All Posts by Mehrban

TFP 052: Dennis Novikov on Climbing the ATP Tour Ladder

TFP 052: Dennis Novikov on Climbing the ATP Tour Ladder

On today’s show, I spoke with ATP Pro Dennis Novikov.  As an 18-year old, Dennis gained direct entry to the 2012 US Open singles and doubles main draws by winning both titles at the Boys 18s National Championship at Kalamazoo.  Dennis impressively won his first round singles and doubles matches at the US Open, and has been steadily climbing up the ATP Tour ladder ever since, reaching a career high of #119 in the world last year.  He also played two years of college tennis at UCLA, a top-ranked school that another podcast guest, Clay Thompson, attended.

You’ll hear about Dennis’s daily routines, how he handles adversity, the type of training he does in the gym, and tips for improving your tennis game on Episode 52 of The Tennis Files Podcast.  I first met Dennis after a World Team Tennis match between the Washington Kastles and the Orange County Breakers in D.C.  My dad and I chatted briefly with Dennis in the garage elevator, and it is really cool to have him on as a guest on the podcast.

I hope you enjoy my interview with Dennis, and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [3:57] Dennis’s first memory of hitting a tennis ball
  • [4:46] Dennis’s brother’s influence on Dennis’s tennis game?
  • [5:10] Other sports/activities Dennis played as a youngster
  • [5:58] How not specializing early helped Dennis’s tennis game
  • [6:38] Dennis’s favorite hockey player
  • [7:00] When Dennis believed that he could be a professional tennis player
  • [7:42] Dennis’s role models growing up
  • [8:12] Having your dad as your tennis coach
  • [8:45] Pressures as a top-ranked junior
  • [9:29] When Dennis reached the top rankings in juniors
  • [10:36] Winning without training at tennis academies
  • [11:21] Why being a successful junior player doesn’t really translate to the pros
  • [13:41] Dennis’s experience winning both the 18s singles and doubles titles in Kalamazoo
  • [15:09] Going pro versus playing college tennis
  • [16:09] Biggest improvements in his game while at UCLA
  • [16:59] Where Dennis would have gone has he not chosen UCLA
  • [17:36] Why Dennis left UCLA after two years
  • [18:12] The most memorable moment as a Bruin
  • [19:15] Winning both first round matches at the 2012 US Open as an 18 year old 
  • [20:52] The toughest moment in Dennis’s career and how he overcame it
  • [22:10] Differences between the juniors, college, and the pro game
  • [23:10] What Dennis has changed in his training over the past few years on the ATP tour
  • [23:42] Dennis’s speed and agility workouts
  • [24:19] Changes in the pro game: shortening matches and using a time clock between points
  • [25:28] A typical day in the life of Dennis Novikov on non-tournament days
  • [26:22] Dennis’s go-to breakfast
  • [27:00] Dennis’s frequency training strength, speed, agility, power, and endurance
  • [27:41] Dennis’s go-to exercises in the weight room
  • [28:15] The importance of different set and rep schemes in your workouts (i.e. endurance vs. power)
  • [28:59] What Dennis eats and drinks during a match
  • [29:45] Does Dennis practice meditation or yoga?
  • [30:28] Caloric intake and the 14k diet
  • [30:55] How many meals Dennis eats a day
  • [31:06] Dennis’s favorite TV shows
  • [31:55] Sustaining a pro tennis career from a financial standpoint
  • [33:02] Why Dennis couldn’t take a dime of money for reaching the second round of singles and doubles at the US Open as an 18 year old
  • [33:21] Dennis’s racquet, strings, and tension setup
  • [33:58] 3 books Dennis recommends tennis players read to improve
  • [34:46] Dennis’s thoughts on the McGregor – Mayweather fight
  • [36:00] Tips to help improve our serves
  • [36:39] Dennis’s schedule over the next few months
  • [37:31] Where we can follow Dennis online and on social media
  • [37:53] One key piece of advice to help improve your tennis game

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Dennis’s Instagram Page

Dennis’s Twitter Page

Dennis’s Facebook Page

Tennis Technique Summit

My Fight / Your Fight – Rhonda Rhousey

I Feel Like Going On: Life, Game, and Glory – Ray Lewis

Win or Learn: MMA, Conor McGregor, and Me: A Trainer’s Journey – John Kavanagh

International Tennis Performance Association 

Complete Conditioning for Tennis

TFP 033: Dr. Mark Kovacs – Strength and Conditioning for Tennis Players

Tennis Files Youtube Channel – Subscribe!  You know you want to 😉

Citi Open Tournament

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking them, I make Eleventy-Billion dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Dennis, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

And be sure to check out my vlogs and player interviews at the 2017 Citi Open on my Youtube Channel! The first vlog should be up on August 1st.

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success below! Thanks for listening!

2 TFP 051: Level Up Your Footwork with Dave Bailey

TFP 051: Level Up Your Footwork with David Bailey

On today’s show, I spoke with footwork expert Dave Bailey about how we can improve our movement on the court. Dave is the creator of the Bailey Tennis Footwork Method, used by top professionals all the way down to the amateur level.  Dave has worked with over 21 Grand Slam Players, including Monica Seles, Jarmilla Gajdosova, Zang Shaui, Jelena Dokic, Bethanie Mattek, Anne Kethavong, Misaki Doe, Irina Falconi, and Vince Spadea.

Dave has spent over 30 years studying and researching the steps and movements of the top tennis professionals.  Clearly, he really knows his stuff about footwork.  After his intensive study of the best players in the world, Dave created the Bailey Tennis Footwork Method, which is arguably the most advanced and comprehensive tennis footwork training program in the world today.

Dave was a real pleasure to speak with, and I hope to someday take him up on his offer of doing scissor kick smashes in the sand dunes of Sydney, Australia.  I’ll try not to puke though 🙂

Many thanks to Dave for the fantastic tips and information on how we can all level up our tennis footwork.  And if you can only remember one thing that Dave said (originally from Nick Bollettieri), remember this: “it’s footwork, not footwalk.”

I hope you enjoy this episode and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [2:03] What caused Dave to become so passionate about tennis footwork
  • [2:50] Dave’s competitive and educational background
  • [4:02] How Bruce Lee was one of Dave’s biggest influencers in studying tennis and footwork
  • [5:38] 3 things most of the world doesn’t know about Dave Bailey
  • [6:20] Why improving our footwork is critical if we want to reach the next level in our tennis careers
  • [7:21] Why tennis footwork is often under-appreciated in favor of other aspects of tennis like technique or strategy
  • [8:42] Why so many players develop inefficient footwork mechanics
  • [10:44] How different types of players tend to have different movement patterns
  • [12:36] The biggest mistakes amateurs make with their footwork
  • [13:41] What is the Bailey Tennis Footwork Method?
  • [14:52] What are the basic tenets of the Bailey Tennis Footwork Method?
  • [17:08] Which of the 5 R’s are players the most deficient in and how can we improve it?
  • [18:21] Contact and Balance Moves
  • [21:49] How to prevent information overwhelm when learning the different moves in footwork
  • [23:36] Walk through of a typical footwork training session that Dave would give to a 4.0 or 4.5-rated adult tennis player
  • [26:32] How long does it normally take for students on the Bailey Tennis Footwork Method to see improvements in their footwork?
  • [27:56] Types of training equipment do you use to help players improve their footwork?
  • [30:47] Would you recommend the jumprope to players who want to improve their footwork?
  • [31:45] What is the key to eliminating bad footwork patterns and developing efficient patterns?
  • [33:34] Are there any muscles that are routinely undertrained or ignored which contribute to bad footwork?
  • [35:19] What’s the first thing you have an athlete you are coaching do when you want to improve that person’s footwork technique
  • [37:06] What is one drill that tennis players can do right now that will help them improve their footwork?
  • [40:00] How heavy of a medicine ball should we use?
  • [41:01] How can we improve our footspeed/footwork intensity?
  • [43:03] What mistakes do players make in their training that actually slows them down instead of making them quicker on the court?
  • [45:34] What role does the mind play in whether a player has efficient or inefficient footwork?
  • [47:34] Using visualization to help athletes’ footwork
  • [49:16] What type of mindset should we have to help us improve our footwork?
  • [51:02] Tips for players that get tight and end up not moving their feet in matches
  • [53:24] What role does flexibility play in our footwork technique?
  • [54:30] What warm up or cool down routines do you have your players do after a footwork training sessions?
  • [57:50] The benefit of stretch bands and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PnF) stretching
  • [58:50] What is one myth that many tennis players believe about footwork?
  • [1:00:41] If Dave had to pick one player’s footwork to emulate from the pro tour, who would it be (the Bruce Lee philosophy)
  • [1:02:27] Dave’s favorite player of all time to work with: Jelena Dokic
  • [1:03:45] 3 books Dave would gift to the audience to help them improve their tennis footwork and overall tennis game?
  • [1:05:31] Dave’s involvement in the tennis world and plans to license his footwork method
  • [1:07:30] Where we can follow Dave online
  • [1:08:38] Where Dave trains students in person
    • Sydney
  • [1:09:50] Dave recounts students puking from training with him :O]
  • [1:11:36] One key piece of advice to help us improve our tennis footwork

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Tennis Technique Summit

Bailey Tennis Footwork Method

Relax and Win – Bud Winter and Jimson Lee

Zen in the Martial Arts – Joe Hyams

Tennisplayer.net – John Yandell

Tennis dance – Awesome video showing Dave’s students perform many of the BTFM steps

International Tennis Performance Association 

Complete Conditioning for Tennis

TFP 033: Dr. Mark Kovacs – Strength and Conditioning for Tennis Players

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking them, I make Eleventy-Billion dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Dave, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success below! Thanks for listening!

1 TFP 050: Babolat Racquet and Strings Review with Allan Iverson

TFP 050: Babolat Racquet and Strings Review with Allan Iverson

On today’s episode I spoke with Allan Iverson, Babolat’s Sales Representative in Southern California and the 2014 Tennis Industry Sales Rep of the Year.  Allan and I discussed the history of Babolat, the best approach to choosing racquets and strings, and improvements in tennis technology over the past few decades.  

In addition to his job with Babolat, Allan is also a USPTA P-1 teaching pro with more than two decades of experience.  In 2012, he was Babolat’s National Salesperson of the Year.  Allan travels far and wide, including a recent trip to China, to help enrich the tennis industry’s knowledge about the latest products that Babolat has to offer.  He has become such a wealth of information that one of Allan’s bosses recently said “his knowledge of the brand is better than anybody I have worked with.”  Allan is no slouch on the court either; he played number one at his high school and all 4 years at Christ College of Irvine.

I hope you enjoy my interview with Allan!  If you have an interest in racquets, strings (which tennis player doesn’t?), and tennis products in general, you will really like this episode. Choosing the right equipment for your game is crucial, and whether or not you go with Babolat products, you will learn a ton from Allan about what is available and how to determine what is best for your game.  I use Babolat racquets and strings and highly recommend them.  There are a ton of choices out there, and this episode will help you narrow down the playing field.  Thanks for listening!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [3:35] How Allan became a highly respected sales rep for Babolat
  • [5:20] The farthest that he has ever traveled to promote the Babolat brand
  • [6:46] Allan’s favorite thing about being a Babolat sales manager?
  • [7:56] What are 3 things most of the world doesn’t know about Allan?
  • [9:30] When, where and how was Babolat founded?
  • [12:47] What was Babolat’s first breakthrough product?
  • [14:22] Which pro has done the most to further Babolat’s brand out of all the players, past and present, on the tour?
  • [17:33] What is Babolat’s most successful racquet line of all time?
  • [19:24] The difference between the European and American approach of making products
  • [21:29] Longest tenured pro with Babolat
  • [22:27] Tips for playtesting racquets and racquets in Babolat’s line that players should demo
  • [25:31] What does the VS stand for in the VS Aero Pro line of racquets?
  • [26:56] The new iteration of the Pure Control
  • [28:03] What does the 16×20 string pattern do to a racquet’s feel/power/control?
  • [29:19] What types of racquets in Babolat’s line are best suited for certain types of players?
  • [31:17] The Pure Strike racquet that Dominic Thiem uses
  • [32:04] Pure Aero VS racquet review
  • [34:03] Allan’s take on the racquet
  • [34:50] Pure Strike 100 racquet review
  • [36:48] Allan’s take on the Pure Strike
  • [38:34] Pure Strike Team 100 racquet review
  • [41:01] What racquets would Allan recommend our audience try, being that most of our audience is between a 3.5-4.5 NTRP level
  • [42:04] The racquet that Allan uses
  • [43:19] How much has the Pure Aero changed since it first came on the market?
  • [46:59] How long do frames normally “last” for before they decline in performance and the one thing that wears out your racquet the most
  • [50:57] RPM Blast Rough strings review
  • [52:23] Allan’s insight on RPM Blast Rough
  • [55:23] Does color of string make a difference in the string’s performance, and the process of making different types of strings
  • [57:36] Hybrid – RPM Blast / VS Touch strings review
  • [1:01:33] Full vs half poly in the Aero Pro
  • [1:03:44] Stringing with electric machines and other string choices
  • [1:07:26] Best practices for stringing racquets
  • [1:10:32] What string does Allan recommend 3.5-4.5 NTRP level players use, and how does this recommendation vary with other parameters (age, type of player, etc)?
  • [1:11:47] How do we choose between 15L, 16, 17, and 18 gauge string?
  • [1:13:27] Why Nadal plays with 15L gauge string.
  • [1:14:18] What’s one thing about strings that players get wrong when choosing them
  • [1:15:15] If Allan had to choose one racquet to represent the Babolat brand, which one would it be?
  • [1:18:29] Babolat’s new solar powered bag that they haven’t been able to get into the U.S yet
  • [1:19:28] What wearable technology does Babolat have for tennis players?
  • [1:21:33] What is the new Babolat App and what are its features?
  • [1:25:05] Where can we get the Babolat App?
  • [1:26:21] What racquet models are compatible with connecting with the Babolat app?
  • [1:27:59] What sources would you recommend to our audience to enhance their knowledge of tennis racquets and strings?
  • [1:29:54] One piece of advice for the audience on how we can improve our tennis games (racquet/string related).
  • [1:32:43] Types of grips (i.e. replacement grips vs overgrips, tacky vs absorbent, thin vs thick, etc.) that we can use
  • [1:35:09] Where can we follow Allan and Babolat?

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Links Mentioned in the Show

http://www.babolat.com

Babolat Pop Sensor

Babolat App

Pure Aero VS

Pure Strike 100

RPM Blast Rough

Hybrid – VS Gut / RPM Blast 

United States Racquet Stringers Association 

The Tennis Files Podcast Ep. 18 – How to Choose the Right Strings for Your Tennis Game

Tennis Technique Summit

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking them, I make Eleventy-Billion dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Allan, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success below! Thanks for listening!

TFP 049: From the Ivy League to the Pro Tour with Tyler Lu

TFP 049: From the Ivy League to the Pro Tour with Tyler Lu

On today’s show, I spoke with Yale standout and recent graduate Tyler Lu.  Tyler has played #1 at Yale since his freshman year, and was ranked as high as #64 in the country in college. We discussed Tyler’s journey from starting tennis at 12 years old to transitioning to the pro tour, and some excellent tips that can help improve your serve and mindset on the court.

Tyler, a blue chip recruit, has defeated a bunch of top 40 ranked college tennis players and was ranked as high as No. 3 in the Southern California (SoCal) region as a junior and No. 24 in the nation by the USTA. I am definitely glad that Tyler’s brother Austin reached out to me to get this interview set up.

Thanks to Tyler for coming onto The Tennis Files Podcast! I really enjoyed speaking with him.  Tyler is a very intelligent young man with a bright future ahead of him. I hope you enjoy his very insightful thoughts about tennis and advice on how we can all play better tennis.

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [1:49] Sports and activities Tyler did as a young kid before playing tennis
  • [3:25] Tyler’s first memory of hitting a tennis ball
  • [4:17] ] Was it difficult starting tennis at a relatively late age?
  • [6:07] Tyler started practicing seriously from day 1
  • [6:57] Tyler’s first tournament experience and its impact on his career
  • [7:52] How playing other sports helps tennis players on the mental side of the game and competing
  • [9:15] Tyler not making his high school tennis team first year
  • [10:17] The structure of Tyler’s high school tennis team tryouts
  • [11:15] How Tyler responded after not making his high school team
  • [13:02] Why Tyler didn’t train at a tennis academy and still improved his game a ton
  • [14:16] Tyler’s experience with coaches as a junior player
  • [14:51] When Tyler started to reach a high ranking in Southern California and the nation
  • [15:41] What helped Tyler reach the top of the junior rankings in such a relatively short period of time
  • [17:09] Tyler’s playing style, and how it evolved as he got older up until college?
  • [18:46] How to selectively go for your shots
  • [19:31] Tyler’s proudest moment in his junior tennis career
  • [20:29] His biggest victories in the juniors
  • [21:29] The recruiting process as an upperclassman in high school
  • [22:13] How and why Tyler choose Yale over other big name schools?
  • [23:27] The school Tyler would have gone to if he didn’t select Yale
  • [24:39] Which Ivy League school had the highest-ranked tennis program
  • [25:12] What part of Tyler’s game he improved the most while at Yale?
  • [26:28] Key tip to improve your serve
    • Visualize yourself hitting the top of the ball up on your serve for more power
      • Works for flat and topspin serves
      • Slice side of the ball for slice serves
  • [30:34] What was a typical day of practice like in college?
  • [32:54] How difficult was it to balance studies at a top Ivy League school with Division I tennis?
  • [34:47] How much off-court training (weight training, agility/sprints) did the team do?
  • [36:45] What was the lowest point in Tyler’s college tennis career, and how he overcame it
  • [40:05] The college tennis dynamics of supporting your teammates while competing for a spot in the lineup
  • [42:12] Tyler’s most memorable team match with Yale
  • [44:32] Why confidence is so importance for tennis players
  • [49:04] Factors Tyler considered when deciding whether to go pro
  • [50:45] The profession Tyler would take up if he didn’t decide to go pro
  • [52:00] How Tyler plans to handle the financial burden of playing on the pro tour
  • [54:10] Why domestic tournaments can cost more than international tournaments
  • [56:26] Tyler’s goals for his first year on tour
  • [57:20] Will Tyler be traveling with a coach and/or team during this time?
  • [58:41] Plan for practicing while on the pro tour
  • [1:00:08] Resources to improve your tennis game that Tyler recommends
  • [1:01:41] Tyler’s favorite tennis player of all time
  • [1:01:53] What made Tyler decide to start a blog?
  • [1:04:39] Where we can follow Tyler online
  • [1:05:10] One piece of advice Tyler has for the audience to help them improve their tennis game?

Subscribe to automatically download new episodes!

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Tyler’s Blog – http://www.tylerlutennis.com/

Support Tyler’s Pro Career – Tyler’s GoFundMe Page

Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

International Tennis Performance Association 

Complete Conditioning for Tennis

TFP 033: Dr. Mark Kovacs – Strength and Conditioning for Tennis Players

Tennis Technique Summit

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking them, I make Eleventy-Billion dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Tyler, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success below! Thanks for listening!

TFP 048: Optimizing Your Strength and Conditioning Workouts with Dominic King

TFP 048: Optimizing Your Strength and Conditioning Workouts with Dominic King

On today’s episode of The Tennis Files Podcast, I spoke with Dominic King, Head of Athlete Development for Everyball Tennis at Halton Tennis Centre in the United Kingdom.  Dom is an expert in strength and conditioning for tennis players, and it was a great pleasure speaking with him and learning about many important principles and tips about tennis fitness.

Dom has a very accomplished background. He is an iTPA Master Tennis Performance Specialist (MTPS), one of only a small number of people to hold this designation worldwide. Dom is also an Accredited Strength & Conditioning Coach (ASCC) with the UK Strength & Conditioning Association, and an NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES). Dom holds numerous other professional qualifications as well. 

Dom trains club players anywhere from 8 to 80 + years old and loves helping each player improve and develop as a tennis athlete. We covered several important areas of tennis strength and conditioning, including how players can optimize their workouts, optimal rep ranges and recovery periods, and key exercises to improve your tennis game.  I hope you enjoy my interview with Dom!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [3:16] What made Dom decide to specialize in the fitness side of tennis?
  • [5:19] Dom’s competitive tennis background
  • [6:27] Accreditations and degrees Dom finds the most useful for his profession as a tennis strength and conditioning expert
  • [9:13] Mehrban talks about taking the iTPA exam to become a certified Tennis Performance Trainer in 3 months
  • [10:15] Athletes/coaches Dom looked up to the most when he was figuring out his career path
  • [12:43] How many strength and conditioning sessions do Dom’s players usually partake in per week?
  • [14:30] How long does each S&C training session last for on average?
  • [15:50] How should we split our workouts in terms of what part of the body is being worked out (i.e. legs day, arms day, push-pull etc.)?
  • [17:43] Why working out for a tennis player is different than general weight training
  • [21:53] Rep ranges and recovery periods that Dom’s players use, and whether it varies on the off season or type of workout
  • [25:10] Is there a use for low rep ranges and 90%+ of 1 rep max for tennis players?
  • [27:52] 3 exercises that transfer into better performance on the court
  • [32:39] Is the bench press a useful exercise for tennis players?
  • [34:33] How often you should change up a workout routine
  • [36:44] Should we use tennis-specific exercises in our weight training, or should we get players strong in a more traditional manner first?
  • [39:30] The biggest mistake that tennis players make when training
  • [42:20] Tips for players to maintain their strength and conditioning while constantly traveling on the road to tournaments
  • [46:42] Can players have a good S&C workout without weights?
  • What types of equipment do you suggest they use?
  • [48:39] Use of the legs and rotation to generate power and what we can learn from boxing and other combat sports
  • [53:10] How important are the legs for the serve?
  • [55:57] What other sports are most similar to tennis?
  • [58:44] Dom’s experiences working with players of all different ages
  • [1:04:17] A typical day training tennis players at Halton Tennis Centre in the UK
  • [1:07:00] 3 books Dom would gift to a friend to help them increase their knowledge about tennis fitness and strength and conditioning.
  • [1:09:18] Where we can find Dom online and in person
  • [1:11:04] One myth about strength and conditioning for tennis
  • [1:12:28] One key tip to help you improve your strength and conditioning for tennis

Subscribe to automatically download new episodes!

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Dom’s Website – www.maximiseathleticperformance.com

Dom on Twitter – DomJKing

International Tennis Performance Association 

Complete Conditioning for Tennis

Tuesday’s with Morrie (Dom’s book recommendation)

TFP 033: Dr. Mark Kovacs – Strength and Conditioning for Tennis Players

TFP 039: Todd Ellenbecker – Injury Prevention and Recovery

Dom’s Email Address – dom@everyball.net

Tennis Technique Summit

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking them, I make Eleventy-Billion dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Dom, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success below! Thanks for listening!

10 Greatest Tips I've Received From World-Class Tennis Coaches

The 10 Greatest Tips I’ve Received From World-Class Tennis Coaches

As host of the Tennis Technique Summit, the world’s first online tennis conference, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with many incredibly knowledgeable and top-notch tennis coaches.

I want to share their wisdom with you to help you on your journey to becoming a smarter, more successful tennis player.

Without further ado, here are the 10 greatest tips I’ve received from world-class tennis coaches:

Sven Groeneveld v21. Sven Groeneveld – Maria Sharapova’s Coach, Orange Coach

Loosening Up: “I would ask the player to try to make errors, to hit out and let the hands fly. And to feel what it really feels like to be relaxed. Then slowly focus on the breathing, the relaxation, the bounce, the contact. And the result will come at the end. If you can improve your actions, you will improve your result. We are too focused on the outcome.”

A great tip from Sven about how we can loosen up ourselves and play more freely. I remember another coach who used to tell his son to try and blast a couple balls and the fence with them. Sometimes that’s what you need to do to regain the freedom and range of motion for your strokes. The worst feeling is to play tight, not be able to hit out on your shots, and make errors or be dominated during points because of it. We must learn to play more loose, more relaxed, and Sven’s tips above will help you do it. And when you focus on things like your breath, the bounce and contact, there isn’t much room to think about extraneous thoughts or tighten up because of the pressure.

johan kriek2. Johan Kriek – 2-Time Australian Open Champion, Johan Kriek Tennis Academy

Mental Game: “You may be a level 3 player, but when you get emotional, you revert to a level 1 player. The mental part of the game is a massive undertaking.”

This quote from 2-Time Australian Open Champion Johan Kriek solidifies what I and my podcast guests have been saying all along. Focus on the process and not the results. While there certainly is a place and a way to use emotion positively, many of us lack the experience or training to properly channel that emotion. We get too wrapped up in what we want to happen at the end rather than concentrating on executing in the present moment. Turn your attention to what you need to do to win points, and you’ll have a better chance at winning the match.

Jeff Salzenstein Headshot3.  Jeff Salzenstein – Top 100 ATP, Tennis Evolution

Serve Technique: “Slowing down first, moving slower, being more methodical with your tossing arm, not rushing, will help you with your toss and your rhythm. A lot of players move their arms too fast or they flick their wrists or do other things, and that really impacts the serve.”

What do the greatest servers have in common? Impeccable rhythm and timing. What do you see with most amateur players with weak serves? A herky-jerky, rushed service motion. Part of that is because players start the motion too quickly, which prevents momentum buildup and a natural-flowing progression towards powerful acceleration. If you start your service motion more slowly and deliberately, and let your body do the work instead of just the arms, you will have better timing, a more accurate toss, and decrease the chance of injury. Oh, and you will add a lot more MPHs to your serve, too.

David Ramos Headshot USTA4. David Ramos –  USTA’s Senior Manager of Coaching Education and Performance

Using video: “Try to use video to help guide your discovery. It’s pretty easy these days to set a tablet on the court and record your practice or match. You want to get a good idea of what it looks like when you are able to do things well, and when you are struggling, and try to find what the differences are. Use video on a regular basis to give you feedback.”

Why do the best coaches in the world videotape their players? To spot technical and strategic deficiencies in their game so both player and coach know what to work on to reach the next level. This is especially critical for those of you who don’t have full-time or consistent coaching. Without it, it is extremely difficult to objectively self-assess our game during matches and practices without recording our play and analyzing how we performed afterwards. You might think you have the greatest serve, forehand, or backhand. I challenge you to record your play, watch it, show it to a coach or fellow player, and even share it online among knowledgeable players and coaches. And like Dave says, it is super easy to record these days. All you really need is a smartphone, and to make it easier, bring along a friend and/or tripod to prevent shaky video.

Billy Pate5. Billy Pate – Head Coach, Princeton University Men’s Tennis, Nike Tennis Camps

Competing: “There are a lot of different ways to win.  Every coach is looking for a great competitor. Don’t get discouraged if you have some “ugly” technique. We’ve seen a lot of ugly technique work and win. It’s what’s under the hood and in your heart.”

At the end of the day, we won’t all have flawless technique like Federer. Heck, Gulbis reached the Top 100 with a very “interesting” looking forehand. When it is match-day, forget about technique and focus on executing your game plan, finding solutions against your opponent, and competing to the best of your ability. Beautiful technique means nothing if you aren’t willing to play through adversity, weather the storm, and come out on top by focusing on playing solid, no-nonsense, high-percentage tennis. It can be a confidence-buster if you think you have deficient technique, but just as in life, we do the best with the cards we’re dealt and make the most of it.

Ian Westermann Headshot v16. Ian Westermann – Essential Tennis

Volleys: “When it comes to firmness, it’s not either or. You have to be able to match the firmness with the situation you are in and with the desired outcome that you want. A lot of coaches are black and white with the firmness when in reality it’s a million shades of grey. No two volleys are going to be exactly the same.”

A lot of tennis players think every volley has to be hit the same. Every volley out in front, or always a certain degree of tightness/looseness in the arm. When the reality is, you have to adjust according to the type of ball coming at you and the type of volley you want to hit. This is the same philosophy that other world-class coaches like Feisal Hassan teach as well. Will a half volley have the same feel and technique as a high volley? Will a slow floating volley be hit at the same contact point and backswing as a fast-moving ball hit straight at you? I think you kNOw the answer to that question if you read Ian’s quote above.  It takes time, practice, and an open mind, but you will find your range and learn the difference adjustments needed to hit great volleys no matter what type of ball you are receiving.

Mark Kovacs headshot v27. Dr. Mark Kovacs – Kovacs Institute

Kinetic Chain: “If you move your hips, your shoulders have to turn. That’s the preferred and optimal method. If you just focus on the shoulder turn, sometimes the hips don’t move, and you can put put your shoulders in a compromised environment that will rob you of pace and potentially overload the shoulder and elbow potentially in the motion.

A common question for me to tennis experts is: what initiates the kinetic chain? Who better to ask than the man who co-authored a fantastic study entitled “An 8-Stage Model for Evaluating the Tennis Serve” and is an expert in sports science? Too many players initiate their movements with their arms on most strokes, and the better ones initiate with the shoulders. However, as Dr. Kovacs mentioned, the optimal driver of the movement is to start with the hips. Sometimes when we rotate with the shoulders, the hips do not come along for the ride, which is inefficient and prevents maximum power and acceleration on the stroke. However, if you initiate your motion with your hips, then your shoulders must move, and you prevent under-rotation of your lower body. In general, we are using way too much arm and not enough hips on our shots. Hip rotation is the key to unlocking power.

Allistair McCaw Headshot8. Allistair McCaw – McCaw Method

Optimal Learning: “A great technique we use in coaching is called chunking. We focus on one area, or if the athlete is able to manage two areas at once, I would go no further than that. Sometimes coaches overload information. Keep the main thing the main thing.”

I’ve had lessons before where ten different instructions were shouted to me before I had to hit the ball. It is extremely difficult to absorb anything in these circumstances. Most of us cannot learn more than one thing at a time. And that’s fine because the optimal way to learn is to put 100% focus on one thing until you learn it completely, and then move on to the next concept. This is precisely what Allistair advises to coaches who are teaching students, and this also applies if you are trying things out on your own. Take the serve for example. If you had 100 students focus on increasing hip rotation, tossing the ball at 1 o’clock, and keep the head up at contact all at once, how high do you think the failure rate would be? Instead, focus on developing hip rotation for a solid 30 minutes or however long it takes until it feels natural, then move on to the toss.

Tomaz Mencinger Headshot9. Tomaz Mencinger – Feel Tennis

Making Mistakes: “It is much better to accept a double fault and let it go, than to be hard on yourself and get upset and irritated. No top player has zero double faults. Just accept it and refocus on the next point rather than overanalyzing why you double faulted.”

Double faults and other mistakes can be the negative turning point in a match for tennis players. Or, it can just be another point like all the rest of them. The key is not to make such a big deal of your mistakes, because mistakes will happen. The sooner you accept this concept, the better your overall performance and results will be. This is also the main concept in certain meditation practices (Headspace is my favorite meditation app), and mindfulness-based tennis psychology, where instead of battling with your own mind and over-thinking why you made a mistake, you accept that it happened and stay focused on the match. Once you lose that focus, the match is practically over.

Yann Auzoux Headshot10. Yann Auzoux – Tennis Central

Footwork: “Start small and grow bigger. If it begins with just implementing more jump rope in your routine for example, it’s a great start. Anything you can do to make your feet move faster, be in more control over your center of gravity, balance, and your ability to move faster, is worth it.”

One useful piece of equipment that the Tennis Technique Summit coaches have consistently mentioned is the jump rope. Jumping rope can help you in a multitude of ways, from general fitness, to better balance, a stronger core, endurance, speed, and many other benefits. How about this for a challenge: implement 5 minutes of jump rope two times per week in your fitness routine, and take note of your footwork intensity and general fitness. I’m willing to bet that you will feel faster and fitter on the court in a few weeks. And at the very least, you’ll feel better about yourself knowing that you are taking small steps that will turn into big results in your tennis game.

I hope that the 10 greatest tips I’ve learned from world-class coaches above will help you in your journey to becoming a better tennis player.

If you aren’t convinced to check out the Tennis Technique Summit yet, which is free to watch from March 22-27, here’s a short highlights video that I had my video editor make for you to check out:

I highly encourage you to register for The Tennis Technique Summit! You’ll get to watch 30+ hours of video interviews and presentations with over 25 world-class coaches, including the ones above.

To check out the Tennis Technique Summit for free, enter your first name and email address below! See you there!

Get Your Free Ticket to the 2017 Tennis Technique Summit!

Join 25+ world-class experts from March 22-27. Register Now!

Tennis Technique Summit v2

Announcing The 2017 Tennis Technique Summit!

After nearly 4 months of hard work, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be hosting the world’s first online tennis conference: The 2017 Tennis Technique Summit!

From March 22-27, you’ll be able to watch the coaches and I talk about tennis on your computer and smartphone. And you can get a free ticket to watch all the sessions!

It has been incredible connecting with many of the greatest coaches in the game. The lineup of over 25 coaches includes multiple Grand Slam Champion Johan Kriek, Sven Groeneveld (Maria Sharapova’s coach), former top 100 ATP player Jeff Salzenstein, current doubles pro Megan Moulton-Levy, top-notch online instructors Ian Westermann, Tomaz Mencinger, and Florian Meier, USTA’s David Ramos, and high performance coaches Dr. Mark Kovacs and Allistair McCaw.

The coaches and I examine technique on the serve, forehand, backhand, volleys, footwork, and other areas of your game to help you become a better player and reach the next level.

You’ll get to watch over 30 hours of extremely valuable video interviews, powerpoint presentations, and recorded lessons during the 6 days of the summit. I truly appreciate the time and effort from all of the coaches to help make this summit a fantastic event.

Here’s a quick little preview of the summit that my video editor sliced together for you:

The awesome part about this event is that it is free to attend!

Think of how much cash you’d have to invest to get this amount of advice from all of these world-class coaches. Even one tip could make a huge difference in your game, and you’re going to learn about a hundred of them when you attend this event. The coaches on the summit have had so much success helping thousands of players like you improve their games. Now it is your turn.

You also have the option to upgrade to lifetime access to all the videos, which includes downloadable mp3 audio files so you can listen to the sessions from anywhere you want, free courses from the coaches, a question and answer session with me after the event, and access to a private facebook group. For all the value you are getting, I think the price (hint, it’s under $100!) is pretty reasonable.

Whether you just want to watch the videos, or upgrade to the All-Access Pass, it’s a no-brainer to sign-up for your free ticket to the event. If you’re a passionate tennis player who wants to improve your game, you’ve got no excuse not to check out the Tennis Technique Summit.

Click here to get your free ticket to the 2017 Tennis Technique Summit!

I’d also really appreciate it if you could share the event with any people or groups that are interested in becoming better tennis players. My goal is to positively impact as many people as possible with the summit.

Click Here to Share the Summit on Facebook!

Click Here to Tweet the Summit!

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at mehrban@tennisfiles.com. Let’s make this event as big as we can! See you at the summit!

Get Your Free Ticket to the 2017 Tennis Technique Summit!

Join 25+ world-class experts from March 22-27. Register Now!

TFP 047: Longevity and Success in Tennis with Charlie Hoeveler

TFP 047: Longevity and Success in Tennis with Charlie Hoeveler

Today I spoke with Charlie Hoeveler, CEO and Founder of US Sports Camps. Charlie discussed his secrets to success and longevity in tennis and how he manages to run the largest sports camps organizations in the world.

Charlie is also a very accomplished player and gave some fantastic advice on how older players can continue to be successful in the sport. He has been ranked number one in the world in singles (ITF) in 1991 (45’s), 1995 (50’s) and #2 in 2001 (55’s) as well as #1 in singles in the U.S. twice (1990 and 2001). Charlie has won 48 Gold Balls for USTA national championships in singles (11), doubles (11), mixed doubles (2), and Father/Son (24) with a string of 24 consecutive years with a Gold Ball (1990 through 2013).

Charlie and his VP’s of Tennis, Matt, Wendy and Siera, have managed to snag some of the best coaches in the country to run their programs, including Paul Goldstein, Stanford University Men’s Tennis Coach, and Billy Pate, Princeton Men’s Tennis Coach.

In addition to his tennis accomplishments, Charlie is a Founding Member National Junior Tennis League of San Francisco, The Charles Schwab Youth Foundation, Special Olympics organizer in Marin County (CA). Charlie is also an Honorary Member of the IC of Great Britain and a member of the USTA/Norcal Hall of Fame.

Here’s what you’ll learn in my interview with Charlie:

  • What Charlie loves the most about tennis.
  • His first memory on the court.
  • Charlie’s tennis idols growing up and a legend he got to hit with.
  • If he could give his younger self advice on how to play better tennis, what he would tell himself.
  • Charlie’s secrets to success and longevity in tennis.
  • His routine before tennis matches.
  • Charlie’s advice to senior players on how they can keep playing
  • How US Sports Camps and Nike Tennis Camps was born
  • How many players have gone through US Sports Camps and Nike Tennis Camps’s camps (hint: its a lot!).
  • The structure and duration of Nike Tennis Camps.
  • What sets US Sports Camps and Nike Tennis Camps apart from other tennis camps.
  • One key piece of advice to help tennis players improve their games.

And more!

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Tennis Technique Summit – Get Your Free Ticket!

Nike Tennis Camps – US Sports Camps

If you enjoyed my interview with Charlie, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success eBook below! Thanks for listening!

TFP 046: The Mental Game with Jeff Greenwald

TFP 046: The Mental Game with Jeff Greenwald

On today’s episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeff Greenwald, an internationally recognized sports psychology consultant and licensed therapist who specializes in the mental game of tennis. Jeff gave us some fantastic advice on how we can play better tennis by improving the way we think on court and about the game on Episode 46 of The Tennis Files Podcast. If you haven’t listened to Episode 44 with Neil Endicott on Mindfulness-Based Tennis Psychology yet, definitely check that one out as well.

Jeff is author of a fantastic book entitled The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Strategies for Fearless Performance.  He is also a speaker and a former world-ranked pro on the ATP Tour who went on to reach the No. 1 ITF ranking in the world and U.S in the men’s 35-age division.

The mental game is such an important part of tennis and I am really excited to bring you this interview with Jeff. We discuss the most important lessons Jeff has learned about the mental game, his biggest struggles on the court, advice that he’d give his younger college/ATP pro playing self, tips on how to improve your mental approach, and much more. Jeff’s advice will help you deal with pressure during matches so you can play better tennis. Click the play button above to listen to the interview. Enjoy!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [1:11] How did Jeff got to where he is today in his tennis career
  • [1:55] What Jeff learned most from The Bollettieri Academy
  • [3:10] Jeff’s most difficult moment as a professional tennis player that pushed him mentally?
  • [5:27] Jeff’s advice to himself as a 20-year old college/ATP pro player
  • [7:47] What can we do to strengthen our mental game?
  • [10:15] What are a few things we can do during a match to help us reset for the next point?
  • [13:12] How can we stay positive after a series of losses?
  • [15:45] Strategies from Jeff’s book that will make a substantial impact on your performance
  • [18:36] Books Jeff recommends you read to improve your mental game
  • [22:02] One key tip from Jeff to help you improve your tennis game

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Click this icon, click the blue “View in iTunes” button, then hit “Subscribe.”

 

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Jeff’s Website – jeffhgreenwald.com

Jeff’s Book – The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Strategies for Fearless Performance

TFP 044: Mindfulness-Based Tennis Psychology with Neil Endicott

The Power of Full Engagement – Jim Loehr

Way of the Peaceful Warrior – Dan Millman

Winning Ugly – Brad Gilbert

Open – Andre Agassi

Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl and William J. Winslade

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol S. Dweck

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking them, I make Eleventy-Billion dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Jeff, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success eBook below! Thanks for listening!