Ubuntu - I am because we re

A saying from the African tribe the Xhosa.

I am because we are.

Coaches, players and parents.  I am because we are.

We need each other.

We work in an ecosystem.

We feed off each other yet feed into each other.

We don't just take and live off the system/organism.  That's parasitic behaviour.  It doesn't work. Or maybe it does, for a period of time, for YOU, but no-one else.

Players - you need other players to train with and practice against.  You need a club and a programme that you not only feed off but feed into so others can also gain.

Coaches - the same, making sacrifices and for the good of the programme you're involved in and the athletes you work with.  You will gain twice as much than if you're in it just for yourself.  
Requires some longer term big picture thinking.

I am because we are.

The 4 R's - Key life skills that our young people can develop through their time playing tennis with us at Everyball

First job interview question: 

'So young man/lady, I see you've played plenty of tennis.  What did that experience teach you and how can it help you in this job if you were to be offered it?'

'Well, the key life skills that I learned through my time playing tennis can be summed up in the 4 R's.  

Respect
Responsibility
Resilience
Reflection

I learned to respect myself and that in respecting myself I can respect others - opponents, officials, the game and its rules.  I believe respect is the basis for humility and humility enables me to give my best effort all the time because I'm not afraid to fail.

Responsibility is the 'ability to respond', to solve problems, to be resourceful but also accountable for my actions and behaviour.

Resilience is my ability to bounce back from disappointment and roll up my sleeves and get right back on the tools.

Reflection is my ability to objectively look at my performance, see what I'm doing well and see what areas I can continue to improve in.  A good honest look in the mirror is always helpful.

With the 4 R's I believe I can make a significant contribution to your organisation.....'

P.R.I.D.E - 10 different ways to demonstrate it

We talked a lot about our belief in P.R.I.D.E yesterday.

Personal Responsibility in Developing Excellence

Here are 10 ways to demonstrate it:

1.  You bring the energy and effort in your commitment to everyball.  Take pride in your performance.  Athletic base, split step, best possible contact point.

2.  Work on your game 'all the time'.  This links into another everyball coaching belief that your improvement is not conditional on who has hit the ball to you.  We call it the Azarenka effect: 'get me onto a tennis court and I'll get better.'  Come to lessons with your own agenda of what you want to work on.

3.  Hit 3 baskets of serves each week.

4.  The wall is the best practice partner you'll ever have - never misses unless you miss it!  Been on it lately?

5.  Do your own IP (injury prevention) and flexibility work-out each day - 20 minutes per day will bring massive gains.  Failing that go for a run!

6.  Develop out your own tournament plan.  Leaving this to mum?  Taking this responsibility for entering events means that you take charge and accept the 'consequences' of doing so, creating a challenge by choice scenario.

7.  Take care of your diet and your rest.

8.  Pack your own bags/fill your own water bottle/ensure all your equipment is in good order

9.  Practice sets - they come free of charge.  Doesn't matter who they are against.  

10.  Don't 'blame' others.  The results you are getting are the results you should be getting.  Want to change your results?  Take some P.R.I.D.E in what you're doing and begin doing a few things differently.

I'm sure the list goes on.  Let me know what else you come up with.

Have a great day!

Learn to 'win' by these 5 key ways of provoking errors from your opponent rather than relying on hitting winners past them

There seems to be a trend in junior tennis that suggests players are only satisfied in winning a point with an untouchable winner, but 'provoking' your opponent into an error can be just as satisfying and effective and demonstrates that you're not only a 'hitter of the ball' but a 'player of the game'.

Here are 5 key ways to provoke an error out of your opponent.

1.  Chase every single ball down no matter how lost the cause might be.  Hold onto the value that 'if I touch it I make it'.  This way your opponent knows the ball is always coming back.  More often than not over the length of a match, this will force them to go for a little bit more, play closer to the lines, provoking the error. Murray is the master of this.

2.  Consistent rally quality.  How consistent are you from the back of the court?  Sending out the signal that you're going to maintain a ferocious commitment to playing with 'rising ball quality' (when ball rises onto your opponent when they are in a neutral rallying position behind their baseline).  This 'aggressive patience' will entice your opponent into an early error by pulling the trigger too soon.  Did you see Cibulkova play over the last week? Yes there were winners, but her commitment to the 'rally' ball was terrifying.

3.  Challenge your opponent's movement.  Can you get them to hit on the run twice in a row?  You are far more likely to provoke the error whilst your opponent is on the move and their control is compromised.  Radwanska is a fine example of a player who moves the ball well.

4.  Be a rhythm wrecker.  Most players like to develop a rhythm.  Are you guilty of playing with the same tempo, height and spin again and again feeding into this?  Change it up from time to time, play with a slice, a heavier/slower ball, or with a bit of extra acceleration. I come back to Murray on this one as role model.

5.  Bring your opponent into net and 'make them volley'.  Many junior players (and seniors) are not so comfortable at net.  So often we think that we have to hit the ball past a player at net when testing their volleys more than often will provoke the error.  Make them play!  Federer role models this well using his short cross-court slice to entice opponents in and then rips a low pass at them to break down their volley.

Remember to mentally reward yourself for provoking your opponent into an error and learn to take as much satisfaction from this as hitting that clean winner!

Top players still come in all shapes and sizes

Domi Cibulkova.  5ft 3 inches tall.  Packs a mighty punch.  Wasn't so long ago that the great sages in world tennis were saying you're gonna have to be six foot plus (even on the women's side) to really make an impact.

Cibulkova finishes this year as world no. 5 with WTA Finals title victory over world no. 1 Kerber.

Somebody forgot to tell her about the above.  Or somebody told her, but she went ahead and broke the rules anyway.

Love the convention beaters, the rule breakers, the challengers to the status quo, the rebels with a cause.  

Tangible evidence of work done

Yesterday was a good day at the office.  As a coach your work 'review' takes place every time your athletes hit the match court and it's not always that we get to witness the fruits of our labour.  Yesterday (and through the week) the diligence of our coaches, players and parents at Everyball was tangible.  It was not just because winning results flowed in from around the country but the manner of them and the transference of habits and new skills from the practice court onto the match court.  (To get a feel of the week's results visit the home page of http://www.everyball.uk/ and scroll through the twitter feed - makes great reading!)

Joel wins two rounds of qualifying at the 14&U Grade 2 in Bath.  'Really focused well and played a smart match' said coach Phil Fowler.  He is joined by Miles Groom in the Main Draw today, whilst Lauren Armstrong and Isabelle Marshall fly the flag at the 18&U G2 in Bolton.

Dan Dean wins an early evening battle in 3rd set tie-break against No. 2 seed Alex Chan under the flood lights to take the 18&U boys title at Riverside.  Dan has recently returned from a long lay-off with a serious back injury.  Such a pleasure to see him back in the saddle.

Scarlett Hutchinson put in a superb performance also winning in a 3rd set tie-break against No. 1 seed Amelia Campbell.  Significant improvements in key areas of her game.

Millie Day wins the Bradfield U12 Girls Grade 4 with a strong performances.  'Great composure and focus' says coach Jo Head.

Players continue to compete and put themselves courageously on the line today.  

Courage - not the absence of fear, but the overcoming of it.

Fear of failure

Fear of being wrong

Fear of rejection

Fear of emotional discomfort

This is what the game teaches us - conquering these 'fatal' fears.

The finished article and stop, start and continue.

Interesting choice of language attributed on the telly just now to Arsene Wenger saying that as a footballer you become the finished article at 23.

Seems to me that one of the key qualities of any high performer in any walk of life is their constant and never-ending search for improvement.  In this and I suspect if your anything like me, there's some unhelpful stuff that you're currently doing that you can stop doing, there's bound to be some new and helpful stuff that you can start doing, and equally there's bound to be some good stuff that you're already doing so continue on with it.

But the minute we think of ourselves as the finished article, it's time to hang up the boots, the racket, the pen, or whatever...

Becoming of course, is always better than being.


Free Cardiac screening through Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) this Saturday at Ashlyns school, Berkhamsted

Hi all Everyballers,

Berkhamsted Raiders football club have extended us an opportunity to make the most of Free cardiac screening at Berkhamsted Raiders this Saturday.  Please see below if interested:


Every week in the UK at least 12 presumed fit and healthy young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions.

Berkhamsted Raiders offers all current and former Raiders from the age of 14 – 35 years the opportunity to undergo cardiac screening through the Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) screening programme. The screening day is this Saturday between 9am and 5pm at Ashlyns School.

We have 30 UNFILLED SCREENING SLOTS. So, we are making the screening AVAILABLE TO ANYONE 14 – 35 years in the local area

if you would like your son or daughter to be screened, please email cry@berkhamstedraiders.com NOW and we will email you a password which will allow you to go onto the CRY website and book a slot to be screened. The test is painless, non-invasive and takes only a few minutes to perform.

Berkhamsted Raiders is funding the screening day. It's free of charge. But we do invite parents to make a voluntary donation of £35 to cover the cost, if they wish.