tag:everyball.net,2013:/posts Coaching, the never-ending discussion.... 2019-07-12T07:31:43Z Everyball with Mike James tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1431604 2019-07-12T07:27:32Z 2019-07-12T07:31:43Z Footwork masterclass from Felix Auger Aliassime - lessons from the practice courts at Wimbledon

A hop means to take off on one foot and land on that same foot.  A jump is the reverse, take off on one land on the other.

See Felix Auger Aliassime work on his movement forward off a short ball.  His footwork through the short is determined by: 

- his initial position on the court (where he's coming from)

- the characteristics of the ball he is receiving; in this case a slow (speed) shorter ball (distance) to the forehand from  a cross-court direction, relatively low (height) and with a little topspin.

- his shot selection (FH topspin approach down the line - attacking with precision) and movement after towards the net.

He therefore selects on this occasion a hop step through the shot, taking off on his left and landing on his left to increase his ability to get up to the top of the bounce to take it early and the distance he can cover towards the net to ensure a good volley position.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1431249 2019-07-11T07:13:58Z 2019-07-12T07:03:24Z Play both back when returning in doubles to counter the big server - great lessons for all levels of doubles play

There are a good reasons to play in a 'both back' formation when returning in doubles, one of them being to counter the big server and the vulnerability of the returner's partner against the server's partner when in the 'up' position.  This is demonstrated well here by Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez last week at Wimbledon.

See also Lopez movement into the split step and his reduced backswing on the FH return to counter to speed of the oncoming speed.  It was a good serve into his body and whilst he managed to hit a winning return down the line the net player probably should have done a better job with his technical anticipation (ie: Lopez was never going to find the inside of the ball here to go back cross-court) to cover it.

Carreno Busta is not passive in his role - see his movement on and just after the return, ready for the short reply.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1429444 2019-07-09T08:51:59Z 2019-07-09T08:52:00Z Winning, losing and playing the game

Great quote on the wall in the All England Club from Boris Becker.

I can take losing, I like winning, but most of all I love playing the game.

Great perspective.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1428004 2019-07-05T09:28:26Z 2019-07-05T09:28:26Z PROV3 delivers on it's aims as Beth Grey plays at Wimbledon 2019

2 years ago we launched ProV3 - a beneficial initiative of Halton UK's charitable projects with the objective of supporting the careers of aspiring but vulnerable professional tennis players outside the WTA/ATP top 250.  Vulnerabilities include high rates of burning/dropping out, high stress/anxiety due to lack of resources, low incomes due to minimal prize money at lower tier professional events, and perhaps being ill equipped and/or unprepared for life after tennis.

We aim to achieve this through pursuing our HaltonUK definition of 'winning': To identify, gather and mobilise all our resources to go as far as we can.  In doing this our behaviours are driven by 3 key values (3V):

Excellence – the quality of being outstanding in all we do

Community – shared learning, experience and support

High Performance team-work - strong interdisciplinary approach, clear roles and responsibilities, celebrating success and willing each along [The image of a lone piece of charcoal struggling to stay alight versus a glowing bed where each piece heats and is heated]

We are absolutely delighted that the support Beth has received through ProV3 has contributed to her being in a position this year to play at Wimbledon and it has been an absolute pleasure for all of us at Halton/Everyball Tennis to be part of her journey.  We wish her all the best today with her mixed partner Scott Clayton as they take on Venus Williams and Frances Tiafoe not before 5.30pm on Court 12.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1427222 2019-07-03T06:51:24Z 2019-07-03T07:14:46Z Raonic volley - 3 different volleys, 3 different feelings - skills versus models

Check out Milos Raonic working on his volley on the practice courts at Wimbledon yesterday.

He clearly demonstrates 3 different shot 'feelings' as he progresses forwards towards the net.

A 'through the ball' feeling on the first approach volley where there is a pretty even split between his forward swing pre-contact and post-contact.  

A 'punch/hit' feeling on the second volley where there is more swing and speed in the racket pre-contact.

And then a 'touch' feeling on the final volley where there is no backswing at all (hand just stays in front) and the racket actually goes back on contact as he takes pace off the ball.

A great example of how important it is to teach skills over models - ie; when the technique depends on what we want to do before doing it.  For every ball that's different and our differing intentions the technique needs to adapt with regard to racket-work, bodywork and footwork.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1422908 2019-06-22T10:36:17Z 2019-06-22T10:36:17Z The 3 key words associated with 'responsibility'

I, will and do.

What will I do to change my circumstances?

What will I do to influence my results?

What will I do to improve my game/performance?

What will I do to mend a relationship, go a step further, to find a new challenge...?

What will I do to.....???

The key to being 'responsible' is being the volunteer not the victim.

Here's a link for a great short talk around what it means to take 'responsibility' - one of Everyball's 4 R's.

Have a great weekend!

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1419531 2019-06-12T15:28:57Z 2019-06-12T15:28:57Z Summer holiday activity is a focus in the Everyball June 2019 newsletter! Something for everyone in the family! https://mailchi.mp/3144c6cb1590/may-2019-everyball-open-586325?e=85b46647eb

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1416314 2019-06-04T12:54:21Z 2019-06-04T12:55:54Z The only 'real' feedback....

The thing about feedback it that the only real feedback we can give to another person is 'how we experience them'.  That's the only 'truth' I can offer another person - my experience of them in a given situation and of course, they of me.  Thats because everybody's truths are slightly different - an experience/event goes through our own set of values, beliefs, past experiences and filters and comes out as a 'perception'.  That's a perception we own and therefore we call it our 'truth'.  But to call it the truth is perhaps not quite accurate.

I say this because we as coaches are in the feedback-ing (is there such a word!) business daily and it's easy to come across as being judgmental.  Using phrases such as 'my experience of you in this situation was....' may be helpful.  After all, we only offer feedback (and we should be offering it rather than just giving it) because we believe the client/athlete/player will use the information to become better and that we have faith in their potential. 

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1416310 2019-06-04T12:35:45Z 2019-06-04T12:36:04Z HaltonUK June newsletter out now! Check out what's going on at Halton this month https://mailchi.mp/14e57b4c4481/june-2019-halton-uk-newsletter?e=85b46647eb

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1414605 2019-05-30T06:08:10Z 2019-05-30T06:08:10Z Developing player responsibility - one of the Everyball 4R's

Responsibility.....I like to define it as showing an 'ability to respond' in any given situation by being accountable for and owning one's own thinking and behaviours.  A critical component to being mentally tough in a sport such as tennis but a huge life skill as well.

Unwittingly as coaches we can take responsibility away from our players by consistently, and with good intent (after all isn't this what the client pays us for?  Aren't we the experts?), providing them with our solutions to their problems. This seldom creates awareness, builds confidence or creates ownership and responsibility for action beyond the lesson.  The player's answers will always be more powerful than those provided by the coach because of what it requires of the player/athlete to get to that answer by themselves - a shift in perception, engagement and awareness.  The player's answers are far more likely to be owned, with a greater sense of responsibility for making them happen.

Parents too....by 'helping' are your rendering your kids 'helpless'?

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1413767 2019-05-27T18:13:18Z 2019-05-27T18:13:18Z Debunking the 10,000 hour rule....

Very much worth a read if you are involved in youth sports of any kind and at any level. 

I referenced Epstein and his early book 'The Sports Gene' in my own book Everyball - it's a drum I've been banging for a long time. 


Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1412536 2019-05-24T08:28:36Z 2019-05-24T08:28:36Z Determined or desperate to win?

A nice little piece of thinking here that Everyball coach Seb Calcutt picked up on his LTA level 4 Senior Performance Coach course recently:

If you're determined to win you'll think logically on outcomes to achieve victory with effective use of physical output.

If your desperate to win you'll think illogically (and possibly irrationally) over issues out of your control like wind, bad bounces etc with non-effective use of physical output.

You'll often see that in a contest.  One player/team determined, the other desperate.  

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1412120 2019-05-23T09:27:04Z 2019-05-23T09:27:04Z The power of 'you' - food for thought....

A friend sent me this yesterday.  Thought is was quite thought provoking.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1407018 2019-05-09T10:27:47Z 2019-05-09T10:45:41Z Leadership that encourages risk, mistakes, fail and fail fast - Klopp has got it bang on!

What a stunning couple of night's of football.  Amongst it all, the highlight for me was the corner taken by Trent Alexander-Arnold and particularly how it reflects on Jurgen Klopp's leadership style and the culture in Liverpool's dressing room.

What prompted him to take that instinctive, cheeky, audacious corner without fearing reprimand if he screwed it up?  Surely a leadership style that encourages risk, permission to try to make mistakes - a fail and fail fast mantra with quick re-adjustments and learning.

Klopp has got it spot on as it appears does Pochettino.  I'm not always a great fan of football culture, but gosh the game has delivered something quite amazing this week and what a Champions League final we have in store.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1397645 2019-04-14T06:39:07Z 2019-04-14T06:39:07Z Come and see world ranked players in action today at Halton Tennis Centre in the National open division of British TEAM TENNIS

Today sees our first home matches of the season in the National Division of both Mens and Ladies LTA TEAM TENNIS competition.

The Men are playing Milton Keynes at 10.30am the team being Gavin McKinlay, Roy Knight, Calum McKinlay and Ed Taylor.

The Ladies are playing Kings TC at 1pm, the team being Lereesa Easterbrook, Beth Grey, Izzy Marshall, Olivia Nicholls, Aimee Gibson and Louise Holtum (Beth, Olivia & Louise all hold WTA world rankings)

Bacon Butties will be available in the morning, followed by burgers for lunch, and complimentary PImms will be served during the afternoon.

Entry is free and open to the public so come down to Halton Tennis Centre  (near Wendover, Bucks) today and enjoy the sun and some first class tennis!  

Beth and Olivia pictured above will be in action today.  Last year as a pair they won 3 ITF Women's 25K events and Beth is now ranked 150 in the world in doubles, 450 in singles.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1395147 2019-04-08T10:32:10Z 2019-04-08T10:32:10Z Sign of a great culture? When the rest of the 'team' delights in your success

Tougher to find/create in an individual sport like tennis.  That's why 'team tennis' at any/every level is so important - being part of something bigger than oneself, looking beyond one's own failures and successes and commiserating and celebrating with others.  It's a wonderful thing when this kind of support is genuine, instinctive and immediate - sign of a great culture within a team, programme, organisation that takes real building and nurturing.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1392042 2019-03-31T10:50:51Z 2019-03-31T11:04:20Z Happy mother's day!

To all Mums out there, happy mother's day and hope you feel appreciated today!

Having just come back from a long family walk with Smithy the dog reminded me how important it is just to take 'time out' from the business and busyness of it all and then picked up this blog from Seth Godin today.


Reminded me of the 4 I's (a process)

Immersion - heavy involvement in a project/piece of work, a course, a training block - whatever

Incubation - 'time out' not thinking or engaging at all about the what you were immersed in, 'leaving it alone'

Insight - gained from leaving something alone and letting in develop (in the unconscious perhaps)

Inspiration - new ideas or a clearer path forward for next steps/new projects/change in direction etc...

Enjoy the rest of the day!

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1388238 2019-03-21T07:36:47Z 2019-03-21T07:36:47Z Develop a better serve by having a stable elbow in the pre-throw position

It's long been recognised that a good pre-throw position is fundamental to a good serve and this simple and well known progression helps a player isolate this to develop a stable elbow at the end of the pre-throw position.  Throwing from a consistent elbow position enables the racket to follow a consistent path and trajectory with subsequently a more consistent contact point.

Angles at pre-throw should be 90 degrees elbow to hand and 90 degrees elbow to trunk +/- 10 degrees.

Finish in a tip-toe stance (back foot) also begins to develop the necessary body-work (involves lower body - foot, knee, hip) for a serve whilst maintaining good balance and stability through contact.

Progressions can be used when players are further away from the final skill, corrections when they are closer to the final skill. 

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1387004 2019-03-18T09:38:36Z 2019-03-18T09:38:36Z Correction now made - apologies! (re: last blog)

Please see corrected information re: WNT Finals blog:


Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1387001 2019-03-18T09:32:38Z 2019-03-18T09:36:15Z Great job Joel and Jasmine at 16&U Winter National Tour Finals this past weekend....

Super job Joel Good and Jasmine Conway at the 16&U WNT Finals played this weekend at the National Tennis Centre, London.

Joel was runner-up in consolation singles with a 6-3, 4-6, 10-4 loss against Yujiro Onuma and Jasmine won the event with a 6-2 6-1 victory over Iman Khan (4) in the final.  Super job to all coaches involved in working with these 2 excellent young prospects.

Joel pictured far left, Jasmine 4th from right.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1385928 2019-03-15T07:46:41Z 2019-03-15T07:46:41Z What do we mean by 'get behind the ball'?

We coaches use the expression 'get behind the ball' all the time but don't always clearly define exactly what we mean by it, so this morning I thought I'd share a definition with you.

We 'get behind the ball' when we place our outside foot (right foot for a right-hander on a forehand for example) behind the line of the incoming ball before it bounces and refer to this as 'beating the bounce'.

Getting behind the ball or setting up behind the ball gives a player the best opportunity effectively use the ground and therefore legs to transfer weight into the shot.

See here a couple of examples by Everyball players Beth Grey and Amelie Brooks as they work on progressively more challenging exercises to develop this which can involve simple hand feeding and catching/hitting (shown) to tougher basket and live ball drills (not shown).

'Getting behind the ball' (beating the bounce) will also develop a player's reception skills as early reading of opponent's shot direction and then depth is key.  A good analogy would be getting to the bus stop before the bus arrives as opposed to getting there at the same time and rushing to get on!

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1385091 2019-03-13T08:30:51Z 2019-03-13T08:30:51Z Split step - do you land before, on, or after contact?

The answer is 'after contact' so you can time your movement to the ball as soon as you land (often in an 'uneven' split where you land on one foot)....

Just back from a great three days tutoring the LTA SPC (Senior Performance Coach qualification) at Loughborough University.  Module 6 of 9 complete!

See co-tutor Simon Wheatley working on this theme with the coach candidates.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1382558 2019-03-07T09:59:44Z 2019-03-13T10:25:26Z Catching the 'good stuff' and (believe it or not) staying in our comfort zones to learn!

.A great reminder that we've got to keep catching each other doing the good stuff.  A few quotes from an excellent article by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall in the `March-April edition of The Harvard Business Review:

'Learning is less a function of adding something that isn't there than it is of recognising, reinforcing, and refining what already is....neurologically, we grow more in our areas of greater ability (our strengths are our development areas).....according to brain science, people grow far more neurons and synaptic connections where they already have the most neurons and synaptic connections.  In other words, each brain grows most where it's already strongest.....getting attention to our strengths from others catalyses learning, whereas attention to our weaknesses smothers it.'

'We're often told that the key to learning is to get out of our comfort zones, but these findings contradict that particular chestnut: Take us very far out of our comfort zones, and our brains stop paying attention to anything other than surviving the experience.  It's clear that we learn most in our comfort zones, because that's where our neural pathways are most concentrated.  It's where we're most open to possibility, most creative, insightful, and productive.  That's where feedback must meet us - in our moments of flow.

'We humans do not do well when someone whose intentions are unclear tells us where we stand, how good we 'really' are, and what we must do to fix ourselves.  We excel only when people who know us and care about us tell us what they experience and what they feel, and in particular when they see something within us that really works.'

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1381194 2019-03-04T11:38:23Z 2019-03-04T11:38:23Z March edition of 'Open' - the Everyball Tennis newsletter

Hi friends of Everyball,

Please see attached our latest newsletter - hope you enjoy it!


Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1378748 2019-02-26T09:15:23Z 2019-02-26T09:15:23Z Quiet warriors...

Sometimes they go unnoticed.  

Because they don't shout so loud.

They don't make a fuss.

Their parents are often visibly invisible, enabling and supportive rather than a driving force.

They take the rough with the smooth.

They trust their environment but are not dependent on it for daily motivation.

They ignore the siren call for greener pastures, for better hitting partners, for the next 'best thing'

They are the quiet warriors

They appreciate the grind and understand the value of perseverance over time

They sneak up on you, inching along

They focus on climbing their own ladder, avoiding comparisons, unconcerned by standing or status

Their definition of success is just getting a bit better day by day, ball by ball.

They are true 'every-ballers'

Big well done to Everyball player Jack Feinson on his recent success in winning the 16&U Grade 4 in Nottingham. Super example of the quiet warrior.  Keep up the great work Jack.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1377674 2019-02-24T07:18:18Z 2019-02-24T07:18:18Z Why is it that beginners are more open to change?

We've all been 'beginners'.

At something....

And as beginners, we've been far more open to change (learning)?


Generally, because we have nothing to lose.   When we've got something to lose, the shutters come down and barriers go up, especially when the new skill has an initial adverse effect on performance and/or the knowledge that the new skill will only come with significant time and energy thrown at it.

Take an example from tennis and the process changing to a continental/chopper grip on the serve.  When introducing this, I don't think I've ever seen an immediate improvement in performance.  The ball typically loses direction and power and the coach is challenged to communicate a vision of what could be  that is compelling enough for the learner to leave the relative comfort zone of their pancake serve that currently works.

What are other 'relative comfort zones' that we might be clinging to that are inhibiting our ability to change, grow and learn?

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1376956 2019-02-22T08:05:41Z 2019-02-22T08:08:12Z Varying your serving position

Important to vary your serving position along the baseline in singles.  So many players serve from exactly the same spot every time from both deuce and ad courts. Varying your serving position gives you different angles of attack and so increasing your ability to vary placement whilst giving your opponent something else to think about on the return.

On the ad court (for a right hander) try shifting your position a little further left to help with your wide delivery and so giving yourself a forehand to build with on ball 3.  Not too far out that you have no access to the T serve, but somewhere approaching halfway between singles line and centre mark.  You may not want to move as far to your right on the deuce court, but shifting position by a couple of feet left and right will help with the above.

Great job to our Everyball players who have been out and about competing this week.   Best of luck to those competing today.

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1375459 2019-02-18T06:59:34Z 2019-02-18T15:24:47Z Implementing a game-plan when you don't know your opponent

When you've got no intel on your opponent, implement a game-plan in this way: (info taken from a presentation by Louis Cayer and Simon Wheatley of the LTA)

Within warm-up

Is your opponent a rightly or lefty?  One-handed or two on the backhand?  How does he/she look physically - tall/small, quick, not so quick?  What about grips?  Anything extreme?  (heavy western on FH may mean opponent struggles with lower/wider balls, eastern on FH may mean doesn't like ball too high as examples)

Within first 2-3 games

Identify opponent's game style and your default tactics against it.  Is your opponent a retriever, a counter-puncher, aggressive baseliner, big server, net rusher?  

Within first 3-5 games

Identify opponent's strengths and weaknesses and use your default tactics against them.  

Be flexible in the above.  As well as 'fight for everyball' also 'compete' for everyball by playing smart tennis.  How?  Take this  formula out onto court.  It sounds so simple, but not always so easy to execute:

I receive an 'easy ball' I attack with either power, precision, or early ball

I receive a 'medium ball' I rally choosing rally threshold, accuracy, tempo or change rhythm

I receive a 'difficult ball' I defend choosing to 'stay in the point', neutralise, or counter-attack.

Everyball player Ethan Taank works on his rally forehand in this video:

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1375457 2019-02-18T06:25:48Z 2019-02-18T06:25:48Z Approach and volley work

A couple of further clips from the Everyball trip to Loughborough University on Saturday 16th Feb.

Some excellent approach and volley work here by Calum, Dan and Finn.  Good luck to all players competing over this half term.  

Everyball with Mike James
tag:everyball.net,2013:Post/1375196 2019-02-17T08:18:04Z 2019-02-17T08:18:05Z Everyballers descend on L'borough University yesterday

14 players from the Everyball Tennis Academy Programme at Halton Tennis Centre descended on Loughborough University yesterday to train with candidates on the LTA's Level 4 Senior Performance Coach course.  Players trained throughout the day in small squad and 1:1 sessions.  It was an inspirational day with a fantastic group of coaches who are training hard to strengthen  the performance work-force in Great Britain.

Here, Josh Oakley trains with Jocelyn Ray (career high world ranking of 67 in doubles).  Nice disguise on that drop shot Josh!  There is also a nice clip of Calum Fairey in the background moving onto a forehand as he trains with coach George Coupland.  Super energy and shot making shown by Robyn Went in the second clip.

Well done all players and big thanks to Everyball coach Alan Hutcherson for leading the trip and driving the mini bus  and to supporting parents who also helped with transport.

Everyball with Mike James