Wednesday, 6 April 2016


I have always felt that playing tennis can be likened to playing chess where some moves will take longer than others to make because the brain takes time to think up a way to win. Tennis is a sport that requires many, many moves until the winner has finally found a way to make it 'Checkmate'.
Many juniors will attempt to get to this point in the match far too quickly and inevitably be the 'Checkmated' one instead. Tennis is a patient sport just like chess and there have been many examples of players failing to own the ability to stay out there as long as it takes to carve out a win.
Some players you would swear have somewhere else they would rather be, it's reflected in their impatient style, maybe they do, yet that's not a smart way to play.
I quite possibly played my best tennis when I was around 40 years of age, in fact I quite often say to people that if I had played against my 18 year old former self my 40 year old game would have won the day.
That's a typical tennis story as the sport takes years to learn strategies and become technically sound but it can drive many kids crazy in the process. How many times have you heard a junior yell out in frustration "I can't believe I missed that ! " or "I can't believe I am losing to this guy" !
There is a simple way to deal with that type of attitude and it comes down to educating a player early on in their career that tennis should be respected for what it really is. It quite possibly is the World's toughest one on one sport that requires more thinking than anything else to win.
A kid needs to understand that they will lose more than they will win in their early days on court because of the fact that some of their opponents are way ahead of them  in the thinking department.
When I was 41 years of age I played a 17 year old kid from the City who owned a rather big game yet didn't like to hit 'another' ball. By that I mean that quite often he would hit a big forehand and expect it to be a winner yet I learned early in that match that by me just getting the ball back at times with height or no pace it upset his rhythm. I didn't win the match through style, I won it through thinking.
Big hitters like the ball in their hitting zone and quite often young opponents will give the big hitters exactly what they require for their ego to be enlarged. They try to outhit the big hitter rather than out think them, a recipe for disaster every time.
Guys who play big can always be beaten by giving them balls that require them to create their own pace. Most big shot players have learned to play against the ball machine which is straight up and down hitting so if you are up against someone who fits this description it is a necessity that you don't play like a machine, you need to give them variety.
So is this type of play easy to implement ? It depends on how you are taught. If a coach teaches well then they will cover every shot, not just help someone to become a 'boutique' tennis player who looks great but doesn't own a game of substance.
Many kids will only be taught how to play from the baseline with a one dimensional type of game that lacks a slice or a net approach. These type of kids are the easiest to beat because there is no variety in their game.
Variety keeps opponents guessing.......

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