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The Little Green Book of Tennis

http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Green-Book-Tennis/dp/1503559041

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).

MY DANNY TALBOTT STORY (404)

Danny Talbott lost his war with cancer. Many thought he’d win. He won every thing else. Danny was a baptist preacher’s kid. In the 1960’s in North Carolina he was legendary. His pre-integration time called for every able bodied, red blooded male to play football. Most added basketball and baseball, as did Danny. Tennis and golf were for sissies. No one had heard of soccer. Maybe Pele. No girls allowed.
Coach Henry Trevathan coached Danny in Rocky Mount, NC. He said Danny was like another coach on the field. And not just in football. Rocky Mount won state titles in football, then basketball, then baseball, then football again the next year.
I was a “Peacock” in 1963/64. Danny’s freshman year at UNC-Chapel Hill. Peacocks were so called as our graduate school advisor was the beloved Dr. Bill Peacock. There were thirty college grads who taught the UNC freshman classes. I was teaching a basketball class on the Woolin Gym floor when Jack Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
Having lived in Wilson,NC, 18 miles from Talbott and Rocky Mt., I knew of his career. And told my fellow Peacocks who were mostly unaware of his feats. Freshman were ineligible then, and my colleagues hardly believed my hype. As basketball arrived Danny changed uniforms like a superhero. Shoulder pads for sneakers even after basketball and the remarkable Bobby Lewis show had started. All my buddies were there to watch Lewis. When they inserted Danny into the lineup, I loudly alerted them to his entry. Sure enough he was shortly on the foul line with two free throws. Nothing but foul lane, 1 and 2. howls and chagrin. Exit Danny until the game’s end, when fouled out Tar Heels dictated his reentry.
Sure enough, with one point down and seconds on the clock, there is Talbott on the line, with game on the line. Swish goes #1, swish #2, Game Talbott.
Come spring time there he is on the diamond, first year of an outstanding college baseball career. He later told me, “…I probably should have pursued pro baseball.”
Danny was easy to like. Big smile, rosy/rusty cheeks that glowed. Made you feel great. Bobby Dunn and I are friends and he and Danny were very close. When Danny went into sales after pro football, Bobby said he missed competition and was considering tennis. Send him over, I suggested.
Low and behold here he came to our college courts. Coat and tie abandoned for shorts and racket, on the run.
Danny was ambidextrous. He was hitting groundstrokes left handed forehand and backhand. His beginning shots looked good to me. “Why are you so discouraged?” I asked him.
“Watch this serve” he whimpered. He was correct. I never thought I’d see Danny Talbott look awkward at anything, but this was pretty awful to watch. He tried a couple of more serves. Then the duh? moment. Left-handed serve?
“Danny, aren’t you the quarterback that holds the NCAA record for 28 out o32 pass completions in the EAST/WEST All-Star game?” A puzzled “yes”. Did you throw them left handed ? Well, no of course.
Below is the quickest, most productive lesson I taught in my career:
1. The serve is a throw. Put the racket in your right hand. Turn your grip a little this way (“first knuckle, first bevel”). Now serve it like a throw.
2. Your wrist action at hit moment is much like a fast ball or slider is thrown.

I’m not sure if it was the first serve he tried, but I know it was before the fourth, that repeated ace like rockets zoomed over the net. I know he wanted to stop and thank me but he was having too much fun, I was too. So, I’d toss him a ball and a big “thump” would echo. I only asked about the grip, as that action is hard to see? “Yeah, fastball, slider, I got it!”
He would show up with questions and conversations. Eventually he played right handed while serving, left-handed on both ground strokes. On overheads he hit ones on the right, right-handed. The ones on the left, left handed.
It wasn’t long before I was getting reports that he was right in the middle of NC senior tennis tournaments. And, later, he did a similar thing with golf, becoming an accomplished player there too.
The last time I saw him was a year ago in Wilson’s DICK’S HOT DOG STAND. He was with a man I didn’t know, but later Danny said was his “cancer doctor”. “We go out to eat once a month”.
Rocky Mount named their hospital’s new cancer center after Danny Talbott.

Danny was so gracious with me. He always said “…that’s my tennis coach, he made my game.” But I always knew the “Big Coach” made Danny. He made a masterpiece.
PS–you guys who play sports up there. He’s coming. But you better be ready. He’s competitive.

 

NOMENCLATURE (403)

I am collecting more and more Doctors. Hard to keep up with dates, names, drugs,etc. Who can keep up with drug names? Now I just name the by color: yellow-.81 aspirin is ticker. every other day is purple or heartburn. Three whites–big, medium and small are poppa, momma and baby bear.

The names game began in the last town I lived in. Collecting Physicians to go with maladies came out like this:
My dentist named Crouch became “Ouch” Crouch.
Dermatolgist named Patterson i.e. “Dr. Splattersome”.
Urologist named Ben or “Dr. Bendover”. Easy one!
Pharmacist named Phil or “Refill”
Dr. Bates was called Master.

Billy’s lying was just accepted by us. He was always making things up. He listened to the radio and all the “green hornet” adventure programs of that day were great for his imagination. He introduced us to Jonathan Winters, the 9 cent movies at the Patovi Theatre, dirty jokes, but most of all to Uncle Louie. More in a moment.

Once Opal wouldn’t let him out of the house, saying he was grounded for ly- ing. Perhaps this was my first knowledge of a “child psychologist”, as we were told he was being counseled for lying.

Years later Billy admitted how this all unfolded, and this account was later told at his funeral, attended by his mom.

In those days there were “carnivals” and just the sort of thing Billy craved. He convinced his mom that if she’d let him attend he’d never lie again. Cautiously Opal gave him 25 cents. Fifteen cents got him in the gate. A peanut stand at the entrance got the dime. Today it would not be allowed but in 1948 a “monkey” (really a 70 pound baboon) was chained to an iron stake, right next to the peanuts. The baboon held out his hand. Billy gave him a peanut. One for Billy, one for the monkey. What fun! The problem arose at the bottom of the bag, when it was empty. Billy held out his hands to show the baboon it was empty. At that point Billy swears the baboon grabbed his hands and beat the living hell out of him. All of a sudden the carnival manager runs up to him and kicks him out for “disturbing his baboon”. The next scene has Billy only 20 minutes out of “time out” standing on his porch, bleeding, crying, dirty, and clothes ruined. Opal, hearing him, runs to the door: “Billy, what in the world happened to you?”. Momma, a monkey beat me up”. Opal: “You’re lying and get back in your room.”

Opal Fulton, my mom and Irene. Opal endeared herself to me when she shot- gunned Billy’s bicycle punctured inner tube, thinking it was a black snake.

PRICING COWS, CARS, AND HUMANS (402)

Someone just mailed me a rough e-mail post that seemed over the top by any standard. To classify Al Gore and everyone who believes in climate change as a “bunch of turds” seems wrong to even type.
I read AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH when it came out in 2006. Saw the film. The one stunning fact that most impressed me was the graph that showed the abrupt spike in the earth’s warming years 1980–2006. The spike was almost straight up, while the combined years before cars were almost dead even. Today the Raleigh News and Observer stated this year was the warmest ever in North Carolina.
Someone has suggested cow farts as the cause of the earth’s warming. I was reminded in last night’s poker game that that the earth itself has been here billions of years. Humans a lot less.
If cow farts are the villains, and many fear mankind’s extinction without change,–does that mean farmer Jones has got to gun down Daisy?
Gore’s book and realization are worth revisiting. The whole book lays it out. I cite one paragraph:
“The truth about global warming is especially inconvenient and unwelcome to some powerful people and companies making enormous sums of money from activities they know full well will have to change dramatically in order to ensure the planet’s viability.”
Viability? (“the ability to live or survive successfully”). Would you give up hamburger, milk, dairy products if cow farts will kill us all?
Here it is: And it ain’t cow farts. Candidate Gore couldn’t come right out in 2006. Now we know. It is gas. Petroleum, Petrol. The oil industry.
Why would anyone argue against the evidence? To save their industry? I don’t know. Other than money.
In the south cars are sacred. Give up my mustang? “Out of my cold dead hands” again. Without change it’ll be dead hands for everybody.
What would be the price of changing all gas driven machines to another harmless source. Think back, would you give up those two old cars you traded in 15 years ago to save your family, mankind, that grandchild?
Think Americans can’t build you an electric car or such as good as Old Betsy? They are here now. Price to change what we drive? Turn in Betsy? What in the world will that cost?
It doesn’t matter.

TURNED TABLE (398)

About this time we’d found Melvin Steele down near the Dan River. They lived in the bottoms, and Mel’s dad, Mutt, was a plumber. Not only that he was an amateur boxer and taught Mel how to fight. This aided our arsenal.

Fighting was part of the deal and I’d done my share. Being the preacher’s kid my dad got every report. He’d “strap” me for fighting, I’d whip Tuddy or somebody else the next day.

One day E.T. called me into his “study”, a room upstairs in the parsonage where he’d prepare sermons. This memory is very vivid. The study was blue, an- other Sunday school classroom was pink, one was yellow.

My dad sat with his back to me facing out the window, toward the garden.

The conversation went like this, “Son, you continue to get into fights. I’ve strapped you, grounded you, lectured you, and done everything I know. Today we change course.”

Whereupon he removed his big leather belt and took off his shirt.

He turned and told me, “Now you hit me until I tell you to stop.” I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t hit my dad. He demanded, I cried. He demanded. I hit him.