U18 County Cup

Congratulations and good luck to the following Everyball players who have been selected to compete for Buckinghamshire in the LTA U18 County Cup.

Boys: Group 2 in Redbridge - Tom Miller, Jack Mordey, Owen Richards, Gavin Mckinlay, James Gammell

Girls: group 3 in Sheffield - Alex Clark, Tor Pisani, Claudia Marsala, Ruby Brady, Alice Patch, Annabel Westermann and Holly Davies (who accesses EBI training on occasions)

Have a great weekend and good luck all!

Katy makes good start in SA

Everyball player Katy Dunne made a good start today in the ITF Grade 2 event in Potschefstroom, South African.  She beat Swiss player Gaelle Rey 6.3, 6-3, and will play IIze Hattingh from South Africa tomorrow.  Great job K and good luck for the morning!

Michael Shaw wins Batchwood Grade 3

Congratulations to Everyball player Michael Shaw (pictured below) who won the Batchwood Grade 3 12&U Boys Event in St. Albans last week. Michael beat Cameron Bowie 7-5, 6-4 in a gritty final. James Morgan, individual coach to Michael commented: 'Michael had to battle the whole way for this, but as ever his attitude and effort were first class - he simply does what it says on the tin!' Great job Michael and keep up the good work - the major efforts you are making will continue to pay off. Good luck also to Katy Dunne who plays her first match tomorrow in South Africa in the first of 2 Grade 2 18&U ITF events. Katy is travelling with LTA Coach Jane O'Donaghue who reports that Katy is 'more than ready to play!' Chomping at the bit hey Katy - that's what we want to hear!

What a great target!

I was reminded today of the story of David and Goliath. Here was a small shepherd boy going up against the mighty giant of the Philistine army - a man that no Israelite dared to confront. What on earth was going through David's mind as he stood before his adversary? You could bet it was something along the lines of, 'What a great target! Look at the size of his forehead!'. Don't you just love that type of thinking? It was an excellent way for David to focus his 'mind's eye'. George Kohlrieser in his book 'Hostage at the table' writes: 'The mind's eye makes it possible to achieve just about anything we want - the important element is to focus on the positive outcome.....If a child is told, 'Don't spill the milk,' he or she will probably spill the milk. Or, if she or he hears, 'Don't fall off of your bike,' the child will probably fall off the bike. Why does this happen? Research has demonstrated that the brain uses pictures as a primary way of getting the mind's eye to focus. So what is the picture a person gets? An image of spilling milk. An image of falling off the bike.'

We've all experienced this to some degree whether on court, the golf course, football pitch or giving a presentation at work. On a particular golf course I sometimes play, I often find myself firing straight into the lake or bank of trees that I'm so keen to avoid - another great demonstration of the power of the mind's eye.

Young David knew all of this over 2000 years ago. His focus was on the ample size of Goliath's forehead which he would target with his sling, rather on the potentially less appealing outcomes of his encounter which he could easily have got carried away with.

On what will your mind's eye be focused on this week - the barrier or the positive outcome?


Just spent a lovely week with the family in sunny Barbados. Wonderful rest and relaxation, sea was beautiful and the people so friendly.

During the week I was privileged to be invited to run a clinic for the Barbados Tennis Association and 40-50 of their up and coming juniors. I say privileged because of the attitude of the association and the players and their parents and of course the coaches. They were so grateful and appreciative of a little further support and some different ideas to continue to fuel the fantastic work that they are already doing.

Being a non-profit organization and the Council or Executive consisting of volunteers, the Association is dependent on the Government of Barbados, the Barbados Olympic Association, the International Tennis Federation and the private sector for financial assistance, in addition to its members to assist with projects and programmes. The assistance is minimal - far less than any single High Performance Centre in Great Britain, but the output is fantastic - loads of young players just loving hitting a tennis ball and being involved in our super sport as well as some with real performance potential led by Darian King who finished last year in the top 50 ITF 18&U world rankings and is now has an ATP senior ranking of 1235. No doubt some lessons for us here I believe around managing our resources to inspire that real hunger to achieve.

The Clinic began in the rain, but soon enough the courts were dry and the kids were out there hitting balls!

The "Home of Tennis" - the National Tennis Centre - has great potential in the development of the sport and is increasingly becoming recognized. However, the Association is aware that a massive financial investment must be made to raise the standard of the game and to enable the Association to fulfill its mandate.

Thank you all for your wonderful hospitality and good luck! Hope to see you again soon.

Further success at Halton's Everyball International Academy

Well done to Jack Molloy who matched the feat of his training partner Sam Gough in winning the 12&U Regional Indoor Event at Bucks Indoor Tennis Centre, High Wycombe over the weekend. By accounts, Jack put in 6 solid performances to win the event, but hungry to keep improving his game further he was back out on the training court and in the gym this week. Hear his interview here.

Sam Gough picks up tourney win

Congratulations to Halton's EveryBall International Academy player Sam Gough (pictured on the right with his winner's medal) who won the Winter Regional 12&U Tournament at Leeds Met University, Carnegie this weekend. Sam beat George Baird (number 1 seed and 4 in UK at 11&U) in the final. Already ranked 8 in GB at 11&U this win should see him rise even higher in the next published rankings. Even more important however is the fact that Sam has made ever increasing improvements in his game over the last few months and has focused well on what he can control - effort and attitude. Well done Sam.

Power versus.......

Just back from tutoring in Nottingham on the LTA Senior Performance Coach Course. 3 good days with the course candidates - plenty of debate, discussion, learning and challenge for us all.

Been a few days since the last post so a few thoughts.... 

With modern technology (balls, rackets, court surfaces), the increased physical fitness of the competitive player, and the advances in biomechanics, tennis has moved on incredibly in terms of power generation, but is it truly a power sport? The case is strong, but perhaps consistency, accuracy and precision are still the more dominant factors. 

Shot-put is a 'power' sport - you only have to get it right once to win Olympic Gold, whereas in tennis you've got to get it right over and over again with great precision, timing and accuracy. In this sense, it is truly a game of black and white - either the ball is in or out, either you are 'in' position to execute effectively or you're not. Power only becomes relevant within the boundaries of consistency and accuracy.

So what are the implications for us as coaches working with young players? Do players develop power first and then add the necessary control or the other way round? Perhaps it doesn't matter which side of the argument you fall, but ultimately to understand the relationship between power and accuracy/control to help produce a consistent result shot after shot is vitally important. The ability to perceive the flight of the incoming ball, prepare body, feet and racket accordingly, time the contact point and manage the racket face to perfection creates a hugely demanding feat of co-ordination and precision.

Yet our game is also full of gray areas, and these tend to be around the 'decision' making process. Whilst receiving the oncoming ball, a player has to choose the correct shot from a number of different options based around his/her court position, strengths/weaknesses, the quality of the oncoming ball, and the position of the opponent and his/her strengths weaknesses. And these decisions need to be made again and again and again with different variables thrown in at any given time - scoreboard pressure, nerves, etc, etc.

Prepared to commit to fight for every ball? You need to be!

It's all in the analysis

Observation and analysis are two words that often get thrown together to mean one, or with a stroke in-between to say they might be a bit different but no-one really knows the difference! A bit like vision/mission, aims/objectives, strategy/tactics and any others you care to come up with!

I like this simple definition. Observation is the 'what' you see/record. For example, Kathrin Woerle (Germany and pictured below) against Victoria Azarenka in their first round Aussie Open encounter had a winning first serve percentage of 41% (11/27). Fact.

The analysis is the 'why' which of course can be far more open to debate. Anything from attitude, injury, poor technique, great returning from Azarenka could be reasons why. Coaches and players alike need to be keen observers. But observing is not enough - becoming excellent analysts is vital, both to on-court mid-correction and post-match analysis and improvement.

Might be an idea to practice that this week. What do you see happening? Can you be specific and measure this? Then ask yourself why it's happening and see where your analysis takes you, because it's only in the analysis that we can actually begin to seek solutions to getting better.

An inspired man once wrote....

Many centuries ago, an inspired man wrote that one who guides a plow does not look back, or by inference, into the immense distance - but to the next step that must be taken. Pretty wise words I think. We all can look back to past results or behaviour and feel disappointed. We can also look too far ahead and feel overwhelmed. But if we just look towards the next step that has to be taken and break things down into manageable chunks we can actually see, feel and measure progress, making the biggest of challenges achievable.

That's part of the 'everyball' ethos - the ability to focus on the next ball, not the one before or the one after, but the one in front of you RIGHT now. As a kid growing up in Kenya I remember heading back to boarding school after the holidays. During some rather emotional good-byes, my Dad would often say, 'Mike, keep your eye on the ball'. It was his way of saying, 'one day at a time son, stay focused, don't look back nor too far forward but just on the ball that's in your court.'

Have a great week.