaching career at Halton and Everyball Tennis.

I look forward to being back at work late May and seeing you all again on court soon!

Lionel Cox and County Cup

Best of luck to all Everyball players competing over the weekend!  Fight for everyball!

Everyball is our coaching ethos at Halton UK. In Everyball author Mike James brings alive his reflections, anecdotes and observations from a life in tennis aimed to tool you up for the game of life! It's no doubt a book for the tennis coach, parent, player and enthusiast, all of which Mike is, but also for anyone interested in learning, growing and thriving in the bigger game we all have no choice but to play.Buy the book.

Embody a breakthrough today!

AJ Neuharth-Keusch writes in USA TODAY:

Earlier this week, Time magazine named (Stephen) Currry one of their 100 Most Influential People, further solidifying the notion that he's more than just a basketball player, and that his impact - both on and off the court - is far-reaching.

Full article here

What does it take to be given a spot on this list?  Time Editor Nancy Gibbs explains.  'One way or another they embody a breakthrough: they broke the rules, broke the record, broke the silence, broke the boundaries to reveal what we're capable of.  They are seekers, with a fearless willingness to be surprised by what they find.'

Embody a breakthrough today.

Break the rules.

Break the records.

Break the silence.

Break the boundaries.

Be a seeker with a fearless willingness to be surprised by what you find.