Set-up to rip a backhand

Want to rip your backhand? Work at your set-up then.

3 things we need to set up - feet, body and racket.

Notice the neutral stance (feet side on to the target) in the picture below with weight stored on the back leg - Katy is ready to drive right through the ball towards her target with excellent weight transference . Upper body is coiled - with chin over her right shoulder looking down the court. Notice shoulders have rotated more than the hips leading to what the white-coat brigade call 'angle of separation' - this is good as it creates a load of energy which will be unleashed into the shot. Racket is prepared in-time behind line of incoming ball to allow contact to be made in the strike zone.

Focus in on your set-up and you'll be ripping your backhand in no time!

Waiting for the fear to subside - Seth Godin

My brother Steve is a big fan of Seth Godin who writes a daily blog. Here's one from this week forwarded on to me:

Waiting for the fear to subside.
There are two problems with this strategy:

A. By the time the fear subsides, it will be too late. By the time you're not afraid of what you were planning to start/say/do, someone else will have already done it, it will already be said or it will be irrelevant. The reason you're afraid is that there's leverage here, something might happen. Which is exactly the signal you're looking for.

B. The fear certainly helps you do it better. The fear-less one might sleep better, but sleeping well doesn't always lead to your best work. The fear can be your compass, it can set you on the right path and actually improve the quality of what you do.

Listen to your fear but don't obey it.

Katy moves on with bright future ahead

I'd just like to update you on Katy Dunne's progress and future with us here at Halton and the Everyball International Academy. As you may know, Katy has been with us now for the best part of 5 years. During that time we have helped her to a U14 Tennis Europe ranking of 8 and two years later she is now on the verge of breaking into the Top 100 in the World (18&U Junior ITF World rankings). She has been given wild-cards into the Main Draw of the Wimbledon Junior Championships these last two years and she is determined to qualify by right next year with the goal of breaking into the Top 50 and  beyond.

During the last year we have encouraged Katy to develop her relationship with the LTA's Jane O'Donaghue who has been traveling extensively with Katy around the world. Jane is part of the team of National Coaches based at the LTA and Katy has been spending some time accessing hitting and training opportunities there in addition to her work with us. We feel that the time is now right for Katy to move to the National Tennis Centre on a full-time basis and have encouraged her to pursue that goal. Following her exit from Wimbledon on Monday we have had several very positive meetings with the LTA and I am pleased to announce that Katy will be training under Jane's full-time guidance at the NTC with immediate effect.

I say 'pleased' with mixed emotions of course. We believe whole-heartedly that this is the right move for Katy, but with the ending of any relationship such as this there will be some sadness. She has been a delight to have with us and has had a very positive impact on the Academy and club as a whole. The LTA will be building in her TEAM AEGON contract an ambassadorial role with us here at Halton whereby she will continue to be involved with us over the next years to help support and encourage all the work going on with our younger players and of course with the membership as a whole. She will continue on as a member and will be down for the occasional club session with us and perhaps to play the odd match or two - in that sense we will continue to be her 'home' club.
It is important to recognise at this stage that this will in no way effect our LTA High Performance Status now or in the future. Our accreditation as an HPC is built around the strength of our player base across all ages as well as our strength and conditioning staff, coaching staff, competitive offerings and financial management capability.

A big thanks to all of you who have been so closely involved in supporting Katy over these years - to single anyone out would be misleading as so many people have played their part in demonstrating that we have at Halton the expertise to help develop a player from a national top ranked 12&U junior into a true world class contender.  All of us here at the club would like to wish Katy all the very bestin her future goal of becoming a top professional. Perhaps soon enough she'll be signing autographs as a competitor in the Main Draw Ladies event at Wimbledon! She's pictures below at Wimbledon last week with some enthusiastic youngsters.

Katy ready for Wimbledon Juniors

Everyball's Katy Dunne (Junior ITF World ranking 110) gets ready to take on Japan's Nao Hibino (67) in the first round of the Wimbledon Junior Championships. Katy will be playing on Monday 27th June, 5th match on after 11am which ought to mean a late afternoon/early evening match.

Great article in The Times yesterday by Simon Barnes on the Andy Murray Ivan Ljubicic match. A few quotes:

'Tennis is the most emotional game of them all, and every player who wants to achieve great things must learn to use emotion to raise his game at the right moment. You cannot be unemotional and a great player; emotion is as important a part of your armoury as your second serve.....But the ability to ride high emotion can work either way; if you can exploit the emotional upswing to find your best, how can you avoid the emotional downswing that follows? It's probably the case that you can't ; that you must just find a way of getting through it without letting it cost you.'

'But Murray is not the thoroughbred artist, not the artist through and through. Somewhere along that pedigree, a bitch got over the wall. There is the mongrel in Murray that makes him relish the fight and relish the opponent's discomfiture. He is perfectly prepared to go slumming into the dirty parts of his nature to summon up victory.'

'He allowed Ljubicic back in, was broken and had to take us all through the added agony of the tie-break. That's when the mongrel was unleashed and Murray simply refused to have anything to do with losing it.'

Best of luck Katy - seek out the mongrel in you and unleash!

Long-term focus

Maria Sharapova was recently quoted as saying: "You don't get from the first step to the 30th step in one jump. I have always said it's a long journey, and there's going to be.....there have been tough moments. There's going to be good moments ahead, plenty of good ones that I'm going to cherish - I really have no doubt in that. That's why I go out and I keep working.'


Relationships are at the heart of all we do, especially in the coaching world - relationships with players, relationships with parents, relationships with our colleagues and those within the greater coaching community.

So what are the dynamics of a healthy relationship? George Kohlrieser, author of 'Hostage at the Table' puts it these 6 ways:

1. Balance and emotion - When emotions overwhelm reason, we cannot work well with other people....However, logic alone is not sufficient for solving conflict and building a relationship. Rather, we need reason informed by emotion and emotion guided and tempered by reason.

2. Understand each other - If we are going to achieve an outcome that leaves both parties feeling fairly treated, we need to understand each other's interests, perceptions, and notions of fairness. Unless I have a good idea of what you think the problem is, what you want, why you want it, and what you think might be fair, I will be groping in the dark for an outcome that will meet your interests as well as mine. You will be seriously handicapped unless you understand me and what I think.

3. Communicate well - The more effectively we communicate our differences, and our areas of agreement, the better we will understand each other's concerns and the better our chances for reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. The manner and extent of our language build trust and reduce the basis for suspicion in the mind's eye. We have the power to change the state of another person through our transactions with each other. The best communication is that which becomes a heart-to-heart dialogue.

4. Be reliable and honest - Our communications are worth little if we do not believe each other. Commitments entered into lightly or disregarded easily are worse than no commitments at all. Blind trust will not help us work with others; instead, it can damage a relationship more than can healthy skepticism Well-founded trust, based on honest and reliable conduct over time, can greatly enhance our ability to cope with conflict.

5. Persuade rather than coerce - In a particular transaction, we may be more interested in the immediate outcome rather than in the long-term relationship. Each of us will try to affect the other's decisions; the way we do it will have a profound effect on the quality of our relationship.

6. Feel mutual acceptance - Feeling accepted, worthy, and valued is a basic psychological need. The foundation of the deepest bonds has what eminent psychologist Carl Rogers called 'unconditional positive regard.' Unless I listen to your views, accept your right to have view different from mine, and consider your interests, you probably will not want to deal with me......

Everyball's Katy Dunne to compete for GB at Eastbourne

Everyball player Katy Dunne has been selected to represent Great Britain at the Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy against the United States at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne alongside the AEGON International on Thursday June 16 and Friday June 17. She will be joining fellow Britons Fran Stephenson, Lucy Brown, Laura Robson in a match that dates back to 1973 and sees GB take on the USA in an 18&U girls event providing competition between the best players of these two countries.

Simon Jones, LTA Head of Performance Support commented: 'We are delighted that the Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy will again be held at Devonshire Park during the AEGON International. We believe the tie is an excellent opportunity for our younger players to experience playing at a top level event supported by enthusiastic crowds. It is the best grass-court preparation ahead of the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton and of course The Junior Championships at Wimbledon.'

Katy's selection for this team comes on the back of a near miss for her in the LTA pre-qualifying event for the senior Wimbledon Ladies Championships. She was in good form throughout and confidently won through in her first two matches beating Lottie Fox and Danieka Borthwick but lost narrowly to Samantha Murray 7-6, 6-4 in the final round. Unfortunately none of her matches could be completed on the grass due to terrible weather at the tail end of last week, but it looks as if the sun is shining for her this week as she travels down to Eastbourne tomorrow.

Well done Katy and best of luck!

Rain sends play indoors last week at the LTA pre-qualifying event for Wimbledon.

Everyball players continue to put themselves on the line...

Great job to the following Everyball players who finished at the sharp end of the LTA Grade 3 event at Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire:

Jack Mordey (Everyball) and Harry Mabbitt - 18&U Boys Doubles Winners
James Gammell (Everyball) and Adam Chan (Everyball) - 18&U Boys Runners-up
Gavin Mckinlay (Everyball) and Rebecca Tricks - 18&U Mixed Runners-up
Gavin Mckinlay - 18&U Boys Singles Winner
James Gammell - 18&U Boys Runner-up
Adam Chan - 16&U Boys Winner
Oliver Levi and Thomas Schmidt (Everyball) - 14&U Boys Doubles Runners-up
Holly Hutchinson (Everyball) - 14&U Girls Winner
Scarlett Hutchinson (Everyball) - 10&U and 9&U Girls Runner-up
Ben Smith (Everyball and Great Missenden) - 10&U Boys Winner and 9&U Boys Runner-up

Boys 16&U Winner Adam Chan celebrating with his younger brother Alex!

Congratulations also to the following players who competed in the LTA National Spring Clay courts:

Sam Gough, Barney Smith, Michael Shaw, Oscar Glenister, Jack Malloy - 12&U Boys
Lauren Armstrong - 10&U Girls (finalist)
Lara Hill - finished 6 out of 16

Lara Hill with her 'best bud' in tennis pose after Spring Nationals at Queenswood School

Elsewhere, JJ Clark and Seb Harris got to the final of the Heron Open in Newquay and Katy Dunne lost in the final of the Grade 2 ITF I8&U world ranking event
in Budapest, Hungary. Her run to the final takes her to the brink of a top 100 junior world ranking.

Great job done by all and to those players who may have not hit the headlines but put in their own 'personal bests' during this recent competitive period.

At EBI we 'fit in' by the high levels of effort and attitude seen on the training and match court and the levels of respect and humility off them.
It is no longer a question of 'standing out' by these things, but whether or not we 'fit in' by them.

Roger and Rafa

I just love this quote from Rafa on the eve of the French Open final tomorrow:

'I don't have the power to control the weather, so if it rains, I'm going to think it's an advantage for me; if the sun shines, I'm going to think it's an advantage for me. I have to think positive all the time because I cannot control that (the weather).'

And Roger......

'Last year maybe I had a hard time here (at the French Open) and in Wimbledon, but sometimes it's hard to play the perfect match. So that's why you have to accept it and continue to work.'

I love the language these guys use - mental toughness begins here doesn't it? Thoughts (words) influence emotions (feelings) which influence behaviour (performance). Not rocket science and there is no magic potion if you're looking for it - just 'advanced basics' (James Morgan - love that phrase - nicked that from you this week!) on how to think.

teachers, coaches, parents

Substitute teacher in the following for coach or parent:

A teacher solves their problems,
A good teacher helps them solve their problems,
A great teacher puts problems in front of them.

At the top level of sport these are the most pertinent questions:

How hard are you willing to push yourself?

Who can put up with the most pain? (Be that mental or physical)

The challenge then for us as coaches and parents is in our ability to expose youngsters to difficulty; enough to move them
out of their comfort zone and into the learning zone, but not so much as to move them through the learning zone and into the panic zone
where retreat rather than growth is the likely response.