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.


How can I add a little more 'stick' to those put-away forehand volleys?!

'Stick that volley MJ!'

As my college Coach Bill Wright used to demand back in my days playing at the University of Arizona (go Cats!).

So here's 3 ways in which you can add a little more zip to the ball when that horrible floating volley appears out of the mist on a cold winter's morning! (for those playing outdoor local leagues in Britain!)

Here's a positive 'extension' to lockdown

You get to work on your 'hitting zone'.

The longer you extend the hitting zone from back to front, the more the racket gains velocity (speed over one given direction) which translates into more ball speed in your shot.


Secrets to volleying when close to the net

Close to the net.

We need:

Fast eyes.

Fast hands.

An athletic look.

Keep the feet alive - (no classic 'step in')

Hands in front.

Use the BH for body balls.

Have fun working at it!