Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tennis Topic & Quote of the Day: Mental Imagery and Visualization in Shot Making

"What should be going through your mind as you hit the tennis ball? It's a big question - possibly the biggest question."

For John Yandell, one of the sport's leading hi-speed videographers of world-class pros and website creator of, the answer appears to be visualization of the successful shot you will hit. In other words, the "image of the shot" or a positive mental picture of the stroke - based on feel, imagery and imagination. 

Yandell argues that this image of the shot actually "produces the precise technical motion", and that this "positive mental imagery leads to physical confidence."

Yandell explains, "John McEnroe told me this 30 years ago: 'Sometimes I will see a shot flash across my mind just before I hit it.' . . . Andre Agassi put it this way: 'You have visions of what you are going to do before it happens.' . . . Billie Jean King turned this experience into a conscious, disciplined process and ritualized virtually every shot she hit through mental imagery. . . 

"Pancho Gonzales, arguably one the toughest competitors in the history of tennis, pre-visualized every match he played, including specific shot combinations. In his mind, he had already won the match when he went on court."

For Yandell, the vast majority of people in sports are visual and kinesthetic learners. And the
biggest fundamental challenge in improving tennis teaching, says Yandell, is "to move the emphasis from the verbal world to the world of seeing and feeling."

For more on mental imagery and visualization in shot-making, visit John Yandell's comprehensive and visually instructive site:


From - Mental Imagery: Synthesizing the Physical and Mental Games, John Yandell,, (June 2014 Issue) Web: (Free 30 Day Subscription for New Visitors)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reprise: Book Review of "Brilliant Orange" and How Total Football and Total Tennis are Alike

Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football, by David Winner, 288 Pages (Woodstock, NY, 2000: Overlook Press) 

"There is no medal better than being acclaimed for your style." 
--Johan Cruyff, Legendary Dutch Superstar 

The great Pele famously called the sport of football (what we call soccer), "the beautiful game."

Beginning in the late 1960s, the Netherlands (The Orange) and its trailblazing superstar Johan Cruyff, transformed "the beautiful game" into something quite special - something called "Total Football."

What is it? How did it come about? What lessons might we find in it for the world beyond soccer?

David Winner writes masterfully about these topics in a book regarded as one of the best soccer books ever. 

Brilliant Orange
 explores not just soccer in Holland, but the culture, mindset and history of the Dutch which produced it.

Holland is a place where the landscape is notoriously flat, practically below sea level and exists only because a boy once plugged a dike with his little finger.

It is said that this has produced a peculiar thinking which assumes that space and time are at a premium, and thus must be maximized.

In "Dutch space", the soccer pitch (or field) is not just a big rectangle. It's a restricted zone which demands innovation, creativity, quick-thinking and "doing-it-all".

Enter Total Football.

Total Football means adventurous attacking; rapid position-switching of players (attacker to defender, back to attacker); and exquisite speed and footwork. And above all, it means quick-reaction.

It has also sometimes meant an almost weird pattern of seeming self-destruction - attacking to the point where you left your flank open for potentially devastating counter-attack.

And if The Orange could find a way to defend a play, it also meant quickly turning from defense back to offense again.

The bottom line: every player plays any position and does everything, and always moves forward on the attack.

Total Football lifted the Dutch into the top echelons of the soccer world and landed them into multiple World Cup finals - indeed, it influenced all of football around the world.

For those of us in tennis, what lessons might the related sport of soccer and the Total Football model teach us?

**Like soccer, tennis is ultimately a game of the human feet! In both sports, the relationship of the foot and the ball is the key to court footwork and spacing to the ball. 

**Like soccer, tennis is a game of moving forward and attacking, creating angles and dominating a confined space - the rectangle of the court. 

**Like Total Football, winning tennis is about the "All-Court" game. It means playing well at all positions - baseline, mid-court, and net - and transitioning between them all well. 

**And like Total Football, winning tennis means, when necessary, moving from offense to defense - and then turning defense back quickly into offense.

Soccer's take-away lesson for us in tennis is this: Total Football and "All-Court" Tennis are sports brothers!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tennis Topic of the Day: Footwork is King

"You can't hit it if you can't get to it. Work on your footwork."
--Dennis McWilliams
Sports Director, Lakewag World, 
Austin, TX USA
Quoted in: Tennis View Magazine (July-August 2014), Page 60. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Tennis Quote of the Day: Order from Chaos

"At a fundamental level, tennis is a contest between 2 players to determine who can best create order out of randomness. The player's job is to use the energy and wisdom of a finely-tuned neuro-muscular system to bring order to this potential chaos, organize the flight of the ball, and direct the ball back at the waiting opponent."

--Thomas Rowland, Tennisology, (Human Kinetics), quoted in Tennis View Magazine, "Court Lessons for Life", May/June 2014, Page 65. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sunday, June 1, 2014