While we are making our way through, what I am told is, a cold and wet Arizona winter, it is a warm and sunny (at times, at least) in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia. I grew up in Melbourne, where they hold the first grand slam tournament every year. I learnt so much watching the matches at Melbourne Park. I would watch the likes of Sampras, Agassi, Rafter, and Moya play, and then go back to my courts and try and emulate their strokes.
Now as a coach, I still watch lots of matches, and learn a ton. The only difference is that the tournaments are for children, and the learning is from both the good and the bad that I see from the junior players. This allows me to go back to the coaching court and work on these areas with our players.
The current area of focus for our players is being more aggressive! How do you be more aggressive? Is it just a matter of swinging the racquet faster? While increased pace can certainly be aggressive, it is not the only way. If power or velocity is the answer for a particular shot, our philosophy is that it starts with the feet. A more explosive first step to the ball gives a player more time. Planting the feet and loading through the legs allows greater force to be generated from the ground up. These are the fundamental ways a player can be more aggressive.
Another consistent takeaway from junior tournaments is serving. The service motion is rooted in a throwing motion. If your child aims to be a competitive player, I would highly recommend just throwing a ball...a lot. And any ball will do: tennis ball, baseball, American football. Okay, maybe not a rugby ball or Australian Rules football! This simple development step will do wonders to address the common weakness I see at tournaments.
I hope you enjoyed watching the great spectacle tennis provided over the last fortnight in Melbourne. It is always great entertainment, and great education. My family back in Melbourne attended several of the matches. I posted some of their photos below.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.
Matt's Point (get it? Match Point!) is Matt's blog covering all the goings-on at IJP Tennis.