Category Archives for "Tips"

TFP 065: How Denis Kudla's Obsession with Tennis Turned Into a Pro Career

TFP 065: How Denis Kudla’s Obsession with Tennis Turned Into a Pro Career

On Episode 65 of The Tennis Files Podcast, I spoke with ATP world #73 Denis Kudla about how his obsession with tennis turned into a pro career.  Denis turned pro as teenager and has had his share of ups and downs, but through it all his passion for the game and excellent support system has helped him catapult back into the Top 100 once again.

Denis has always been one of my favorite players to root for because he is from Arlington, Virginia, which is very close to where I’m from (Maryland), and also because he is a very down to Earth guy.  I first met and interviewed Denis at the Citi Open last month after he and Frances Tiafoe played a doubles match (two in the same day actually).  Denis wore a Washington Capitals shirt, which has been the pride of DC for their championship win (and one of my favorite hats to wear). 

Denis was kind enough to make some time to speak with me while he was in New York preparing for the U.S. Open.  You’ll hear Denis talk about his tennis career from the beginning, how he trained as a junior at the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC), why he has always prioritized fitness, and how he bounced back from the lowest point of his career.

It was a pleasure speaking with Denis on the podcast, and I wish him all the best in his career.  Let us know what you think about this episode in the comments below!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [2:36] Denis’s training and preparation for the US Open
  • [3:43] Playing golf at the Stowe Tennis tournament in Vermont
  • [4:26] Similarities between tennis and golf
  • [5:27] Why this has been the best year of Denis’s sports fan life (Washington Capitals / Philadelphia Eagles)
  • [7:47] Denis’s first memory of hitting a tennis ball
  • [9:04]  Transition to training at the Junior Tennis Champions Center, and why Denis’s family made the decision
  • [10:37] How Denis stayed focused on his tennis training as a junior and avoided distractions
  • [11:54] The most important changes Denis made in his game as a junior
  • [13:27] A quote that has always stuck with Denis throughout his career
  • [14:05] The structure and hours of being homeschooled at a tennis academy (Junior Tennis Champions Center)
  • [15:51] Denis’s closest friends and competitors during his junior career
  • [17:17] How to overcome your doubts against stiff competition
  • [18:26] Why Denis decided to turn pro instead of going to college
  • [19:44] The lowest point in Denis’s professional career and how he bounced back to the Top 100
  • [21:34] What caused Denis to hit rock bottom as an ATP pro
  • [22:59] Differences between Challenger and ATP Tour Level players
  • [24:14] Why routines don’t always work as a professional tennis player
  • [25:44] What Denis changed in his fitness routine after losing a two set lead vs. Thiem at the Australian Open
  • [26:39] Denis’s approach to fitness in the off-season
  • [27:22] One piece of advice from Denis to help you improve your tennis game

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Links Mentioned in the Show

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

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

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

TFP 064: Interviews with David Goffin, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Donald Young and more at the 2018 Citi Open

TFP 064: Interviews with David Goffin, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Donald Young and more at the 2018 Citi Open!

On Episode 64 of The Tennis Files Podcast, you’ll hear several of my interviews with some of the best tennis players in the world and my top takeways from them to help improve your tennis game.  I spoke one-on-one with David Goffin, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Donald Young, Marcos Baghdatis, Hyeon Chung, and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski at the 2018 Citi Open last week after their matches and heard a ton of excellent tips from these amazing players that I want to share with you on the podcast.

It was a pleasure interviewing these players, and I have to thank everyone from the Citi Open, ATP Tour, and LINK Strategic partners for helping make these interviews happen.  If you want to see more media from this year’s tournament, including my interviews and press conferences, head over to my Youtube Channel!

I hope you enjoy this episode of TFP with the pros, and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

Interviews:

  • Donald Young – 4:30 
  • Thai-Son Kwiatkowski – 11:28 
  • Marcos Baghdatis – 16:39
  • Hyeon Chung – 21:32
  • David Goffin – 26:09
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas – 34:40 and 43:51
  • Bonus Clip: Alexander Zverev Championship Press Conference snippet (pretty funny 🙂 ) – 50:58

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Links Mentioned in the Show

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

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

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

TFP 063: Stringing Machine Tips and Tricks with Mark Gonzalez From Alpha Racquet Sports

TFP 063: Stringing Machine Tips and Tricks with Mark Gonzalez From Alpha Racquet Sports

On today’s episode of The Tennis Files Podcast, I spoke with Mark Gonzalez from Alpha Racquet Sports about stringing machines. I asked Mark about the different types of stringing machines, how to choose the right one for you, and tips and tricks to become a great stringer.  The International Alliance of Racquet Stringers (IART) has said that Mark’s knowledge of stringing machines ranks among the very best in the industry.

Mark wears many hats in the tennis world; he is a Sales Manager for Alpha Racquet Sports, an industry consultant for IART, and a Yonex rep.  Mark has a reputation for being super responsive and has helped me figure out my stringing machine needs. When I did research on best value stringing machines, Alpha was the brand that popped up more often than all the others in the forums and everywhere else, which is why I decided to bring Mark on the podcast.

It was a pleasure having Mark on The Tennis Files Podcast, and I know this episode will help you choose the right stringing machine for your game and become a better stringer.  You’ll also save a lot of cash if you get a tennis machine which you can use to play more tennis, upgrade your racquets, and enjoy happy hour after your league matches (if you are of-age, anyway! 🙂 )

I hope you enjoy this episode of TFP with Mark, and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

Intro

  • [4:02] The biggest advantage of owning a stringing machine
  • [5:32] The biggest hesitation that players have when deciding whether to buy a stringing machine
  • [7:20] What sparked Mark’s interest into the world of stringing machines
  • [9:46] The stringing machines Mark has used throughout his tennis and stringing career?

Researching Stringing Machines

  • [11:47] The optimal approach to buying a machine
  • [14:30] When buying a stringing machine, do we plan for the short term or long term? i.e. space in apartment, stringing skill level, potential to string for others, etc.
  • [15:47] What are the biggest mistakes people make when buying a stringing machine?

Different Types of Stringing Machines

  • [17:31] What are the different types of stringing machines?
  • [20:42] The kind of machine Mark recommends for a player’s first machine, that plays 2-3 times a week and breaks strings once every 2-3 weeks?
  • [21:55] The drop weight machine is the cheapest kind generally – why is that?
  • [23:53] Who would you suggest a drop weight machine for?
  • [25:06] Why drop weights can be one of the most accurate types of stringing machines despite the price
  • [25:47] Is an electric machine worth it, and if so, what type of players would you suggest get one?
  • [27:58] 2 point vs 6 point machines – what does this mean, and does it matter?

Stringing Accessories

  • [29:38] The most helpful stringing tools for stringing racquets
  • [32:29] What part of the stringing machine tends to break the fastest and what to do about it
  • [34:55] What is the WISE electronic tensioner head and what type of benefit would we gain from getting one? Is it worth it?

Stringing Racquets at this year’s Australian Open

  • [37:33] Mark’s experience stringing at the Australian Open and the ATP/WTA players he strung racquets for

Stringing Technique

  • [40:19] The biggest mistakes novice and intermediate stringers make
  • [41:40] The best way to measure how much string you need to string your racquet and the “4-Wingspan Rule”

Alpha Stringing Machines

  • [42:57] The awesome stringing machines Alpha has in its lineup and a cool story about customer service
  • [49:46] Are there any new machines planned for Alpha in the near future, and how we can get an Alpha stringing machine if we are interested in one?

Final Thoughts

  • [51:46] Mark’s key tip to help you choose the right stringing machine

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Alpha Racquet Sports Website

Alpha Axis Pro – Awesome Crank Machine with Stand and My Top Pick

Alpha Revo 4000 – Excellent Portable Tabletop Crank Machine

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

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

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

TFP 062: 7 Serve Killers and How to Fix Them

TFP 062: 7 Serve Killers and How to Fix Them

On today’s episode, I review the 7 biggest serve killers and how to fix them.  Over several decades of playing the game, observing other players, learning from my coaches, and the hundreds of interviews on my podcast, Tennis Summits, and Youtube channel, I’ve come to identify several huge leaks in tennis players’ serves.  And today I’m speaking with you one on one about them.

I’ve personally struggled (and still sometimes do) with several of these leaks, and I hope that you find this episode as useful as I do in identifying and finding ways to fix your biggest serve killers.  It’s certainly not an easy process, but if you work diligently and consistently at your serve killers, you will come out a much more powerful and consistent server.

I hope you enjoy this episode on the 7 Serve Killers and How to Fix Them!  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

7 Serve Killers (and How to Fix Them) I Discuss on the Show:

  1. Serve Grip
  2. Toss
  3. Hitch in Motion
  4. Shallow Racquet Drop
  5. Weight Distribution
  6. Opening Up Early
  7. Eyes Not Watching the Ball

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Tennis Summit 2018

Tennis Technique Summit

TFP057 – Top 10 Things That Improved My Game in 2017

TFP 022: Taking Your Game to the Next Level with ATP Pro Junior Ore

TFP 012: How the Universal Tennis Rating System is Revolutionizing Tennis with Dave Fish, Harvard Men’s Tennis Coach

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

As always, thanks for reading, and keep improving your tennis game!

P.S. If you’d like to receive periodic emails with my best tips to improve your tennis game, and a free eBook, subscribe below! 🙂

Tennis Summit 2018

Announcing Tennis Summit 2018!

After nearly 4 months of hard work, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be hosting the world’s biggest online tennis conference: Tennis Summit 2018!

From April 25-30, you’ll be able to watch presentations and interviews from 30+ world-class coaches on your computer and smartphone.

And you can get a free ticket to watch all the sessions!

The lineup of over 30 top coaches and experts on the summit includes:

  • Paul Annacone
  • Gigi Fernandez
  • Craig O’Shannessy
  • Jeff Salzenstein
  • Dr. Mark Kovacs
  • Ian Westermann
  • Allistair McCaw
  • Will Hamilton
  • Satoshi Ochi
  • Dr. Neeru Jayanthi
  • David Bailey

The experts on Tennis Summit 2018 will teach you the technique, strategy, fitness, and mental toughness you need to help you become a better player and reach the next level.

You’ll get to watch over 30 hours of extremely valuable video presentations, interviews, and recorded lessons during the 6 days of the summit.

I truly appreciate the time and effort from all of the coaches and experts to help make this summit a fantastic event!

Here’s a quick little preview of the summit that my video editor created 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, access to a private facebook group to discuss tennis with other passionate tennis players like you, a question and answer session with me, and other exclusive bonuses.

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 Tennis Summit 2018.

Click here to get your free ticket to Tennis Summit 2018!

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!

Sign-up for Tennis Summit 2018 below!

Get Your Free Ticket to Tennis Summit 2018!

Join 30+ world-class experts from April 25-30. Register Now!

TFP 060: Tennis Summit 2018 Preview

TFP 060: Tennis Summit 2018 Preview

After nearly 4 months of hard work, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be hosting the world’s biggest online tennis conference: Tennis Summit 2018!

From April 25-30, you’ll be able to watch presentations and interviews from 30+ world-class coaches on your computer and smartphone. And you can get a free ticket to watch all the sessions!

On today’s episode of TFP, I put together a preview of Tennis Summit 2018.  You’ll get to listen to five ten-minute clips of some of the best sessions on the summit.  These sessions include presentations and interviews from Paul Annacone (coach of Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, and Tim Henman), 17-time grand slam champion Gigi Fernandez, sports performance expert and iTPA/Kovacs Institute founder Dr. Mark Kovacs, performance consultant and founder of the McCaw Method, Allistair McCaw, and registered Dietician Jeff Rothtschild, who has worked with the Brian Brothers and other famous athletes from multiple sports.

I hope you enjoy this preview episode of Tennis Summit 2018, and be sure to get your free ticket to the summit here!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [2:38] Paul Annacone – The Secrets of Federer, Sampras, and Henman
  • [14:16] Gigi Fernandez – Optimal Doubles Strategy From a 17-Time Grand Slam Champion
  • [26:01] Dr. Mark Kovacs – Mastering Your On-Court Movement
  • [37:39] Allistair McCaw – How to Become Champion Minded
  • [50:10] Jeff Rothschild – Carbohydrates, Sports Drinks, and the Heat

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Tennis Summit 2018

Tennis Technique Summit

Join me at the world’s biggest online tennis conference, Tennis Summit 2018, by signing up for free below!!

Get Your Free Ticket to Tennis Summit 2018!

Join 30+ world-class experts from April 25-30. Register Now!

TFP 057: Top 10 Things That Improved My Game in 2017

TFP 057: Top 10 Things That Improved My Game in 2017

On today’s show, I reveal the top 10 things that improved my tennis game in 2017.  It’s always critical to periodically examine your progress so that you can figure out what is working and what you may need to change to become a better tennis player.  I sat down and made a list of things that I did differently in 2017, and then marked the top 10 of those changes to discuss on the podcast.  I encourage you to pick one or two of the things I mention on the show, try them out, and see how it works for you.  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy this episode!

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Tennis Fitness Workout Guide

SMART Goals Guide

Cliff Bars – White Chocolate Macadamia

Progress Planner

Tennis Technique Summit

International Tennis Performance Association

Why Dynamic Stretching is Superior to Static Stretching Before Competition

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

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

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

To improve your tennis fitness, download a free sample workout plan here! Thanks for listening!

2 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!

Kim Selzman Tennis Quick Tips

TFP 036: 6 Quick Tips to Improve Your Tennis Game with Kim Selzman

On Episode 36 of TFP, Kim Selzman from The Tennis Quick Tips Podcast and tennisfixation.com joined me to give you some of her best tips to help you improve your game.

Kim started playing tennis at 40 years old and fell in love with the game immediately. She is a super passionate tennis player that enjoys sharing what she knows and learns about the game with her audience. Well that sounds a little familiar! 🙂

Kim does an awesome job of giving her audience value-packed tips that are quick and easy to implement, and can really boost your game. She has produced over 140 podcast episodes and it was a lot of fun to speak with her on the show. I also included her podcast in my article The 41 Best Tennis Resources Every Player Should Know.

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [2:58] How Kim got her start in tennis
  • [5:34] Kim’s website and podcast
  • [9:09] 3 tips to improve your serve
  • [15:35] One tip Kim follows every time she plays tennis
  • [18:52] Why Kim changed her mind about lobbing
  • [22:43] Resources that Kim uses to improve her game
  • [26:03] Favorite tennis books Kim would give as a gift to someone who wants to improve their tennis game 
  • [30:33] One key tip to improve your tennis game
  • [34:06] Where can we find Kim online

A big shout out to Kim for coming onto the podcast and giving us some great tips on how we can all become better tennis players!

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Links Mentioned in the Show

A special gift from Kim for our listeners!

Winning Ugly – Brad Gilbert

Arthur Ashe on Tennis

Tennis Beyond Big Shots – Greg Moran

Interview with Dr. Mark Kovacs

Complete Conditioning for Tennis Players

Note: The links to the books 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 Kim, let me know by leaving a review for The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

How to Choose the Right Tournaments for Your Game

How to Choose the Right Tournaments for Your Game

Choosing what tournaments to play can be tricky. You shouldn’t be getting blown out every match, but you don’t want to win every match without a challenge either. Your goal should be to compete in tournaments where at some point, there will be a player there to make you work hard to win. This is how we learn to be better competitors and improve our tennis games.

Here are the steps you should follow, in order, when trying to navigate the world of tennis tournaments:

1. Determine Your Skill Level

You need to honestly assess where you are in your tennis career, what your strengths are, and what areas of your game need improvement. Look at your match results over the past year. What NTRP rating (i.e. 2.5-5.5) are you? You can also ask your tennis friends and instructors who have watched you play on their opinion of your skill-level. Based on their feedback and your own self-analysis, you can figure out what level of tournaments will most effectively challenge your game to improve.

2. Write Down Your Goals

Figuring out your short and long-term goals will help you choose what tournaments to play. For example, is your goal to become a 5.0 singles player, improve your doubles game, or practice competing in preparation for a bigger tournament? To help you figure out how to create SMART Goals, check out this post. Your goals will help narrow your focus to the tournaments that will accomplish your goals in the least amount of time. For example, if your long-term goal is to become a 5.0 singles player, you will realize that you should concentrate mainly on playing singles tournaments. You can download my free guide (with fillable worksheet) on how to set SMART Goals below.

CLICK HERE to download your free SMART Goals Guide

3. Find Out What Tournaments are Available

Figure out what local, sectional, and national organizations run tennis tournaments, go to their websites, and familiarize yourself with their tournament search site. For example, the USTA is the organization that manages the majority of tennis tournaments (via tennislink) for players in the United States. If you are a member of a tennis club, ask a pro or fellow player for advice on how to enter tournaments. It never hurts to ask! And many tennis clubs host tennis tournaments by age and skill-level. Choosing what tournaments to play can be daunting with so many options, so now let’s figure out how to do it.

4. Register for Tournaments at Your Skill Level

Start testing the waters of tournament play by entering ones that correspond to your skill level. For example, if you are a 4.0-level player, enter tournaments that say “NTRP 4.0” or something similar. The ratings/skill-level nomenclature can vary depending on what region or country you are from. Play these tournaments and track your results. I recommend playing a minimum of three of these tournaments before you can accurately assess your next steps. I would also stick with tournaments in your age group in the beginning. And the tournaments you play should align with your goals that you determined in step 2 above.

5. Assess Your Results and Reevaluate

If you are consistently reaching the semi-finals or better, then mix in tournaments into your schedule that are one-level higher. For example, if you reached the semifinals of two out of your last three 4.0 level tournaments and won the other one, make 4.5 level tournaments a substantial part (around 1/3 to 1/2) of your schedule. When I first started playing tennis, after three junior futures tournaments (beginner-level at the time), I knew it was time to move to the next-highest level of tournament play after my results: win, semis, win.

Once you are dominating tournaments at your skill-level, make the permanent leap to the next one, assuming your goal is to become a better tennis player and not just to collect trophies. This will ensure you keep challenging your game so you can improve, just like the weight lifter gradually increases reps or weight to build strength and muscle. Conversely, if you have been struggling to get past the first round, consider playing lower-level tournaments (if allowed), or work on your game for a few weeks and come back stronger for the next one.

6. Sparingly Mix in Tournaments That are Substantially Above Your Skill Level

I believe that occasionally playing tournaments that are a full point (i.e. you are a 4.0 and play a 5.0 tournament) or skill-level (i.e. intermediate to advanced) above what you currently are can help your game. Sure, you are likely to get blown out, but there are huge benefits to sparingly playing at a very-high level relative to your skill-set.

First, playing against extremely good players will give you extra motivation to see where your game has the potential to be if you train smart and hard. Second, playing against this level will fill you with an intensity and focus that you have never felt before, because if you don’t push yourself to the limit during these matches, you will get clobbered. Third, by establishing relationships with these high-level players, you may find a new hitting partner or friend that can help mentor you (remember, you need to be friendly and talk to players to make this happen!). You can learn a ton by sitting down and watching these players. It wouldn’t hurt to take a couple video clips, play them in slow-motion, and see the differences in your strokes and footwork, either!

On Episode 21 of The Tennis Files Podcast, I talked about my experience playing an ITF Futures Tournament at The University of Virginia in Charlottesville. While I am a 5.0 player, I wanted to really push myself to the limit and experience what it was like to play against professional tennis players who are trying to make it on the ATP Tour. I played the 11th seed in qualifying who was ranked around 1100 in the world at the time, and I lost 6-1, 6-0. While my opponent beat me pretty handily, it was a thrill and a big eye-opener to be around such amazing players. It filled me with intense motivation to train and helped me figure out what I needed to improve in my game to confidently perform against this level of players without being exploited. It’s been a few months since the tournament, but I am still pumped thinking about playing it again next year and coming back stronger.

How Frequently Should You Play Tournaments?

The most important considerations for this question are your physical fitness and enthusiasm to compete. When you keep playing tournaments, you acclimate to the environment of competition, intensity, and pressure situations. The best way to become more comfortable in a new setting is by repeatedly putting yourself in that same situation. Therefore, if you are in good physical condition and have the passion to compete, then fit as many tournaments as you can, within reason, into your schedule.

For a serious tennis player, playing two tournaments a month and reevaluating this frequency after three to four months is a reasonable way to figure out the optimal frequency for tournament play. It is critical to reevaluate your body’s capacity to perform at high intensity after each tournament to prevent injury and burnout. Additionally, if there are major parts of your game that need improving (especially technique), this can be another factor in potentially reducing the frequency of your tournament play.

When Should You Reduce Tournament Play?

Tournaments are an integral part of any serious player’s development. However, there are times when playing tournaments can stunt a player’s growth. Here’s when you should reduce or suspend tournament play:

1. When You are Changing Technique

The bigger the technical change, the more you should be willing to suspend tournament play until you are comfortable with implementing the change in pressure situations. When a match gets close, you will feel the pressure to win and will revert back to what is most comfortable. This wastes all the time you spent trying to change your technique in the first place. Because we are competitive, it takes a huge amount of discipline and focus on our long-term goals to maintain a new technical change during crucial points in a match. Instead, you can accelerate the mastery of your new technique by practicing it in a pressureless environment (i.e. practice with a coach or fellow player) and then gradually move to point, set and match play when you are ready.

A normal progression would be something like this: spend two weeks practicing your new service motion with your coach and by yourself, then play practice points and games with your training partners for two weeks. If you can maintain your new service technique throughout the practice games, then start playing practice sets and matches with your training partners. If you are comfortable with your technical change at this level of intensity, then consider playing tournaments. If not, go back to one-level lower of intensity (practice) and reevaluate after a week or two.

The most important consideration is that you prioritize your long-term goals when you make a technical change in your game. This will help you concentrate on implementing the change in your game even if it means playing less tournaments for a while and losing more matches in the beginning.

CLICK HERE to download your free SMART Goals Guide

2. When You Are Injured

No matter how passionate you are about tennis, it is not smart to play tournaments and matches with an injury. The severity of the injury and the importance of the tournament are highly determinative of whether you should play. But injury is a signal from your body that you need to rest and recover. Unless the tournament is of extreme importance to you and your injury is minor, will not become worse, and is manageable, you should not play the tournament.

3. When You are Burned Out

There’s no point in playing a tournament unless you are ready and capable of giving 100% effort. This all starts in the mind. If you are mentally exhausted, you need to take a break and do something fun. Take a week off tennis and play a different sport. Try a less intensive format of tennis like World Team Tennis or a charity event. Go paint some pottery (yep, I did this last weekend, and it was awesome)! You will come back refreshed and ready to rock it the next time you are back out on court. A true passion for tennis will give you the best chance of excelling in this sport, and when that passion runs low, go have some fun to rejuvenate your body and mind. The courts will always be there for you.

4. If you are a Beginner

If you just started playing tennis, you should first get to a level where you can competently play a match. If you can’t hit more than a couple balls across the net at a time, then playing a tournament and getting blown out can potentially discourage you from playing the game for good. And a beginner lacks many basic fundamentals and techniques that need to be developed before competition. When you start competing too early without these fundamentals in place, you will start ingraining bad habits into your game that can become permanent and take a long time to fix if not monitored and corrected by a coach or self-corrected.

Check out my Ultimate Beginner’s Guide if you are relatively new to tennis. It will show you how to improve your skills to the point where you will be ready to start competing. And my free eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success, will show you how to maximize your tennis development.

Tools to Organize Your Tournaments

Here are three simple (and free!) tools you can use to help organize your tournament schedule which I have recommended in previous posts:

Mind Meister  – Free mind maps (aka organizational diagrams) to chart out the steps you need to take to reach your goals. Click here to learn more about mind maps, and here to get started creating them!

Trello – Another awesome free tool to organize your workflow and track your progress on projects and tasks. I use Trello (not to be confused with Trollollo 🙂 ) to ensure my blog postspodcasts, and tennis training gets done on time. You can add notes, checklists, attachments, and even pictures to your entries.

Google Calendar – Just open up google calendar through your gmail account on the interwebs and schedule all your appointments and set alarms to help keep you working towards accomplishing your goals.

ACTION STEP

Take the first step at the top of this post right now: determine your skill level. 

Starting is the hardest part to accomplishing anything in life. Once you know your skill level, progress to the next step of figuring out your SMART Goals in tennis, then find and register for tournaments at your skill level and stay focused on continually improving your game.

CLICK HERE to download your free SMART Goals Guide

I hope this post has helped you figure out how to choose what tournaments to play and encourages you to get out on the court and compete. As you can see, selecting the right tournaments isn’t that difficult, either. Playing tournaments will improve your game and teach you how to become a strong competitor. Now that you know what steps to take, make it happen! If you have any questions about tournaments, feel free to email me at mehrban@tennisfiles.com.

For more advice on how to improve your tennis game, get a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success, by filling out the short form below!

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