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How to Coach the Warm-Up: an Underrated Necessity for Tennis Players

Not just for the tennis player and/or athlete, the warm-up is an overlooked proponent of health and wellbeing for all and is often neglected to understood which leaves quite a significant number of active populations susceptible to developing an injury. But this can be easily avoided with some simple steps put in place. First of which is understanding the overall function of your body and how you use your body in everyday life. For the player/athlete you have incredibly high demand requirements in contrast to more general active populations. For more mature demographics, you’re more likely to be wanting to maintain a level of strength to protect yourself and your body from potential ailments we become more susceptible towards later in life. And for the non-athlete yet active individual — from young adults to those in that middle demographic, you most likely have your sights set on general health and well-being and participate in weekly activities 3-5 times per week — classes through to committed runs, you place your overall physical fitness as a priority. 

For those of you who do not fit into one of these categories it’s an important reminder to ask yourself why given the daily requirements of your body — as simple as walking to getting up from a chair to couch or maintaining a level of strength to ensure your posture isn’t as compromised if you’re sitting at a desk on a regular basis. All of these ‘actions’ have a roll-on affect for how your body in turn responds. An example can be given from a simple squat to lunge that can enhance your balance through to your strength — ‘ease’ in getting up from a chair to picking something up off the floor you may have dropped.

Activity is a part of everyday life and those who do not participate in a form of activity on a regular basis are more susceptible to developing ailments later in life.

So where does the warm-up come in? The same applies for those who go ‘all out’ prior to warming their body up as they become more susceptible to the onset of injury. But do it right, and you’re doing your body a favour and for the players/athletes you’re also doing your performance a favour as you’re ‘preparing’ your body to ‘progress’ towards its next caliber in a manner of speaking. Let me explain. I’m sure everyone has experienced the difference of jumping in the air once, and then after a few times, they feel a little more ‘loose’ like your body could go for more? Or, remember high-jump when the bar started low and then increased? And for the tennis player, hopefully you recall hitting inside the service box before progressing back to the baseline. The simple rule here is akin to an elastic band (i.e. elastic energy). By starting small and in gradual increments ‘increasing’ your range and/or energy expenditure (i.e. strength) you’re preparing your body to work at a certain level to increase the outcome (i.e. performance). But if you avoid this ‘warming-up’ altogether, you’re not giving your body a chance to reach this level and by going ‘all-in’ from the get-go can stretch your body/muscles in contrast to them naturally ‘preparing’ for this level/load.

By implementing best practices that include a warm-up not only are players/athletes setting themselves up for more purposeful performances, they’re also safeguarding their bodies for the load ahead. For the general populations, irrespective which demographic you fall into, the same applies. Whilst you may not be looking to reach a peak performance, the gradual load you apply to your body to build strength, for example, is just as applicable when it comes to ‘over-stretching’ your muscles in contrast to progressing to this stage. A simple and yet easy trick for all.

To learn more about How to Coach the Warm-Up: an Underrated Necessity for Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 32. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Addiction and Coaching: the Tennis Player

It is important to preface this segment by sharing that if you’re experiencing a form of addiction, please consult your local physician / GP for steps to put in place to help you overcome these behaviours. The following is not medical advice, it is based on science (behavioural) coupled lived experience.

Addiction is more often than not associated with quite drastic outcomes to behaviours and the underlying and/or more subtle addictions that can come about in the daily lives of adolescents to teenagers when they’re not receiving the attention they seek are often overlooked. An example in the sports coaching context for the tennis player may be over-training to carrying an injury without sharing — for fear of ‘loss’ of training. However, there are also more widely known addictions that may present themselves away from the training grounds that coaches can become privy to if they put the work in to build trusting/trustful relationships with their players that can also allow the coach in turn to ‘ring the alarm’ with a player’s and/or child’s parent/guardian.

There are a multitude of signs a coach can look for from a behavioural perspective and coaches are in a unique position to play their part to combat these more concerning behaviours. It is also pertinent to remember some players will be more susceptible than others due to their environment and the ‘training grounds’ (i.e. tennis courts) is one such area that can mitigate these vulnerabilities to susceptibilities with the right guidance, support network and structures than work in unison to condition the player/athlete to build more robust foundations as they transition through their younger years into adulthood.

This is one core topic that is rarely addressed that when the training environment is well-rounded it can play such a positive part in a child’s life whilst also building behavioural responses that can allow them to better cope when put in more pressurised environments away from the training grounds i.e. at-risk and/or vulnerable environments that may lead to and/or contribute towards an addiction. As a huge proponent for sports participation, one such textWhat is Your Game Missing, Now? begins to address the social implications of reduced sports participation to increasing the rate of active populations.

It is well documented that active (physical) hobbies — whether casual or for the more dedicated, have incredibly positive benefits for both physical health and mental health.

Whilst the role of mental health and the tennis player has previously been touch on, the presence and/or susceptibility to addiction is new. And whilst from a societal perspective it is also well-documented that addictions are a part of our communities, that isn’t to say that the sporting athlete and with that, the tennis player, is not at-risk at developing an addiction. By all means through participation the risks are lowered, but a proactive coach that builds trust and is conscious of the signs, can not merely be a sounding board to confidant in times of need by building the triangular relationship (refer to the coach-parent relationship) this also affords a best-practice protocol when keeping a healthy eye on a child’s overall physical and mental health and preparedness to discuss and/or address the role of addiction in sport and how coaching plays an integral part in the players/athletes development.

To learn more about Addiction and Coaching: for the Tennis Player, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 31. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Learning from Mistakes: Tennis Players Part 2

Irrespective if you’re a tennis player, coach or parent there is a lesson embedded in here for everyone — including the non-sporting individual. Mistakes do not discriminate, rather it is a part of being human and inevitable that mistakes happen. It is how we ‘learn’ from these mistakes the separates us. This learning is our core focus here and how inside the coaching environment this can be shaped to benefit player performance now and in the years to come.

First and foremost it is absolutely critical that coaches are equipped with the tools to share feedback in a way that addresses these mistakes — from errors to unforced errors and more specific game-play discrepancies to mindful practices. All in all, there are a multitude of areas to address where mistakes may occur and it really comes down to what the player understands and their capacity to follow these instructions. But remember…

…a player cannot follow instructions that he/she does not understand. Rather, they may very well be performing ‘perfectly’ in their eyes from what they understand is required. This is critical for coaches to understand themselves to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Feedback is individual and how this is delivered is dependent on the player and their core learning style — think personal characteristics and how they best receive instruction. For those who deliver a ‘one size’ approach for all, this is where mistakes are bound to happen at no fault of the player/athlete. Get it right and you’re aligning with optimal performance practices and setting up that player to embark on The Pathway.

It is key to remember that mistakes are a part of life and it is how we are conditioned to respond that makes a difference. To the coaches, helping your players better understand their errors to unforced errors and carving a action-reaction response is another key metric that not merely allows the player/athlete to develop this aspect of their game, but during competition they’re more readily able to move on to the next point and ‘re-set’ after a mistake.

To learn more about Learning from Mistakes: Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 30. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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Learning from Mistakes: Tennis Players

Everyone makes mistakes. It is one of those things in life that is inevitable. How you respond to these mistakes will vary and these behaviours are often formed in your earlier developmental years. Only later in life, if and/or when you choose, will you begin to modify these behaviours. On this premise, it is so incredibly important to set the standards in a child’s earlier years to ensure their response is well-attuned to appropriate and builds the ‘right’ kind of behaviours opposed to setting that child up for a harder road ahead i.e. needing to ‘rewire’ these behaviours due to the poor responses initially developed and/or noted as acceptable at the given time.

An example of a poorly developed behaviour in earlier years, when we’re narrowing our focus on the tennis player, is the reaction when a point is lost due to an unforced error i.e. a mistake. A child has two options — to accept that their performance wasn’t good enough for that given point and to learn from their mistake for the next point; or, the child may behave poorly — throw their racket, scream a few ill-choice words and perhaps even throw a little tantrum that involves a ‘slap’ to their leg, or similar. This example is shared from a lived experience — behaviours that once-upon-a-time I personally had become accustomed towards as acceptable and suitable to the poor performance. That is, mistakes were not okay and were frowned up. At the time, if your behaviour showed your level of frustration to disappointment this was almost applauded opposed to the calmer player that moved on to the next point.

Thankfully, my behaviours evolved as this was never a natural reaction. Again, from a personal perspective I was too well-rounded to keep that type of behaviour up — I knew better from a young age that this was not acceptable and I definitely would never get away with it off the tennis court and/or in front of my parents. There was absolutely no way that would have happened! And yet, this still happens to this day and coaches and parents alike allow this to happen. And that is not okay.

A child’s to tennis player’s actual development during these years sets the scene to what’s allowed later in life, in particular those adolescent years when hormones can at times take that behaviour to the next level. Even worse, off the tennis court this ‘screaming’ to ‘throwing’ can become evident in other areas of life when those types of behaviours are never okay. If you wouldn’t get away with screaming at yourself and throwing your book and/or slapping yourself after receiving a lesser result that planned on a test, why would it be okay on the tennis court?

Poor behaviour is never okay and setting the bar high for the developmental player means we’re also conditioning more positive behaviours for when that child becomes an adolescent and in later years, a young adult. On this basis, sport is incredibly powerful for setting well-rounded behaviours.

At the end of the day, everyone makes mistakes and it’s how we react that makes the difference. If you’re able to learn from your mistake — why it happened and its cause, specifically in tennis, your performance can evolve as you search to nudge those metrics further and reach your next peak performance. In this sense, mistakes are a constant that can be flipped upside down as a learning curve — a way in which can foster further development, further progressions and edge that player closet towards that Top 10 tennis ranking in the weeks to come, months to come, years to come and/or the next one or two decades ahead, depending on your rate of progress to current ranking range.

To learn more about Learning From Mistakes: Tennis Players, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and head to Episode 30. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.

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What’s Your Purpose? Tennis Training with Intention

A question either asked or pondered by each and every one of us falls along the lines of “What’s Your Purpose?” to “What’s My Purpose?” and can be as deep as it sounds. From a philosophical  perspective this question can dive into various proponents of life and can take a person on quite an intrinsically explorative journey. But there’s one thing for sure — asking yourself this fundamental question can lead to a more fulfilling and gratifying experience once this purpose has been unwrapped. This isn’t to say a deep dive is necessary and/or pivotal — I’d argue that the more reflective a person is capable of being at any given time serves the wider purpose of their actions opposed to falling down the rabbit hole (metaphorically).

The role of ‘purpose’ in and of itself is often overlooked when it comes to the tennis player let alone asked and/or conditioned in the player/athlete. Whilst this may raise a few eyebrows the intent here is just that — guiding the player/athlete towards their purpose. In life, the purpose behind a players/athletes actions may vary to their actual behaviour in training. And that’s the point. A purpose is unique as it is to the person as it is to the environment. That is to say, there’s more than one and it can be contextual / environmental. However, the idea of conditioning ‘purpose’ is rather a thought-provoking exercise that can be adopted on the tennis court to foster a greater level of awareness in the tennis player to what’s behind their actual performance and with that, their greater purpose.

This can be broken down into a more refined question on any given occasion that prompts the player/athlete to ask themselves quite simply: “What is my intent?”

When a tennis player or any athlete for that matter begins training they should already heave devised an answer to this often misguided or even worse, ignored question. It is largely common practice for the player/athlete to not have an answer let alone be prompted for one before, during and/or after their training especially in the developmental range. Players who reside closer towards the higher echelon of the game — you bet they have an intention mapped out! But this is seldom the case for those yet to reach this peak, irrespective if they’re based at a local Club to Academy or inside the Top 700 in the world. Progress happens when a greater sense of responsibility is taken and with that, a level of accountability that feeds back to the overriding purpose.

To devise an intent, first look at your purpose. A purpose may be incredibly broad or refined, there is no right or wrong. An example may be “my purpose is to lead by example for my younger siblings to follow in my footsteps as I become the best tennis player I can”. Using this example, an intent would look like, for instance, “I want to improve how I use my body in my groundstrokes to flow through the shot more rapidly and yet fluidly”. A key performance metric when heading towards the Top 10, this intent has varied stages of progression but sets the stage for the intent behind a training session. 

By devising a purpose to intent, individuals to tennis players can better prepare themselves to achieve not merely their goals, but find a guide that they can refer to along the way that sets The Pathway for The Long Game whilst practicing with purpose and using their intent to develop optimal performance outcomes.

To learn more about What’s Your Purpose: Tennis Training with Intention, head on over to Beyond Top 10 Tennis and scroll to Episode 29. More? Catch up on our Tips over on TikTokTwitterThreads or Instagram for quick snippets to apply in your game, today.