The definition of insanity and the rules of results

Doing the same things over and over again expecting different results - that's insanity.

The rules of results state:

1.  The results you are getting are the results you should be getting (no excuses!)

2.  You can't control your results but you can influence them (good to know that not everything is in our control!)

3.  If you want to change your results, you'd better do something differently!

So important for all areas of our life to take responsibility for these rules, and of course, no more so than on the tennis court where making the same error twice in a row without looking to adjust/change something is just...lazy!

The P.A.S principles (as outlined yesterday) are a great in the moment problem solving tool that all players regardless of ability can apply to their games.  See how I use them today add more length to my rally forehand in the following video.


Fix the path and angle (of the racket at contact) and it's the speed that will change ball outcome

Fix the path and speed and it's the angle that will change ball outcome.

Fix the speed and the angle and it's the path that will change ball outcome.

Important note: it's always the path, angle, speed of the racket at contact.

The determining getting back to tennis? In controlling the ball?

There are influencing factors - things that contribute towards a certain outcome.

And there are determining factors - things that govern a certain outcome.

What will influence and ultimately determine our Government's decision-making on lockdown come the PM's announcement on Sunday evening is no doubt on everybody's mind.  For the tennis community, we wonder when we'll be able to safely get back to playing in some form or other.  We can only still speculate but hold out hope that we are beginning to come through this very challenging period and that there is light at the end of the tunnel, for all of us, in all walks of life.

At a simpler level, in tennis we can measure ball outcome through 5 ball controls - height, direction, distance, speed and spin - and these controls are ultimately determined by the racket at impact - and specifically the:

Path of the racket at impact

  • low to high
  • level 
  • high to low

The angle of racket (face) at impact

  • horizontal (right to left)
  • vertical (how open or closed to the sky)

The speed of the racket at impact

  • acceleration
  • deceleration
  • constant

Over the next few days I'll be exploring how we can manipulate the P.A.S principles to determine the outcome of the ball as measured by the 5 ball controls above.

Here's a little introduction:

Non-dominant arm role in the backhand volley is today's lockdown topic

Good morning.

Set to be nice weather to enjoy the bank holiday today and VE day, so whether it's a walk, run, bike, or just a lounge around in the sun make the most of it!

You might get a chance for a little practice on the backhand volley as well?!

Put an old cardboard box to good use today to help your forehand volley!

Also, a nice little piece from Seth Godin here:

Are boys more 'skill-full' than girls?

Wow, dangerous ground this morning but here's the question: are boys more 'skill-full' than girls??

In the tennis world there is a suggestion that this might be true.

Personally I don't buy it.  Boys innately are no more skilful/coordinated than girls - at anything.  That my belief.

But in my experience of near on 30 years coaching junior players I would find it difficult to argue that as a (very) general rule, boys can make the ball sing in more different ways than girls.

Why is this?

Boys tend (and certainly not in every and all cases):

To muck around more.

Experiment more.

Try more dumb stuff - I'm a boy, I should know.

Like throwing more stones at windows.

Play more 'touch' games in the service box during breaks in training.  

Play more 'flagstone' tennis at tournaments.

Are more obsessed with trick shots.

Show off more.

Play a wider variety of sport.

And inadvertently develop 'more' skill.

Fortunately women's tennis is currently blessed with a hugely 'skill-full' world no. 1 player.  Slices, drop-shots, lobs, change of spins and pace, variation.  I love watching her put this array of skills out onto the match court and I hope she inspires more girls to muck around, be more 'play-full' and experimental in their practice because you've got all this skill inside you bursting to get out.

So, here I am 'mucking' about in the garden with a trick serve.  Give it a go!

Developing coaching skills through serendipity - the 90 second rule

One of my favourite words.


Once described to me as the art of making pleasant discoveries by surprise.  Or via google dictionary, the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

It's nice when we unwittingly develop our coaching (or otherwise) skills in this way.

In posting a daily video on instagram I've had a recent experience of this. Videos have to be under 1 minute long so I've had to be very clear with my content and language and most importantly marry my physical demonstrations with my explanations.  This is key as there simply would not be time to explain then demo, but doing the two things at the same time saves time and helps me fit everything in.

Why is this important at a practical level?  Generally, players don't like to be 'brought in' by the coach too often or for too long - they want to be out there doing it!  So at Everyball Tennis we have a 90 second rule in which we challenge ourselves as coaches to get the players back out on court in 90 seconds clear on the next practice.

We also know that 'touches on the ball' (volume) is very much linked to improvement and during a 90 minute squad session it's a real challenge to ensure that on average (including drink breaks) players touch the ball a minimum of 5-6 times/minute.

So, today I plough on with a post on covering the net in doubles.  Have a good day...

Taking knowledge from one pursuit and applying it creatively to another....

A quote here from David Epstein's 'Range - How generalists triumph in a specialized world':

They (successful adapters) 'traveled on an eight lane highway', he wrote, rather than down a single-lane one-way street.  They had range.  The successful adapters were excellent at taking knowledge from one pursuit and applying it creatively to another, and at avoiding cognitive entrenchment.

A simple example of this is to use other sports to develop skills and problem solving abilities that we can transfer across onto the tennis court and visa versa.  The time-honoured, world-wide game of 'tennis football' is a great example.

I've always enjoyed coaching footballers to play tennis - they come with a higher sense of orientation around and behind the ball, having to appreciate on the football pitch how a ball might behave, where it's going to land, and where do I need to position by body on balance to be able to control it and send it on.  A classic 'receiving and sending' sport.

A fun coordination exercise today. Looks easy but...

Try hitting a few balls whilst continually moving your feet.  Helps develop your coordination in terms of how you might use upper and lower body parts together and efficiently particularly separating out jobs in the preparation phase of the stroke.

Enjoy your Sunday!

A classic leg burner to add to your Saturday workout!

Get some work into the legs today with this little practice on your volleys and half volleys.


The consequences of not improving...

I was going through some old paper-work the other day and came across a set of excellent reflective questions to consider as a Coach (but of course replace coach with any other profession and/or parenting) which I thought I'd post today:

  • Do you want to be a better coach? [Great question - some coaches are perfectly happy as they are, making enough money, have enough clients and may well ask 'why do I need to invest in my own personal development?']
  • What are consequences of NOT becoming a better coach?' (particularly in the environment we might return to after lock-down)
  • What is your influence over your current programme/club/place of work?  How do you impact upon it?  Are you an adder or subtractor, multiplier or divider?
  • Behaviour is very much connected by what they (clients/club members etc) SEE not by what they hear.  What do your players, colleagues, clients SEE of you [in terms of your behaviours]?
  • What is 'acceptable' and what is 'exceptional' in your coaching?  What's the minimum line?
  • If we are truly 'athlete centred' a one-size fits all approach simply does not work.  Can you adapt your behaviours and using a range of different communication and intervention styles?  Knowing when to instruct, when to question, when and how to provide feedback, when to shut-up and be quiet, when to praise, to observe and analyse, when to intervene.....
  • Do we as coaches have the same ambition to improve ourselves and our players do?

Speaking of players, here's a little video today on developing more power on the forehand.