tag:everyball.net,2013:/posts The never ending 'coaching' discussion 2017-05-26T10:52:38Z Everyball with Mike James tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1157517 2017-05-26T06:45:47Z 2017-05-26T10:52:38Z Everyball Tennis Seniors (ITF Grade 5) at HaltonUK held this week
Our first ever ITF Seniors Event is being held this week at Halton.   We've been blessed with amazing weather, a super entry and the tournament has been superbly refereed by Bob Stone and directed by James Morgan.  Events have run across +35, +45, +55, +65 singles and doubles.

So proud of all our Halton club members who (for many) have taken on the challenge of a new competitive experience, laced up and put themselves 'out there'.  Love it!

A massive well done to Tim Gill, Matt Rogan, Ralph Holliday, Rachel Barnett, Dharshi Maheswaran, Colin Read, Danny O'Sullivan, David Evans, Martyn Ledbury (RAF), Ali Johnson (RAF), David Barnett, Rob Pain, Derek Mellor, Wendy Shute and Helen Stewart.

I have personally battled away over 3 rounds to find myself in the final of the Mens 45s today against No. 3 seed Charles Durham who took out No. 1 seed Steve Jones yesterday. Match is set for 12 noon, so if you're at a loose end and fancy some light entertainment watching me wilt in the sun do come down!

A different experience to my last ITF.  On the clay for one meaning some longer drawn out points and making it harder to attack and get in to the net.  Change of direction tough in these dry conditions, so matches have felt very chess-like and tactical.  Nice to play at 'home' in the sense of familiarity, support and ease of warm-ups and pre and post match, but not so easy to switch in and out of work mode!!

A really thrilling week in adding to our portfolio of events at Halton, and the club has very much been at it's best.

Thanks again Bob and James for your amazing contribution to the event's success.  Today's order of play can be seen here:

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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1156601 2017-05-23T12:06:13Z 2017-05-23T12:06:13Z Definition of an adventure? Outcome unknown.
Here we are encouraged to enrol on the journey.

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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1154163 2017-05-15T14:24:46Z 2017-05-15T14:24:46Z The 'new' T5 (TEAM5) tennis community
See here the new T5 Tennis community.

Looking for partners/collaborators/anyone catching a sniff of the vision.

Do get in touch.

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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1149115 2017-04-25T09:15:12Z 2017-04-25T09:15:12Z Getting closer to the right answer for that particular athlete at that particular time
Seth Godin writes today: 

Science is a process. It's not pretending it has the right answer, it merely has the best process to get closer to that right answer.

Made me think that this can be said about coaching.

Coaching is very much a process.

It's not pretending to have the right answer, but on on-going process/discussion/experiment to get closer to that right answer for that particular athlete at that particular time.
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1147113 2017-04-17T18:47:18Z 2017-04-17T18:47:18Z Is this too simplistic? Difference between girls and boys... Heard this the other day:

Girls need to feel good in order to win.

Boys need to win in order to feel good.

Too simplistic?  No doubt, but nonetheless does it strike a cord?
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1146590 2017-04-15T14:06:56Z 2017-04-15T19:49:23Z Fila Senior Indoor English Championships (6) - Final post

Finals day.

Up at 7.00 am for a half hour mobilise, stretch, roll and cup of tea!  Out of the house by 8.30 to hook up with Chris for a 9.15 hit and was ready to go.

Nick started well and held to love first game making clear his intent to get to net, serving and volleying and sneak attacks from the baseline. Points were going to be relatively short and in some ways I was quite relieved that it wasn't going to be another long physical battle with drawn out rallies, although this probably would have favoured me.  

I held comfortably second game and then managed to pinch an early break followed by another hold to lead 3-1.  Nick's forehand was misfiring slightly and a few unforced errors from him off this wing enabled me to win the first set with relative ease, 6-2.

An immediate break first game second set and I was now in the drivers seat, but I played a poor service game (not positive enough) and we were back on level terms.  With confidence now building in my opponent his game picked up and he began to find the spots on his serve and came up with some really very impressive volleying.  We each held serve but a 4-5, 15-30 I was in some trouble.  A couple of clutch points including an ace out wide and a diving cut off volley helped with get through this sticky patch, and from there the momentum seemed to shift back my way and with a break and and a hold the job was done, 6-2 7-5.  A good match played in great spirit against a very worthy opponent - well done Nick Boys on a great tourney if you read this!

It was great to see the Bright family and Calum and Kevin Fairey there to support - thanks so much guys and for the excellent charting Josh!  You guys helped loads and thanks Chris Evans as well for all the encouragement over last few days and sorry you couldn't quite make it over the line today - all development work for those Inter-Services this summer Chris!

The thing that struck me the most this week has been the expenditure of 'emotional labour' during a tournament, both on and off-court and how much of a journey into oneself this game really is.  The simple fact of not really being able to talk or engage with anyone but yourself through 2 hours of play leads to a whole range of emotions and thoughts, often in that order.  The emotion kicks in very quickly, and it's a question then of whether one's self-talk can take you to a better place when those emotions are less than helpful or just downright chimp-like negative! There have been times over the last few matches where I've just wanted to give up, stop fighting and go home but another voice kept tugging away saying, 'no, stick at it, hang in there and it could just turn.'

Been a great few days.  A super reminder for me as a coach what our Everyball players go through on a regular basis and hopefully my coaching will be sharper and more insightful as a result.  Thanks also for all the support via text/social media etc...makes a massive difference.

Match point, filmed by Chris attached below.

Until next time, Mike.





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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1146396 2017-04-14T15:14:55Z 2017-04-15T19:44:38Z Fila Senior Indoor English Champs 2017 (5) - update on semi-finals
Ok so on to semis today.  Opponent Stephen Jones ranked 37 in the world 40s and 44 in the world 45s (he can play both as turns 45 this calendar year), so felt like it was always going to be a tall order and not quite sure how the legs would respond after long 3 setter in the quarters.

Arrived for 10.45 hit with Chris Evans who was also playing his semi in the Mens 35s (Well done Chris on another routine win and into the finals tomorrow and thanks for your fantastic support today, once again my match outlasting yours for time!) and felt surprisingly good.

Took this feeling onto court and although I could see Stephen's pedigree he was missing enough to enable me to get a couple of breaks up and close out the first set 6-2.

0-40 on his serve in the first game of the second and had I converted one of these break points I might well have been away but it was not to be and we each held serve over the next several games.  He was playing much better, finding the corners with his backhand and I had gone a little passive, not coming over the ball enough to take time away and was more or less hoping that he'd just go on and 'lose' the match for me! Oh how the mind works!  At 4-5 me serving, Stephen came up with a couple of great passing shots (he liked the target of me being at net) and ended up breaking me to win the second set.

So into the third and a good hold from him first game which was replicated by me.  By now I had got rid of the tension I was feeling in the second set and began to play with a little more authority and freedom.  Again, rightly or wrongly, I also felt I was just that little bit stronger than him physically and was feeling more and more comfortable in the long rallies, soaking him up with my slice and then changing the pace to be more aggressive to force the required errors from him.  A couple of key points where I chased just one more ball down and I could see him beginning to wonder what he had to do to put the ball away!  Truly living it out and fighting for every ball!!

This extra bit of physicality and belief helped me across the line to take out the number 1 seed 6-1 in the third.

Final tomorrow 10.00 am against unseeded Nick Boys from Beds who has played a cracking tournament so far and took out 2nd and 3rd seeds.  Should be fun!!

Plenty of hydration, re-fuelling, rolling and stretching ahead this afternoon/evening and hope the legs have it in 'em tomorrow!
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1146281 2017-04-13T22:19:51Z 2017-04-14T07:39:07Z Fila Senior Indoor English Champs (4) - today's quarter final update
So, poor preparation my end by assuming that I'd be playing 4th seed Philip Worsdel today.  WRONG.  He was soundly beaten by Andrew Cresswell yesterday, so my scouting and homework on Philip was rendered useless!!

So Andrew and I took to the court at 1.00pm today, half an hour earlier than expected but I was grateful as whatever the outcome I could meet the family in time at Wembley Arena for a meal and the fantastic Harlem Globetrotters!

Staffordshire's Andrew Cresswell loomed pretty large opposite the net at several inches over 6 ft, but just a genuinely lovely guy, sporting and totally calm throughout what turned out to be some battle.

Andrew played a big serving front footed game, no hanging about and it was to be a contrast in style with me hustling balls down mixed with some serve and volley and attacks at net off the backhand slice.  The first set was tight, I was tight and so was the score but I managed a break mid-set which led me to 5-3, 40-15 only to dump a sitter of a forehand volley into the net.  Feeling the pressure of not being match tight, it was a classic choke and led to a mini collapse with Andrew reeling off 4 straight games to win the first set 7-5.

After giving myself a stiff talking to I found my game and rattled off the second 6-1 and felt pretty confident of rolling on through the third in the same way, but Andrew had other plans and played 3 games of super tennis to break me twice and take a 3-0 lead.  It was do or die time for me and I dug deep from somewhere in the memory bank and slowly started to put some points together with a hold followed by a break back.  Still, I was in deep trouble as Andrew, though it seemed visibly tiring now, stepped up to serve out the match at 5-4 but I managed a couple of clutch passing shots to break back and even things up for 5-5.

I felt pretty strong down the stretch (Hutch, I thought of our 'hill' many times!) and managed to hold for a 6-5 lead and then hustled like my life depended on it to force a final break and won the match 5 in the third.  Length of match 2.5 hrs.

Superb match.  Went through every emotion and feeling, amazing that the sport still conjures this all up at the age of 49!

Number 1 seed Stephen Jones tomorrow at 11.30 am in the semis.

Evo, I'll be there for a hit at 10.45 (no sign in until after this time!)

Just back now from the basketball, had a good stretch and foam roll, a few ibuprofen to hopefully do a job overnight and back at it tomorrow.

Hope to be able to take it on through to Saturday, let's see what tomorrow and this crazy sport throw up.
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1146006 2017-04-12T20:21:12Z 2017-04-12T20:21:13Z Fila Senior English Indoor Champs 2017
So, a tighter match today against Robert Slack. 

Started well and broke early to go 3-1 but then I played a few loose points, lost a little confidence and tightened up as he came back to even things at 3-3.  A tentative hold by me and followed by another break took me to 5-3 only to be broken again, this time with some good returning and passing shots from my opponent.  I managed to force another break to take the set and began to relax a little to take the second set without loss of a game.

4th seed tomorrow - was scheduled for 9am but Philip Worsdell still on court playing doubles so may well be later.

Keep you posted and thanks for the support ;-)
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1145873 2017-04-12T07:19:44Z 2017-04-12T07:19:44Z Match preparation - conducting a pre-mortem
Came across this expression yesterday thanks to Northchurch Cricket Club 1st team captain Tom Vila in an excellent players meeting last night in preparation for the upcoming season.

We've called it inoculation in the past, but it's around the idea that prior to a season or a match you conduct an inventory of what could go wrong and develop strategies to combat them when they do.

When they do.

Because things will go wrong

No match or season ever goes, 'good, very good, great, shake hands.'  There are ups, downs, mishaps, mistakes and just plain bad luck.  That's the nature of competition, that's what we've signed up for!

As I prepare for my own match today I know that:

  • my opponent could play lights out tennis
  • he may hit a let-cord winner on a key point
  • I may break a string on a key point
  • he may make a mistake or two on line calls and he may well accuse me of the same!
  • the lighting may be poor and the balls not to my liking
  • my match may be delayed for some-time
  • I may pick up a niggle/injury 
  • I may struggle for timing/form or start badly
  • I may lose a set from a winning position
  • I may find myself getting really nervous/chocking and slow on my feet
The list goes on.

Of course, my strategies to cope with these possible scenarios are mainly mental and geared fundamentally to my self-talk.  Remember how important your self-talk is, primarily because you are listening!

Key phrases I'll be using:

  • "It's ok I can handle it'
  • Hang in there and wait for your moment
  • Who's doing what to who?  How and why are points being won and lost?
  • Slow down, relax, breathe
  • It's ok - I knew that could happen.  This is competition.
  • I can turn this around, keep working.
  • Ok, accept this and move on
  • Use what you've today - stay competitive
  • C'mon; expect good things to happen
Conducting a pre-mortem sounds a little negative I know.  The argument is that we should be staying positive and looking for good things to happen.  I agree, but conducting a pre-mortem should be an integral part of great preparation and being 'real', understanding the nature of competition and the challenges it will present.

The flip side of the coin of course is being intentional about what you would like to happen, visualising success, having a clear plan and processes to follow.  
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1145749 2017-04-11T17:37:44Z 2017-04-11T17:37:45Z Fila Senior English Indoor Champs (3)

Well there was supposed to be some text in front of that video!

Job done today, good to get on and feel the speed of the court.  Opponent played some good points but just lacked the some rally tolerance which enabled me to control things and ultimately deny him a chance to post a game on the score-board.

Game felt pretty good.  Came in whenever possible but also felt pretty good moving at the back.  Struggled to find the slider out wide and down the T although the video courtesy of Matt Rogan watching on caught a good one on match point!  Thanks for the support Matt and best for tomorrow!

No doubt sterner tests to follow but good to have first round out of the way and feel my way into the event.

Also had a smiley Sarah Tricks as referee just to make me feel right at home ;-)

More tomorrow.




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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1145745 2017-04-11T17:27:58Z 2017-04-11T17:27:58Z Fila Senior English Indoor Champs 2017 (2) ]]> Everyball with Mike James tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1145506 2017-04-10T19:31:34Z 2017-04-11T06:15:27Z Fila Senior English Indoor Championships 2017, Gosling Tennis Centre (Blog 1)
Well hello fellow sports fans,

Last year I blogged (some may say blagged) my way through to win the Fila Senior English Indoor Championships, although it must be said that I was a set down in the final when my opponent pulled up with a torn calf muscle and I'm not sure I was the fitter man on the day!

So, this year I thought it only right that I should attempt to defend my title and so begins this year's blog on the event.

A different feeling this year.  Not an unknown bandit in the draw, but seeded 8 with my lofty world ranking of, err, 424.  It must be said that it got as high as 346 after last year's event, but alas I have failed to play since!  Still, posting a 5-0 Senior ITF record gives me some hope for the days to come.

I've prepared well physically.  A lot of time in the pool and on the mountain bike with my great training partner Hutch, 5 or so weeks of Barre Sculpt with the excellent Harriet Moran-Smith and a class of 10 ladies (yes, only bloke and its ballet), so hoping the old body (back, knees, shoulder) will hold out! 

Whilst doing what I can physically, I must admit I'm a little under-cooked on court time, though my players will have noticed a little extra intensity and footwork down my end in their lessons of late and a heightened motivation to play a few points at the end! A big thanks to pal and RAF maestro Chris Evans for the couple of sets today and best of luck in the 35's mate - oh to be so young!  Still, looks like there are a few whipper-snappers in the 45's and I'm shocked to think that next year I'll qualify for the 50s!!!

So, the campaign begins tomorrow 1pm against 45 year old (yes excuses already, he's much younger) James Fiordelisi.  Is there some Italian clay court mastery in that name....I don't know??

I'll report in, daily.  Well, at least tomorrow for sure ;-)

Finally, quick shout out to Halton's own Matt Rogan who takes his place in the Men's 40's event this year.  Great prep over the weekend Matt in your Team Aegon victory and all the best.  That coaching with Danny West will surely see you through!
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1145345 2017-04-10T09:36:32Z 2017-04-10T09:43:04Z Play more doubles and team tennis to develop a 'team' ethic/mentality
I constantly bang on about the 'life-skill' virtues of tennis.  Even written a book about it.

The 'team ethic' however, is one that can easily become an under-developed life-skill in our youngsters as they pursue their competitive tennis journeys.  The 1:1, individualistic nature of our sport can quickly lead to a 'all about me' mentality where it's all about the player's wants/needs/ambitions.  Not a great quality out in the workplace....or anywhere really.

Doubles and 'team tennis' at least puts the break on this and helps players:

  • put needs and ambitions of the team/organisation ahead of theirs
  • play a 'role' in the team that may be one they wouldn't normally play and one in which they might not be the star
  • encourage and motivate others even after an bad loss themselves
  • lead by example
  • to be prepared to accept a tough decision and support from the bench/sidelines
  • communicate more
  • see the bigger picture
  • take responsibility when the 'time' comes
So some advice for our players.  

Play your County.

Play your Club.

Play for your school.

Enter the 'dubs' whenever you can - put your 'fatigue' and 'what's best for me aside' and learn to be a team player.
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1144081 2017-04-05T08:23:17Z 2017-04-05T08:51:31Z Everyball Tennis welcome two new coaches, Christian Colvin and Sam Kilhams, to the TEAM!

Christian Colvin 

Chris joins our team from The Wimbledon Club, SW19 just across from the All England!

He has a real passion for working with players of all levels that want to perform to the best of their ability. He joins our team with a diverse coaching background.

He began his coaching career as a 21 year old as the Head Coach of his local tennis club where he began to inspire a significant increase in junior coaching, developing a schools outreach program and an adult coaching program.

With a desire to further himself Christian then took on the role as Head of Mini Performance at Withdean Indoor Tennis centre gaining valuable experience while working with a group of National 12&U players. Alongside this he helped Sussex LTA with their county cup training. 

During his time at Withdean Christian qualified as an LTA Level 4 Senior Performance Coach which then led him into his next role working at the High Performance Centre in Brighton travelling and coaching players at national and international level at all ages.  

Christian is now a current candidate on the LTA Level 5 Master Club Coach Qualification.

His passion for helping people to identify, gather and mobilise all that they have to go as far as they can is why Christian is so passionate to join the Everyball team as his own personal values and beliefs are very much in line with the Halton and Everyball ethos. 

christiancolvin@everyball.net, 07909 352866


Sam Kilhams

Sam was introduced to tennis at 7 years old at his local tennis club in Chichester, West Sussex.  He had a successful junior career playing at every age group for Sussex and attending regional and national training camps whilst winning multiple events around the UK.  

As a senior player, Sam continues to represent Sussex whenever possible and has played a number of British Tour events enjoying competition and engaging in multiple sports for as long as he can!

During his college years Sam completed the LTA AASE Scheme at Brighton Health and Rackets Club, completing this in 2011.  During this time he completed his Level 1 and 2 coaching qualifications.  His Level 3 badge soon followed as did a full time coaching position at Chichester where he first picked up a racket!

This gave Sam an excellent platform to gain experience as a coach and assist many different players from toddlers at the start of their journey, to competitive teenage athletes, to veterans at 65+.  Everyone of them has helped him learn and develop as a coach and person!

Having some completed his Level 4 Senior Club Coach Award in 2016, Sam is excited to join the Everyball team and we are delighted to have him!  

samkilhams@everyball.net, 07833 918748



  

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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1144056 2017-04-05T06:30:26Z 2017-04-05T06:30:26Z Effortless power (2)

The thing about effortless power (see short video post yesterday of Everyball coach Alan Bevan in action) is that it's a bit of a contradiction.  It actually takes a lot of work.  So does powerless effort of course, but you'd take effortless power every time wouldn't you?


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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1143867 2017-04-04T13:31:29Z 2017-04-05T09:16:51Z Effortless power ]]> Everyball with Mike James tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1143265 2017-04-02T08:28:19Z 2017-04-02T08:28:19Z What did you see as you pulled up for the shot?
So asked a reporter when interviewing Mississippi State Bulldog Morgan William who scored an OT buzzer-beater jump shot to snap UConn's 111-game win streak in the semi-finals of the NCAA 2017 Final Four.

Her reply: 'I saw opportunity'.

Morgan William, the tiniest player on the court, hit the biggest shot of her life.

Because she wanted the ball.

Because her courage outweighed her fear.

Because she ignored the towering opponent in her face.

Because she had practiced and practiced and practiced.

Because she knew at some point the chance would come.

And she was there, and she was ready.

She saw opportunity.

See it here
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1142779 2017-03-31T06:29:52Z 2017-03-31T09:52:16Z A new way of thinking (3) We are entitled to our human rights.

That's about it.

Entitlement doesn't stretch further.

We are not entitled to win that match.
We are not entitled to that job or that earning.
We are not entitled to that behavioural response.
We are not entitled to that reward, that relationship, that perk.

When we become entitled, we become a victim. It becomes everybody else's fault, never ours.  

There's always someone or something to blame and frankly playing the victim is not attractive.

Our response is to take responsibility - show an ability to respond and create value in and for ourselves by working for and earning the things we want.

Superb by Jo Konta reaching finals of Miami - no entitlement there I can assure you.
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1141421 2017-03-25T06:42:51Z 2017-03-25T06:42:51Z A new way of thinking (2) I think there was a time when responding to feedback and criticism was just seen as part of our development and evolution as players, coaches, professionals.

Now in our post modern ego-centric world we have become unable to distinguish this between an attack on our personal being rather than feedback on our performance - our performance (actions and behaviours that we mobilise to achieve a result) on a particular occasion!

Can we re-think this? Can we re-programme ourselves to take on board either the evidence that sits in front of us, or the opinions and observations of others and separate this from becoming some sort of statement or reflection of our 'person'.

Can we begin to act as if these statements were true:

There is no failure only feedback.

We are not our behaviours.
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1141202 2017-03-24T08:09:17Z 2017-03-24T08:09:17Z A new way of thinking about things....
Sometimes we need a new way of thinking about things.

A new way of thinking leads to a different set of behaviours.

Is today a day to challenge our thinking habits?  Is it a day to challenge how we fundamentally talk to ourselves because we are listening!!
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1136114 2017-03-05T11:07:02Z 2017-03-05T11:09:57Z Incremental daily progress
Are you progressing, improving, moving forwards?

Seth Godin writes: The thing is, incremental daily progress (negative or positive) is what actually causes transformation.  A figurative drip, drip, drip.  Showing up, every single day, gaining in strength....

You've got to keep treading the path, 'laying track' as he calls it.

Day after day.

Session after session.

Ball after ball.  Keep showing up, not just physically but being there 100% mentally with effort, fight and courageous purpose behind every ball.



 
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1133416 2017-02-22T16:53:50Z 2017-02-22T16:55:18Z Getting to know our 'Everyball' players....William Mottram
In the second of our 'getting to know you' posts meet 12 year old Will Mottram, the No. 4 12&U player in Bucks!

Your Dream goal?  Play in the Davis Cup!

Favourite meal? Pizza

Favourite player? Andy Murray

Your individual coach and his/her quirkiest habit? Jemima and insisting on playing 'Killer'

When you're not playing tennis? Football, cricket and basketball.

Favourite/least favourite lesson in school? P.E/R.E

Your quirkiest habit? Pushing my fingers through my fringe even during a rally!

Your favourite part of being a tennis player and what makes you such a formidable opponent?  Playing matches and chasing down every ball!! (yes, Will!)

Football team? Chelsea

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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1133312 2017-02-22T08:33:18Z 2017-02-22T08:33:19Z Learning to deal with 'injustice'
Great phrase used yesterday by colleague Kris Soutar as we delivered module 5 of the LTA Senior Performance Coach Award together in Loughborough.

Players need to learn to deal with injustice.

Yep, perceived injustice is everywhere in our sport from a bad line call to a referee changing match times to a let-cord winner by your opponent on your match point.  The list could be endless.

Depends on how you see it of course.  See these things simply as 'events' rather than unjust events and you can begin to exercise some responsibility (the ability to respond).

Great group of candidates on the current course including Everyball's Roy Knight!
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1132345 2017-02-18T14:38:02Z 2017-02-18T17:11:20Z Getting to know you....Natalie Bell
Over the next weeks we'll be getting to know some of our junior players a little better, and start today with Natalie Bell!, aged 12 and current Buckinghamshire 12&U No. 1!

We asked her a few questions and Nat's answers in italics:

Your dream goal?  Win Wimbledon!  

Favourite meal?  Spag Bog

Favourite player?  Jo Konta

Your individual coach and his/her quirkiest habit?  Jemima and always winning!

When you're not playing tennis? Hockey, Trampolining, Volleyball, Badminton 

Favourite/least favourite lesson in school? PE, Music

Your quirkiest habit?  Singing out loud

What makes you such a formidable opponent?  Coming to the net

Footy team? Liverpool

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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1130837 2017-02-13T10:47:11Z 2017-02-13T10:47:11Z When you're really throwing a stinker.....
We've all been there.  Throwing an absolute stinker.  Prepared well, plenty of sleep, fuelled and hydrated, hitting well in practice and then....it all goes badly wrong.

Except......

It doesn't mean you gotta lose.

It doesn't mean that you throw your hands up in the air and say, 'just isn't my day.'

You dig deep.

You find a way.

Your compete with whatever is working on the day.

You get over yourself and your 'be perfect' expectations of how a match will run.

You battle for one point and once you got one you battle for another.  You hang in, look for small 'wins', you make balls and drag it out, slowing down between points, wrestling momentum out of your opponent's hands.

You adopt a mentality that the scoring system in tennis favours the player down in a match. 

Lose the first set 6-0, you start 0-0 next set. 

England have won twice in as many weeks in the Six Nations whilst largely underperforming.  First against France at Twickenham, then against Wales on Saturday in Cardiff.  Ok, maybe they weren't throwing total stinkers but they weren't playing well that's for sure.  Read these 3 lines from Tom Fordyce, Chief sports writer in Cardiff (taken from BBC Sports app yesterday).

Believing you will win when all around see a match that's slipping away.
 
Coming back for more when all game you have been turned over and picked off.

Finding precision in the critical moment, having been imprecise in so much of what has gone on before.

That's being a winner.  Winning when you're not 'hot' or in the zone.  Winning when it's downright tough, the timing is off, and all about you have lost belief.

Except you of course.
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1130627 2017-02-12T13:08:54Z 2017-02-12T15:45:20Z Do they play outside the formal coaching & competitve environment? That might be a measure of their passion for the game...
As a Dad to two boys now aged 12 and 14 I wrongly assumed that they'd become tennis players.  I didn't have any great ambition for them to do so but I thought it would be a likely outcome bearing in mind my background.  However, they seemed to be far more attracted to the team environments of football, cricket and basketball and perhaps didn't want to be constantly compared to Dad and measure up, and so they've made their choices.

My sporting experience then with my sons has been supporting their development and growing passion in the aforementioned, having always remembered the advice of an old friend Billy Milton who once said to me, 'Mike, just pay attention to what your kids are passionate about.'

So how do you measure passion for a sport?  It doesn't always come of course as some lightning bolt out of the sky (the first time they try it for example) but can grow over time. One measure worth looking might be the intrinsic motivation shown to simply master something that's important to them, regardless of external measures of success - rating, rankings, results.

So the next obvious question is how do you measure intrinsic motivation? 

Well, for me an obvious answer is to observe how much time a young athlete spends outside of the recognised formal coaching/competitive environment, simply in play, experimentation or observation. 

How much time spent mucking about, trying stuff?

How much time watching the sport on TV/You tube etc?

How much time spent hitting against the bedroom/garage wall at home, or down at the club?

How often are you the parent dragged out to kick, feed, hit, throw, or shoot a ball with them? 

How many baskets of serves are hit without prompting, how many practice sets are played without parental/coach organisation.....?

How many games of 'pick up' played at the rec ground in the village?

How many hoops shot in the snow?

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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1130404 2017-02-11T13:23:18Z 2017-02-11T13:23:18Z Messy and loving it Enjoyed observing and being part of some messy practice today during our Mini Red sessions at Everyball Tennis /Halton. Coaches overcoming the fear of their sessions having to look controlled and ordered (with children having "success") for watching-on parents. Learning to 'play a game' never controlled and ordered - need to allow for experimentation, mistakes, fun and creativity!]]> Everyball with Mike James tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1130145 2017-02-10T08:03:09Z 2017-02-10T08:03:09Z Blocked practice v more open/random practice
The ultimate criteria of the success of these activities is the extent to which those skills transfer into the fluid, unpredictable environment of games. The more limited, static and prescribed a practice situation is, the less effective any transfer will be. The more open ended and dynamic the practice, the more chance there will be of skill transfer. However, the practice will look less neat and tidy, and there will be a greater level of error and failure. The irony here is that the practice that looks less effective, and messier, may well turn out to be developing a higher level of transferable skill.
- From Neil Rollings article 'Is Coaching overrated?'

Does this have implications on how you'll coach today?
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Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1129898 2017-02-09T13:23:27Z 2017-02-09T13:23:27Z Some very interesting thoughts - instruction versus coaching
Coaching enhances performance: instruction is overrated.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/coaching-overrated-neil-rollings
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Everyball with Mike James