Category Archives: Tennis Instruction

Real Tennis Training with On the Rise Tennis

So how do you train for such a potential variety of duration? Analysis has shown that the typical point in tennis involves between 3 and 7 changes of direction and obviously, due to the size of the court, the longest distance covered in a single direction is 30yards.   There is no point in training over longer distances than those involved in the game: running over 30yards is utterly redundant for tennis players.

Deceleration is king. When training for tennis we are looking to build an athlete capable not only of reaching top speed quickly but decelerating and changing direction.

A popular analogy for the importance of deceleration involves Cars. How fast would you drive a car that had no brakes? How fast would you drive that car on a tennis court?

Achieve structural balance

Ensuring that the muscles on both sides of a joint are in balance with one another will make you far less injury prone and will improve your performance. If your strength training program is unbalanced and consists of mostly training the muscles you can see in the mirror then you are placing yourself at a far greater risk of injury.

Train the posterior chain

Tennis players should spend a large amount of time training the muscles of the posterior chain with a focus on the eccentric portion of the exercise: the glutes and hamstrings in particular. Leg extensions will no longer cut it; hamstring curls, glute-ham raises, back extensions, Romanian deadlifts and Good Mornings are the order of the day.

These are just some excerpts from the article.  Read the whole article – HERE


Return of Serve – the Real Split Step

Dynamic Visual Acuity from Tennis MD

Good video that explains how we track the tennis ball visually and how we test and improve our “Visual Acuity”.

The Practice Match Predicament

From the “TennisNow” Blog – excerpts below.

Incorporating practice matches into a junior player’s training regimen may seem like a foregone conclusion (i.e. in order to perform well in a tournament, logic suggests one would play matches in preparation); though often over-scheduling, lack of access to opponents, and fear of losing keep developing juniors from competing in practice.

Jay Berger, the USTA’s head of men’s tennis and the 2012 men’s Olympic coach, has seen the problem firsthand. “I’ve been running player development camps in the nine years that I’ve been a coach at the USTA,” he said.  “At every camp that I’ve run, I’ve always asked how many practice sets people play, and I’ve been dumbfounded – and these are top national players – by how few they play.”

Juniors at the USTA’s national training centers average around 12-14 sets per week – numbers Berger says are typical of many pro players during their development years.

Read the whole post – HERE

Backhand Drop Shot

USTA on Supplements

The following is an excerpt from the USTA web site -the “Improve Your Game” section, the sub section on Supplements.  To see all of the questions and answers – CLICK HERE

Q. Can you please list the banned substances/ supplements for me? I train several Juniors and they want to take some nutritional supplements. Along with the WADA list, are there any other nutritional supplements that are banned (glutamine, creatine, etc.). Please send this info to me so I can inform these young athletes and their families.

How much are the sports enhancement drugs, like the ones we see in supplement stores are the players taking and what is the ATP and the WTA doing to watch over the players to make sure that no illegal drugs are being taken?

A. The WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) banned substance list is the gold standard on which drug testing in tennis is based. This list is followed by the ITF (which is taking over drug testing at ATP sanctioned events) and the US Anti-Doping Agency and highlights the substances that are presently banned from competition and training.

The question you ask about supplements purchased from a store is a good one – many of these substances are not on the banned list and there are numerous claims (many made by the manufacturers) that state how performance can be improved. The thing to realize is while the supplement itself may not be banned, you have to ask what else is in the bottle that is not listed on the label.

A study done several years ago by the International Olympic Committee showed that of 634 supplements randomly selected from around the world, 15% of them contained substances that were not listed on the label and would have caused a positive drug test if a player had taken the supplement and subsequently been tested. Of the supplements tested from the United States, 18% were found to contain banned substances that were not listed on the labels.

The USTA does not advocate supplement use simply because of the risks involved and the potentially negative consequences that could result – a first offense for using a banned substance is a 2-year suspension from tennis and ignorance/ not knowing you took a tainted supplement is not an excuse.

A good resource to look at for information on supplements is the Australian Institute of Sport Nutrition website. Here they break supplements down into four categories:

A. “Legal supplements” that provide a useful and timely source of energy and nutrients to a player and for which scientific evidence exists suggesting they could help athletic performance.

B. Supplements for which there is no conclusive evidence that they enhance athletic performance, but remain of interest.

C. “Legal supplements” for which there is no evidence exists that suggests they could benefit athletic performance.

D. Banned substances not permitted for use by athletes.

Testing is regularly conducted at ATP and WTA events and in the past year several players have been banned from tennis. Mariano Puerta from Argentina, for example, tested positive for an amphetamine/ stimulant and was banned from tennis for 8 years, as this was a second offense.

Tennis Psychology

There is some good information over at  Here is some excerpts from Mind Training for Tennis – Tip #17

A big part of Nadal‘s claycourt “aura of invincibility” he established came from his powerful, positive body language – that is, the way he walks, acts and behaves on the court during matches – which has a massive psychological effect on both himself and his opponents.

Federer was very much used to most players being already scared of him before they even walk onto court – but Nadal is completely different.  Instead, Nadal’s powerful body language – such as running all over the court on his way back to the baseline before he begins the hit-up, and his total appearance at all times that he believes he will win – powerfully emphasizes that he is not willing to give that kind of respect to anyone.  

Sure – off the court he is highly respectful at all times, but he (quite correctly) refuses to give this advantage to Roger while they are on the court.

 The important thing to know is that body language not only intimidates and affects the play of your opponent (which some players seek to do, and others are not focused upon at all), it also has a powerful effect upon the way you play as well. 

Never show your opponent that their game is “getting to you”even if you are not winning the match – and eventually they will begin to wonder just what it takes to get you down.

Read the whole article – HERE

5 Speed Training Tips for Tennis Players has posted an article for tennis players who want to increase their speed on the court.  Active is the company that processes the entries for all USTA tournaments.

The article focuses on:

1) Proper warmup and cool down.  Almost every tennis player I know – including myself – could do a lot better with their warmup and cooldown routines – if they even have warmup and cool down routines.  A proper warm up and cool down will significantly reduce the amount of muscle soreness that will occur a day or so after the session.

2) Never train in straight lines.  Tennis requires a multitude of movements. Only a few situations requires the player to run forward.

3) Train over short distances.  When you’re training for speed, you only need to be training over very short distances, such as five to 10 meters.

4) Don’t forget your footwork.  You have to adjust your position relative to the ball to be able to hit it well.

5) Rest periods are vital.  One of the most overlooked aspects of speed training is the rest you need in between repetitions or exercises.

To read the whole article – CLICK HERE

The article was written by Paul Gold of


In Conjunction with the US Professional Tennis Association

Hosted by TriCity Fitness Club in Latham


Saturday, November 10, 2012   10am-4pm


A Coaches and Instructors Clinic will be held at TriCity/Latham Club.  It is sponsored by USTA/Eastern, Northern Region in conjunction with Northern Region of US Professional Tennis Association.

The date is Saturday, November 10, 2012 and will run from 10am-4pm.  All pros, coaches, and interested tennis players are welcome to this event.

The presenter will be a USTA National Trainer and Presenter in Recreational Coaching, Naveen Singh.  Naveen was originally from South Africa where he was nationally ranked as a junior.   He played #1 for St. Bonaventure and has a Masters Degree in Sports Training from Syracuse. The program is filled with competitive drills for high school and college coaches and is highly interactive.   There will be a half hour lunch break.

Each attendee will receive a folder with a course outline with room to take notes.  Each attendee should bring tennis gear because they will be participating in the drills and exercises presented.

If you are taking this Recreational Coaches Workshop to become certified as USPTA Recreational Coach you should contact Vicki Tristan at 1-800-USPTA-4U.

The cost is $25, made out to “TriCity Fitness, Inc”.

Directions to TriCity

From I-90 Thruway,  either direction, get on to I-87 “Northway” going north. Take exit 7   ramp to the right onto Rt. 7 going East.  Almost immediately, take ramp right for Rt. 9/Loudon Rd and go North.  The club is within ½ mile on the right behind the auto dealership.  944 New Loudon Rd., Latham, NY 12110   518-785-4311.



Registration Form for Clinic

(Please mail in this form, along with your $25 payment to the “TriCity Latham”, 944 New Loudon Rd., Latham,NY  or email this info to FredVanAlstyne, USPTA Regional President at


School Name or USPTA #_____________________________


City, Zip___________________Email ___________________

Shoulder Flexibility for Tennis

John Steinbreder, TennisMD News
Jan 17, 2011

The following excerpt is from an article on the “Tennis MD” blog.  Follow the link below to read more on the subject and for a link to their FREE instructive video on the subject.

Few things are as important to tennis players as well-functioning shoulders. Especially the ones they use to swing their racquets. After all, they need good flexibility and range of motion in those areas if they expect to hit their forehands and lobs, their overheads and backhands with power and efficiency – and to maintain performance if they happen to play a great deal. But it’s not easy to do things, especially if their shoulders are tight.

“What’s good about these is that they can help tennis players eliminate stroke flaws that occur primarily as a result of physical limitations,” TennisMD expert Bob Donatelli explains. “The stretches don’t take more than ten minutes or so each, and they can make a very big difference in a player’s game.”

Read the whole article –

Myths, Benefits and Dangers of Vitamins

Alan L. Hammond
Oct 31, 2011

A few Excerpts from this article at “TennisMD”:

Aside from vitamin E and C, most other vitamins provide little ergogenic value to athletes partaking of a healthy diet. Whether due to the amount of calories they burn or for some other reason, the diet of athletes is generally deficient. As a result, many nutritionists recommend that all athletes, including tennis players, consume a low-dose daily multi-vitamin, or a post-workout carbohydrate/protein supplement during heavy training.

According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition report, few vitamins have been found to provide direct ergogenic (increased performance) value for tennis players, despite what may be commonly believed.

Read the whole article – HERE

Watch the Ball Hit the Strings

We have all heard it.  So why isn’t Agassi doing it here? Truth is, we can not actually watch the ball hit the strings.  It happens faster than the human eye can move.   The other problem is that the swing pattern has to be established long before the ball hits the strings.  Federer is a good example of a player who is almost always looking at the point of contact when the ball is on the strings – and a pretty good example at that. So is this just a one time thing for Andre? Actually, in just about every image I found of Andre where the picture was taken from an angle where you could clearly tell where his head was at the the point of contact, he is looking about 3 yards past the point of contact.  There are more examples of players not looking at the ball at contact on this page.  In every instance I took the first picture I saw, I didn’t go looking for pictures to prove my point but I did look at other pictures to make sure the first picture was a fair representation of that player’s hitting style.  So why is this a good tip and why is it a bad tip?

Andy Murray returns a shot from Novak Djokovic.Watch the ball is a good tip in that it keeps the player’s head relatively still as they hit the ball.  It prevents them from lifting their head before contact.  “Biomechanical studies have proven that the swing pattern lacks consistency when a player’s head makes a sudden shift during the striking phase. Thus, even though your brain may have sent down a signal for a perfect stroke, it may have also sent a message to shift your head, which will inevitably break down a well- formed stroke pattern.” –  Jason Bartlett, Singapore Tennis Academy

Photo of Serena Williams - Point of Contact on ServeWatch the ball is a bad tip if you actually try to track the ball all the way to the strings and back with your head.  I have always taught that your head needs to be either still at impact – like Federer’s – or it needs to move with the flow of your shoulders.  We can clearly see in the picture of Serena that the ball is on the strings and we can clearly see the difference between her head position, in the picture above, and Roger’s head position.  In the picture of Andy Murray, he is clearly looking a few feet past where the point of contact is.  This particular picture was taken at the finals of this years U.S. Open, so it was taken at a time when he was at the top of his game.  The fact is the amount of time it takes the signal from your brain to reach your hands is about the same as the amount of time it takes for the ball to go from hitting the ground to hitting your strings.  If you watch the video of Murray below, it seems that his head stops moving right about where he sees the ball hit the ground.  Note that the one forehand return where he moves more laterally and less horizontally his head does move bit towards the hitting zone.  When hitting a ball on the run your head will turn with your body, so it will be turned more towards the contact point.

Perfect Tennis Parent

[img]Recently, Lisa Stone of the “Parenting Aces” blog interviewed Matt Dektas Jr on her podcast of the same name which is on the UR10s Podcast Network.  It was a great interview with a great interviewee.  I recommend it to all tournament tennis parents.  Matt runs a program at Five Seasons Sports Club with 16 courts indoors and outdoors including clay and hard courts.


Matt defines the Perfect Tennis Parent as a parent “who is always working hard to get better. ”  The first caller asks about parents fighting at the tournaments.  Both Lisa and Matt point out that “the lessons your child will learn from watching you remain calm in these situations and .. not breaking the rules are far more valuable than a win or loss on the tennis court.”  “Kids learn more by watching and they are going to learn by how you handle that situation.”
The book includes interviews with some of the current tour pro’s and coaches of top pro’s who share their ideas about parenting a tennis player with the author.

“What is a Perfect Tennis Parent?” an article by Matt Dektas, USPTA

(Taken from the Novmber/December 2010 edition of Midwest Connection)

 Is there such a thing as a perfect tennis parent?  In the land of Utopian tennis I think the answer is yes, and with the help of some of my best parents, coaches, and players, have come up with a checklist of 10 items that describes a perfect tennis player.

 1)  A perfect tennis parent understands and believes in the process.  They believe that tennis is going to teach their player life skills and give them a positive social network and activity.  (CLICK HERE for all ten items).



(NOTE: You can buy the book here too)

Growing Champions For Life

Recently, the Parenting Aces Webcast featured David Benzel,  who’s website – Growing Champions for Life – also features a blog of the same name.  It was a good conversation which I recommend listening to (there is a link to the podcast below).  Below is an excerpt from his blog article titled “Talking the Walk Helps Walking the Talk” which was published on March 15th.


An assistant coach of fifth- and sixth-grade teams at Springfield’s Catholic Youth Organization, is accused of attacking the coach of the winning team after a game. As the players were shaking hands following the game, the coach allegedly attempted to kick the other team’s coach, tried to punch the man in the face, and then bite off part of his ear.  Of course this incredible reaction to losing a game makes everyone cringe and brings much embarrassment to the youth programs involved.

In the final analysis, if coaches speak only of “x’s” and “o’s” but fail to purposefully create an honorable culture for ALL members to respect, we will continue to see shocking displays of poor judgment from those whom we assume know better.  David Benzel

See the whole article HERE

Growing Champions for Life WebpageHERE

Parenting Aces Podcast featuring David Benzel

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