More from Rafa

'Another thing about watching my matches again closely, dispassionately, is that in appreciating and respecting the skill of my opponents....I learn to accept losing points against them with more serene resignation. Some players rage and despair when they are aced, or when they are the victims of a magnificent passing shot. That is the path to self-destruction. And it is crazy, because it means you believe yourself to be capable, in some kind of ideal tennis world, of subduing your opponent's game from start to finish. If you give your opponent more credit, if you accept that he played a shot you could do nothing about, if you play the part of the spectator for a moment and generously acknowledge a magnificent piece of play, there you win balance and inner calm. You take the pressure off yourself. In your head, you applaud; visibly, you shrug; and you move on to the next point, aware not that the tennis gods are ranged against you or that you are having a miserable day, but that there is every possibility next time that it will be you who hits the unplayable winner.' - RAFA

Humility

Humility is for me a hugely admirable quality and one I aspire to even if I don't always live out.  On reflection, however, I begin to see it as a basic mental skill that any athlete must develop in order to maintain emotional control and composure in the important moments in a match.  The quality of being modest and respectful, of understanding and treating others as 'better than you' is a liberating, freeing mentality, one that allows you to simply 'play'.

In 'Rafa - My Story' Nadal says this: 'In the end, you have to understand that the difference in ability between the top players is marginal, practically nothing, and that the matches between us are decided in a handful of points.  When I say, and when Toni says, that a large part of the reason why I have been successful is my humility, I don't mean it in a sappy, PR-savvy sort of way, or because I am trying to make out that I am a well-balanced, morally superior sort of individual.  Understanding the importance of humility is to understand the importance of being in a state of maximum concentration at the crucial stages of a game, knowing you are not going to go out and win on God-given talent alone.'

Nadal seems to have this amazing ability, even when number 1 in the world, to play the role of the under-dog, somehow communicating to himself and the crowd that he shouldn't really win, and that he'll only do so by fighting for his life!  And from that humble position, he is able to carve out even the most unlikeliest of victories whilst gaining massive support from the crowd and those closest to him.

Happy Christmas!

Dear readers, practitioners and supporters of 'Everyball',

Wishing you all a fantastic Christmas and the very best for 2012.

With our appreciation and thanks for working with us,

Mike and the Team at The Everyball International Academy, Halton Tennis Centre

Just one of the highlights of 2011 were our 12&U National Premier 'Aegon' Team Tennis Winners.  

Pictured here at the National Tennis Centre, Roehamption (left to right) are Michael Shaw, Jake Williams, Alex Chan, Jack Malloy, 
Oscar Glenister, Sam Gough (not pictured Sebastian Harris, Barney Smith).  Holding the flag, coach and captain James Morgan.

Tip for the week

What are your 4 choices when you win the toss?

1. Serve
2. Return
3. Choose ends
4. Let your opponent choose

Deciding what to do on winning the toss can have important implications on the start of the match and as we know getting off to a good start is a good start!
Elect to serve if you're feeling confident and want to make a real statement with the first game; strong servers often like to get the first game under their belt using their weapon and therefore play with the confidence of always being 'one game up' with the opponent having to hold just to stay level. Elect to return if you want to put your opponent under a little pressure to 'hold' their first game; you'll often get a cheeky 'break' early on this way. Choosing a particular end may have implications outdoors, but no obvious ones indoors where there are no weather considerations. On the other hand, letting your opponent choose sends the signal out that whatever your opponent decides to do is fine, it's going to be to your advantage anyway!

No more 'knock ups'?

Appears Andy Murray and John McEnroe are in favour of scrapping the pre-match knock up.  Think it's a great idea!  See BBC Sport and Jonathan Overend's Blog from 21st December.

Momentum

Some physical principles which we use daily on the tennis court but perhaps have implications elsewhere.
Momentum = mass x velocity. When a body of people come together and move at speed in one given direction they increase momentum. A body at rest stays at rest until an outside force is exerted upon it. Are you part of 'a gaining in momentum' or are you the person to overcome an inertia to get something going?

Mini Tennis Christmas Party - Halton style!

84 of Halton's youngest tennis members enjoyed an action-packed Christmas party last weekend.  The party started with mad tennis games in the Clay dome, followed by a Christmas party tea and finished with the highlight of the afternoon - a visit by Father Christmas bearing a gift for each child!  They thanked him by singing a very raucous rendition of 'Jingle Bells'.  A very big thanks to all who helped, especially our older junior members who gave up their afternoon.
 


The Kids woopin' it up!

The Coaches.......Sam and Emily in festive spirit!  You're supposed to look like a pudding Ems!

Tennis Jeannie - Tip for the week

Hello all Halton Tennis Jeannie Box Leaguers!  Tip for the week.

4 basic ways to challenge your opponent.

1.  Take their time away.  Early recognition of the shorter reply from your opponent will get you up to the 'top' of the bounce for contact, or if your timing supports it, to take the ball 'on the rise'.  You can maintain a relatively controlled ball speed and challenge your opponent's set up and timing with the early ball.  Two or three consecutive 'early' balls can be enough to force an error.

2.  Play with accuracy.  Simply get your opponent moving.  You'd be surprised how much tennis is played straight up and down the court - I call this M1 tennis!  Remember you can make your opponent move back, up, laterally and  diagonally.  'Back' through good depth, 'up' by a drop shot, diagonal by an 'angle' and 'laterally' with depth and width.  Using combinations of these shots to 'jerk' your opponent around the court can be really tough on them, especially if you can get them changing directions a few times!  Trust me I should know as I ended up in a mighty heap on the court yesterday against fellow coach Jemima!  Give yourself the goal of making your opponent move at least 3 steps to every ball.

3.  Play with power.  Superior ball speed is also very effective and if you are opting for this strategy the ball does not necessarily have to be hit so early.  You're just asking the question: 'Can you cope with this amount of pace?'  You need of course to balance this out with appropriate control and consistency.

4.  Disrupt rhythm through change of pace and spin.  Ever played somebody who never gives you the same type of ball twice in a row?  It can be really frustrating. A slow, heavily sliced ball can make your opponent work harder than a fast, flatter ball.  Then on the next ball, change the pace/spin yet again.

Of course at any one time you may be using combinations of all these strategies, but I would suggest that every time you look to 'challenge' your opponent (put them under pressure) make an early decision as to which will be your dominant one.

Hope your matches are going well - I've seem some really close scores being posted on the jeannie website so keep up the good work through to Christmas!  

Junior Jeannie also began yesterday, so good luck all Juniors competing in your league - I wonder who will be the first to complete a match?!

Dolphin training

A dolphin trainer will either 'accept' or 'reject' a dolphin's behaviour. He will accept behaviour by making a big fuss over it (praise/reward) and reject behaviour by simply ignoring it. Coaching and parenting implications?

Hope your day is good.

Unconquered

Invictus - Latin for 'unconquered':

The poem was written in 1875 by William Ernest Henley whose leg was amputated below the knee at 17 having contracted tuberculosis of the bone. The poem was made famous by Nelson Mandela who recited it to other prisoners on Robben Island and was empowered by its message of self mastery. More lately the line, 'bloody but unbowed', was the Daily Mirror's headline the day after the 7th July London bombings in 2005.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Marc Woods, 4 times to the Paralympics and also an amputee below the knee at 17 recently said: 'Challenge can be dumped on you and you don't choose it, but you can choose your behaviours and response to it.'

Perception is everything isn't it?