See Peter Crouch's goal for Stoke against Manchester City yesterday?  Luck some say.  Result of deliberate practice I say!

This is what Crouch said about it:  'When the ball dropped, I tried to pop it up and try a volley technique.  I do it a lot and practice it, though they don't always fly in like that! Every day in training I practice volleying.  It's something I've always enjoyed doing since I was a kid.'

Ed Smith in his book 'Luck: What it Means and Why It Matters' defines luck as circumstances over which one has no control.

Crouch's goal was not luck but the result of hours of practice, no doubt beginning in the back yard or street at home.

Relentless work to raise your average game

I asked our squad of Top Team Seniors last night what percentage of the time they perform (when competing):

A.  Really well
B.  Average
C.  Really poorly

Most players scored A and C around 10-20 % of the time, which leave a huge percentage of the time where we perform 'average'.

Of course we work hard and smart to increase the number of times we play really well and minimise the times we play really poorly, but if the greater % of time is always going to be spent playing 'average' then we have to ask ourselves the question, how good is our average?  That is probably the true 'measure' of our games, and by raising our average performances we'll begin to take our games to the next level.

Kevin Anderson played Djokovic at Indian Wells last year and was nowhere close.  He played him again yesterday, and lost in a much closer match 6-2, 6-3.  He played average, but his average game has improved considerably in a year.  According to Arsene Wenger, the key to last night's win against Newcastle was 'relentless work'.  What does it take to raise the average level of your game?  Relentless work!

Player Profile - Oscar Glenister

The following is the first of a series of 'player profiles' within the Everyball Academy at Halton.

Oscar Glenister

Born: 1999
Current age-group: 12&U
Current national ranking: 38
Current LTA rating: 7.1
Plays: right handed, two handed backhand
Been playing: 4 years
Favourite player: Tsonga
Individual coach: Peter Thorne
Racket: Babolat Pure Drive

Oscar (Ozzie to the rest of us!) has been steadily moving up the National rankings over the past year and qualified for the Grade 2 National Winter Tour event in Nottingham this weekend mixing it up with some of the country's top 12&U players.

Next year his goal is to qualify for the 14&U National Championships and he intends to be one of the country's top juniors in a few years time.  With his hard working attitude and huge desire to compete there will be no surprises when he achieves this.  He trains 8-10 hours per week and continues to love his football as well as tennis!  

Oscar on a short break from his training session last week


The subject of balls has been the prevailing topic of the week.

We tried the Babolat VS ball this week in training - not bad.
We had a major sort of the ball shed - we can never keep it doing this we had a good 'ball sort' .  Some made the cut, some didn't...felt bad.
Phil, just about to head on court for a lesson, had apparently lost his balls and asked me, 'where are my balls?'  I thought the answer was obvious.
Youngest son Jude has been pestering me all morning for a new football, only because him and his brother have kicked all of theirs into the neighbours garden.  He seems to be making a point of not returning them.  Possibly something about them hitting his roof on a fairly regular basis.
Oldest son Joel (9 years) has decided to write a letter to him.  It reads: 'Sorry for hitting your house, please forgive us.  We will try not to hit them over.  From Joel.   PS - give our balls back.'

And I thought chasing down every ball was just meant for the court....

Comfortable with the ball in play

Listened to an excellent presentation yesterday by John Black, former coach to Kyle Edmund who has just picked up his first ATP points on the men's tour.  Some key points that really resonated with our philosophy of 'everyball'

- Start with trying your very best every day
- How good is your average performance?
- Performer before the player - you can get to the tennis after you've dealt with the performer
- Mental fight and belief are your biggest weapons
- Don't ever lose sight of the goal
- Basics - be an expert, know more about less
- Be comfortable with the ball in play
- Forget others and forget about making comparisons
- Didn't care 'who' he was hitting with
- Win in your own backyard before you think about somebody else's
- Play the best players at the best tournaments
- Every experience is vital
- Miss the net!!!


Spent the day yesterday with some top sport psych guys from Holland and Belguim.  

Some good material but one thing made me chuckle; we were talking about 'excuse making' or finding something to blame a poor performance or result on, which of course we can all fall into the habit of doing now and again.  Anyway, psych speak for excuse making is 'external attribution'.  Makes it sound so much more clinical and intellectual.  So remember next time you're digging for some excuse for whatever reason, you are indulging in the art of external attribution!  

Everyball players make their mark during half term

Report by Phil Hill, U14/Tennis Europe Captain, AASE Manager, Everyball International Academy at Halton

Everyball Players Lauren Armstrong and Kiran Kudaravalli won the U12 & U16 titles respectively at the LTA Grade 3 event at Gosling, Hertfordshire.

Lauren Armstrong beat the no1 seed Michaella Brown (7.1) 7-6 (5) 3-6 11-9 championship tiebreak in 2 hour 39 minute epic before beating in the final Emily Small 6-1 7-6 (7.2 no 4seed). Lauren had performed well all week including an 2 hour 40 minute battle against Celine Zoetelief Tromp (6.2) before eventually losing 1-6 5-7 in the U14's! 

Kiran was equally impressive having beaten Luke Power the no 4 seed 6-2 6-3 and no 5 seed Jake Munns 6-1 6-4 to reach the final to then eventually beat Chad Richards no 6 seed 7-6 6-7 14-12 in championship tiebreak saving 3 match points in the championship tiebreak! Another 2 hour 42 minute epic!

There were also good Performances by Thomas Schmidt , Sebastian Harris and Indu Ragunather and Alice Patch, all eventually losing in the  quarter finals of their respective age groups. Finally, Daniel Dean competed well in the Winter National Tour Event at Gosling winning two matches and losing two.

These were my observations having watched our players all week at Gosling:

Areas of improvement after Spring Term block 1 of training were:

- Consistency in the rallies and ability to maintain quality trading when both back
- Good use the double opener - when serving 1st serve and when both back
- Ability to compete for every point and maintain focus/attentional control.
- Finishing at net

Areas to be addressed in next block of training: 

- Bravery and aggressiveness on 2nd serves
- Reading and movement up the court to the midcourt ball
- Use of drive volleys
- Developing control and feel when forced into the net together with smarter tactical decisions.

Holly Hutchinson continued her run of good form with another Grade 3 title in the Girls 14&U Grade 3 at Northwood, Middlesex with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Nanami Yamaguchi.

Well done to all players for your effort and performances.

Indu Ragunather sits with Coach Phil Hill reviewing her performances last week