Doubles Mondays launched this week in our Aspire to Excel programme

In preparation for the summer season where doubles really kicks in, whether it's club, county, or in tournament play, we launched Doubles Mondays in the Aspire to Excel Academy programme this week.

Both Jemima King and myself were recently involved in a 2-day course with world doubles guru Louis Cayer (coach to Jamie Murray) on the British Doubles system that has generated a huge amount of success over the last few years and we are bringing this learning back to the programme every Monday night.

The importance of doubles:
  • Doubles makes up 25% of singles ranking on the ITF tour, but also influences singles rankings at junior domestic level
  • Being successful in doubles keeps you in tournament play longer
  • Doubles often decides the tie, whether Fed Cup/Davis Cup, County, Club or University tennis (both US and GB)
  • At pro level the money is increasing - a viable option to singles
  • Its a destination we all share - majority of competitive tennis in adult life is doubles
  • Social aspect - it's fun playing as a team and with friends
  • Skill development - confidence and competence in net-play especially increases as only 1/2 court to cover.  Development of lobs, passing shots, reactions
  • Nice variation from singles

As an overview the British Doubles system is about making players lose because they:

  1. Attempt low % shots due to our positioning
  2. Feel pressured through our movement
  3. Feel uncertain because of our variation

This week we are looking at 'When serving and staying back'.  Currently on the WTA tour 10% of players serve and volley in doubles and 66% of men serve and volley, so you if you serve and stay back, you are playing proper doubles!! Don't be made to feel inferior!

Key points:

  • Serving position that gives you access to both wide and T serves
  • Repositioning after serving based on servers territory to cover and use of the forehand on ball 3
  • Engaging the cross-court battle (breaking doubles sideline)
  • 3/10 times go down-line to create uncertainty

Keeping their dreams alive! (KTDA)

Fun times and smiles had by all at our KTDA (Keeping their dreams alive!) session with members and performance players fun doubles afternoon at HaltonUK on Saturday.

At least 50+ club members invest a monthly sum into a fund that we use to support our Everyball performance players, effectively keeping their dreams alive, whether that's competing on the lawns of SW19, going to the U.S to play college tennis, or simply performing as well as possible at their next event! Thanks members for your support and for Izzy Marshall, Beth Grey, Oliver McCay-Brown, Erika Dodridge and coach Ed Taylor for playing!

Pictured below are Izzy Marshall and Beth Grey having just trounced Mike James and Rob Pain!! 

For further involvement in KTDA and how to contribute, please contact Mike James on

Soon to come, our PRO AM with our club members and performance players - watch this space!

The glory has got be in 'getting there'

Yep, the old cliche is true: 'you find when you arrive that the journey was the prize.'

It's happened to me and I'm sure its happened to you.  There's a thrill when you achieve the goal, win the tournament, get into the top 10, win promotion.  But that thrill, that moment, is fleeting and then you realise that the real joy, the real glory was in the journey to get there.

So revel in the 'glory' of today.  It may be just another practice, another meeting, another email, phone call.  But when you get there, wherever there is for you, it's days like today that got you there.

Responsibility keeps you in the 'cause' side of life

Staying in the 'cause' side of life is an incredibly powerful mental tool.  Both on and off the sports field.

It promotes autonomy, the idea that you and you alone are the captain of your ship.  Slipping into 'effect' means leaving yourself open to be blown around by the vagaries of life and it's easy to slip into 'victim' behaviours and attitudes.

That why we hold 'responsibility' up as such a key life-skill at everyball, and one we can continue to develop through our unique sport, it's scoring system and structures.

Take these two statements;

'I lost the match because my opponent hooked me (cheated) on a line call at that key moment in the third set'

'I lost my concentration when I thought my opponent made a mistake on a call in that key moment in the third set.'

Practice staying in 'cause' today - there will be plenty of opportunities I can promise.

The push-you, pull-me battle.....

The push-you, pull-me battle.  

As parents, how much do we push/nudge/shove our children toward sporting involvement and achievement.  Can this be measured against how much the child pulls the parents towards what they want to be involved in and the goals they want to pursue?

I was once told by a very wise man, 'pay attention to what your kids are passionate about'.

Ok, but this begs a few questions among many others I'm sure:

Does passion come as some lightning bolt out of the blue, or is a parental push towards things part of the 'developing passion' equation?

Is there some sort of sequential order that moves a child from interest to passion?

Is the mark of true passion an intrinsic motivation that is demonstrated by what an athlete is prepared to do alone in pursuit of developing their skills - an excellence happens when no-one is watching phenomenon?

A very happy New Year! Nine Promises to Yourself for 2018!

Here's wishing all friends of 'Everyball' a very happy New Year and all the best for 2018!

Here are John Wooden's (Former Head Coach of UCLA Basketball winning 10 NCAA Championships in a 12-year period) nine promises to yourself as we think about the year ahead.  Imagine your family, workplace, club, team and organisational culture if we lived this out consistently through the coming year...

1.  Promise yourself that you will talk health, happiness and prosperity as often as possible

2.  Promise yourself to make all your friends know there is something in them special and you value

3.  Promise to think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best in yourself and others

4.  Promise to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own

5.  Promise to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind

6.  Promise to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements in the future

7.  Promise to wear a cheerful appearance at all times and give every person you meet a smile

8.  Promise to give so much to improving yourself that you have no time to criticise others

9.  Promise to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit trouble to press on you

Enjoy your celebrations tonight and look forward to working with you all in 2018.


Everyballers Oakley, Good and Groom all progress into 1/4 finals of G2 Winter National Tour (Bolton & Notts)

Super job by Everyball players Joshua Oakley, Joel Good and Miles Groom as they progress into the quarter-finals later today of their respective G2 Winter National Tour Events (Josh 12&U in Bolton and Joel and Miles 14&U in Notts) after strong second round performances this morning.

Their quarter-final match-ups this afternoon are as follows:

Joel Good (6) v Toby Bloomfield

Miles Groom (7) v Lui Maxted (4)

Joshua Oakley (7) v Jethro Dela Vega (1)

All the best boys and keep up the great work!!

(Video: Miles in action yesterday in his first round win)

Being a great player does not automatically qualify you to become a great coach

There is a dominant consciousness within my sport, that being a great player automatically means you're going to be a great coach.  This is often twinned with the more general perception that coaching is easy.  If you can swing a racket this qualifies you to teach how to swing a racket. I believe we need to stand up for our profession, and this is one of the key motivators behind my role as an LTA Coach Education Tutor in which I co-tutor the Level 4 Senior Performance Coach Award.  The opportunity to help shape our workforce in this country is one I value greatly as I believe our profession should be seen as an occupation that requires prolonged training, experience and a formal qualification to even begin to be called an expert coach.

What follows are some excerpts from an excellent piece in The Times today by Matthew Syed on Ryan Giggs thinking he is too good to start at the bottom of the managerial ladder.  

'The problem is not limited to football, of course.  There is a pervasive delusion that if you performed at a high level, you can teach or manage at that level, too....The putative link from possessing a skill to being able to teach it is too engrained.  Let us call this the 'great player, great coach' fallacy.

'The truth, however, is that world class players face specific barriers when it comes to coaching.  Take Giggs, whose ability to pass and dribble is second nature.  Thousands of hours of practice mean that he does not need to think, he can simply do.  This is what psychologists call 'expert-induced amnesia'.  It is why Roger Federer struggles to explain how he can hit such beautiful forehands and why chess grandmasters struggle to explain their match-winning situations.

To teach, then, requires the expert to step beyond his own competence.  It requires him to put himself in the shoes of his student, breaking down the skill into learnable parts.  This takes empathy, imagination, insight and other qualities we might bracket under the term 'teaching craft'.  This is not to say that being a top player is wholly negative.  There are many unique insights that experts possess.  It is merely to say that these are insufficient, on their own, to become a great coach.

Syed expands:

'When John Hattie, a leading researcher, analysed educational performance around the world, he discovered that class size is not as significant as parents tend to think.  Neither is streaming by ability or school uniform.  Indeed, he found that only one factor made a major difference: teacher quality.  

...Academics found something else, too.  Great teachers have a number of attributes, such as deep subject knowledge and emotional intelligence, but one is more important than any other: they are voracious students.  They do not fall for what Elizabeth Green, author of 'Building a better teacher', calls the 'myth of the natural-born teacher.'  Instead, they are always looking to extend their knowledge of pedagogy, improve their skills, and develop fresh insights.

This tallies with my experience of great sports coaches, too.  I have often bumped into Eddie Jones, but never at rugby matches.  The first time I met him was at Southhampton's youth academy, one of the most prestigious in the game.  He was there to learn more about developing young players and periodisation (getting players to peak at the right time).  The next time I met him was at a conference hosted by the SAS.  He was gleaning fresh knowledge about performing under pressure.  "You are never too old to learn,' he said.

The 'great player, great coach' fallacy is not unique to football. Top scholars are expected to lecture to university students with virtually no training (they often fail miserably) while star financial traders are often automatically promoted into executive roles with disastrous results.  These industries are slowly realising that managing and performing are distinct skills  It is why so many world-coaches, such as Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Herbert Chapman and Arsene Wenger, were not world-class players.'

Don't worry if you don't serve and volley in doubles!

66% of ATP players serve and volley in doubles.

10% of WTA players serve and volley in doubles.

(figures supplied from a presentation with Louis Cayer, LTA British Doubles Lead and world renown coach and coach educator)

So if you're not crashing into the net behind your serve, it's ok - you're not rubbish, inferior, or playing poor doubles.  Question is, do you know where to recover to after your serve when staying back?  If not, why not book an 'Everyball' coach in the New Year and take some small steps to make a big difference in your doubles play in 2018!