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Wimbledon Conference 2017

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Spacing Drill

The following post is an excerpt from Frank’s Bestselling Book Championship Tennis available through most on-line retailers!

 Championship Tennis by Frank GiampaoloSpacing

In the early 1990s, I did high-speed video analysis of players’ strokes and discovered that a large a majority of mis-hits occurred because of the player being too close to the ball at impact. Mis- hits also resulted from the player being too far away from the ball, but being jammed was clearly more prevalent. This is why proper spacing plays such a large role in clean stroke production.

Hitting effectively on the move is a requirement for high-level play, and it’s something that must be practiced repeatedly. This is a great drill for developing the footwork required for proper spacing.  An experienced feeder is mandatory for this quick-paced drill. The feeder customizes the ball’s speed, spin, and trajectory to suit the player’s ability level.

Begin with the coach standing with a basket of balls, positioned behind the ad-side doubles alley. The coach will deliver a rapid-fire two-ball sequence to the player’s forehand wing at three different stations on the court.

 

  1. The player begins by standing behind the baseline on the opposing ad-side corner. The coach feeds a high deep ball directly at the player. The player has to run around to the side of the ball and space herself to hit an aggressive inside-out forehand. As the ball is struck, the coach feeds another ball, this time short and inside the service box. The player has to move into the court, properly space herself away from the ball, and once again hit an inside-out forehand.
  1. The player quickly slides back to the base-line, this time at the center hash mark, and the coach repeats the sequence—deep ball followed by short ball. The player continues to direct her shots toward the coach’s corner.
  1. The player quickly slides back to the base-line, this time to the deuce-side corner. The coach again repeats the sequence of deep ball followed by short ball. The player’s target remains the coach’s corner of the court.

 

After the player hits from all stations, repeat the stations with the coach drilling to the back- hand wing. Next, repeat the drill for both the forehand and backhand with the coach standing behind the deuce-side doubles alley. This corner of the court now becomes the player’s target area.

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Frank’s Upcoming Wimbledon Conference

 

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Prepare Properly

The following post is an excerpt from Emotional Aptitude In Sports NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order

 

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Prepare Properly

If you want to make your own good luck, look towards your future athletic competitions as opportunities and bring to these opportunities exquisite preparation. When proper preparation and opportunity meet, the athlete will shine. The solution to developing one’s emotional muscle stems from copying one of the twins. I bet you already know which one it is. In case you are still unclear, let’s review a typical match day- starring our friend, Jarrod.

 

Spectacular Preparation Preceded Spectacular Performance

Jarrod, Evans younger brother by 9 minutes, is a very gifted athlete but a bit unevenly developed.  Emotional aptitude is his most unnatural component and so far he’s not interested in improving it. Jarrod would sabotage his tournament performances before they even began. Of course, Jarrod believed that his poor starts weren’t his fault. They were just plain bad luck.

The night before an away event in Indianapolis, I called Jarrod to discuss the incoming storm and the news reports of the morning flood-like conditions. “Jarrod, let’s plan on leaving earlier tomorrow.” He replied “Nah… I want to sleep in…We’re good”. Fast-forward to the next morning. The plan was to meet in the hotel lobby for breakfast at 8:00 am.  It is now 8:158:30 … and still no Jarrod. It turned out he decided to skip breakfast before his day packed full of 6 hours of intense National competition.

So, we began the hour drive to the site. Visibility through the windshield was about 20 yards due to the pelting storm. All we saw for an hour and forty-five minutes were break lights. This, along with him deciding not to put fuel in his gas tank caused unnecessary unspoken anxiety. An hour into the drive Jarrod said, “I’m so hungry.”

Thirty minutes away from the event I gently reminded him to begin his visualization routine. Leaving the “normal” teenage headspace behind and morphing into the character of a warrior. As I began to remind him again about the emotional benefits of pre-game visualization Jarrod talked over me saying, “I’m fine,” as he decided he didn’t need it and reached over from the passenger seat and turned up the rap station on the SUV’s stereo. Memorizing rap lyrics and tweeting friends were more important to him than the mental imagery of ensuring a peak performance in his upcoming match.

Arriving on site late meant that instead of casually enjoying a relaxed 45 minute warm up. Jarrod now had only 15 minutes to rush through his fundamentals. This brought about feelings of being under prepared which is a confidence killer. As the tournament director blew the whistle for the players to gather, I asked him if he remembered to prepare his equipment, drinks, ice, towels, etc.  Jarrod said, “Oh, can you get me a water… And find me a towel?”

 

Preparing properly for battle doesn’t guarantee victories, but choosing to neglect proper preparation sabotages one’s chance of performing at peak potential.

 

Jarrod’s athleticism didn’t cause another loss. The loss was caused by his lack of emotional aptitude, as seen in his distorted thinking and behavioral patterns in preparing for his event. Needless to say, Jarrod’s game was off from the beginning. He never recovered and went down in flames.

 

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Acknowledge Your Child’s Efforts

Wishing you a Happy Easter Weekend!

 

The following post is an excerpt from the Second Edition of The Tennis Parent’s Bible NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order

 

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MAINTAINING POSITIVE COMMUNICATION

Parents and coaches, your words can both destroy or heal. The belief that you inspire stems from your delivery, your choice of words, tone of voice, facial expressions, and attitude. Be aware of your communication approach.

Acknowledging Your Child’s Efforts

Once a month, throughout the course of your youngster’s tennis career plan on sitting down and writing a letter stating how proud you are of them. Place it on their bed at night.

It’s my bet that most adults could not handle the pressure a serious junior competitor endures day in and day out. Take a few moments to acknowledge how proud you are of their efforts. Thank them for the courage they show as they lay it on the line week after week.

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Adversity in Athletics

The following post is an excerpt from Raising Athletic Royalty NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order

Raising Athletic Royalty

 

ADVERSITY

LESSONThe Laundry List

“Great game men,” said Coach Stevens. “You guys are improving every week. We are one heck of a football team! Every one of you gave it your all out there and I’m so proud! Keep up the good work! I’ll see you Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. at Riley Park for practice… READY BREAK!”

Every kid was smiling and laughing walking off the game day field, except for Randy.

Randy knew what was to come. As he slowly headed toward his father’s car his stomach was a churning ball of knots. Randy added a limp to his gait to support the ever present fake injury. He placed his cell phone in hand to begin to text his friend about homework the moment he got into the car. These were just a few of the aversion tactics Randy regularly employed to lessen the barrage of criticism that was sure to come from his father. If he pretended to be injured and was addressing the importance of homework he needed to complete, then his father may go easy on him.

You see Randy’s dad believed that he was actually helping Randy by watching every game and compiling a detailed laundry list of Randy’s failed plays, mistakes and improvement issues. Randy’s dad didn’t even realize that he was destroying his son’s confidence and self-esteem by pointing out his every flaw. No matter how good Randy was, it was not good enough. No matter how long Randy trained, it was not long enough. No matter how many things Randy fixed, his dad would find more flaws.

Mr. Wilson did not have a clue that the only thing he was cultivating was excuses, no effort and zero enjoyment for the sport, not to mention a seriously unhealthy family environment. After all, why in the world would Randy want to play if it only led to a new laundry list of why he’s so slow, uncoordinated and stupid?

Parents, remember that the only comments you should make directly after competition are motivational and positive comments like: “I wish I had the guts to go out there and perform like that.”, “I think it’s so cool watching you out there.”, “You’re getting better and better everything day.”, “Did you have fun out there today?” or “You’re playing great; let me know if I can help you with anything!” Motivating the growth you seek comes from optimism and not from pessimism. Continually reminding your children of their failures is futile. Instead, after each game or practice session, support your child’s efforts with love and praise.

If you or your spouse possess this dreaded parental laundry list of failure disease, begin to replace the list of negative remarks with positive ones.

If you deeply feel that your laundry list is insightful and important to the growth of your child, I suggest asking the coach if you can email the list to him after the game. Then ask him if he can pay special attention to those issues. Chances are that your child will accept the valid feedback if it is presented by the coach instead of the parent. A good coach should have a better way of presenting the issues in an optimistic and positive light.

“The parental role should be one of gratitude and optimism versus stress and pessimism.”

“Recognize that athletic development is often three steps forward & two steps back.”

 

“Under game day adversity, champions choose to stay on script. This is performing in the manner in which they have been trained.”

 

“You and your child may not realize it at the time, but adversity motivates improvement.”

 

“The ability to handle adversity is a learned behavior. Simulate times of controversy in practice and rehearse how your child should handle it.”

 

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More Solutions to Performance Anxieties

The following post is an excerpt from Emotional Aptitude In Sports NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order

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Perfectionism

Evan: I’ve learned the hard way that perfectionism is like lugging around a duffle bag full of 100 lb. weights. I thought it would make me stronger but all it does is keep me from flying. What a waste of time and energy!

Jarrod: I’m hyper critical. I should be perfect because everyone always told me how brilliant I am.  If I don’t finish #1 every time, I believe I’m a failure. I’ve been told I’m defensive towards criticism, but the ones criticizing me are usually wrong.

Frank’s Tips: Perfectionism is toxic self-abuse. The very best athletes in every sport are only excellent… Not Perfect. Aim for 90% versus 110%.  This allows for wiggle room, while still being consistently excellent.

 

Negative Self-Talk

Evan: I remember you had our whole family play the FLIP IT game. Remember? Every time someone said a negative comment the rest of us would say “flip it!”  Man, we told Jarrod to “flip it” like a thousand times!

Jarrod: Oh yeah, but remember? Dad was worse than me! Every sentence out of his mouth started with:  “The problem is…” I’m actually only negative when things aren’t perfect.

Frank’s Tip: We listen to ourselves more than any other person. This is due to our inner dialog. Are you constantly lifting yourself up or tearing yourself down? Our inner chatter should sound like we’re talking to someone we love.

 

Strengthening emotional aptitude requires focusing optimistically on improving any of the above ten performance anxieties by applying the suggested tips. For most athletes, the likely cause of experiencing anxiety is emotionally experiencing failure …in advance.

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Performance Anxieties

The following post is an excerpt from Emotional Aptitude In Sports NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order

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Fear of Performing in Front of People

Evan: It’s really the fear of not being good enough, wouldn’t you say? The fear of letting friends and family down and giving the naysayers proof that they’re right. It’s more pressure to play to a crowd.

Jarrod: I love playing in front of people. I actually focus better because I want to show them how good I am. My brother is scared of center court… I love it!

Frank’s Tip: Play with fear as the dominant force and fear owns you. You can accept that fear is present but then choose to ignore it. View every spectator as envious of you. You’re on center stage. You’re living their dream. Accept imperfections and enjoy the fact that so many people respect the skills you’ve achieved.

 

Lack of Confidence

Evan: It’s amazing how much more confidence I have in my game with my new found preparation. I believe in my skills because my skills are tested every day. I’m courageous enough to trust my training and it feels good.

Jarrod: I avoid doing things that I’m not good at. I want to win at everything, so why would I try to do something I’m not good at? If it risks me looking bad…I avoid it, I’m not stupid!

Frank’s Tip: Confidence is built upon accountability. It’s the athlete’s daily, consistent accomplishments that increase their trust in their skills. Utilizing daily journals is a great accountability tool used to monitor daily accomplishments.

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More Performance Anxieties

The following post is an excerpt from Emotional Aptitude In Sports NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order 

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Evan and Jarrod’s take on choking and panicking.

Choking

Evan: To me, choking stems from having these unwanted contaminants in my head. As soon as I start to think about the ramifications of the outcome, I lose focus and get super tight. I know that if I’m in a match and I’m already thinking of where I’m going for lunch, I’m in trouble. Staying in my present, performance script is my solution.

Jarrod: No one ever beats me. I beat myself. Yeah, I’ve choked 100 times but everyone does. I don’t think that worrying about it solves anything. Who wants to go to Starbucks?

Frank’s Tips: Choking is most often caused by over-thinking about the future (outcomes) instead of staying in the performance state of mind.  Organizing verbal and physical triggers is a great way to stop choking. Applying basic triggers such as, “Let’s go- pump it up” or doing some kangaroo jumps to loosen up muscle tension may be the difference between winning and losing. In my experience, it is best for athletes of every level to apply a simple command (pre-set protocol) to help them refocus on their performance.

 

Panicking

Evan: Panicking is the opposite of choking, right? If choking is over thinking, panicking is under thinking. Sometimes I’m so angry I don’t apply my rituals. I just shut down mentally and emotionally and rush. That’s when I need to take way more time, breathe deeply and relax.

Jarrod: My parents say that in competition, I’m like a race car with no breaks. I’m not sure what that means but … I’ll take it as a compliment.

Frank’s Tip: Panicking stems from not trusting your talent and your training. It is seen by spectators as under-thinking and rushing through the performance. Again, solutions come in the form of triggers. Triggers to help stop panicking include. Saying “Relax, slow down and let’s enjoy the moment.” Physically, walk away. Take a time out. Go to the towel. Customization is the key.

 

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Establishing Expectations and Guidelines

The following post is an excerpt from the Second Edition of The Tennis Parent’s Bible NOW available through most on-line retailers!  Click Here to Order

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“Being coachable is when the eagerness to improve overrides the fear of change.”

 

Parents and coaches, plan on communicating your expectations to your athlete and entourage of coaches and trainers to develop an important alliance with the team. Defining the behaviors you expect from your athletes during both practice and match play will pave the road for excellence in tennis and in life. This is especially important for the beginner and intermediate levels of the game.

Five Tennis Coaching and Parental Expectations:

  1. Place effort and improvement over having to win the match, social game or live ball drill.
  2. On the court be grateful, enthusiastic and polite.
  3. Arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled practice session to prepare.
  4. Arrive on court dressed and ready to compete.
  5. Avoid complaining or criticizing others.
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