Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Unique Study of History's Greatest Forehand: The Federer Forehand Without the Racket

"His forehand is one of the biggest shots in the game, and also one of the most beautiful. It's explosive, fluid and effortless."  
-- John Yandell 

Courtesy of: Feel Tennis Instruction
Coach Tomaz Mencinger

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fifth Year Anniversary of Timeless Tennis

Five years ago, I started my blog with a simple idea - to help show that tennis is timeless and reflects important life lessons.

Thank you for standing with me, and helping to prove this concept.

We tennis persons are indeed "the lucky people."


Friday, November 7, 2014

Tennis and the Science of Body Language

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy profers something profound about shaping self-character.

She declares that "Our bodies change our minds . . . and our minds change our behavior . . .  and our behavior changes our outcomes."

Thus, body language - that is, the way we each use and carry our body - can literally and ultimately change what we accomplish - and even transform who we are!

Cuddy suggests that we try "power posing" for at least two minutes before any consequential performance where we challenge ourselves such as job interviews or sports matches.

What's a "power pose"? Expanding and projecting with your body, arms, legs and face.

Think Superman or Wonder Woman pose.

And what if you still can't muster yourself up? 

Cuddy's solution. "Fake it, 'till you become it."

Can this thinking work in tennis?

Coach Brian Hall of thinks so.

Remember that 80% of a tennis match is BETWEEN POINTS!

Hall proposes five (5) simple body language techniques for any player level to build confidence, project power and ultimately even alter your self-image.

1. Eye contact - show a fearless look
2. Stay level headed - "Keep Ya Head Up" as the late Tupac Shakur said
3. Smile - Relax your face and release stress
4. Walk the walk - Move precisely and crisply on court
5. Professional posture - Shoulders back and body upright, and no slouching

In short, become what your body projects.

Credit: Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy
& Tennis Coach Brian Hall

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tennis Quote of the Day: Mind Controls Body

-- Craig Townsend, Tennis Coach and Clinical Hypnotist,

Friday, October 31, 2014

Learning from Ballet: Darcey Bussell and the Art of Dreaming with Your Feet

What can Darcey Bussell's magnificent ballet teach tennis players about court movement?

Observe carefully:
*Precision of the human feet
*Always on the toes
*Graceful agility
*The power of rotation
*Perpetual balance



Video: Darcey Bussell 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Learning from Dance: Fred Astaire and the Fine Art of Balance, Rhythm and Fluidity

What can Fred Astaire's masterful dance to "Puttin' on the Ritz" teach tennis players about court movement?

Observe carefully:
*Balance from the core
*Relaxed fluidity
*Moving gracefully to rhythm
*The power of rotation
*Supreme confidence in body language



Video: Fred Astaire (set to Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tennis Quote of the Day: Hazel Wightman on Tennis

"You have to discover your own rhythm, and when you do, it's the easiest game in the world. Here's the first principle of tennis. It's your thinking that counts most. Forty-love is no lead unless you think so. Here's the second principle of tennis. Just get the ball over the net so your opponent can lose the point."

--Hazel Wightman (1886-1974) "Queen Mother of Tennis"

17 Grand Slam Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist,
Founder of the Wightman Cup, Author and Teacher, International Hall of Fame Inductee
Web: Wightman Tennis Center

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Town & Country Magazine (October 2014): Roger Federer Profile

Read this month's Town & Country Magazine profile of Roger Federer, his tennis and lifestyle, in the twilight of his professional career. 

Web: Roger Federer

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Learning from the Martial Arts: The Art of Effortless Power

Coach Jim McLennan identifies how the martial arts disciplines offer tennis players a conceptual framework to help develop "effortless power" on court. 

"Five fundamental principles in the martial arts - and to my mind they are outstanding and totally applicable to tennis - [are]: 
1. Relaxation
2. Feeling the whole body
3. Moving from the Center
4. Being grounded
5. Calmness" 

---Coach Jim McLennan, Website: 

For more reading: Zen Body-Being: An Enlightened Approach to Physical Skill, Grace and Power, Peter Ralston, (Frog Books: 2006), 200 Pages.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tennis Quote of the Day: The Player's Racket

"Rackets are the most important thing for a tennis player. Understanding it. Knowing it. Trusting it. It's part of your family. Those stories of people putting their rackets on their bed and sleeping with them [are true], it's what we live with. We see more of our rackets that we do of anyone else in our lives."

--Darren Cahill, former professional player, world-class coach, sports television commentator and 'racketologist', January 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Three Timeless Mental Strategies to Help Yourself Win --- On and Off the Court

1. Tennis - Run for Everything! 
(Off Court - Never Give Up!) 
2. Tennis - Make the Opponent Hit the Extra Shot! 
(Off Court - Have an Answer for Any Challenge!)
3. Tennis - Play Within Yourself! 
(Off Court - Keep Yourself in the Game!) 

Courtesy and Credit to: Kevin Garlington,
Professional Instructor at TotalTennisDomination

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Tennis Topic of the Day: Keeping the Head Still Thru the Shot

**MENTAL: This is primarily a mental, not physical, challenge
**RELAX: Improves relaxation and promotes self-confidence
**TECHNIQUE: Keeps attention on shot technique, not the outcome or result
**CONTROL: Puts the spotlight on what you can control, not what you can't
**THE PRESENT: Drives the focus on the present moment, not what will happen or has happened 
**MESSAGE: Sends a subtle yet powerful message to opponent that you are in control


Friday, September 5, 2014

Tennis Thought of the Day: Keep Going Until . . .

U.S. Open - Men's Quarterfinal
September 04, 2014, Five (5) Set Victory
Roger Federer (SUI) over Gael Monfils (FRA), 
4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Day at the U.S. Open 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014 - Flushing Meadows, NY USA

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to watch some world class pros at USO 2014 on Day 5! 

I saw most of the Feliciano Lopez - Tatsuma Ito singles match, which saw Lopez prevail in 4 sets. 

I also caught some of the David Goffin - Joao Sousa singles match, in which Goffin won in straight sets. I saw also Lucie Safarova defeat Alize Cornet in 3 sets.

I also spent time on the practice courts watching numerous pros warm up their strokes and routines. 

Defending U.S. Open Men's Doubles Champs Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek put on a dazzling and thorough warm up routine, offering blistering groundies and precision volleys. They went on to win their doubles match in straight sets over Yen Lu and Jiri Vesley.

I also spoke to or ran into several other tennis notables: Dominika Cibulkova, the Aussie Open 2014 finalist (I got her autograph); Brad Gilbert, tennis commentator and former pro; World Class Coach Nick Bollettieri; World No. 4 Petra Kvitova; and Jim Courier, former World No. 1.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience to take in some world class pros doing what they do best.

My takeaway for the rest of us tennis mortals?

What stood out for me immediately and constantly in observing the world class pro game are these 3 elements. 

**Crisp and energetic footwork - precise small "baby steps" and the ever-present "split-step-and-go"
**Complete, extended swings on all groundies, with "full follow-throughs"
**Early racket preparation, with the racket head being taken back as soon as the eyes can tell if it's forehand or backhand

Now can we players at lesser aspiring levels ever hope to play like the pros? Of course not.

But I think there is hope for one thing at least. We can all work to improve all 3 elements which I saw stand out.

And in my opinion, all of us, even rank beginners, can accomplish early racket preparation almost as good as the pros.

Why? I think It has more do with simple human reaction rather than complicated tennis technique or massive practice.

Early racket preparation = immediately better tennis.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

US Open 2014: Roger Federer and the Ghost of Bill Tilden

Roger Federer enjoys being one of the pre-tournament favorites, having just won the Cincinnati Masters. If he wins, it will be his 6th U.S. Open title, the most in the Open Era, and rank him with only Bill Tilden who won 6 in a row in an earlier era (1920s), almost a century ago. I think that 6 U.S. Open titles in the Open Era (if Federer can do it) will be the most unbreakable of Federer's monumental records in tennis. Why? Because the U.S. Open is widely considered the most difficult Grand Slam to win, in part because it is the only slam to sport a tiebreak in any 5th set. Regardless, I think that students of tennis will be studying the tennis game of Federer (as they did for Tilden's game in an earlier era) for a long time to come. Good luck, Fed.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tennis timeout. A word about managing stress and mistakes on and off the court: Let It Go!

The Art of Letting Go

"If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace."
--Ajahn Chah

"You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water, my friend."
--Bruce Lee

"Accept. Not resignation, but nothing makes you lose more energy than to stand and fight a situation you cannot change."
--Dalai Lama 


Letting go is not quitting or surrendering. Letting go is not caving in or giving up. 

Letting go is simply recognizing a situation which you cannot control or change. At least, not right now. 

Letting go does not mean you are abandoning any positive effort to make things better, just that you see past a momentary block, knowing an ultimate breakthrough 
is still possible and will happen.

Letting go is not the same as failure or defeat. Letting go is an active, conscious choice. 

It takes great strength of character. It allows to you overcome second-guessing and overthinking. 

It allows you to take the long view, and return later to the issue and build towards victory.

Letting go does not seem to be a natural exercise for us humans. We need to learn and practice it.

Simple ways to start the practice of letting go everyday stress: 

1. Drink a glass of water or juice -- Savor the taste and form of the liquid. Know you have to do nothing except enjoy the quenching of your thirst. Sip and be refreshed. 

2. Pause a moment, and take a deep breath or two -- Inhale deeply and release slowly. Imagine that you are literally exhaling the stress from your body. 

3. Change what you say to yourself -- When you find yourself faced with regrets about the past or fears of the future, say this: I can handle this day and moment, the here and now. I am not going to worry about three weeks ago, or five years from now. 

4. Observe water like Bruce Lee -- Look at water in a fountain or creek. It doesn't keep bumping, hitting and grinding against the rocks. It flows around obstacles. Flow like water. 

5. Appreciate and enjoy your body's natural and joyful emotions - Laugh hearty. Smile about something you remember. Put on your favorite music and listen or dance. Don't stifle natural emotions - enjoy them. 

6. Feel awe and wonder -- Look at a sunset or dawn; reflect on the world's natural beauty. Gaze at the night sky, and the stars and universe beyond and reflect on their vastness and mystery. Keep our planet and your life in perspective.

Let go and live more in peace!

*Taken and paraphrased from: A Surprising Way to Handle Difficult People, Judith Orloff, MD, Bottom Line/Personal (Sept. 2014) 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014