The Little Green Book of Tennis


Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book of Golf” is one of the best recent examples of coaching a sport. I have patterned my new book on tennis instruction using methods similar to Coach Penick. Drawing from fifty years of teaching and coaching, I share insights from my mentors who helped me craft repeatable techniques for winning. I also share our personal experiences and observations that have proven to be solid advice. Hopefully, you’ll find this book to be succinct and filled with gems for all levels of players and coaches.

If you would like to purchase a printed copy of the book ($28/book), email me at ethomasparham [at] gmail.com. If you’d like to purchase a digital copy, they are available on Amazon here.

Here are a few early reviews: 

“If you are looking for a tennis book that is both entertaining and thought provoking this is the book for you. Tom Parham’s insights and musings are both informative and entertaining. As a former college coach, I found it a great read! This Hall of Famer has the ability to think outside the box and you might just find yourself doing the same thing. Coaches will appreciate his originality and benefit from his years of experience.” (Coach Bob Bayliss, Notre Dame Men’s Tennis, ITA Hall of Fame)

“I was very fortunate to find Elon University and Coach Parham when I decided to play college tennis, after getting out of the sport in my crucial junior years. At Elon with Parham at the helm I found the love for the sport again. Coach Parham wanted you to love the game when you graduated and never treated his players like a number. He truly cared about them. I learned a lot from Coach Parham not only in the 4 years I played for him but throughout all my years in teaching and coaching tennis. He has been a gracious mentor to me. I was fortunate to follow Coach Parham as the Elon Men’s Tennis Coach when he retired in 2004 and have passed much of his knowledge on to my players. A lot of what I learned is written in “The Little Green Book of Tennis” as he wrote it all down. I believe this book is a must read to all high school coaches and players.” (Michael Leonard, Elon University Men’s Tennis Coach)

“Tom Parham is my friend, my coach at Elon University, and a long time advisor. He brought me to America. He skillfully guided me through a new world and a new tennis arena–American College Tennis. We did well. He understood both the game, the team, and me.  He is a very well respected professional with success at coaching and teaching at all levels. Coach Parham is a master teacher and looked at as a integral part of tennis history in North Carolina, the South, and the nation. The book, The Little Green Book of Tennis is spot on in method and message for coaches, players, and teams, at all levels. Buy it.” (Roland Thornqvist, Head Women’s Tennis Coach, University of Florida)

“Coach Parham is a masterful teacher, southern humorist, and sports philosopher who explains tennis strategies and techniques in a way that anyone can “get it.” The wisdom gained in a brilliant career has been boiled down to  bite-sized pearls of wisdom in “The Little Green Book of Tennis,” a must-read for coaches, instructors, players, and parents.” (Ron Smarr, Rice University Men’s Tennis, ITA Hall of Fame, Winningest Coach in Men’s College Tennis upon retirement)

“Tom Parham’s recent authorship of his book The Little Green Book of Tennis is a great handbook for young, aspiring tennis coaches. It is also a thoughtful, entertaining read for all tennis buffs. During Tom’s forty-plus years of coaching collegiate tennis at ACC (Barton) and Elon University, he won numerous conference, district, and national championships in both the NAIA and NCAA levels of competition. As Director of Athletics at Elon University for twenty-seven years, it was a pleasure and with admiration that I observed his success during his tenure at both institutions. Coach Parham was and continues to be a committed and astute “student” of the game while he is quick to offer praise and credit to such outstanding coaches as Jim Leighton and Jim Verdieck for their mentoring that greatly enhanced his knowledge and skill for his teaching expertise.” (Dr. Alan J. White, Elon University Athletics Director)

“Tom Parham and I are colleagues and friends.  We are a lot alike, because we could not have lived without coaching.  Both native North Carolinians,  we both played two varsity sports at small colleges in NC—me at Guilford, Tom at Barton. I have seen this man coach and teach. His words flow off the page much in the same manner as the great teachers and coaches I have known. Coach Parham concludes that “this material is, in large part, not mine.  I am only the messenger. I believed in it and benefitted from these masters. I did write it down.”  I don’t think anyone has done it better.” (David Odom, Wake Forest University Men’s Basketball Coach)

“I have read the Verdieck chapter, and you did a great job capturing my dad’s thoughts. I still get choked up when I try to express my great pride in my dad and give him the credit he deserved. My dad focused so much on finding a player’s weakness and fixing it, as well as putting his players into pressure situations to learn to compete and remain poised. Each day of practice at Redlands was competition, whether a challenge match, a round robin, a steady game, a volley game. Coach Verdieck would test his players, not only with their ability to make shots and eliminate errors, but to do it when feeling pressure.” –Doug Verdieck

I played for Coach Parham during the late sixties at Atlantic Christian College. After graduation and entering a career in teaching and coaching, I was a member of the tennis camp staff at Atlantic Christian and Elon University. Much was learned during these twenty-five plus years from my mentor Tom Parham.  He had spent years talking with some of the top teaches and coaches including Jim Leighton at Wake Forest, Dennis Van Der Meer, Chet and Bill Murphy, Welby Van Horn, Wayne Sabin, Jim Verdieck, and others. What he did with all of this knowledge was to present it in such a manner that both young and old could understand it.  This is exactly what he has done with “The Little Green Book of Tennis.” He wrote it all down. The best book I have ever read on the game of tennis – from teaching techniques, to drills, to strategy. A must read for players and coaches. (Eddie Gwaltney, Retired Athletic Director, Teacher, Coach)

“Coach Parham coached me at Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College.  I was in the middle of some 30 Swedish youngsters who ventured into a new country, a new language, and new friends. This came largely at the time of “the golden days of tennis in Sweden.” Bjorn Borg was our impetus.  Edberg, Wilander, Anders Jarryd, an on and on.  My father was the director of the Swedish Open in Stockholm.  I grew up watching these guys, their games, techniques, deportment. While Coach Parham recruited world-wide and very well, he had the Swedes at the core for 26 years. He told us all, “Do it right academically, personally, and on the court. This is not just about you.  You establish whether I can bring in other players behind you.” It is hard to imagine how many good young Swedes there were, and how hard players and coaches attempted to learn and play the game. At one time there were about 300 Swedes playing college tennis in America. Quite frankly, most of us had been trained by more knowledgeable teachers and pros. But Coach Parham had done his homework. He had paid his dues.  Not only that, he was eager to absorb what we brought. I once heard him say “… the Swedes know things we don’t. And they know how to play as a team member.”  He was all about the team. We respected him, knowledge, effort, and leadership. And we held up our end of the bargain.”  (Johan Sturen, ACC ’83, two time first team All-American).


1. See Pickleball (149). 2. See Pickleball 2 (184).
***Wouldn’t it be wise to use pickleball as a leadup, or carryover game that will ultimately benefit tennis?
***Line school tennis courts for pickleball. Tennis purists will howl about the lines, but we are not talking
about Wimbledon. Almost all GYMS have multiple game lines. No one notices. Ps–while tennis nets are a tiny bit
higher, who cares.
***Pickleball has a funny name (after a dog), yet it’s players swear by the CARDIO benefits.
***PICKLEBALL IS FUN—IMMEDIATELY. Most youngsters aren’t sold on “Tennis is a lifetime game.” Or, its good for your
health. Fun is the HOOK.
***Don’t some Pilot programs merit a try? This is bigger than tennis or pickleball. Obesity, health, video games, mental
health, and again–fun.
Rather than fight the “tsunami” and be overrun, why not ride the wave? USTA AND PICKLEBALL leaders should join forces.
The Outcome? In the long run what are the possibilities? 1. Both games will benefit 2. Each will have their own people.
3. Both games will benefit the players. 4. Some people who would not have played either will have some fun.


Some thought post-AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2017:
1. Several newcomers do well. Recent “Slams” have produced few players beyond the second round. Our YOUNG players
corrected that. Keep coming.
2. Still it is obvious that our best results come from the “pathway” or family. Today (the Williams sisters, the Bryan
brothers, and now, CoCo Vanderweghe.) as well as historically.  A most telling verification of the “family” came from one of the same background, Chris Evert who
would quickly agree that her Father was her coach:
Chris: CoCo was asked early on to come to Boca (FLA)to train. But she said “…heck no, I’m not leaving my family and friends.”
The pathway requires a lot of attention and variables, none of which the parent doesn’t best provide. Local pros turn out more advanced players that academies.
4. And, again, The American college/university system is the best training ground in the world for elite athletes. But you’ve got to have scholarships for
5. VENUS WILLIAMS IS ROYALTY. And her whiplike service is the best model out there. Glad her health is better.


Just returned from the North Carolina Tennis Foundation’s TENNIS WEEKEND in Pinehurst.
I was shunned twice for mentioning pickleball. Tennis people are somewhat skeptical about pickleball.
When soccer exploded upon the American scene in the 70’s the football people reacted much the same way:”Soccer
is taking away some of our best kids!” Russell Rawlings said soccer was football without linemen!
I had never seen or been to THE VILLAGES in mid-Florida. On a recent trip to Bradenton we stopped in to view the
“mecca of pickleball”.
I think a new approach by the tennis people may be worth studying. Having observed attempts to teach tennis in public school physical education
classes, maybe a switch to pickleball might be wiser. It is so much easier to learn (save the scoring system*). And, while the pickleball people will argue that their
game can stand on its own merits, perhaps there would be a “carryover” from mastery of pickleball to the more complex and expensive tennis process. And attract some audiences that shun
tennis no matter how hard we try?
The easiest part of this is adaptation of existing facilities. Courts are the same size as a badminton court (44″ x  20″), needing only boundary lines on existing high school, recreation,
or whatever tennis court. While these lines (and the different sound of the ball), bother the purists, these quickly become unnoticed.
A prediction, or a suggestion: This is already happening. Real estate often features two tennis courts that are for condominium villages. Most of these were built by an owner who, to
compete, added two courts. Lonely and often in the front of the housing, most dwell out front, unused and unmaintained.
Why not line these courts for pickleball. Put out some rackets and balls in a container and watch what happens.
One last thought: Many tennis courts have been “left to seed”. A two court abandoned asphalt pad can be laid out to house 6 pickleball courts.

* Unfortunately pickleball also adapted a scoring system much like badminton. And, while this idea can be applied to colleges, I would go ahead and grant
a degree to any college student who can master the scoring.



https://wordpress.com/my-stats/?day=2016-11-28 (BLOG ADDRESS) INFORMATION ON LITTLE GREEN BOOK OF TENNIS

https://littlegreenbookoftennis.com/2016/11/02/what-to-do/ (WAYNE BRYAN/PATRICK MCENROE) plus the accompanying comments.

https://littlegreenbookoftennis.com/2016/10/24/helping/ (THIS IS A BOOK SIZED MANUAL WITH A TON OF HISTORY ON THIS ISSUE)

https://littlegreenbookoftennis.com/2016/10/24/day-dream-believer-175/ (WHAT IF?)





This represents a few of the 180 articles.   My two main efforts are directed at the scholarships  issue and ways to better high school tennis for players, coaches, teams.