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).


Born male, in 1940 in North Carolina with the “love of sports” gene, son of a a Baptist minister who graduated from “old Wake Forest” ,  I was a Demon Deacon.

“WE” beat  Everett Case and the dominant Wolfpack twice by one point (71-70 and 51-50),  with my Dad and I listening to Ray Reeves on the Atwater Kent radio.  No TV yet.  Dickie Hemric, Lowell “Lefty”Davis, Coach Murray Greason, with Bones as assistant.

Bad news, good news from Raleigh’s News and Disturber:  1. BAD–The N&O has forgotten that WFU is part of the “big four”.  Coverage, current and historical, neglects Winston Salem as part of the state.   2.  GOOD:  Larry Silverberg, a professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering was published today (March 3, 2018) with an article entitled MATH REVEALS THE PERFECT FREE THROW.

Malcolm Gladwell concluded Michael Jordan missed baseball “clunkering” and thus couldn’t hit at the major league level.*  Having watched the “ball bounce”  a lot of times, I was pleased with Professor Silverberg’s conclusions.  Some I wrote about on this blog in 2011.  Check blog 13 on GOLF PUTTING AND FREE SHOW SHOOTING.https://littlegreenbookoftennis.com/?s=free+throws

What a week in Atlantic Coast Conference.  Duke vs Carolina tonight  after FSU over Duke, Miami over Carolina, and Georgia Tech over State in three of the most exciting games of the year.  The “new ACC guys” upped the ante this week.

Want to know who is gonna win the final four.?   The ones who make the free throws at the end.   Clunk.

My  eleven year old grandson plays his season finale today for the BOULDER BUFFALOES.  His dad is a sub coach.  The regular coach has three young kids.  One, almost always wears his spiderman suit.  Sometimes to bed,  Coach says.  In a community center with six courts he runs the “side game”.   These are games of little brothers and sisters with their own rules and games.  This kid RUNS the side game.   Our last trip to Boulder included the eleven year old brother’s b-ball game.   Lennox is our other grandson.  He’d just turned two, but was sick.  When our family, en mass, walked in the gym, Spiderman asked abruptly,  “Where’s Lennox?”  My Son commented,  “Lennox can hang.  Spiderman likes him as backup.”   Made me proud.

*CLUNKERING”:  Gladwell say Michael missed those years baseball people put in watching the nuances of the game, or clunkering. (Spin on the ball, pitcher’s mannerisms and “tells”, etc.).         “Shop time, baby!”—Coach Mickey Brown.





“Ninety percent of the time I got in real trouble, my Uncle Si was involved.”)  Jase Robertson of DUCK DYNASTY.

Went to dinner with Margaret’s friend last week.  Nicest place in our neighborhood.   The friend  asked about my non-wine meal?  I have explained this to others, several times.  And wrote a blog article on the same topic (CHATEAU LOW RENT- blog 74).  See https://littlegreenbookoftennis.com/2013/07/26/chateau-low-rent/.

We were all about the same age, and Margaret reminded us of “brown bagging” in the South.  And on to other funny drinking tales.   Today’s  newspaper has a feature on a new bar in Durham highlighting AX THROWING AND BEER DRINKING.  I immediately thought of Pete Craig (“…damn- forty five years ago Pete and I would have been there for opening night, and opening night closing!”)

I began to think of a host of friends.  “Country” Boykin was either head of the class, or it didn’t take long to call the roll.  He concluded “,,,a friend would come get you out of jail, but a true friend would be in the cell with you, saying what a great time that was.”)

Being a minister’s son cramped my earlier childhood, but even at age four I found Billy Fulton who could get me, but more often Tuddy Webster, in deep doo.  And throughout my life, I have loved the funny ones.  Bruno and Dude Brown of teen age.  Creative!   College roommate,  John Eskew, highly qualified, and combined with Dick Knox–lethal.  Jack Boyd was a new level.

Even graduate school.  Took me a semester to find Dick Blackmon.  NCAA wrestling runner-up, who thought PBR and fighting were both blessings.   Full time employment slows most down.  Joe Robinson and living with a liquor salesman did not compute with “slow down”.

Marriage you say?  Newly wed at OLDE TOWNE apartments even showed me trouble, like kudzu, was everywhere.  Gerald “Scope” Wallace and Bob Johnson both in the same apartment  development?  What are the odds.  While most of my other friends were truly afraid of these two,  they were too  much fun.  Rest in peace, you two.

I had these final thoughts:

  1.  When guns were involved, I left.
  2. .  When COUNTY quit flying lessons, I was happy.
  3.  I somehow realized riding with a drunk was as bad as me driving drunk.
  4. When Pete moved in with “Mad Dog” McCotter and Watson Hale,  I was overmatched.
  5. Drinking takes a lot of time, and it is hard work if you do it right.
  6. Moderation never “set in” for me.

Again–Duck Dynasty:  “It is fun if everybody lives!” (Uncle Si).












1._____”If God is on our side, He’ll stop the next war.


2._____”And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill.


3._____”All right—where do you want this killing done?”


4._____”Is your money that good? Will it buy forgiveness? Do you think that it could?


5._____”Things are breaking up out there, high water everywhere.


6._____”Let’s disconnect the cables overturn the tables. This place just don’t make         sense to me no more. Can you tell me what we are waiting for, Senor?”


7_____”May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift.”


8_____”But you and I have been through that, and this is not our fate so let us not talk falsely the hour is getting late.”


9_____”I gaze into the doorway of temptations angry flames. And every time I pass that way I always hear my name.”


  1. ___”Happiness is just a state of mind. Anytime you wish you can cross the state line.”

11_____”Before the sky there are no fences facing”


12_____”Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is”


13_____”Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now”


14_____” strike another match, go start anew.”


15____”You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”


16____”For he gets hurt will be he who has stalled”


17___”But to live outside the law, you must be honest”


18____”And I’ll tell it, and think it, and speak it and breathe it”




19_____”But it’s not that way, I wasn’t born to loose you.”


20_____”Kick your shoes off, do not fear, bring that bottle over here.”


21____”I’d just be curious to know if you can see yourself as clear as someone who has had you on his mind”


22_____”Goodbye is too good a word girl”


23_____”So many roads, so much at steak, so many dead ends, sometimes I wonder what it’s going to take to find dignity”


24______”It’s only other peoples games you got to dodge”


25____”Just remember when you are out there trying to heal the sick, that you must first forgive them.”


26_____”You’d know what a drag it is to see you.


27_____”You went to the finest school all right Miss Lonely. But you only used to get juiced in it”


28_____”I got sidetracked in El Paso, stopped to get myself a map, went the wrong way into Juarez with Juanita on my lap. Then I went to sleep in Shreveport, woke up in Abilene wondering why the hell I’m wanted at some town halfway between.”


29____”Bury the rag deep in your face, for now is the time for your tears”


30_____”That long black cloud is coming down. “












  1. Wanted Man


  1. My Back Pages


  1. Masters of War


  1. Dignity


  1. I Want You


  1. License To Kill


  1. Waiting for you


  1. Forever Young


  1. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door


  1. Subterranean Homesick Blues


  1. Momma You Been On My Mind


  1. With God On Our Side


  1. Absolutely Sweet Marie


  1. Don’t Think Twice


  1. Like A Rolling Stone


  1. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight


  1. High Water


  1. Open the Door, Homer


  1. Senor


  1. Positively Fourth Street


  1. All Along The Watchtower


  1. It’s All Right Ma


  1. Hattie Carol


  1. The Times They Are A Changin’


  1. Mr. Tambourine Man


  1. Highway 61


*. Every Grain of Sand


**. It’s all Over Now Baby Blue


***. Hard Rain


****. Ballad of A Thin Man