The Laundry List

Greetings,

I am pleased to announce that my new book is soon to be released: Raising Athletic Royalty: Insights to Inspire for a Lifetime.  It is your go to guide to motivating and nurturing the greatness found in your children.

There is no doubt that parental modeling plays the most significant role in the way an athlete is nurtured. Children instinctively imitate their parent’s behaviors, attitudes and moral conduct. This makes supportive and informed (athletic) parental nurturing essential in maximizing a child’s potential at the quickest rate, regardless of the chosen passion/endeavor.

The code of excellence we all wish to imprint on our children cannot be taught in only a few hours a week by a gifted coach. These life lessons need to be nurtured day in and day out by their parents.

LESSON: The Laundry List

“Great game men,” said Coach Stevens. “You guys are improving every week. We are one heck of a football team! Every one of you gave it your all out there and I’m so proud! Keep up the good work! I’ll see you Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. at Riley Park for practice… READY BREAK!”

Every kid was smiling and laughing walking off the game day field, except for Randy.

Randy knew what was to come. He was a quiet ball of knots as he slowly headed toward his father’s car adding a limp to his gait to support a fake injury while holding his iphone in hand ready to text his friend about homework the moment he got into the car. These were just a few of the aversion tactics Randy regularly employed to lessen the barrage of criticism that was sure to come from his father. If he pretended to be injured and was addressing the importance of homework he needed to complete, then his father may go easy on him.

You see Randy’s dad believed that he was actually helping Randy by watching every game and compiling a detailed laundry list of Randy’s failed plays, mistakes and improvement issues. Randy’s dad didn’t even realize that he was destroying his son’s confidence and self-esteem by pointing out his every flaw. No matter how good Randy was, it was not good enough. No matter how long Randy trained, it was not long enough. No matter how many things Randy fixed, his dad would find more flaws.

Mr. Wilson did not have a clue that the only thing he was cultivating was excuses, no effort and zero enjoyment for the sport, not to mention a seriously unhealthy family environment. After all, why in the world would Randy want to play if it only led to a new laundry list of why he’s so slow, uncoordinated and stupid?

Parents, remember that the only comments you should make directly after competition are motivational and positive comments like: “I wish I had the guts to go out there and perform like that.”, “I think it’s so cool watching you out there.”, “You’re getting better and better everything day.”,  “Did you have fun out there today?” or “You’re playing great; let me know if I can help you with anything!” Motivating the growth you seek comes from optimism and not from pessimism. Continually reminding your children of their failures is futile. Instead, after each game or practice session, support your child’s efforts with love and praise.

If you or your spouse possess this dreaded parental laundry list of failure disease, begin to replace the list of negative remarks with positive ones.

If you deeply feel that your laundry list is insightful and important to the growth of your child, I suggest asking the coach if you can email the list to him after the game. Then ask him if he can pay special attention to those issues. Chances are that your child will accept the valid feedback if it is presented by the coach instead of the parent. A good coach should have a better way of presenting the issues in an optimistic and positive light.

Thanks for visiting, Frank

Contact Frank: Email: fgsa@earthlink.net

Web Site: www.MaximizingTennisPotential.com

Web Site: www.tennisparentsolutions.com

Interview with Parent Coach Steve Johnson- Part 2

I’m excited to share Part 2 of my Steve Johnson Interview. This information exchange shares a wide range of topics from tournament travel, high school tennis, college tennis to terrific pearls of wisdom for parents and coaches.

What is your opinion on prematch preparation (Being present to win)?

Let me answer this question as it relates to tournaments, especially tournament travel.  This is what I expect a player to do before traveling to a tournament:

•Begin acclimating to the time zone prior to going to the tournament. For example- if you live in California and you are playing a tournament in Florida, wake up at 5:00 am and begin your day for several days before you leave for the event.

•Arrive at the tournament a few days in advance to get use to the weather, courts and accommodations.  This may include hitting on all courts you may likely play on during the tournament.

•Do not bother going to the tournament if you plan on flying in the night prior to the beginning of the tournament for your morning match.  I call this “Confirming the Loss”.

•If you want to save money by flying in at the last minute- save all your money and don’t go…

•Pre-match preparation before each match is mandatory- stretch, nutrition, stroke warm up, game warm up …the player should be ready to compete at match time.

Why did you decide to train Stevie at home versus the common avenue of shipping him off to an academy?

Stevie is a real family guy.  He loves being with his family.  He trusted that I would lead him in the right direction. At about 16, Stevie needed additional coaching to join our team and help take him to the level.  We all worked together with the common goal of helping Stevie to continue to improve.  In addition, Stevie had decided to attend USC and was committed to play for Peter Smith.

NOTE:  Academies are not needed and usually not beneficial if a player already has a team of coaches, hitters and trainers all working together.

Stevie’s High School Career:

Stevie played High School tennis for three years.  His school team was division 5 -which is a relatively low division. Many of the division 5 players did not even have a racquet bag.  Stevie would go to practice and games with one or two racquets so he did not stand out.

Even though most of the players could not even return Stevie’s serve, I believed playing High School ball was a valuable learning experience.  The coach was quite surprised that Stevie was at every practice.  I believed that if Stevie was on the team, he should play as team member and that meant attending practice.  Stevie develop a love for team tennis, as seen with Stevie’s huge USC success- winning 2 Individual Championships and 4 Team Championships.  Stevie looks forward to someday playing Davis Cup and Olympics!

To all the parent’s that think their children are too good for high school tennis, I tell them High School tennis will help develop life skills.  No one is too good for high school tennis.  Yes, your child’s tennis skill set will regress, but they will gain valuable life lessons.

Stevie has a distinguished NCAA career at USC with our friend Peter Smith. Tell us about that experience?

Stevie has an incredible college experience at USC. His coach, Peter Smith had a terrific coaching philosophy, similar to mine, in that his players were playing for something bigger than themselves.  Stevie really excelled under Coach Smith- winning 2 Individual titles and 4 Team Championships.

Stevie chose to attend USC because of the coaching style of Peter Smith and because of the coaxing of his good friend and mentor, Kaes Van’t  Of, who also played for USC.  Stevie was able to play on the tour during the fall of his senior year so he could take advantage of the wild cards offered by the USTA. Stevie’s decision to play college first before turning professional was not supported by many- but as it turns out- it was a GREAT decision.

NOTE:  When considering a college, think about the coaching style and how his/her style will get the most out of your child.

Can you share some insider secrets about Stevie’s experience as the United States Top Young ATP Professional?

The professional tour has been a real roller coaster for Stevie.  He jumped into the top 100 in his first year on the tour, but in his second year, the players began to know him and his game- so winning became more difficult.  Stevie was not used to losing.  He became very mentally and emotionally tired from losing.  (I was very concerned how he would handle losing in the PRO’s because he was not used to losing…)

I tried to put it into perspective for Stevie:

“You won 2 tournaments lost 24 last year and you won about $200,000.   Tomas Berdych, didn’t win any tournaments and lost 24 tournaments, but he lost in the semis or finals and he won over a million. ”

Stevie knows he must continue to work harder and harder get as fit as possible to make it into the top 10- which is a challenge he is taking on! His dedication to fitness was evident with his first round win in the 2014 Roland Garros Tournament- coming from behind and winning in 5!

What would you like to share with struggling tennis parents around the world?

Keep it fun.  If your children are enjoying tennis, keep it up.  I always say, “Fun on the court- win in life!” But if you are asking me, will tennis lessons get my kid a full college scholarship or a ticket into a professional tennis career, I would say find a different form of investment- tennis is a bad investment.  The greatest investment a parent could ask for with regards to tennis is developing life lessons.

In regards to parental involvement, I believe it is better for the parent to be a bit less involved than over-involved.

What would you like to share with coaches around the world?

The same message goes for coaches, fun on the court- fun in life. I suggest the coach meet with each player and their parents.  Explain to them that tennis development is like a well running wheel- coach, player and parent all doing their part.  But if one of the three is not supporting the wheel, a triangle develops and the wheel will not roll smoothly.  And as a coach, if the player or parent chooses not to do their job, then I don’t care- I don’t have to care.

“In one car ride home after a loss, Parents can undue everything positive that I have taught in the past year”

A parents job is to support, love, nurture and encourage their child and not to coach.

 

Contact Steve Johnson:
Steve Johnson Tennis Academy
Rancho San Clemente Tennis Club
Cell: (949) 492-1515
Web Site: sjtennis.com
Email: sjtennisacademy@aol.com

The Customized Peak Performance Cycle vs. The Old School Obsolete Cycle

There is often a very fine line between competitive success and failure. A poor start, an initial lack of focus, or a bout of wavering confidence can cause a seemingly winnable match to quickly slip away. The will to properly prepare for competition usually makes the difference. For players to achieve consistent positive match results, their preparation must include ritualistic, inflexible routines. Success in tournaments is directly related to the quality of preparation. Champions become champions because they’re the few who are actually willing to put in the grueling hours of pre-match preparation. Spectacular achievements are preceded by spectacular preparation. Remember the old saying “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”? Make today be the last day that you go into an event unprepared. Below are two different match preparation cycles.

The Customized Peak Performance Cycle

Rest
Review Match Logs/Match Video Analysis
Retool: Stroke Components
Movement Components
Tactical Components
Emotional/Focus Components
Pattern Repetition
Practice Sets/ Tie-Breakers
Tournament
Take Home Another Trophy

Versus

The Old School Obsolete Cycle

Rest
Refuse To Do Match Analysis
Ignore Your Issues
Take Privates (While the coach feeds right to you)
Pay Good Money to Boom Back & Forth in Academies
Play King of the Hill
Play Points (Winners move up, losers drop down)
Tournament
Lose Early

Which one of these cycles best represents your (or your player’s) cycle? It’s easy to see that The Customized Peak Performance Cycle is what will produce the results you want to see. Need help getting started? Pick up your copy of my International Player Evaluation or email fgsa@earthlink.net for a custom evaluation package.

Interview with Tennis Parent Coach Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson Sr. Interview Questions PART ONE

Steve Johnson Insights

For those of you in the dark, Steve’s son Steve Johnson Jr. (Stevie), is a Southern California Junior National Champion, an NCAA Champion twice and at the age of 24 is currently ranked #67 on the ATP Pro Tour. This makes my friend Steve Sr. one of the most successful tennis parents on the planet. Steve shares his knowledge and opinions which will surly assist tennis parents worldwide.

 

  1. Tell the readers about your background as a tennis parent & full time tennis coach?

    I feel privileged to have a beautiful family and a career that I love. I have been teaching tennis for 33 years throughout Southern California- making my tennis home in San Clemente California at the Rancho San Clemente Tennis Club running the Steve Johnson Tennis Academy. I am living my dream- I am married to my high school sweetheart, we have two beautiful children and I have made a career out of my love for tennis.  My parental goal was simple-  love and enjoy my children!
  2. Tell us about Stevie’s junior career?

    At what age did Stevie begin to play tennis?
    As a parent, I was constantly playing with Stevie. He was interested in anything that involved a ball.  At age two, I put a Mickey Mouse tennis racquet in Stevie’s hand and showed him how to hit a beach ball with it.  He played beach ball tennis throughout the house all day long.
    “Stevie was a natural competitor warrior. He competed at everything.”

    By the age of 4, Stevie could rally on the tennis court.  I would take him with me to local tournaments to watch my players and he couldn’t wait to compete. One day he begged to play a tournament- so I told him if he wanted to compete, he would first have to learn how to keep score (He had to learn to play a real match versus just rallying.) and then I would let him play a tournament. So Stevie took on the challenge and learned how to keep score on the practice court with my wife.
    By age of 5, Stevie could keep score and so we entered him into his first event- 10 and Under Satellite Tournament. He lost 6, 0- 6, 1.
    By the age of 6, Stevie could win rounds in the Satellite Tournaments- loving to compete.
    By the age of 7, Stevie won the local 10 & Under Satellite Tournament. A few weeks after that, we entered him into a local Boys 12′s Satellite Event and he won it- at age 7!
    FUN FACT: Some juniors enter the game for fun and then later develop the competitive fire. Others enter into the sport with their competitive flames fully raging.  Some children have to spend many hours learning how to cope with their fear of competition, lack of competitive fire, fear of gamesmanship…
    What other sports did Stevie play?
    Stevie played every sport with a ball.  He was innately competitive from a very young age.  He even needed to compete during his tennis lessons- just rallying back and forth was too boring for him. He wanted to know how he could win.  His practice needed to be structured so that he could compete – even if it was against himself.
    When did the family decide to have Stevie focus exclusively on tennis?
    Stevie was such a natural at the game of tennis and because it was my business, it was easy to focus his efforts at playing tennis.  His mother and I never had to bother him to practice- he wanted to play tennis from the time he held his first (Mickey Mouse) racquet. Tennis was his sport.

  3. What are your thoughts regarding the 10& under campaign?

    I teach strokes for a lifetime. I don’t teach 10 & Under Tennis.  Ideally, it would be great if every 10 year old had their strokes established so their tennis game could be developed.

  4. 10′s through 14’s: What is your primary focus?
    My primary lesson goals for the age groups 10-14 stresses techniques and doubles strategy.

    Techniques:  In my lessons, I focus first on defensive skills because I believe the best ball to hit is based on where the player is on the court. So I teach players both fundamental and secondary shots based on court position.  I teach how to hit rollers, slices and transitional shots- such as and how to get out of the corners.  I also teach girls or boys the same.


    Doubles
    : Many tennis parents don’t support playing doubles- whether they believe doubles practice takes valuable lesson time away from singles or because doubles requires more time be spent at tournament sites, it is the players that are missing out.  Doubles teaches many essential tennis skills, especially for college. I suggest doubles be played before all single events to encourage more players to get involve- especially because the parents can’t back out if they have to play doubles before singles …

     

  5. 16′s through 18’s: What is your primary focus?

    I believe fitness is the most important game component as players reach their late teens. Especially because most college coaches begin making their recruit pick at ages 16 and 17. So it is essential physical training begin by at least age sixteen.  The game has changed and fitness is huge!  To quote a Division I Level Coach,
    “Most junior players cannot even make through the first day of College Tennis practice because they are unfit!”

    Stevie’s junior tennis success may have even been greater if he had been fitter sooner. His slightly skewed winning Gold Ball ratio of 1singles title to 10 doubles titles was likely due to his lack of adequate fitness. Stevie lost many matches just before the finals because he was out of energy.
    When Stevie was 16, I was told Stevie was very talented but not fit enough.  So we (Stevie and his team of coaches and trainers) began including fitness into his tennis training regime.  Stevie trained 1 hour off court to 3 hours of on court from the age of 16 ½ on.Even though Stevie had started off court training from the age of 16 ½ – Division I College fitness was a whole different level-  Stevie lost 20 pounds the first semester in college.
    By age 18, extreme physical fitness is mandatory. Stevie’s commitment to fitness in college afforded him huge success at USC.  He is still working even harder to get even fitter as a professional- loving it along the way.
    Now as a Pro, Stevie trains1hour off court, 2 hours on court hitting, lunch, 2 hours hitting and 2 hours training and stretching off court.  Of course during tournaments, Stevie’s off court training is adjusted (periodization).

  6. What would you tell other parents about their child’s gamesmanship tolerance/ competitive nature?

    As a coach, I have always been very honest with parents with respect to their child’s tennis aptitude.  Some players are just not competitive by nature and I tell their parents that the sport is going to be a little more difficult for them. Tennis is as mental and emotional as it is physical.
    I coach the players to play the game of tennis and that may require their tennis lessons to include a variety of teaching techniques – such as ball machine drills, playing points with other player etc. Some parents only want see  X number of ball baskets emptied during a lesson but that is not what tennis development is … So to those parents, it is their choice to choose a coach that just wants to feed balls- but that is not how to develop a full game- in my opinion.

  7. What would you share with parents about playing their children up, as opposed to keeping them in their own age division? 

    The method I used with Stevie is not a blueprint for all players, but I believe tennis teaches responsibility and leadership.  It is very important for players to compete against their own age group and to learn to be “The Big Dog” – which is a very different kind of pressure that builds character.

    Playing up before they have won consistently in their own division sends the message that losing is acceptable.”

     

    Stevie played in his own division until he reached #1 and then he stayed in that division for 6 months- building character along the way.

  8. Do you have a win/loss percentage you recommend players follow before moving up to higher division?

    Ideally a player should have a win /loss record of 3: 1 or 4: 1 before moving up to the next level.  (I would recommend at least a 50/50 win/loss record.)  A natural progression would be to attain a winning percentage in satellites tournaments, then open tournaments, then designated tournaments and then on to Nationals…As I said previously, encouraging your child to only play up teaches them that losing is ok.Note:  Different USTA divisions may have different names for their tournament levels.

     

  9. Can you share with the reader’s insight and/or advice regarding the tennis parent’s role? 

    Tennis is a full time parental job if you want your child to be good.  This means a player that wants to be good should be playing sets, clinics, privates, hitting serve after practice, lessons etc.  It is the parent’s role to support the child with these activities.  In other words:
    “Tennis must go on the calendar first and then life goes in later.”

  10. What is your emotional communication strategy?

    With regard to the emotional components of tennis, I was always very calm. I tried to make tennis fun so that Stevie would continue to love the game as I did.  Before a tournament, I would tell Stevie, “Whether you win or lose your match today, we are not done working on your game. Come Monday, I will take you to school and after school Mom will bring you to the club and we will continue training your game”… I wanted to take the pressure of winning off of Stevie and keep his focus on improving.

“Parents and coaches make tennis events such a big deal that they often sabotage any real chances of success.”

Thank you for visiting, Frank

Confronting Gamesmanship

Confronting Gamesmanship

 

  1. Q: How do we begin to educate our daughter about cheaters?
    A: Communicating about possible/probable scenarios and pre-setting your child’s correct response (protocols) is a great start.  Rehearse the solutions by setting up actual practice sets whereby the opponent is allowed to apply gamesmanship and your child has to rehearse their response sequence. Many parents and players are unaware that counter gamesmanship tactics are a learned behavior.
  2. Q: My son wants harmony on the court, so he won’t do anything to stop a cheater.  What can we do?
    A: Explain to your son that harmony is seldom found in a competitive environment.  Help your son to develop protocols- these are preset solutions to dealing with gamesmanship. Developing protocols to handle cheaters is similar to an actor memorizing a script. Remind him that when he is being bullied, manipulated or cheated out of a match that is rightfully his, there is no harmony. The best way for your child to make friends in the tennis world is by beating their brains out first.  Then guess what?…They all want to be his friend.
  3. Q: What should my daughter do if her opponent is hooking?
    A: If the opponent brings unfair play into the match your child must deal with it swiftly and professionally. I recommend confronting every bad call. At the higher levels, cheaters hook in the first few games simply to see if your child is tough enough to confront them or not. If your child does nothing, they are guaranteeing that the opponent will hook later in the match at the most important times. Explain to your daughter that the hook in that second set tiebreaker could have been avoided had the protocols been followed earlier in the match. Remind her that by confronting the gamesmanship head on, she is essentially saying “No, not today, hooking will not be tolerated.”

  4. Q: My son allows opponents to hook him time after time and then proceeds to get angry and play worse.  How do we explain to him that his fear of confrontation is the reason he is getting so angry?
    A: You are right, by allowing opponents to hook, your son is manifesting internal anger. This anger stops the positive and confident attitude essential to playing at the peak performance level.  The brain cannot solve two complicated tasks simultaneously. This is called channel capacity. Not only is your son losing the points that are being stolen from him, he is donating additional points due to channel capacity- his negative self-condemnation overtakes his performance goals.  Explain to him confronting gamesmanship is part of the competitive arena and that he must have pre-set protocols to deal with it. (Dealing with confrontation is a life issue- it is likely present in all areas of his life- not just tennis.)

  5. Q: My child is scared to call an umpire onto the court. How can we help?
    A: I know I sound like a broken record, but pre-setting match protocols is as important as developing motor programs for mechanical strokes.  The solution to dealing with an on-court controversy (calling an umpire to the court) should already be pre-wired before the match begins.  Be sure your child is clear about the actual rules and regulations of competitive play. This requires reading the rules and regulations of the game.  Once your child is aware of the official protocol of calling an umpire to her court, she will be more confident in her proactive action.  Remind her that she works too hard to allow cheaters to cheat.  Calling an umpire onto the court is demanding fair play.

  6. Q: When should we begin to develop counter-gamesmanship skills?
    A:  As early as possible. Pre-set protocols are like preventative medicine.  Deciding when to set aside time for mental and emotional development depends on your child’s growth development schedule.  Some children are mature enough to understand and implement counter-gamesmanship tactics at age 7, while others are still not mature enough at age 17. However, most players will lose many emotional matches to cheaters, before they are ready to learn counter-gamesmanship.
  7. Q: What can we do if my son doesn’t call out balls out? He is essentially cheating himself out of matches.
    A: Discuss the ramifications of the fear of confrontation. Why is avoiding confrontation such a problem at the competitive levels? Juniors who cheat themselves severely complicate games, sets, matches and of course tournaments. Explain to your son that elongating and complicating early round matches drains your son’s physical, mental and emotional batteries- leaving nothing left for the tougher, later rounds.  It is in his best interest to learn to call out balls out, especially because, strong competitors will see your son as being inexperienced and weak- thus fueling their confidence. (Remind your son that by not calling out balls out, he is helps his opponent in two ways- giving them free points and building their confidence.)

    True Story:My daughter, Sarah, was playing a phenom in a G14 designated tournament. She was beating the phenom 6-0, 2-0…Sarah began to feel sorry for opponent because she was crying hysterically…  So Sarah decided to give her a few points and started to call out ball good … As soon as this phenom saw Sarah GIVING her points…she turned on her gamesmanship tactics -of which she was known for… She started stealing points from Sarah.  What should have been a routine win, became dramatic  2nd set grudge match- the phenom began cheating like crazy(Score changing, line calls, intimation, the works…)  Sarah learned her lesson and never felt sorry for an opponent again- out balls were out!

  8. Q: My daughter is easily intimidated out of competing. Is this fair?
    A: Yes, intimidation is fair. At the higher levels, tennis is a game of intimidation. Top opponents who recognize that stroke for stroke they haven’t got the game to beat your daughter will seek out any weakness in your daughter’s game- it is their job.  If your daughter has terrific strokes but is an inexperienced emotional competitor, it is your responsibility to assist them in developing a “thick skin.”

Dealing with gamesmanship should be part of your child’s basic training. The first step in handling gamesmanship is devising customized solutions (protocols) for each form of gamesmanship.  The second step is rehearsing those solutions on the practice court to gain confidence in applying pre-set counter gamesmanship solutions in a real match.

To progress into the higher levels of the game, mental and emotional skill set development is crucial.
Parents, if you’re not taking an active role in helping to develop these critical components in your child, please don’t blame your child when tournament after tournament they lose as a result of gamesmanship.

 

“Cheaters on- court are cheaters in life.”   Thanks, Frank

Controlling the Controllables

Has your child developed their customized pre-match protocols? At this years U.S. Easter Bowl, most early round losers were found socializing and fooling around prior to match play. While the contenders were busy morphing into tennis warriors with great match day preparation. Contenders are focusing on elements within their control, while the uninformed are obsessing about those elements outside of their control. Controlling the controllables starts before the match even begins.

Think about the television cameras capturing pre-match rituals of tennis professionals just prior to match play. Rafa and Vika display very purposeful pre-match rituals. These elite professionals use pre-match routines to help them  focus on their specific performance goals- gaining confidence in their skills before playing their match.

F.Y. I.- Our Match Day Preparation e-book is being used by academies and college coaches around the world.  For your copy of Match Day Preparation go to www.TennisParentSolutions.com

Controlling the Controllables

Maximizing your player’s chances to perform in a calm, relaxed peak performance level, demands that the player, parent and coach focus on controlling the controllable variables and let go of the uncontrollable variables. Junior tennis players and well intending parents often sabotage any real chance of success by cluttering their mind with irrelevant thoughts. Match day focus is a learned behavior that should be developed and practiced with pre-set protocols.

 

 ”Practice in the manner in which you’re expected to perform” and then… 

Perform in the manner in which you’ve practiced.”

 

A pre-match warm up and/or match time performance can be sabotaged by focusing on non-controllable external variables While it is important to give these outside influences a nod, dwelling on them will surely ruin any chance of peak performance.

List 5 elements a player cannot control:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

List 5 elements a player can control:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

“A player’s thoughts either push them towards their performance goals or
pull them away from their performance goals.”

 

Attitude controls the mind and the mind controls the emotions and the body’s fluid movement. An optimistic attitude “frees the player up” to play at peak performance. I teach twin brothers, Jarred and Evan.  Jarred has a positive can do attitude- he optimistically performs his pre-match rituals before each event and chooses to see the positive in every situation. While, Evan has a pessimistic attitude before each event and choose to obsess about every thing that he believes is wrong or could go wrong.

Evan’s pre-match conversations includes: I am really really tired, I think I’m getting sick, it is going to be too hot or too windy or too cold, my start time is too early or too late, the drive to event is too long, my draw horrible,the courts are terrible,  my  racquets are strung incorrectly, they made my breakfast wrong, I have too much homework to focus on tennis…etc.

A negative attitude can destroy your player’s ability to perform to their best ability. The pre-requisite for peak performance is maintaining a positive attitude and proper pre-match preparation. Players, parents and coaches need to focus on being positive and proactive.

 

Example of Non Controllable Elements:

  • Opponent antics
  • Referees availability
  • Weather
  • Court surface
  • Draw
  • Outcomes
  • Rankings
  • Start times
  • Site distractions
Example of Controllable Elements:
  • Wandering mind
  • Emotions
  • Footwork
  • Opponent profiling
  • Effort
  • Attitude
  • Game plans
  • Proper pre-match preparation
  • Pre-match and match day protocols
  “Taking control of what can be controlled will keep you on script, increase self-confidence and 
assist you in getting the results you are cable of getting.”

 

Thank you, Frank

For more information:
FGSA@earthlink.net
To order Match Day Preparation ClickHere

The Tennis Parent’s Bible News & A Giveaway

 The Tennis Parent’s Bible has been getting a lot of attention lately and the reviews are in…

The verdict? They love it.

Tennis book: The Tennis Parent’s Bible.

Whether your child (or student) is a newbie to tennis or road warrior on the tournament trail, The Tennis Parent’s Bible is how-to parenting nectar from the tennis gods.

This bible’s author is Frank Giampaolo, a lauded 25 year tennis veteran, who runs a Junior Tennis Development program in Southern California. Giampaolo has acertained that parental involvement is absolutely critical to a child’s tennis success but…key take away here… HOW you get involved and how well you understand your child’s own tennis personality and dream are central to the equation.

Legions of kids with beautiful strokes leave tennis because of improper emotional development and training. There are opportunities to encourage and times to lay off and match day situations that don’t involve hitting a perfect ball.

Giampaolo addresses developing a plan, stimulating talent, nurturing character, navigating tournaments, talking about tennis, dealing with cheating, gamesmanship, accountability, mental strategy, and more. He also, very honestly, lays out the costs and time involved with being a serious tennis parent. It’s not the most expensive sport but it’s up there.

Help yourself, help your tennis kid. This is a very enlightening read.

-via TennisIDENTITY

I just finished reading “The Tennis Parents Bible”, which could just as easily be called “The Tennis COACHES Bible”….so much good insight on how to help players, parents and coaches navigate the waters of competitive tennis!!

-Chuck Gill, 1st Vice President USPTA

As Seen In April’s Tennis Industry magazine…

The eBook “The Tennis Parent’s Bible” from Frank Giampaolo is now available in paperback. The book, with topics such as “Navigating Tournaments,” “Maintaining Positive Communication,” “On-Court Strategies & Tactics,” is designed to assist parents and coaches through the mental and emotional complexities of raising a world-class young adult through the game of tennis. The paperback is available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Exciting News…

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The giveaway is being conducted by goodreads.com and you can enter win from now until May 31. Already have your copy? Enter for a friend! Let’s spread the word and improve the game!

Causes of Lack of Mental Toughness

If I had a dime for every phone call I received like this…

“Hello”

“Hi my name is Mrs. Johansson. My child lost again to a nobody!  I hear that you can help.”  Her voice cracks as she chokes back her emotions, “Chloe is so good but chokes and loses to seemingly less talented player? “

Why do you think I ask?

“Chloe’s just not mentally tough! “she adds.

As we dig deeper, we uncover that Chloe’s issues aren’t mental at all.  What makes the mental toughness component so mysterious and confusing is actually quite simple. The answers lie in the true cause of the breakdown versus the actual visible signs of distress.  The signs of on-court distress manifest in emotional breakdowns.

On-court breakdowns may include:

  • Hyperventilating,
  • Throwing the racquet,
  • Screaming,
  • Crying ,
  • Fast  and mindless  play

The actual cause of the distress includes the four causes of error’s which include:

  1. Mechanical Flaws,
  2. Inappropriate Shot Selection
  3. Poor movement and Spacing
  4. Weak Focus/Emotional issues

Listed below are 3 examples of common match play scenarios where by the on-court outbursts are incorrectly labeled as mental issues.

Examples of Mislabeled Breakdowns

1.            Joey is out of shape. By the third match, his lack of fitness manifests in anger on court. Parents and coaches don’t recognize the lack of fitness issues; instead they say “Joey has mental issues- he is just not mentally tough”.

2.            Sarah has emotional control issues. When hooked by a creative line caller, her emotions pull her focus toward the drama of the hook and away from her actual “mental” performance goals needed to close out the match. Parents and coaches don’t see the emotional disconnect and say “Sarah has mental issues- she is just not mentally tough”.

3.            Mikey has a flawed forehand grip on his two handed backhand. This flaw leads to a rolling racket face through the strike zone. Under stress, Mikey’s muscles tighten and inhibit the smooth relaxed motion needed for him to roll the racket face within the millisecond window through the strike zone.  As a result, his backhand deserts him when he needs it the most. This “mechanical flaw” leads Mikey to panic and play faster and faster without any between point rituals. Parents and coaches don’t see the mechanical breakdown and cry “Mikey chokes under pressure. He is just not mentally tough”.

As illustrated above, an on–court outburst has an underlying cause that is very different than the visual actions of distress displayed.  Identifying the underlying problem and proper training to improve the flaw is the only way to become a more mentally tough competitor.

The most efficient training method uses the “school methodology”- systematically shifting through all aspects of training- stroke production, pattern play, fitness, etc.( Just as a school child is shifted from subject to subject daily- such as from math to science to history to language etc.)

All too often, tennis coaches focus only on fundamental stroke production or a singular component hour after hour, week after week, and year after year, while expecting the player to develop a COMPLETE GAME through osmosis.  It just does not work that way. The player’s game becomes unevenly developed and a lack of confidence ensues.

 

What is Mental Toughness?
Mental Components Relate to Analytical Match Decisions

  • Three Tiers of Match Strategy
  • Assembling Game Plans
  • Strategies to Play against the 4 Main Patterns of Play
  • Customizing the Top Seven Patterns
  • Positioning to Maximize Success
  • Opponent Awareness (Style of Play, Strengths and Weaknesses, Top Seven Patterns and  Frustration Tolerance Levels)
  • Shot Selection (Hitting the shot the moment demands.)

What is Emotional Toughness?
Emotional Components Relate to Athletes Ability to Handle Competitive Anxiety

  • Controlling Anger/ Fear/Nervousness
  • Staying Unflappable Under Adversity
  • Closing Out a Set/Match/Tournament
  • Concentrating for the Duration
  • Playing at Peak Performance vs Weaker Players
  • Overcoming Choking or Panicking
  • Successfully Handling Hardship (Injuries, the elements, bad luck, gamesmanship, or an aggravated opposing playing style)

Is your player training properly?

 

Contact Frank Giampaolo for a Player Assessment : FGSA@earthlink.net

Tennis Bible Now in Paperback!

 

The Tennis Parent’s Bible is now available in paperback! 

 

Thank you so much for your continued support.  After years of requesting a paperback version of The Tennis Parent’s Bible-

we have finally made it a reality. Get your copy today!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1494208385

        https://www.createspace.com/4531736

Tennis Parent Communication

Let’s assume you are not a high performance tennis coach, but a loving tennis parent just the same.  As a tennis parent, your role is critical in the overall development of your child on and off the court.

Below I’ve listed ten important communication skills essential for the Tennis Parent:

  1. Teach character building and not stroke production or strategy. Encourage life skill development, such as being optimistic, time management, emotional composure, perseverance/work ethic, proper nutrition, hydration and sleep requirements and organizational skills. With proper life skills your child will succeed on and off the court.
  2.  Communicate your match observations to the coach (and not to the child). Email your tournament notes to your primary coach – asking them to focus their training on your child’s actual match flaws. The coach will then take the appropriate training steps. This will add harmony to the often stressful parent player relationship.
  3. Google positive motivation techniques. Don’t  force success…motivate success. Motivation is achieved through rewarding your child’s efforts and not by punishing their failures.  Punishment discourages growth – the exact opposite of motivation.
  4. Set process goals such as a developmental plan, as well as outcome goals such as rankings.  Yes, there are two completely different sets of goals.  Developmental goals include nurturing many game components simultaneously. Process goals may include: off court training, primary and secondary stroke skills as well as mental and emotional protocols. Outcome goals may include: the USTA/ITF tournament schedules, ranking rules and regulations as well as college placement process.
  5. Manage proper match day preparation Spectacular preparation precedes spectacular performances. Practice makes permanent….practice doesn’t make perfect. This goes for pre-match warm ups as well. Sadly, most parents and players have horrific preparation routines and yet expect spectacular performances. See The Match Day Preparation eBook for more in depth discovery. (www.tennisparentsolutions.com)
  6. Apply positive, non-threatening post match communication.  Consider your child’s preferred intelligence (How individuals relate best to the world around them.) Some brain types enjoy discussing post match “chalk talk” immediately after the match, others simply need a little distance before discussing the match and still others may never want to discuss the match. (FYI:  If your child never wants to discuss the match- you may have a hobbyist on your hands because they are not interested in growth) However, after a match, you may only have one hour before the next match to discuss performance issues.  Be positive and reinforce what they did well. You may consider asking: “What did you do effectively today?”, “What did the opponent do that made it tough for you?  What would you do different?”  VERSUS discussing your laundry list of their failures!!!!
  7. Train Independency. One of the most important character traits of a champion is independent problem solving skills. If your child is 16 and you are still finding their shoes, packing their bag, carrying their water jug and racket bag to matches you are developing dependency. At 5 all in the third set, the independent problem solver is more likely going to find a way to win. The dependent child is going to be looking to you with tears in their eyes.
  8. Manage your child’s entourage. Top nationally ranked player have an entourage. This group consists of teachers, paid hitters, trainers, sparring partners, physical therapists …etc.  If your coach insists that you only train with him/her…be aware that they may be looking after their best interest and not your child’s best interest. Bottom line- Do not assume one singular coach is doing everything your child needs. If you are only paying a coach to hit balls, you are mismanaging your child’s complete developmental plan.
  9. Remember communication isn’t just verbal.  Studies show over 70% of communication comes from tone of voice, facial expressions and body language. In my opinion, kids key in on the tone of voice and ignore the actual words being spoken. How do you expect your child to play calm, relaxed and positive tennis under stress, if you are pacing on the side lines with your arms folded in a knot and shaking your head in disgust? If you are wound tighter than a drum, sit somewhere so that they cannot see or hear you.
  10. If you’re going to have an attitude…make it gratitude. The real junior contenders I train week in and week out work harder than most adults. Though many adults may be going to a job 40 hours a week, how many of them are giving 100% effort even 10 hours a week?  Continuing to obsess about your child’s flaws will deflate their desire to even try. Replace the non-stop discussion of their flaws with your true feelings of being thankful for their hard work.  Show appreciation for your child’s effort and you will be motivating greatness!

“A tough realization for most tennis parents is that you can’t be a part time hobbyist parent and expect your child to be a champion. If you truly don’t want to “get involved” please don’t expect your child to be great.”

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