Serve and backhand attack - from Radwanska v Bacsinszky 8th July - Centre court

A few nice pointers here from Timea Bacsinszky in her match against Agnieszka Radwanska on Saturday.

Serve

  • well coordinated rhythmical use of arms - 'left arm up, right arm back' separation
  • arrives at the pre-throw position as ball is at the apex of the toss
  • when racket in fully cocked (dropped position) legs are at full extension.  Note at this point hips are still 'side-on'
  • Strong leg/hip drive 'up' with bend forward of upper body to contact
  • the throwing action is finished whilst she is still air-born but due to her elevation she does not land so far inside court
  • strong 'arabesque' position on landing
  • quick recovery in preparation for ball 3

Backhand

  • early turn of shoulders to prepare racket to 'beat the bounce of the incoming ball' 
  • great 'loading' position - note how weight is stored on back foot before front foot hits the court; this will enable her to drive out of the back leg and transfer weight and racket speed into the shot
  • turn of the back knee towards the net fires her hip and enables upper body to rotate through towards contact
  • excellent head position, chin over right shoulder, level and still
  • from a high cocked position, racket is successfully dropped below contact point to add topspin to the shot
  • contact beautifully out in front of body, waist high and to the side, with a stable base (you can't fire a cannon from a canoe!!)
  • great racket extension out towards target area followed by full follow through to complete body rotation

No wonder this combination of serve and backhand attack produced an error from her opponent.




Responsibility - increasing the 'cause' to fight

By responsibility I mean an 'ability to respond' to the demands of the sport with a growing sense of ownership, autonomy and self-regulation 

The concept of P.R.I.D.E is fundamental in this - a Personal Responsibility IDeveloping Excellence.  

The basic equation is this:

The greater the personal responsibility we take in our own learning and development AND for the associated behaviours, outcomes and results, the greater the 'cause' we build to fight for when we step onto the match court.

Not only this, we build a much greater sense of self-efficacy, confidence and belief.

Examples of how you can begin to take more P.R.I.D.E:

  • come to each lesson with your own agenda of what you'd like to work on with your coach
  • set up your own practice sets/hits
  • monitor your own levels of effort/attitude - don't alway rely on the coach to bring the energy/motivation!
  • hit a basket of serves each day/week
  • take care of your own 'at home' physical programme - stretching, rolling, core
  • on a free weekend, go for a run/bike/swim
  • develop your own competitive programme to present to your coach/parents
  • take care of your own pre and post match/training prep
  • set you own goals, pack you own bag, fill up your own water bottle in the morning, make your own lunch
  • travel to a tournament on your own (when old enough) by train or bus
  • reflect on your matches/training (use a whats app group with your team)
  • research the internet for useful tips/information 
  • know your sport/industry - how does the ATP/WTA tour work?  What are the levels?  Get to junior Wimbledon and see!
  • Research how to get into US/GB University tennis

The list goes on and on!  Players, if you are fully reliant on your parents/coaches for these things, you are not developing Responsibility or any sense of 'becoming the captain of your own ship' and you're very unlikely to develop the GRIT required for top level sport.

Coaches and parents.  A word for us.  If we keep 'doing stuff' and 'rescuing' our players/kids we'll never give them the chance to take responsibility.

Invite CHOICE in your athletes/children. Telling does not engage any grey matter!!

Choice invites decisions.  Decisions encourage ownership.  Ownership encourages responsibility.  Responsibility invites change.

And ultimately, each day we have the choice to take responsibility for our emotions/behaviours/results OR to place blame elsewhere and onto others.

'The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it in the first place.' (Lou Holtz)

Next up - Resilience.



Choose Respect as the foundation in your journey to becoming a grittier, tougher competitor.

Whilst I believe that the game of tennis is unique in helping us develop a set of key life skills that are defined by the Everyball 4R's (Respect, Responsibility, Resilience, Reflection) these same 4 R's serve as a developmental model for helping us become psychologically more robust, grittier and tougher to beat.

Much like the kinetic chain is a sequential transfer of energy through a system of body parts (knees, hips, shoulders, elbow, wrist - loosely speaking anyway!) so mental toughness follows the sequential embodiment of the 4R's.  I'll be exploring this over the next few days.

It all starts with RESPECT.  

Our ability (yes respect is a skill) to respect ourselves, others and our differences, officials, the game and it's uniquely brutal yet also forgiving scoring system. As competitors it's our ability to respect our opponents and what they bring to the court.  

So often I'll hear junior players, having just lost a match, say: 'oh, he/she was such a hacker!'.  They clearly failed to respect their opponent's qualities and in doing so, never game themselves the opportunity to compete.  Failing to respect is preparing to fail!

Respect is closely linked to humility and you don't have to look any further than Rafa Nadal as a role model for this.  In his book Rafa writes:

Another thing about watching my matches again closely, dispassionately, is that in appreciating and respecting the skill of my opponents, watching them hit wonderful winners, 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.  An it is crazy, because it means you believe yourself to be capable, in some kind of ideal tennis world, to 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 pressure off yourself.  In your head, you applaud; visibly, your 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.

He goes on:

Understanding the importance of humility (born out of respect) 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.

Rafa respects his opponent's by bringing 100% energy, effort and focus to every match he plays, sincerely believing that if he doesn't he'll end up on the losing end.

Choose Respect as the foundation in your journey to becoming a grittier, tougher competitor.

Next up, Responsibility.

Back to the 'A' in B.R.E.A.D - when checking our 'attitude' how do we challenge unhelpful or irrational thinking?

Happy first day of Wimbledon folks!! 

Ok, I'm getting acronym crazy here but try A.C.E to challenge irrational and unhelpful thinking that may be impacting attitude in a negative way.

A - Accept that as human beings our emotions will more often kick in first and that our fight, flight, freeze responses (our animalistic 'chimp' responses) are there to protect us although they can often be irrational and unhelpful.  Accept it's ok to have them, they are a part of us and one of the reasons we've survived so successfully as a species!

C - Catch them! We accept that they'll be there, but we got to become really 'tuned' in to our own thought patterns/behaviours to 'catch' anything irrational and unhelpful.  Can you think of some situations that you respond irrationally to?  Do a little pre-mortem on this to establish when you're more likely to go into unhelpful/irrational thinking patterns so your radar is on.

E - Erase (exchange might be a better word - thanks Emily Ineson) them by replacing them with a more 'human' logical/reasonable/helpful statement





Use B.R.E.A.D in your match warm-ups

I came up with this little checklist to run through in your hitting warm-up this past week.  What do you think?  Could be specially useful in a match warm-up to help focus your mind and body in the right areas.

Breathe out on contact.  This will help your timing as well help you feel more Relaxed.  Rid yourself of any muscle tension, especially in arms and shoulders.  Then begin to bring some more Energy to the feet, whilst you check your Attitude for any unhelpful or irrational thinking.  Finally, begin to focus more now on your ball outcome by hitting with increased Depth.  

Breathe

Relax

Energy

Attitude

Depth 

You may want to add a second 'D' for Detective at this point (thanks Jemima King for this one!).  Are there any hints or clues you might be picking up from your opponent as to their physical and mental condition, strengths and weaknesses?  My recommendation is not to get too bogged down with this.  I've warmed up against guys who look amazing in the warm-up and turn out average in the match and visa-versa, but always good to focus a little attention to what your opponent is bringing to the match-court.

Warm-up with B.R.E.A.D to get you into the zone, whether for a match or training session.  It will only take you 2-3 minutes but could be a useful addition to the tool-kit.









Who are your favourite picks for Wimbledon? It's Groom and Mezzone for us....!

Will Murray win his 3rd title this year?  The bookies have Fed as favourite and many are talking up Joanna Konta's chances, especially as she looks to be hitting grass-court form down in Eastbourne this week.

Our picks, however, come in the forms of Miles Groom and Sophia Mezzone who last weekend qualified for the HSBC Road to Wimbledon International.  Seven venues across England and Scotland hosted qualifying events alongside India, China  and Hong Kong who.  4 boys and 2 girls from each of these events have won through to the HSBC RTW Finals held at SW19 between the 14th-19th August.

This is a fantastic achievement for both Miles and Sophia and no doubt they'll be watching The Championships over the next couple of weeks with a little extra interest knowing they'll be competing on the very same courts in just 6 weeks time.

Congratulations both of you and a great representation for Everyball Tennis and Halton UK!

Further honours for Everyball players

The Bucks 12&U County Cup team is 100% made at Everyball.  Congratulations to Josh Oakley, Calum Fairey, DJ Mentiply, William Mottram, Fraser Reeves and Ben Perkin on your recent selections.

Berkhamsted School Girls reach Aegon Schools finals beating Bancroft School in the final round.  Finals are being held in Nottingham from 11th to 14th July in Nottingham.  Again, the squad consists of all but one Halton player. Great job Sophia Mezzone, Amelia Barton, Lauren McKinaly, Emma Savage (Chesham 1879), Bethan Miles, Alice Taylor and Sophia Wise.

Finally, Tring School join AGS and Berkhamsted in the Aegon Schools finals.  Everyballers Jake Williams and Sam Gough are members of this team.

Great to see our players so actively contributing to their schools and counties and British Tennis!  Fantastic job all!

Aylesbury Grammar School's 'Everyball' boys reach National Finals...

Big congratulations to the AGS Senior Tennis Team of Oscar Glenister, Dan Dean, James Weller and Joel Good (all Halton players) who qualified for the National School Finals last Friday 23rd June by beating Cooper's Coborn School, Essex in the regional qualifier. The Finals are being played at Notts Tennis Centre 11th-14th July.

Very best of luck to the boys as they take on some of the top tennis schools in Great Britain next month!