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Why Parent-Child Tennis Interactions Are the 'Perfect Storm'

 

 

How we interact with our children around tennis has incredible power in influencing his/her mental toughness development, even more so than coaches. This is due to the 'perfect storm' of factors that make tennis parenting interactions the most powerful determinant of children's mental toughness development, both on and off the court...

Our Brains Remember Important Experiences Better...

The genius of the human brain is evident in the way it has evolved ways of deciding which life experiences need to be remembered and learned from and which can be forgotten.

Recent research has shown us that the brain figures out what is likely to be important to remember based on a number of factors, making it more easily rewired as a result of these factors.

And as it happens, there are two factors crucial to sport that encourage our ability to remember sport experiences: exercise and high levels of emotion.

High Levels of Emotion

When an experience is unemotional our brain does not...

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Developing Player Mental Toughness: The Most Common Coaching Mistake...

 

 

Setting high expectations and standards for players is a crucial component of any optimal developmental culture because these foundations promote quality practice environments and player self-belief. But it’s vital to match these expectations and the related challenges we set players with their ability to meet them. While some people may believe that lacking these expectations and standards as coaches (of developing players) is the most common missing ingredient to player success I beg to differ...

In my experience, the most common mistake we make as developmental coaches is in fact setting these expectations and standards without having the required understanding of how to work effectively with players who can't meet them (which of course occurs quite regularly).

These players can present as negative, soft, angry, or just generally with poor attitudes.

In such cases, without intention, our attempts to set appropriate standards for our players often...

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The Mental Toughness Fundamental Players Almost Always Overlook...

 

 

One of the simplest and most important things players can do to boost motivation and focus for practice and matches is to take a minute to reflect on a few vital questions before hitting the court...

When players create the habit of doing this it usually adds up to big benefits over time.

But unfortunately, it rarely happens...

In the rush to get out there and hit balls players miss out on the opportunity to reflect on what they are about to do, and why it is important to them to do so...

For example, players need to stop and reflect for a short time on whether the aim of the activity they are about to do is to win; improve; or both...(We call this the Performance Aim)

So in practice more often than not the focus is on improvement...

Whereas in matches, the goal might be to win, or improve, or both (during the developmental years too many kids focus solely on winning instead of improving skills that will help them become the best player they can be).

And if the...

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The 2016 Men's Australian Open: The Big '4' is Now the Big '1'

 

 

When Novak Djokovic lost to Stan Wawrinka in the final of the French Open last year, I wrote this in my post-match review:

“His (Djokovic’s) efforts strongly indicate that his march towards becoming a master competitor is complete…Quite simply, his ability to maintain consistent competitive effort throughout the challenges of both his semi-final (in which he beat Murray in 5 sets) and final was hugely impressive…With the histrionics and hitches that were a feature of his early career play becoming almost nonexistent, unless players can repeat Wawrinka’s incredible level, it looks likely to become a Slam fest for Djokovic in the coming years.”

Funnily enough, it was the way Djokovic lostthat convinced me that he had overcome the final barrier (his occasional low stress tolerance) to becoming virtually unbeatable in the Slams…

And He Has Improved Since Then…

To understand how far Djokovic has raised the bar, anyone...

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Varying Time Between Practice Rallies to Develop Competitive Skill...

 

 

 

Typically, when players miss a ball during practice, they tend to feed the next ball in quite quickly (generally a couple of secs) without intentionally refocusing before the start of the rally.

When players do this, however, they miss out on a great opportunity to develop basic competitive skills.

Here are 2 activities I complete with players regularly to help them practice intentionally refocusing and committing to a helpful process for each new rally (you can also see me explain and complete the activities with USC All-American Jack Jaede in the video above where he is completing the 'calling the attention' activity I showed you in an earlier video post...)

Activity 1: 5 Secs Between Rallies

When players miss a ball they must take approximately 5 secs before they are allowed to feed the next ball

Players are instructed to use this time to ensure that they are explicitly focused and committed to a helpful process before starting the next rally.

The Benefit: ...

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Promoting Player Competitive Skills During Serve/Return Practice...

 

 

 

Serving and returning are obviously 2 of the most important areas of the game...

But serving/returning practice can be quite time consuming.

So it's important that players find ways to develop other skills while practicing serves/returns.

With this in mind, here are 3 serve/return activities that also promote player competitive skills/mental toughness simultaneously (you can also watch the video above to see examples of me completing the activities with 2 players above...

1.) Serving Set Play

In this activity players play service games/sets while hitting only serves (where if they make a first or second serve they win the point, and if they double fault they lose the point).

To add difficulty to the task:

i.) The player nominates the 3rd of the service box (tee, body, wide) that they will hit their serve into and if they miss the correct third of the service box it is considered a fault

ii.) The player starts each game behind (e.g., 0-15, 0-30, 0-40)

#So, for a player...

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The 2016 Australian Women's Open: 3 Resilience Stories...

 

 

In 2011 when Angelique Kerber arrived at the US Open, she was nearly 24 years old, had been on the tour for 7 years, and had passed the first round main draw of her previous Grand Slams on just 5 of 19 attempts (and had never been past the 3rdround).

From the outside looking in, most experts I am sure would have already pigeonholed her career as a journey woman destined to be a perennial early round Grand Slam loser until career end.

That she went on to make the semis at that 2011 US Open was surprising…

That she slowly but surely built herself into a regular top 10er was superb….

That she won her 1stSlam yesterday against perhaps the greatest women’s player of all time after 12 years on tour is simply remarkable.

 Shuai Zhang

When Shuai Zhang arrived at the 2016 Australian Open her parents had come to watch her for the 1sttime at a Grand Slam tournament…

Why?

Well, Zhang was considering retirement and she wanted for her parents to see...

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The On-Court Coach Communication Style Critical to Player Mental Toughness Development...

 

 

 

When coaches get this communication style consistently right, it's about as powerful a mental toughness promoter as there is...

That's the reason that we all should focus on it until it's fundamental to our helping style (especially when players get frustrated after missing a shot/losing a point during practice).

But because of our competitive brain it's hard not to fall for the trap of doing a poor job of this when working on improving an area of a player's game....I know I catch myself not doing it very well regularly.

And I'm guessing if I watched you coach I'd see you regularly trip up on this one as well...This video is about how to gradually boost your players mental toughness by using this simple communication style.

Wherever you're watching, when you're done scroll down. Leave us a question or comment, and all the best for the coming week :-)...

 

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The Independent Athlete Myth...

 

 

One emerging theme in player development involves the idea of creating independent players.

But this goal underestimates the importance of the coach-player relationship. And brain research has shown that it’s not possible to create an independent player anyway.

So how can we balance players’ best interests by simultaneously encouraging the coach-player relationship while also supporting their developing autonomy?

Let’s take a look.

The Independence Myth...

It’s important for coaches to incorporate non-directive coaching methods that encourage players’ ability to problem solve, make sound decisions, take responsibility for actions, and behave in a more self-determined manner.

But these goals must be balanced with the recognition of the importance of strong coach-player relationships.

It is, I believe, a trap to emphasize player independence to a point that we ignore what research has revealed about the social nature of our development.

And...

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Players Can Develop Mental Toughness Anywhere, Anytime...

 

There is NO more simple, powerful way for players to develop the 4 mental toughness foundations than through off-court attention activities.

Watch this video to see me complete a simple 'Sounds Attention' activity with USC All-American Jack Jaede...In the video I also explain to Jack how the activity relates to his development of mental toughness.

If you would like access to a download of the Sounds Attention Activity You Can Get It Here...

Wherever you're watching this, scroll down when you're done. Leave us a question or comment and all the best for the coming week :-)...

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