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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).

Danny Morrison and the Carolina Panthers (80)

Danny Morrison,  current president of the Carolina Panthers professional football team, is from Burlington, N.C.   He graduated from Wofford College where he played varsity basketball for the Terriers .   He returned to Burlington’s Williams High School, his alma mata, as a math teacher and coach.   Soon he was recognized and hired by Dr. Alan White and Bill Morningstar of nearby Elon College (now Elon University).   He had three assignments at Elon: 1. Assistant to Athletics Director–Dr. White   2. Assistant Basketball Coach for Coach Morningstar and   3. Men’s Tennis Coach.  The latter position is where I learned to know him well and to join those impressed with him.

Highly successful in all three roles, Coach Morrison was soon offered and accepted the Athletics Director’s position at alma mata Wofford.   Coincidentally I was hired in similar (no basketball) roles at Elon.   Wofford’s program took off under Danny’s leadership. Remember Shawn Graves (who made Sports Illustrated) and Terrier football success?   And soon a marriage made in football heaven joined Danny with Mr. Jerry Richardson, owner of the Panther’s and among it’s most notable alumni.   In no small part this union brought the Panther’s training camp to the Wofford campus and formed a strong bond between these two men.

During his tenure at Wofford Danny “moonlighted” his way to a Doctorate degree.   The school promoted him to Business Manager of the school.   About this time there were suggestions he would soon be the next President of Wofford. However, a new opportunity arose and Danny became the Commissioner of the Southern Conference (the SoCon).

Still quite young , his managerial talents created an even better athletics organization in the SoCon and respect for his abilities grew.   Elon was the recipient of his aid as it was accepted for membership under his tenure.   What a boon for Elon, where people will still tell you of their admiration for and gratitude to Danny.   Yet, it wasn’t very long that a new call beckoned: Texas Christian University and their top athletics position.   Danny is quite self-effacing.   He will give credit to others and tell you how lucky he has been.   One might tend to agree when looking back at Danny’s first football game at TCU:   The Horned Frogs vs the Sooners of Oklahoma.   In Norman, no less.   Results: A remarkable win for TCU.   And just a beginning.   Danny and Peggy loved the whole scene and an unusual number of all TCU’s total teams began to blossom at a surprising rate.   Blessed?   Pure luck?   You tell me, but even now another call.   And it was from “home”.

Mr. Richardson needed a new person of trusted and proven ability to serve as President of the Panthers.   Enter one Daniel Morrison.
There was a time early on at Elon I was actually upset about Danny.   I mentioned his attractive looks and natural pleasant demeanor to his Mom.   Anne said “…he doesn’t even know he is good looking”.   One of my duties as an administrator at Elon was business dealings that were mostly with female Elon staff workers.   On my initial trip with Dr. White to meet these women the most frequent response went something like “HE is taking DANNY’S place”?

I once heard a football coach putting down another coach who had been successful at several different high schools:  “He has just been real lucky that in every town he moved to had a great running back there.”   Couldn’t help thinking “…yeah 5 or 6 times LUCKY, as I had watched that coach develop several ordinary kids in to great running backs in any town he moved to.

The Panthers have won 8 in a row.   Lots of different coaches, players, but the owner and many others remember the recent past.   The “luck of Danny Morrison”?   I surely don’t know, but sure is fun to watch.   And, who knows that the great philosopher POGO wasn’t right when he contended “…well, it did happen during my administration”

Country Strikes Again (79)

Just attended the 50th wedding anniversary party for friends, Faye and Earl “Country” Boykin.   Country Earl recalled asking Faye out for their first date.   Faye told him he’d have to meet her parents first.
Country was apprehensive.   But then remembered a kid who went to Earl’s church.   The church awarded “perfect attendance medals” if a youngster didn’t miss in  a year’s worth of Sunday School. This particular kid had nine years worth of pins, all attached vertically.   Country borrowed the pins and took off to Faye’s house.   He concluded, “…I think it sealed deal.”  And this from a friend who once advised me, “…the best thing about marriage is you don’t mind dying as much.”
Earl also commented on his higher education: “I went to college for three terms. Eisenhower’s, Kennedy’s, and Nixon’s.”

A Guide to this Website (73)

Here is a list of the articles on the blog.  They are in REVERSE ORDER.    Or,  the first  “previous post” is the latest article published or posted.   The numbers posted next to the titles show where each article appears.   As you scroll backwards (by punching “previous post”, or “older posts”) you can back up to desired, or earlier articles.  Got it?
94. RAIN CHECK

93. WIMBLEDON 2014 ( AN OBSERVATION)

92. LOOKING FOR LIZARDS

91. NORTH CAROLINA SPORTS

90. BLOG ADDITIONS

89. DUKE VS. CAROLINA

88. ON HALLUCINATIONS

87. HALL OF FAME BBQ

86. TOP HOT DOG

85. DISHONOR STUDENT

84. NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION-2014

83. DAVID AND GOLIATH BY MALCOLM GLADWELL

82. PLANTAR FASCIITIS

81. THE SPORT GENE BY DAVID EPSTEIN

80. DANNY MORRISON AND THE CAROLINA PANTHERS

79. “COUNTRY” STRIKES AGAIN

78. THE NATURE OF A COACH

77. GEEZER GOLF FOR HIGH HANDICAPPPERS

76. ROME BURNING

75. THE PIER

74. CHATEAU LOW RENT

73. THE GUIDE TO WWW.TOMPARHAM.WORDPRESS.COM

72. ATHLETIC AWARDS BANQUETS ( PART2)

71. GAME OVER

70. “MAXIMUM BOB’ OWENS

69. VIRGINIA BEACH PHOTOGRAPHER

68. TELEPHONES

67. THIRTEEN SIBLINGS

66. CPR

65. A NEW DAY

64. WHY TEACH AND/OR COACH?

63. MODERN VS CLASSIC TENNIS TEACHING

62. THE SPIRAL OF CORRUPTION

61. VOLLEY REMINDERS

60. TENNIS CAMPS

59. “I DIDN’T CHANGE ANYTHING”

58. BORG’S SPEECH

57. THE OLD COACH

56. MALE/FEMALE COLLEGE RATIOS

55. PULLING THE TRIGGER

54. THE ELIMINATION MONOLOGUES

53. COLLEGE ATHLETICS: PARADOXES AND PONDERINGS

52, COACHING THE GREEN JAYS

51. “BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS”

50. THOUGHTS FOR YOUNG COACHES

49. “TRUSTWORTHY TOOLS”

48. “FOR BAPTISTS ONLY” HYMN TEST ANSWERS

47. DOPING

46 PRESCIENT?
45. TECH TOM

44. PARHAM’S IDEAL BOOK LIST

43. THE “FOR BAPTISTS ONLY” HYMN TEST

42. HELPFUL HINTS FROM THE COACH

41. THE “EASTER BUNNY” TEST

40. JIM VERDIECK

39. THE COACH AND “THE CLOUD”

38. “MOVE!”–“CONCENTRATE!” WHAT DO MY PARENTS MEAN?

37. MOVING ALONG

36. CHECK YOUR GRIP AT THE “HIT-SPOT”

35. PRACTICE? YOU NEED A FRIEND

34. THE EVOLVING SERVICE GRIP

33. GROUNDSTROKES AND WOMEN

32. THE USGA AND GOLF

31. THESE RANG TRUE

30. THE JUKE BOX

29. DANNY AND THE FOREHAND CHIP

28. ON CRITICS

27. ON LOSING

26.  “HACKALOOSKI”

25.  THE TOUGHEST COACH

24.  ‘COACH OF THE YEAR”

23.  DOUBLES STRATEGY

22.  THORNQUIST AND SPORTSMANSHIP

21.  TEN GROUNDSTROKE FUNDAMENTALS

20.  COACHING GIRLS AND WOMEN

19.  KNOW THE COURT

18.  GRANDMOTHERS ADVICE

17.  MENTORS (JIM  LEIGHTON)

16.  COACHING “EMOTIONS”

15.  OBSERVATIONS ON PREPARING FOR COLLGE TENNIS

14.  SPEAKING AT ATHLETIC BANQUETS (PART ONE)

13.    PUTTING AND FREE THROWS

12.   MADE IN THE USA

11.   UNPUBLISHED LETTERS TO EDITORS:  1.  FOOTBALL AT THE CROSSROAD  2.  BEAUTIFYING EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA  3.  CHILDHOOD READING

10.  THE NEXT LEVEL

9.  “THE CIRCLE STINGER”

8.  BASIC TENNIS SINGLES STRATEGY

7.  SUMMER UPDATE

6.  CHAPTER 10–COACHING TEAM TENNIS

5.  CHAPTER ONE (A SAMPLE)

4.BURLINGTON TIMES NEWS ARTICLE

3.”OUR STATE ” MAGAZINE (COMMENTS)

2.   3RD EDITION OF “PLAY IS WHERE LIFE IS

1.  INTRODUCTION

College Athletics Paradoxes and Ponderings (53)

James Michener wrote Sports in America in 1976.   He observed, then, that the United States is the only country that charges higher education with entertaining the public (via athletic programs).   Surely education versus capitalism (or “the market”) presents a paradox for colleges and universities.   This conundrum has existed for more than a century and still we struggle with how to make it work reasonably.

Our local 2013 example of these problems was the highly publicized UNC-Chapel Hill bogus courses, used primarily for athletic eligibility.   Oddly, one of our national leaders for reform in athletics was UNC-CH former chancellor Dr. Bill Friday.  Dr. Friday, and the Knight Commission together had forewarned of the dangers of uncontrolled athletic programs.

What seems paradoxical, and sad, is that while we speak passionately of reform, we continue to yield to the dollar.

The freedom of the market seems very American.   I don’t doubt that Coach K is worth 9.7 million dollars annually for Duke University.   Quickly the Duke people would contest, “the university itself benefits by more than this amount plus the salary comes, in large portion, from outside the university coffers”.   While in this instance, that may be true, are others not forced the ante-up in a nuclear arms race-like spending war?   Associate head football coaches making 2 million?

Want to know where the less fortunate schools find such monies?   From the student body!   Are we not reaching a point of diminishing returns when college debt exceeds all national credit card debt?   When annual college/university costs exceed $70,000 per year, what sense does a “liberal arts” degree make?   Especially for those who have the current economic situation to guide their decisions.   There is a huge portion of the student body saying “Hey, I’m not interested in paying for athletic excess.   Community college a  more reasonable option? No sense in a liberal arts degree?   Forget unreasonable athletic schools, I need a job!”   Is uncontrolled athletic expense going to cost us liberal arts education and/or the valuable lessons of reasonable collegiate programs.

There are lots of ideas floating around:  Stipends for athletics?  AAU basketball influences?   High school “recruiting” that often eliminates any chance of good neighborhood teams winning…or even trying.

Ask any old-timer about stipends for athletics.   They’ll say, “No, they are getting a scholarship.” But how much is Johnny Football worth to Texas A&M?   How about Cam Newton and Auburn.   The stipend ($2000) was voted in by the NCAA.   Then voted out.   Would it not escalate to $20,000 soon and thus be affordable to the much discussed “Super 60” only?

One local decision scares me too: UNC-Wilmington just dropped 5 athletic programs.   They seemed to be 5 of their most successful programs, albeit “non-revenue” sports.   Often I am asked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) to write support letters to schools who are dropping collegiate tennis programs, or are about to.

What about proximity in college athletics?   Syracuse in the Atlantic Coast Conference?   Pittsburgh?   What happens to the “Big 4” rivalries?   Elon, my former employer, has opted for the Colonial Conference over the Southern Conference. Travel looks to me to be much more.   Who suffers from distance?   Those who can’t afford to fly, ie: the women and the “non-revenue” programs.   What happens to study time, eaten up by travel time?   Ask Campbell University’s  coaches, who just “came in from the cold!”   They were in a league with teams in 11 different states!   How is that a reasonable conference?   Maybe it’s just me, but I loved the “southerness” of the Southern Conference.   No need to fly anywhere. Believe me, with no TV revenue, and travel out the wazoo, these programs and people take big blows.

Higher education in the future needs some stout leaders.   Bob Dylan says, “Money doesn’t talk. It swears.”   Presidents and Chancellors and Athletic Directors can’t say “We didn’t know”,  anymore.   If they don’t know they are just as culpable.   It’s that big, and threatens the whole ball of wax.  There is a lot of fat in higher education.   From athletics, to faculty job loads, to sabbaticals, to minimal output by tenured  faculty, to excessive administrative  positions,  to phony academic courses and grades..

P.S.     On weather!    I am old enough to remember when college spring schedules ended at the end of May.    Now many schools end in mid April with conference playoffs coming  as early as the first or second weekend of the month.  Play was in April  and May with practice starting in March.   Now play is often in February and March, with practice in January.   March 1 now is about midseason.   This  spring in  North  Carolina there were very few contests played in warm, spring weather.

I coached 40 years in four different conferences:  Carolinas Conference, South Atlantic Conference,  Big South Conference, and  the Southern Conference.   Rarely did any of these coaches go north to schedule.   Almost  everyone’s schedule featured fine schools from the north coming south on “spring break”.   In the words of the old  Southern comedian, Dave Gardner, “…you ain’t never heard of anyone retiring to the north, have you?”

Baseball in Philadelphia in February or March?   New York,  Boston?   Teams from these areas would tell us “…this trip is the first time we have been  on a field.  Or outdoors.

Consider a couple of other points:  1. Certain sports played in extremely cold weather can cause bad injuries.   Pitchers and tennis players are examples.  2. “Spring Sports” teams aside,  travel in northern areas are much more apt to be more dangerous for all teams.   Ask veteran  basketball coaches  about late nights and bad weather in the dark.  Once you get above about Richmond, Va., it changes.   Forty years of  watching weather have proven that to me.

3. Vans, buses, and planes with loads of college kids are dangerous enough.  Add severe weather often experienced due north, to inexperienced, or young, or ambitious coaches and players, and a recipe for tragedy looms.