Defensive open-racket face skills today....can you beat my score of 34?! (do you know the dimensions of a court?!)

So the width of a service box singles line to centre line is 13.5 ft.  How are you on the rest of the court dimensions?  Any of these surprise you?

Length of service box, net to service line = 21ft

Service line to baseline = 18ft

Baseline to net = 39ft

Doubles tramline to doubles tramline = 36ft

Singles line to singles line = 27ft

Length of full court = 78ft

Height of net at middle = 3ft

Anyway, today's exercise works on open-racket face defensive skills side to side across the width of a service box

  1. Mark out width of a service box - 13.5ft
  2. Have a timer ready
  3. Starting at the middle point move out to and shadow a defensive backhand over the marker and then recover and repeat on the forehand side
  4. Repeat this continuously for 1 minute, counting each time you play a shot
  5. Maintain good posture - bend at knees not at waist.  Open stance on the FH and closed stance (stepping across with right foot for a right hander) on the BH
  6. Can you improve on my score of 34 in a minute?!  I hope so - I'm getting back out there today to improve!

Here's a demonstration of the exercise with my practice partner Smithy:

So, get your legs out and enjoy the sun today and challenge your heart and legs with this practice!

Let me know your scores ;-)

Using the concept of the 'waiting position' to improve your volley

Happy Friday everyone.  It is Friday isn't it?  Days are rolling into one! 

Anyway, I'm continuing my commitment to provide a little exercise/drill each day of the lockdown to help you stay engaged with your tennis and even make some improvements.  How amazing would that be - coming out of lockdown more skill-full than you were going in!!

I'm seeing video evidence of so many players out there finding great ways of improving whilst not able to get onto a court and there's no reason this should not continue once we get out of lockdown - taking more personal responsibility away from the 'formal' training environment to get better.  This really is what P.R.I.D.E is all about - Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence!

The very simple practice of basic shadow strokes for example - before lockdown it was a challenge to get players to shadow even on court for fear of looking silly,  but now it's 'accepted' and there's a more obvious reason to do it, let's keep it going!  It's one way of genuinely feeling every nuance of the body/stroke - especially when done slowly at first and then building in more speed.

Today, grab another member of the household to give you a few under-arm throws out in the garden/street, or even in the living room.  15 minutes of deliberate practice using the concept of the 'waiting position' to improve the volley.

From the 'ready position' to the 'waiting position' with the racket and ridding yourself of poisonous thinking!

A key mini tennis progression today from a 'ready' to a 'waiting' position with the racket.  Of course this principle can be adapted for older and higher level players for different game situations such as receiving a fast ball on the serve with minimal backswing, and tomorrow I'll show you how we can use it for the volley.

For the mini tennis player the principle of getting the strings of the racket behind the ball and the feeling of playing 'from contact onwards' with a nice stable wrist to control the racket face and direct the ball is a very important building block in their stroke development.

Continuing on with a little self-reflection/examination today....we can't be 'mentally tough' when we've got too much poison in our lives...

So, try rating your poison consumption:

S = sometimes, A = always, N = Never

  • How often do I need to be perfect?
  • How often do I stress over making the best choice?
  • How often do I worry about looking silly in front of others?
  • How often do I worry about my future?
  • How often do I get angry at myself?
  • How often do I worry about my appearance?
  • How often do I dislike or not get along with people in my life?
  • How often do I compare myself to others?
  • How often do I speak poorly about others?
  • How often do I complain?

(NBC Basketball Camps 2019 Booklet)

We only have so much energy, and if we invest energy into any of the above, we're robbing ourselves of the emotional energy required for more helpful and constructive thinking.  So today, let's catch and challenge any poisonous thinking.

What do we mean when we say, 'get behind the ball'? Here's one definition for you and a stay at home exercise to help!

Good morning and hope you're doing ok out there.  I was very grateful for some work yesterday conducting some on-line tutorials with our LTA Senior Performance Coach candidates.  Great to catch up with coaches and discuss the course content and how we might move it forwards over the next months with current restrictions in place.  Some excellent creativity by Simon Wheatley at the LTA to ensure the qualification and personal development continues.   Zoom and other such platforms has certainly come to the rescue over these last couple of weeks!

Here's a little video on 'getting behind the ball'.  It's an expression so often used by us coaches - really defining and measuring it is a little harder, so here's one possible interpretation for you to consider and practice today if you get the chance!

I'd also like to share with you a poem sent to me the other day by one of my clients who inspires me every session we have.  She plays on the veterans ITF tour and her thirst for knowledge, desire to improve and love for the sport is just amazing.  Thanks for this Diana!

The need to win

When an archer is shooting for fun

He has all his skill.

If he shoots for a brass buckle

He is already nervous.

If he shoots for a prize of gold

He goes blind

Or he sees two targets - 

He is out of his mind.

His skill has not changed,

But the prize divides him.

He cares.

He thinks more of winning

Than of shooting - 

and the need to win

Drains him of power.

(Chuang Tzu)

I love this and isn't this why we hear so many top players during interview talking about 'sticking to my processes' and finding ways of 'staying in the now'.   I know I've found myself on many occasions looking ahead to the finishing line, thinking of all the implications of 'winning' this match and thus dividing and draining myself of the energy and power required to bring all my resources to the next point.

'Ball goes up body goes down, ball comes down body goes up!' - timing your knee bend and leg drive on the serve

Here's a short clip with a little exercise to help the timing of your knee bend and leg drive on the serve.  Still applies if you bring your back foot up in your service action.  Coordinate 'ball up body down, ball down body up' and you'll always be 'on time' with your leg-work.

Let's also continue a little self-reflection, this time on some 'personal excellence and grit' goals.  As per yesterday, mark a 'x' by the ones you'd like to improve over the next weeks...

  1. I don't talk badly about other people - if I have nothing positive to say about someone I say nothing at all
  2. I don't judge myself too harshly - I treat myself fairly
  3. I don't think I am superior to others - I count others as my equal
  4. I am grateful
  5. I am not easily angered - I stay calm in the face of upset
  6. I am not easily discouraged - I am determined & resilient ('go again' mantra)
  7. I rarely complain
  8. I can handle criticism or correction
  9. I listen well
  10. I am positive and have a great attitude

(Adapted from NBC Basketball camps 2019 Workbook)

Serving practice today - 'isolating' the arms (pun intended!) & some continuing self-reflection

Good morning everyone,

I hope you're ready for another 'stay at home' week.  Hopefully you've been able to develop a little bit of a routine now with some school-work, exercise, and perhaps you can give 15 minutes of your day to developing the co-ordination of your arms on your SERVE today?

If so, check out this quick video:

With a little extra time on our hands, perhaps we might continue with yesterday's self reflection exercise - can we fearlessly self-examine without being too hard on ourselves and feeling discouraged or being too easy and becoming arrogant?

Talent development goals (mark an 'x' by the ones you would like to improve on the most

  1. I stay focused and work to maximise every lesson or drill
  2. I love to learn and study
  3. I work to know the information and truly understand it
  4. I thank my coaches and teachers
  5. I do what is expected rather than cut corners when I face drills/exercises that are hard or expose my weaknesses
  6. I keep going when I make a mistake or experience difficultly
  7. I focus on controlling my effort and attitude and what I can do further to improve rather than compare myself to 'who is best' at the activity

(from NBC basketball camps 2019 workbook)

Develop your forehand and backhand 'body-work' today and few reflective questions to consider...

Hi to all 'Everyballers' out there and hope that you are coping well?  Here in Northchurch, Hertfordshire the sun has just come out and the dog is pestering for a walk!  Thankful for small pleasures in this crazy of craziest times.

In today's video I'd like to encourage you to practice your 'body-work' for your forehand and backhand.  Remember, good body-work provides the opportunity for good racket-work, so follow my tips today on the underarm med ball/football/basket ball throws.  Why don't you mix this up with a few of the other practices I've posted over the last few days and plan a little session.

A few reflective questions on mental toughness

A mentally tough person disciplines his or her mind to dwell on thoughts that make them stronger, braver, and a better leader.  If a thought doesn't meet their goals and criteria, they throw it out.  They save their minds for the best and most powerful thoughts.  They know that our thoughts become our actions, and our actions become our future self.  

With this 'future self' in mind why don't you give a half-hour today to reflect on the following 4 questions:

1) What stories do you want to tell about your life a year from now?

2) List a few words that you would like to define your year

3) How would you like people to describe you?  What kind of words would you want them to use?

4) What kind of impact would you like to make on your family, team and community?

(Taken from NBC Basketball Camps 2019 workbook)

Try the Koala challenge today.....

A break from tennis today and a bit of core strength, stability, balance, agility work (actually more like a few good laughs!) in the Koala challenge!

'The thing we call success' and some throwing for your 'stay at home practice' today

Hi everyone,

Going through some old stuff yesterday I came across this poem given to me by my coach over 35 years ago as a teenager in Tucson, Arizona.  Think it's pretty apt for our current times...

The Thing we call Success

Success is speaking words of praise, 

In cheering other people's ways,

In doing the best you can,

With every task and every plan.

It's silence when your speech would hurt,

Politeness when your neighbour's curt,

It's deafness when the scandal flows,

And sympathy with other's woes.

It's loyalty when duty calls,

It's courage when disaster falls,

It's patience when the hours are long,

It's found in laughter and song,

It's in the silent time of prayer,

In happiness and despair,

In all life and nothing less,

We find the thing we call success


For your 'stay at home practice' today try working at these 3 different throws, all of which have implications for your tennis and of course other sports!

'Contrasting skills' is a key principle in skill acquisition - try this 'slice-top-slice-top' exercise today

'Slice-top-slice-top' - contrasting racket path, angle of racket face, and grips, can you keep a rally going against the wall with one slice then one topspin shot.  How many in a row?