Andre Agassi said if you don’t practice, then you don’t deserve to win. Something I take with me to the courts on a daily basis.  Working with athletes who are not only Nationally Ranked players, but are succeeding with tournament wins and finals and playing well, can be a tough slog. For every 1 of these players there are a lot of players who would like to be that good, but haven’t “yet” taken that step – but with a positive mindset it won’t be far away.

I am a half glass full type of man/coach/dad/uncle/brother/son, looking for positives and ways to improve. Nothing annoys me as excuse makers. They will never make it, never reach their potential and never succeed in what they are trying to do. I see it week in and week out with friends and family and players and athletes. There are those concentrating on how it can’t be done (or the struggles they face), and those that get out there and do it!

PRACTICE WITH PURPOSE – is something that is big at IMG Academy which stems from Nick Bollettieri’s mantras. It is something that was drummed into me as an athlete as a teenager, and something that I’ve taken into adult life!

The continuous hours and time that has to be put in to continue to develop, improve as a player is countless. I can tell the dedication of a player by asking one very simple question “How many hours do you put into your tennis each week?” and then talk about the following these points:

  1. Hours on court – This is the on court and off court time. The training with coach, the practice sessions, the match play, the gym, the strength and conditioning. You can tell right away if a player (or even worse their support group) says “there’s no one to hit with,” or “no one is good enough to give me a good hit”, you know an excuse has been made before even trying. How can Evonne Gooloogong win Grand Slam after grand Slam from humble beginnings of hitting a ball against not a wall, but a tin shed or (water tank). How can players like Jessica Moore who comes from a small town of just a few thousand people still live the dream playing through Europe!
  2. Have you made 2000 phone calls or text messages.  If you are a good fourteen year old, call players better than you, and players you can beat, play 2 on 1s, serve with just a second serve, give yourself 5 shots to win a rally. Practice return of serve aggression, winners, approach shots. Think of a million situations you have on court and simulate them. There is nothing wrong with having 2 or 3 hitting partners, I’ve seen Rafa churn through 2 on 1s for hours on end. If you get a knock back for a hit, big deal, try again, try them again, keep working on it.
  3. Call adults and social players, quite often they’d love to hit with an up and coming tennis star, There are groups at clubs that meet and play doubles and singles, go join in, challenge players, make contacts.
  4. Find a wall……use it….search up Youtube for wall drills…practice targeting, get some chalk and nail your shots…
  5. Plus gym, strength and fitness, chat to your sporting mates at school, join in a soccer or footy session (less contact the better), join a gym for $7 a week.
  6. Do you have one friend or family that can drop of throw you a ball. There’s a million drop feed and thrown drills. help a mate with his sor her sport then try yours, work together, have fun.
  7. Serve, serve until you knock coins off the court. Yep it’s boring, but put some tunes on and go for it! When did you double fault in your last match, were you up, down, was it crucial??

Our mantra, and you’ve seen it a thousand times on our social media #PerformanceIsMandatory. I’d take a good tough match that’s a challenge and a loss over a simple win 6/3, 6/3 over someone who you should be able to beat in 40 minutes.

Yes winning trophies in great, succeeding in life is great. This can all be done by having high standards and working on little things like.

  • putting in the practice hours.
  • arriving early for squads and lessons to warm up
  • arriving for a session with the right frame of mind.
  • arriving with short term goals in place
  • arriving with a purpose
  • making those calls to people who want to hit.
  • knocking on those doors

So as we start the School and Training term, it will be interesting to see who makes some changes to their training, who starts to take things a little more positively.  Summer season is 10 weeks away and I hope athletes make goals for the next 10 weeks and see where it takes them and their game into the summer of 2016-17 season!