anuary, 2003: I’m sitting on a Cliffside, overlooking the east coast of Australia, contemplating my future as a tennis player. I just battled through four rounds of qualifying to make it to the first round of a futures event. Today, I was up a set, 5-4 40-0 and lost in three sets against the 4th seed. My elbow is throbbing, my back is bothering me and my first round losers paycheck will only cover two nights of hotel bills. Is this really worth it??
I recently heard a statistic claiming that roughly 70% of what Donald Trump presented to the American population during his presidential campaign, was, in fact, false. There is a lot of debate about what President Trump truly believes and what he just put out there to grab headlines in his bid to win the election.
This serves as a reminder that we are all guilty at times of some delusional dialogue about ourselves and our goals. Throughout my years of collegiate coaching, I listened to many bold statements from players, and I learned to become increasingly skeptical when I would hear these lines from recruits or players on my team.
Below is a sample of a conversation that would transpire between myself (ME) and many coaches (MR. COACH) around the world while I was recruiting players to play college tennis. Some of the quotes have actually come out of the mouths of many coaches and every college coach has heard this type of thing countless times.
I am not a huge basketball fan but like most sports fan, I do enjoy the NBA Playoffs. I remember watching one game where the star player of the team was having a terrible first half and did not score a single point despite the fact that he averages about 25 points per game.
Unless you have a huge first serve or a blistering return of serve, your success as a tennis player is often going to be determined by the quality (pace & depth) of your neutral ball.
To me, a neutral ball is one that is not an obvious offensive position where you are equipped to end the point with a winner or even force your opponent into an error. It is also not a ball that puts you on flat-out defence where you are scrambling just to get the ball back in the court. A neutral ball is typically one that is just continuing the point without much drama. However, I think the ability to understand what phase of neutrality you are in will often determine your success as a tennis player.
“Focus”…”Concentrate”….”Stay in the present”… these are all words and terms we use when coaching players from time to time. We have difficulty understanding why they get distracted and lose focus during various stages of their matches or in practice.
We tell our players to stretch, eat well, and stay hydrated, to get a lot of sleep and to take care of their bodies. We want them to do all the “little things” well, and to have the discipline to be consistent with these actions. How many of us coaches actually take our own advice?
We generally have a terrible tendency as coaches to coach in the same manner in which we were coached. We are often a generation or two ahead of our students, yet we expect them to respond to the same coaching style that we grew accustomed to many moons ago. When our students don’t respond in the way we expect, or handle the criticism the way we once did then we get frustrated and complain how this current generation just aren’t tough enough or are too lazy and apathetic.
Last week I read an article about the 7 foods every tennis player should eat. It was the same age old sports nutrition 101 about eating pasta, chugging Gatorades, having energy chews on hand at all times, and, my all-time favorite, ensuring you have a chocolate milk to get that all important protein after practice. I can’t believe that this kind of garbage is still being pushed out to the general public, and I don’t understand why more people are not questioning these nutritional practices.