“Three miles north of purgatory — one step from the great beyond/I prayed to the cross and I kissed the girls and I crossed the Rubicon.”
“Three miles north of purgatory — one step from the great beyond/I prayed to the cross and I kissed the girls and I crossed the Rubicon.”
When I really wanted to learn about coaching tennis I began to read a lot of tennis books, and I decided that if I could get one point for my team it was worth reading the book. There are all kinds of ways to learn. Coach Leighton used to say there are vast levels of play. My arena was not Wimbledon or Division 1 but small college tennis (NAIA, Division 2). My first yers in the NAIA I was introduced to players and coaches from all over the world. The Texas and Oklahoma guys seemed to be the closest to us (North Carolinians).
On one of the first days I watched the tournament a big Texas kid made a comment to himself about an errant shot. “Aw birdshit”. I laughed. One kid receiving serve looked long and hard at the mark, looked at his opponent waved him on saying “naw- keep ‘em coming”. Another perplexed Okie making a line call examined the mark closely and said “I’m calling that good but keep it in mind and after the match is over let me know whether it was in or out. i want to know”. Certainly a unique level.
The French Open is just around the corner. The tennis channel allows viewing high level matches on any surface all week long.I think I like the French because you can see the game within the game.
Many college baseball players used to elect my beginning tennis class. One player said “I love it. You get to hit all you want to’.
I have watched a lot of tennis in this year of world wide health concern. After 40 years of college coaching I think I can see things that could be improved even among the pros. Ten years ago I predicted the dropshot would more and more exhibit its’ “shattering effect” even on the pro game. Maybe Djokovic confirmed this prediction most impressively. Charlie Owens shattered multitudes in our area with this tactic. Not long ago another time honored skill, the top spin lob was about to become more readily used. I think you’re seeing that now. Watch and see if I’m right. My prediction for 2021 and later comes from the college game. “Before long the best top level women’s doubles players will come from women who have played American college doubles.
One all International college team dominated tennis for years. If you check the scores of their matches very often the final team score would be 4-1. Their coach explained “they have never played doubles, they don’t know how to play doubles, and they don’t want to play doubles. They would just give the doubles point away if I would let them.” In 1965 I was given the job of coaching small college tennis. I did well because so many of the coaches had never been involved in sports and were mainly librarians, financial officers or such.
That is not the case today. There are now women teams. Both women and men now have excellent coaches and assistants. Many of whom are former fine level college players or even professionals.
Nobody gives the doubles point away now.
Impressively the tennis channel and NCAA have done a masterful job of filming the NCAA National Championships. Watching the women play I’m more and more impressed with their improving abilities, particularly in doubles. With great coaching and avid concentration on the all important doubles point women in this arena not only care more about doubles, they practice those unique doubles skills with intense effort. You will never see in any match a player that tries harder than a college player trying to win their match for their team.Thus my 2021 prediction.
Watching the college tournament this year I could see the women utilizing new unique formations and tactics that did not exist when I was coaching. The new coaches are making the players better and better. Teammates will not allow anything different. Enthusiasm is glorious, unmatched at any level.
We haven’t had many house guests during Covid. Our firsts lately, Brothers Bill and Wootie Steed, came for a visit this week. As we talked, a local coastal camp for kids was mentioned, CampSeagull. Wootie suddenly blurted out: “…I went to that camp.!” Slowly he shared a largely undisturbed memory of a 12 year old . “What I remember most is my widowed Mom enrolled me for a whole summer month! Oh. And they wouldn’t let me play golf. Silence.
You could see smokey memories creeping back. His face changed. “They distributed the mail daily. I went to mail-call every day. I only got one postcard . It was signed by my mom and 18 year old sister, and it was postmarked BERMUDA.”
Women can be crafty.
And tough. For years some old basketball players gathered annually at teammate Rocky Covington’s Myrtle Beach condo. The late Larry Schwab never missed. We told the same stories every year. A 6ft. 240lb. grizzled Navy vet, Larry always told about going back home hungover, only to find out his wife had given his dog away. He could always shed a tear with the last lines: “What kind of wife gives her husband’s dog away? What kind of man stays married to such a woman?”
Sim·u·la·tion | ˌsimyəˈlāSH(ə)n
imitation of a situation or process
• the action of pretending; deception: clever simulation that’s good enough to trick you.
Think virtual reality, or batting practice, driving range, CPR.
Living on the Atlantic Coast is great … save hurricanes, drunks, and rip tides. Climate warming causes changes that are more volatile here. Recently the numbers of drownings has caused alarm. Particularly rip tides.
At 80 years my surfing days are gone. Offspring and grandchildren are a different story.
We have done a great job locally. More awareness, warning, general education, as to how to avoid this lethal reality.
The old coach/granddaddy syndrome caused me to think about a way to practice how to deal with the strong currents. And while I watched tapes and read and listened, I wondered. Could you not create a situation that trained people in the water. Every one down here knows the fear, even panic reaction, that too often takes over.
Knowing I didn’t have all the facts I went to the ‘net. And found this:
The days sure have become very similar. There is a moment that is apparent , quite easy to recognize. Actually it’s symptoms are pre-virus. My wife starts throwing things at me.
That is the day we ride. Now. No restaurants, movies, friends over, flights, shopping. But you can drive. Where matters not.
Yesterday was it. Early rise and off to anywhere. Then “..,let’s go ride the ferry to Oriental.” (NC). Agreement is non-negotiable.
Ordinarily we read gas prices aloud. Political signs were the big item this time. Most of these are about the same size and red, white and blue. Imagine.
Oriental had a large number with both parties represented. Next one to be counted looked similarly flag like. As it became readable we both laughed out loud:
Want to know about the real “Fake News”?
Watch THE SOCIAL DILEMMA. New on Netflix.
Trump to end virus? He can’t stop Robocalls.
I watched both conventions. The Republican show left several impressions:
At least Trump doesn’t stutter, or his speech would have lasted 5 hours.
STRATEGY: GAME PLAN. HOW TO WIN.
TACTICS: THE TOOLS USED TO ACHIEVE YOUR STRATEGY
In 2008 Barack Obama’s success was credited, in no small part, to the campaign’s use of “social media.”
2020 has seen the fact emerge that there is a camera everywhere. Personal phones to professionals. The amount of footage is staggering. The old saying of “don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to see in the newspaper” now includes actions.
There is no shortage of such in the political arena. The president and cronies have put it out there for everyone.
Visual evidence daily. The crap is out of the bull.
Brian Stetler’s book, HOAX, DONALD TRUMP, FOX NEWS, AND THE DANGEROUS DISTORTION OF TRUTH records the staggering times Trump, et. al. use the word, hoax.
The most damning use was in regard, early on, to the virus. Combine the film of all the mistakes and oversights, and then contend that his actions prevented American deaths is chilling. Do not let him contend that his actions did not cause the large percentage of the soon to be 200,000 American deaths between the “hoax ” rants, and the flip-flop “oops”, or “nevermind!”
‘Want a real hoax? “W” Bush and gang began this hoax with a war, or two. Wrote them off the books. Lost control of the economy and led America from a budget surplus to the trillions we now have no idea to repay. The kicker is that Obama did the heavy lifting to begin to turn it all. Here is a football comparison. When coaches take over a 0-10 program they are given about four years. “W” left us 2-8, 1-9, 0-10. In our business if you see a JET-JOB (a team goes from 1-9 to 7-3 in one year) somebody is probably cheating. The Obama Administration did it right and the foundation for steady improvement was handed to Trump. His reaction? Within literally weeks he started the “I the greatest ever”” daily.
News flash for non-coaches: If you are handed a 7/3 team, win the first three and lose the next seven—–? (NFL–NOT FOR LONG).
GOP-YOU GOTTA COUNT THOSE LOSSES. NO EXCUSES. ADIOS. 2018 numbers don’t matter. 200,000 is a real number. Unemployment today, GNP- today, etc.
Tons of video. Books about all the lies (one cites more than 3000 and it was published before the virus), blood, money and treasure, esteem.
Hard to cover it all. Can’t begin to begin to address the “I AM THE BLACK MESSIAH” hoax. Wow.
It is the Democrat’s campaign’s task to use it effectively. Don’t let them “p” on your leg and tell you its raining”.
The most significant lesson a tennis teacher can impart is to have his
pupils “watch the ball” properly. Reams have been written on how to
do this and what benefits will accrue. What then, are the other most
important fundamental ideas in tennis ground stroke instruction and
when do these ideas incorporate themselves?Tennis teachers adopt “nutshell” approaches to express their major
concerns and ideas. Some ideas suit some teachers and pupils more
effectively than others. Gallway’s Inner Tennis is essentially a method book
on “watching the ball” and watching yourself. Welby Van Horn’s major ideas
for beginners are balance, grips, strokes, and strategy. Dennis Van Der
Meer has used understanding the bounce of the ball as a core thought. Jim
Leighton, author of Inside Tennis, emphasized the “gun barrel approach”
and understanding the hitting zone as central ideas. All are bona fide
timesavers in tennis instruction, as are many other valid thoughts.
The following is a brief list, with comments, on the major ideas a tennis
instructor should convey to pupils. Certainly there are other important
ideas, and the level of the player must be considered, but let’s focus on
these major objectives.
• Watch the ball. Many great players have developed themselves with
little or no instruction simply by following this suggestion. Trust your
• Establish a target. Someone defined tennis as the ability to “hit a
moving target while under stress.” You must “watch the ball” but you
must also have a mental target of where your shot is to go. This is
concentration in tennis. “Look at the ball; where does it go” is an
appropriate oversimplification for advising players. Also, which of
these ideas (ball or target) comes first is a chicken or the egg
argument of some relevance.
• Tracking the ball to the “hit spot.” This is basically movement in
the game. Proper strokes are dictated by proper position. Once the
ball is out of the hit zone even great players have trouble. (Lousy
hit spots dictate lousy strokes!) Once the player establishes where his
shot will be (forehand or backhand) his task becomes tracking that
ball to the appropriate “hit spot.” The human mechanisms: use your
eyes to track the ball and your brain to relay the message to your feet
and legs. This makes movement, i.e., speed, quickness,
and conditioning, essential.
• Adjusting to the descending ball. Certainly the ability to hit in the
rise is important, as is learning to handle shoulder-high balls, but
fundamental hit spots for beginners should be thigh-to-waist high,
and the ball should be descending. Not only is this area the power
zone, but also it encourages low-to-high strokes. The player must
use movement to place himself so the opponent’s shot descends
into his appropriate “hit spot.” Keeping the descending ball in the
perfect “hit spot” makes his strokes much more simple and is underestimated in its ability to eliminate frustration from the
• Utilize proper grips. Proper grip is essential from the outset. There
are a variety of proper grips but certainly traditional information
(eastern forehand, proper backhand, etc.) should be part of the
teacher’s basic craft.
• Get your racquet back properly. This must be one of the tennis
teacher’s most often repeated phrases. Early preparation of the
racquet is one of the real clues in tennis. Jack Barnaby in Racquet
Work said these “nutshells”: prepare your racquet, prepare yourself,
and watch the ball. Certainly there is an interrelationship between
early racquet preparation and the speed and effectiveness of
• Firm wrists in the hit zones. The ability to keep the wrists firm
through the ground stroke hit zones can be likened to the need for a
golfer keeping his lead arm straight. Without firm wrists all kinds of
wrinkles can mess up fundamental shots. Often, poor position on the
ball is the reason for faulty wrist movements. Perhaps Mr. Leighton’s
Inside Tennis has the best statement on “pressed wrists” and the “gun
barrel approach” to the hitting zone.
• Proper finish, or follow through. After the wrists have gone
through the hit zone, the hips and shoulders should turn farther, and
the racquet should be lifted to a firm, high ending. The teacher can
emphasize this fundamental by requiring pupils to “freeze” at the end
of their shots to self-diagnose their shots.
• Return to ready. Beginning players should understand that every
ground stroke varies and to cope with the upcoming variation they
must finish the current shot and regroup their concentration and
head for the best defensive position they can ascertain, generally
near the middle of the baseline. Here again, the player is dependent
on his legs for movement, and he must understand that this is the
point at which he must work hardest in tennis.
• Recycle the process. The player now must be ready to repeat the
above outlined fundamental on either side, for as many times as
needed to win the point. Each shot is similar to, but independent of,
the other. The player must be aware that consistency in shot
production is the major strategy in tennis. The player must also be
committed to repeating the process without error for as many times
as necessary to win the point.