Category Archives for "Mindset"

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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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!

TFP 044: Mindfulness-Based Tennis Psychology with Neil Endicott

TFP 044: Mindfulness-Based Tennis Psychology with Neil Endicott

On today’s episode I had the pleasure of speaking with Neil Endicott, a coach and author who specializes in Mindfulness-Based Tennis Psychology (MBTP). Neil discussed how tennis players can play more confident and effective tennis by training the mental part of their game through MBTP.

Neil has written numerous articles that have been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post and Tennis Magazine. Even Novak Djokovic has talked about how mindfulness helped him reach new heights in his career in his book Serve to Win. If one of the greats in the game believes in training yourself to be more mindful, it’s worth a try.

We discuss human psychology, how players can change their mindset through MBTP, meditation, and how we can train ourselves to perform our best by being in the moment and recognizing negative thoughts for what they are: thoughts and nothing more.

I know a lot of you struggle with pressure and negative emotions on the court. This episode will help you on your journey to overcoming these mental obstacles. I hope you enjoy this fantastic episode on mindfulness with Neil.

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [4:43] How did you end up becoming an expert on the mental side of tennis?
  • [10:29] Were there any particular books or courses that you read which laid the foundation for your philosophy about the mental game?
  • [14:17] If you could give your 16-year old self advice, what would you say?
  • [15:55] What pros use mindful meditation to help their tennis games?
  • [20:52] More relaxed versus fiery players and how both can use mindfulness based tennis psychology to excel on the court they should mentally approach tennis matches
  • [24:19] How Mindfulness Based Tennis Psychology is structured to help tennis players
  • [28:35] Here’s a scenario: I get an easy sitter on a crucial break point, and blast the ball long. I immediately get a negative thought about what just happened. What should I do?
  • [32:28] Mistakes are a part of tennis.
  • [33:56] Why we tend to battle against ourselves in our minds and what to do about it
  • [38:43] What is a basic meditation that we can start with that will help us be more mindful?
  • [42:06] How long should we meditate for?
    • When is the optimal time to meditate; in the morning, before a match, or after a match?
  • [45:22] How long does it normally take before we will see results from MBTP?
  • [47:43] Mindfulness doesn’t necessarily mean hard work
  • [50:22] When we play against players that are ranked higher than us, there is often an innate feeling that we are supposed to lose/cannot win. How can we overcome these thoughts?
  • [55:08] One key to improve our tennis games
  • [57:43] Mindfulness Based Tennis Psychology can help you excel in other parts of your life as well

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Links Mentioned in the Show

tennismentalskills.com

Djokovic’s New Tennis Psychology – Neil’s article on Novak Djokovic and MBTP

Serve to Win – Novak Djokovic’s book

Note: The link to Novak Djokovic’s book is an affiliate link, so if you make a purchase after clicking, I make 78.5 million dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Neil, 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 043: How to Run a Successful Tennis Program with Matt Bilger

TFP 043: How to Run a Successful Tennis Program with Matt Bilger

On today’s show I had the pleasure of speaking with Matt Bilger, Director of Tennis at Chantilly National Golf and Country Club. Matt was my former assistant coach at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County where I played Division I college tennis. He always kept our team positive and ready to handle adversity. Matt brings the same expertise and energy to the court with his current players, and it was my pleasure to interview Matt on the podcast.

Matt and I discussed his passion for the game and tips for running a successful tennis program. Matt talks about his approach for teaching club level players, how he structures the program, and common mistakes that he fixes in his students’ games.

It was awesome to speak with Matt and I appreciate the enthusiasm and effort that he brings to every lesson and clinic he teaches. Enjoy the episode and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [4:15] Matt journey from a late start in tennis to Director at a country club
  • [5:58] How Matt’s mentor influenced his passion for tennis
  • [7:22] At what age did Matt start playing competitive tennis?
  • [8:43] Advice for aspiring Directors of a tennis/country club
  • [12:18] How Matt overcame the lowest point in his career
  • [14:17] What are three things the world doesn’t know about Matt Bilger?
  • [15:57] Three of the biggest mistakes that Matt sees club players make
  • [17:28] The structure of tennis programs at Chantilly National.
  • [19:02] How Matt gets more players to be engaged and participate in your programs, particularly with social media
  • [20:32] How to fix technical issues in club players
  • [22:03] How to approach teaching beginner tennis players
  • [24:10] Matt’s affable personality; was it always this way?
  • [25:30] How to maintain motivation teaching long hours
  • [27:04] What are 3 tips to improve our serves?
  • [29:19] How Matt incorporates fitness into his clinics
  • [31:15] Some of Matt’s favorite tennis drills
  • [33:10] Favorite tennis books?
  • [34:08] The best advice Matt’s ever been given about tennis
  • [35:23] One key tip to help tennis players improve their game
  • [36:22] Where we can follow Matt online and on social media

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Links Mentioned in the Show

TPF 002: Focus on the Process with Keith Puryear 

Winning Ugly – Brad Gilbert

Agassi’s Book – Open

Pete Sampras – A Champion’s Mind: Lessons From a Life in Tennis

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking, I make 800 million dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Matt, 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!

2 TFP 042: How Clay Thompson Changed His Perspective and Saved His Tennis Career

TFP 042: How Clay Thompson Changed His Perspective and Saved His Tennis Career

On today’s episode I spoke with professional tennis player Clay Thompson, a serious contender for most interesting man in the world (move over, Dos Equis guy!). Clay grinds mostly Challengers and some Futures events as he pursues his dream of becoming a top-ranked professional tennis player.

Clay has been ranked as high as 408 in the world (last year) and is famous for a viral video of him smiling and fist-pumping his way to the semifinals of the Champaign Challenger last year. His high-energy and carefree approach is what makes Clay such an entertaining and enjoyable player to watch.

Even more impressive is Clay’s business acumen and his outside interests, which include creative writing and helping grow the game of tennis.

If you dare press the play button above, you are in for two of the most entertaining and insightful hours of audio that I have produced on The Tennis Files Podcast so far. And it only took me 42 episodes to crack a decent joke or ten on the show!

Thanks again to Clay for coming onto the podcast and showing us how we can improve our tennis games with a more positive mindset and an attitude of gratitude for the game we love.

Time-Stamped Show Notes

Beginnings

  • [2:00] Clay’s first memory of playing tennis
  • [3:09] Playing other sports and how he decided on pursuing tennis
  • [4:33] Clay’s tennis idols growing up
  • [6:55] Clay on the importance of personality in tennis
  • [8:30] What are 3 things most of the world doesn’t know about Clay Thompson
    • Creative writing, screen writing, business ventures, alternative medicine
  • [12:41] Favorite video games: Final Fantasy, League of Legends, Counterstrike

Junior Career

  • [14:42] The first tournament Clay played as a young kid
  • [15:55] What it felt like to win his first tournament
  • [17:57] The highest ranking Clay reached as a junior player
  • [23:13] Going toe to toe with Jack Sock in the Juniors
  • [26:50] Technical changes in the juniors.
  • [30:14] 

    Unique

     stroke techniques – Gulbis, McEnroe

Transition to College Tennis

  • [31:27] A pivotal moment for Clay in 2012 in the All-American Championships that helped change his perspective on the game and save his career
  • [38:24] The type of yoga Clay practices and how it helps Clay’s tennis
  • [41:01] The most influential person in UCLA Tennis that helped grow his game and character.
  • [44:29] A point away from winning the NCAA Championship match to UVA
  • [47:51] Clay’s impressions about Mackenzie McDonald, a fellow UCLA Bruin and teammate, on his prospects on the pro tour?

Pro Tour 

  • [50:33] What is the hardest part about being a professional tennis player?
    • Being like a CEO and managing your finances.
  • [53:18] Dealing with no job security in tennis
  • [57:38] Solutions for the financial black hole for professional tennis players
  • [59:58] A normal day of training when Clay isn’t playing a tournament?
  • [1:03:49] Typical workout day for Clay
  • [1:06:07] Differences between working out for tennis and other sports
  • [1:08:29] Shake-weight training for tennis! (just a joke 🙂 )
  • [1:09:12] His experience reaching the semis at the Champaign Challenger last year
  • [1:11:24] Plan to have an awesome year and executing on it with great results
  • [1:14:27] How to plan financially as a professional tennis player; documenting expenses and your budget
  • [1:17:13] The importance of mind maps and Mind Meister (tennisfiles.com/mindmap)
  • [1:18:39] The need for more business courses to teach professional players to manage their finances
  • [1:19:04] The benefits of forming a company (i.e. LLC) as a pro
  • [1:20:58] A fine example of a terribly-executed Chappelle-show joke
  • [1:21:57] The key to succeeding on the pro tour
  • [1:26:00] Clay’s worst experience at a Challengers/Futures Event (hint: it involves food poisoning!)
  • [1:28:52] How Clay feels being a combination of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in one body
  • [1:29:35] What the camaraderie is like on the pro tour
  • [1:32:59] The importance of having a strong team
  • [1:34:01] Clay’s favorite meal after a match
  • [1:35:59] Cooking on the road
  • [1:36:54] Clay’s not the only one with a personal chef!
  • [1:37:54] Training at the USTA National Facility
  • [1:41:43] Traveling on the pro tour
  • [1:43:16] Clay Thompson is not Klay Thompson
  • [1:44:25] The key to having a huge serve like Clay
  • [1:46:37] Clay’s long-term goal in the sport
  • [1:49:10] The need for marketing tennis more effectively to help it flourish
  • [1:53:43] Three of Clay’s favorite tennis books
  • [1:57:27] Where can we follow Clay online?
  • [1:59:00] One key piece of advice on how we can improve our tennis games
    • Structure your training in a way that keeps you happy and motivated to get better
    • Go from “have to” to “want to.”

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Links Mentioned in the Show

TFP 035: Martin Blackman

TFP 033: Dr. Mark Kovacs

Agassi’s Book – Open

Zen Tennis

Inner Game of Tennis

Winning Ugly 

Clay’s Twitter Page (@ClarenceAThomp)

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking, I make 6 million dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Clay, 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 041: Coaching Elite Junior Tennis Players with Adam Blicher

TFP 041: Coaching Elite Junior Tennis Players with Adam Blicher

On Episode 41 of TFP I had the pleasure of speaking with Adam Blicher about coaching elite junior players and high-performance tennis principles. I first heard about Adam when I searched for tennis podcasts on iTunes. The Adam Blicher Show popped up, and ever since, I have learned a lot from Adam and the fantastic guests he has had on his show.

Adam focuses on dissecting and deconstructing the minds of world-class performers & leading specialist in our sport. This is something that I love doing as well, so it is not surprising that we connected and did an episode that will help you all improve your tennis games.

Adam also has a really cool show called Adam’s Advice that will be up around the time of this episode. I highly encourage you to check out Adam’s podcast and his show to further immerse yourself in the world of experts so that you can improve your tennis game!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [2:33] How did you get to where you are today in your tennis career?
  • [3:51] What is it about tennis that inspires and motivates you to get up and coach your players every single day? 
  • [5:01] What are 3 things most of the world doesn’t know about Adam Blicher
  • [5:57] In your bio, it mentions that you dissect and deconstruct the best tennis performers and athletes so that you can teach others; How does one go about doing this type of in-depth study to improve themselves? 
  • [8:55] If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were a junior, what advice would you give yourself? 
  • [10:25] Pressure is a huge part of tennis; what type of mental exercises or training do you have your players go through to help them with this part of their game?
  • [13:01] What type of advice do you give your players before they step out on the court? 
  • [15:25] What are your thoughts about meditation? 
  • [18:26] How can a player break through a losing streak? 
  • [20:22] If a player constantly gets tight on big points, what advice would you tell that player to help him/her perform optimally in critical situations. 
  • [22:10] What is a typical day of coaching like for you?
  • [23:37] What are three keys to successfully coaching juniors in the 14-16 age group?
  • [25:43] How much traveling do your players do, and do they ever have issues coping with the travel? If so, how do you help them with this?
  • [28:00] What are some mistakes that you see other coaches making that inhibits the growth of their players? 
  • [30:48] What should a player do if they have to make a big technical change to a stroke (i.e. how much tournament play should they be doing)?
  • [34:20] What type of fitness regimen do you put your players through? 
  • [39:22] Who are a couple of your high-performing junior players and what about them makes them so successful?
  • [42:18] What did you learn from interning at the Patrick Mouratoglou Academy? What is it about coach Mouratoglou that makes him a great coach?
  • [45:41] Which interview on The Adam Blicher Show is your all-time favorite, and why? 
  • [48:52] What was the best piece of advice your podcast guest gave on the show? 
  • [50:16] I understand you are planning to release Adam’s Advice; can you tell us about it? 
  • [51:12] What are three books that you would give as a gift to your tennis players? 
  • [52:37] Do you have a morning routine, and if so, what is it? 
  • [53:47] Adam’s favorite type of coffee 
  • [54:33] Where can our audience find you online and in person?
  • [56:20] Upcoming podcast episodes
  • [57:50] Key piece of advice to improve your tennis game

Many thanks to Adam for coming onto The Tennis Files Podcast and providing our audience with a lot of great advice and tips to help you improve your tennis game!

Subscribe to automatically download new episodes!

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Links Mentioned in the Show

The Adam Blicher Show

Adam’s Facebook Page

Complete Conditioning for Tennis

Mental Gym

7 Keys to Being a Great Coach – [Allistair McCaw – TFP 011]

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking, I make a small commission. Thanks either way!

If you enjoyed my interview about coaching elite junior tennis players with Adam, 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!

2 How to Overcome Adversity When the Pressure is On

How to Overcome Adversity When the Pressure is On

CLICK HERE to download my free strategy guide.

There are many critical moments in a tennis match where you will feel pressure to succeed. Ironically, because of this pressure, it can be difficult for you to perform your best.

I know because I’ve competed for over 2 decades in tournaments against national and world-class competition. And I’ve failed so many times that I’d need extra hands to count them all.

But, these failures, along with my successes, have helped me learn what it takes to flourish in the big moments of a match.

Let’s examine the most pressure packed points during your matches and how you should approach them. By identifying these moments and implementing the advice that follows, you will be more prepared to succeed when the going gets tough.

1. The Beginning of the Match

There is a lot of uncertainty at the start of a match. You don’t know how you or your opponent are going to perform. You may not know how you need to play against your opponent to be successful. Nervous energy sets in because of all the unknowns.

Unfortunately, you can’t afford a slow start. It can be all the difference between a well-fought victory and a slow long climb up the 0-5 deficit mountain.

Uncertainty breeds discomfort and potential for suboptimal play. Luckily, if you develop a gameplan based on you and your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, much of this uncertainty will be replaced with confidence from the moment you step out on the court.

A little planning goes a long way. Formulate strategies for the match to keep you focused on executing the right plays before the first ball is struck.

2. You Lose Several Points in a Row

This can be a big confidence buster. You make a string of errors or your opponent comes up with big shot after big shot and starts going on a hot streak. Is it time to panic?

Nope. Time to go back to the basics.

Reset your mind and your game, and remember the solid strategic fundamentals that you’ve heard time and time again from coaches.

Deep cross-court balls, as many as you can in a row. Attack the short ball, usually down the line, and come to net. Nothing fancy. Just good, clean basic tennis.

If you play the percentages, run for every ball, compete with grit and determination, and still lose, then you deserve props for giving it your all and that bag of cheese puffs you’ve been craving since Nixon became president.

Remember, when you are in trouble, do what my college tennis coach Keith Puryear used to always tell me: go back to the basics.

3. Your Serve Has Just Been Broken

Holding serve is expected for intermediate and advanced players. The serve is the most important stroke in tennis. You start the point hitting your serve half the time, which gives you the opportunity to begin the point on your terms.

This is why practicing your serve is so critical to reaching your tennis potential. But even with all the practice in the world, your serve will get broken during matches.

If you lose your service game, take a deep breath and plan how you will break right back. Breaking your opponent’s serve right after you’ve been broken is the best time to do so for a couple reasons.

First, there is often increased pressure on the opponent to consolidate the break (i.e. hold serve). Second, if you can break right back, you can make your opponent feel like breaking your serve was somewhat of a fluke and a non-issue, since he or she was broken immediately. Third, it stops the momentum and evens the score as quickly as possible.

And sometimes your opponent will become too overconfident or lose focus after breaking your serve. Time to pounce on these weaknesses like a cat who just spotted a box of organic kitty litter from Whole Foods.

Instead of being discouraged at losing serve, look for ways to get back on track. Commit to having as strong a return game as possible. Get your returns in play, be gritty, and apply controlled aggression to put the pressure back on your serving opponent.

Momentum is huge, and the quicker you stop your opponent’s advantage, the quicker you can swing things to your advantage.

4. When You’ve Broken Serve

This is the other side of the coin. When you break your opponent’s serve, depending on your personality, you may either become too relaxed, be preoccupied with needing to consolidate the break, or get too excited and lose concentration.

The key is to have a gameplan in place that you can keep implementing against your opponent. Understand what point patterns will enable you to exploit your opponent’s weaknesses while utilizing your strengths.

CLICK HERE to download my free strategy guide.

Then focus on sticking with what works through the entire match.

Instead of putting pressure on yourself to win your service game after breaking, think about the strategies you need to implement to win the match. Then execute these strategies.

Focus on the task at hand (winning each point) rather than on accomplishing something that hasn’t happened yet (i.e. winning the match) and your won’t create openings for your opponent to get back on track.

5. In the Late Stages of the Set

We often feel the pressure during the latter part of a set. Most players will settle into the match and play their game after a while, but staying mentally tough late into the match takes a lot of focus and experience.

A common scenario is when you are serving at 4-4 or 4-5. A break of serve on your end can spell doom for the set or the match.

Not to worry, because you have a couple things to fall back on: your gameplan and high-percentage play.

Your gameplan got you this far, so keep executing the point patterns that have helped you get to this point. Set up the points so you can use your strengths in your game as much as possible.

By definition, your strength is something you excel at, so going to it as much as you can during tough situations will give you the best chance of winning.

And if you feel the pressure, play the percentages. Once again, hit deep, solid groundstrokes until you get a short ball you can approach to the net with. Use your grit and determination to take the set from your opponent.

When things get tight, it is critical that you not let your opponent dictate the match (unless you know they “dictate” for a couple shots and then will make an error). If you do, he or she will gain confidence and you will expend way more energy retrieving balls all day instead of controlling the rallies.

6. During The Tiebreak

The pressure in a match peaks during tiebreakers. Both sides have battled to a stalemate, and the tiebreaker hastens the revelation of who will win the set and/or the match.

To help you succeed during tiebreaks, keep your opponent’s weaknesses in mind. Any part of your adversary’s game that you can put pressure on during the tiebreaker that may break down will give you a huge advantage.

Remember your game plan and keep sticking to what has been winning you points. Keep calm and relaxed during the tiebreak and focus on executing strategies and point patterns, rather than getting caught up in the situation.

Why do you think players who are in the zone are so successful? They are not thinking about the outcome, but executing and enjoying the process of playing the match.

7. The Start of The Set

This juncture of the match is quite different from the beginning. At this point, you’ve either won or lost the previous set, and need to start strong to build momentum for the next one.

The big mistake here that I have made many times myself, is to actually focus too much on the concept of “starting strong.” So many times in my junior and adult career, I have overemphasized the strong start in my mind and even verbally to myself. Unfortunately, the opposite usually happens when I have done this.

Once again, the reason for this issue is focusing on the results (bad!) instead of the process (good!). When it comes time to perform, think about what you need to do to get to win each point and make it happen.

Don’t get me wrong; positive thinking certainly can help your performance. But don’t stop there. Think more deeply about strategy and you will increase your chances of playing optimally. This way, you will start a set off strong without stressing out over it.

8. Closing Out the Match

As tennis players like to say, “there is no shot clock in tennis.” We can’t wait for time to expire or a referee to blow the whistle.

What you can’t do is think about winning the match. When you do this, you will forget what go you in the lead. You’ll start thinking about how you need to win, or how much the win means to you. Then nerves will set in, and you won’t be able to perform your best when it matters the most.

Instead, you must seize victory when the opportunity arises. Stick to the gameplan and you will be victorious.

It is normal to struggle during the above moments when playing a match. I hope that by identifying them and how to approach each one, you will perform more confidently and persevere when it counts the most.

You may not magically start winning every single match after reading this post. But through practice and experience in these competitive situations, you will get better at managing the pressure and will win more matches.

Formulate and execute your gameplan, go back to the basics when you start to struggle, and everything else will take care of itself.

To learn how to formulate a rock solid gameplan to help you win more tennis matches, download a free copy of my strategy guide by filling out the short form below!

How Luca Corinteli Became an Elite College Tennis Player

TFP 037: How Luca Corinteli Became an Elite College Tennis Player

On today’s episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Luca Corinteli from the University of Virginia Men’s Tennis team. Luca is an elite tennis player and was ranked as high as #2 in doubles in the country with partner Ryan Shane. Luca has helped UVA Men’s Tennis win the NCAA Division I national championship the past two years in a row.

Brian Boland, head coach of UVA Men’s Tennis and a recent guest on The Tennis Files Podcast, highly recommended that I interview Luca when I asked Coach Boland who he might suggest I speak to from his team.

Coach Boland was right on the money (per usual). The senior Wahoo with proud Georgian roots gave us a truly fantastic interview on the life of a college tennis player at the #1 college tennis program in the country. Luca is mature well beyond his years, and we wish him and UVA Tennis all the best this season and into the team’s professional careers.

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [3:15] How does the championship ring feel?
  • [4:13] How Luca got his start playing tennis
  • [5:57] How judo helped Luca’s tennis game
  • [7:12] Luca’s first tournament experience
  • [7:59] Role models growing up as a junior
  • [9:34] How Vesa Ponkka has helped Luca’s tennis career
  • [11:08] An overview of Luca’s junior career
  • [12:54] How Luca overcame a low point as a younger player
  • [14:42] Luca’s biggest accomplishment in his junior career
  • [15:49] How Coach Boland recruited Luca onto UVA Men’s Tennis Team
  • [16:57] Luca’s biggest improvement since joining UVA Tennis
  • [18:36] Overcoming adversity in college tennis
  • [20:51] Best advice from the coaching staff
  • [23:08] Luca’s favorite drills in team practices
  • [24:18] Ratio of on-court to off-court training
  • [26:50] What part of Luca’s game did Luca have to improve the most when he came to UVA?
  • [28:28] Luca’s most memorable moment at UVA
  • [30:16] Rivalries in college tennis
  • [31:45] What went through Luca’s mind when Henrik Wiersholm clinched the 2016 National Championship for UVA Men’s Tennis
  • [33:15] Funniest moment with the team
  • [34:50] The sickest match that Luca has played in college
  • [36:33] Luca describes how he held serve down a break point at 5-5 30-40 in the national championship match at #1 doubles against Oklahoma
  • [37:27] How Luca calmed himself down after shaking before serving down break point in the national championship
  • [38:29] What makes Luca a great doubles player
  • [39:50] How Luca decides when to poach in doubles
  • [40:57] Winning point patterns in doubles
  • [42:46] Difference in levels between college tennis and ITF Futures events
  • [44:05] Luca’s plans on whether to play professional tennis after college
  • [45:20] Three things that most people don’t know about Luca Corinteli
  • [47:27] Luca’s favorite tennis book
  • [49:07] Where can we follow Luca online
  • [49:52] One key tip that will help us improve our tennis games

Special shout out to UVA Men’s Tennis, as Luca is the 3rd guest I’ve had on the show in 37 episodes that has ties to the program. Coach Brian Boland (Episode 34) and Treat Huey (Episode 7) have also been on The Tennis Files Podcast.

Treat just qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in doubles with Max Mirnyi, which is an incredible accomplishment! Go Treat!

Thanks again to Luca for coming onto the Tennis Files Podcast and speaking about his experiences as a player on UVA’s Men’s Tennis Team!

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Winning Ugly – Brad Gilbert

UVA Men’s Tennis Team Homepage

UVA Men’s Tennis Twitter Page

Luca’s Twitter and Instagram Pages

Note: The link to Winning Ugly above is an affiliate link, so if you make a purchase after clicking, I make a small commission. Thanks either way!

If you enjoyed my interview with Luca, 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!

8 Simple Tests to Analyze Your Tennis Progress

The 8 Most Critical Tennis Skills and How to Test Them

In a world of cookie-cutter programs and one-size fits all solutions, analyzing your game is the first real step to progress.

Trying to find the “best” fitness program or the “top” tennis drills without knowing what areas you need to work on to optimize your play is a waste of time. What are your deficiencies? What skills or attributes will most improve your game if you focus on training them?

After interviewing some of the best tennis coaches in the world on my podcast, including Brian Boland, Martin BlackmanAllistair McCaw, and Dr. Mark Kovacs, I’ve heard a common theme about producing great tennis players and athletes. Knowing the individual—the strengths, areas that need improvement, and what makes the person tick, to name a few—is critical to maximizing the player’s performance.

Before we get into the skills and tests, I need to give credit where it is due. I learned many of the fitness tests and average scores below from Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition). I can’t stress enough how much this book, and my amazing podcast guests, have helped me improve my tennis conditioning and my game.

There are several skills which you need to assess before confidently creating a training program that best suits your individual needs. They are the following:

1. Technique

Biomechanically efficient technique is highly determinative of your tennis potential. Deficient technique will cause errors, especially in pressure situations. It can be even more destructive when you have bad technique and know you do, because your confidence in your game will be compromised. More importantly, biomechanical inefficiencies can lead to undue stress on the body and eventual injury. There’s a good chance that there is a stroke or two in your game that you can improve.

Action Step: Record your play with a camera or cell phone and examine your strokes to determine which shots need the most improvement from a technical standpoint. Even better: have a coach grade you on each of your strokes.

2. Footwork Speed/Agility

If you aren’t in position to hit the ball, everything else (technique, power, endurance, etc) is irrelevant. Many players incorrectly attribute a bad shot to incorrect technique when the culprit is often suboptimal footwork. Your footwork speed, intensity, and efficiency is a critical aspect of your game that needs to be developed. Your footwork affects every single shot in your repertoire. It is the difference between a powerful, offensive, and balanced strike, and a short, defensive, attackable one.

Action Step: Perform a 20 yard dash and record your time. Between 3.3-3.4 seconds (men/women) is an average time. Evaluate your lateral speed by shuffling sideways from the middle of the court to the right doubles line, left doubles line, and back to the middle. A time of 7.0 seconds is an average score for men and women. Analyze a match or practice session and see how consistently you are prepared and in position to hit each shot.

3. Power

Tennis is an explosive sport. A fast start makes a crucial difference in your ability to strike the ball in a comfortable versus a compromised position. Both the quickness of your initial reaction and sustained speed will determine how much time you will have to hit your shot. If you train in the gym to improve your game, you can’t ignore the explosive part of weight training if you want it to translate on the tennis court.

Action Step: Stand sideways next to a wall or tennis fence, reach up as high as you can, and mark that spot with tape or any adhesive. Then jump as high as you can, touch the wall, and mark that spot. Measure the difference between the two points. Between 12-16 inches for females and 21-26 inches for males is an average score.

4. Mental Fortitude

Mental strength in the face of adversity is one of the most critical skills for all tennis players. You can have picture-perfect strokes and unparalleled athletic ability, but if you do not have self-belief, a competitive desire, and the ability to overcome adversity, you will not be successful on the tennis court.

Action Step: Evaluate your results over the past year. How do you perform during critical points? Are you winning most of your big matches?  Do you think about forces out of your control while playing? If you find yourself underperforming in pressure situations, you need to make mental fortitude a priority.

5. Flexibility

If you are not flexible, you increase your chance of pain, injury, and a short career in the sport. In addition to reversing these issues, by training your flexibility, you will be able to retrieve more balls and return shots from uncomfortable positions. If you want a healthier body and a hugely improved tennis game, you must work on your flexibility. On my podcast, Allistair McCaw remarked that flexibility is the main reason why Novak Djokovic became #1 in the world. Watch the Serbian at work, and you will have little opportunity for argument.

Action Step: Assess your flexibility with a trained professional. You can also perform basic stretch flexibility tests, such as measuring how far you can reach toward your toes (2-4 inches past the toes for females and 1-2 for males is an average score) and the internal shoulder flexibility test.

6. Endurance

Sustaining a high-level of play for several hours on the court is critical for any competitive tennis player. The most crucial period of any match is closing out the win, and if you cannot perform optimally because of fatigue, you are doing your game a huge disservice.

Action Step: Assess your endurance by considering how your perform at the end of matches relative to your intensity and focus at the beginning/middle of play. Run 1.5 miles and record your time. Around a 14-15 minute time for females and 11-12 minutes for males is average.

7. Strength

We can all agree that the best tennis players don’t look like powerlifters or football players. That said, players often severely underestimate the impact strength plays in improving a player’s game. Dr. Mark Kovacs explained that while flexibility is very important, a muscle that is not strong enough and overstretched can cause injury. The stronger you are, the more you will be able to develop your speed and power from your base of strength.

Action Step: See how many pushups you can perform in one-minute. Based on Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition), around 30 push-ups for females and 35 for males represents an average score.

8. Strategy

Creating and implementing a solid strategy for your matches will result in more wins. As I discussed in my article on how to formulate a winning game plan, formulating strategy based on your game and your opponent’s game offers many advantages, including helping you stay focused, handle pressure, and play matches more optimally.

Action Step: Analyze how often you plan and implement strategy before tennis matches. Do you usually feel outplayed or controlled by your opponent (i.e. you are reactive rather than proactive)? If you want to learn how to formulate winning game-plans before your matches, download my free match-strategy guide below!

CLICK HERE to download my free strategy guide.

Periodic Re-evaluation

To gauge your progress, perform tests on the skills above periodically. It depends on how often you’d like to know your numbers, but every couple months is a good baseline. Try to replicate the same conditions as when you took the first test for a more accurate sense of your progression (i.e. same amount of sleep, rest, food, etc).

Complete Conditioning for Tennis

The last thing I want to emphasize is that you pick up a copy of Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition). It contains hundreds more self-assessment tests, exercises, and advice on how to analyze your capabilities and create your own fitness program based on your individual needs.

I give a huge amount of credit to Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition), Dr. Mark Kovacs, Todd S. Ellenbecker, E. Paul Roetert, and all of my amazing podcast guests for helping me become a better tennis player.

(Note: the links to Complete Conditioning for Tennis are affiliate links. If you click them and make a purchase, I make a small commission. Thanks either way!)

Final Thoughts

The key takeaway here is to assess your strengths and weaknesses of the skills above, and formulate your tennis goals and training regimen according to your findings.

And I’ve heard from a lot of you asking about my training program since I posted a sneak peak of it on instagram recently, so I will be discussing it soon in a future post! 🙂

Analyze your game and let us know what skills you need to improve in the comments section!

To help you plan and create your fitness and training goals, download your free copy of my SMART Goals guide below!

4 TFP 034: Brian Boland—Turning College Tennis Players into Leaders

TFP 034: Brian Boland—Turning College Tennis Players into Leaders

On Episode 34 of TFP, I had the honor of speaking with Brian Boland, Coach of the 2013, 2015, and 2016 NCAA Division I Championship University of Virginia Men’s Tennis program. Coach Boland shows us how we can produce better leaders and human beings through college tennis. This approach is ultimately what determines whether coaches and players are truly successful in life.

Coach Boland’s approach of focusing on developing his players have resulted in incredible accomplishments, both on and off the court. Virginia Men’s Tennis has been ranked in the top five of the ITA’s final rankings in 8 of the past 10 seasons, and they’ve also won 5 ITA National Team Indoor Championships, 14 conference championships and 18 NCAA and ITA individual national championships.

What is so striking about Coach Boland is that he doesn’t focus on the results so much as the development of his players. That his favorite moment at Virginia Men’s Tennis has been attending weddings of his players, rather than winning titles, speaks volumes about his values. Coach Boland was also the very first contributor to one of my most popular articles, 30 College Tennis Coaches Reveal Top Character Traits of Successful Student-Athletes.

Huge thanks to Coach Boland for coming onto the show! This episode is a must-listen for any coaches and players who want to get the most out of themselves and their players. Coach Boland shows us how we can do this through leadership, integrity, and character.

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

  • [1:44] How did Coach Boland become a head coach at UVA?
  • [5:03] One thing that the world doesn’t know about Coach Boland
  • [7:06] How do you keep motivated after winning everything there is to win in college tennis?
  • [9:37] How did UVA bounce back from adversity this year to win the NCAA Championship?
  • [13:06] How do you deal with players who aren’t in the lineup
  • [16:43] Challenges in maintaining an elite team year after year
  • [18:42] What did Coach Boland mean when he said “It takes a village to be the best at what you can do.”
  • [23:38] What systems do you have in place to ensure that your players succeed?
  • [26:42] How and where Coach Boland recruit players
  • [29:49] The success of local mid-atlantic players at UVA
  • [34:25] How UVA tennis player Thai-Son Kwiatkowski is skyrocketing up the ATP rankings
  • [40:04] Shout out to Dr. Mark Kovacs (guest on Episode 33 of TFP)
  • [40:51Treat Huey’s rise to the top of the ATP doubles ranks
  • [47:02] What’s the goal for UVA during the fall college tennis season?
  • [52:07] UVA’s individual and team practices in the fall and spring
  • [54:12] The structure of individual practices
  • [55:31] Difference between fall and spring seasons
  • [58:42] Drilling during practices
  • [61:20] Coach Boland’s favorite drills
  • [64:14] How to determine UVA’s lineup
  • [67:34] Coach Boland’s toughest and most enjoyable moments at UVA
  • [74:02] Sanam Singh’s wedding
  • [78:28] How has UVA Tennis changed over the years?
  • [79:54] How can we save our college tennis programs?
  • [81:40] Coach Boland’s morning routine
  • [85:26] Books that Coach Boland would gift someone looking to improve their tennis game
  • [86:51] The importance of tennis coaches and experts sharing information with the community
  • [89:15] Best advice that Coach Boland has every received
  • [90:31] Where can we follow Coach Boland and UVA Men’s Tennis online
  • [92:08] One tip from Coach Boland that will help us improve our tennis games

I hope you enjoy my interview with Coach Boland! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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Links Mentioned in This Episode

The Inner Game of Tennis

Lead For Godsake

Success is a Choice

UVA Men’s Tennis

Interview with Dr. Mark Kovacs

Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2nd edition)

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking, I make a small commission. Thanks either way!

If you enjoyed my interview with Coach Boland, be sure to subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast! Next up on the schedule is Martin Blackman, Head of Player Development at USTA.

For more tennis tips to improve your game, download my free eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success, by subscribing to my newsletter below!