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Positive Tennis

Positive Tennis

I have seen over the years, either through my own play or through players I have coached, many matches lost due to negative mental attitudes during the match. When I was first starting out as a junior I know I lost some matches purely due to negative thoughts. It was only after I came to realize that part of playing tennis is the mere fact you are going to lose points, games, sets and even matches- because that’s the nature of the beast- and it is okay.

We all want to win, but when winning becomes the only enjoyment of the game then it may be time to quit because you are not going to win all the time. For me, the fun of tennis is being on the court in the heat of the battle. I’ve won a lot of matches, but I have lost a bunch too and it was only after I learned that everyone misses shots did I enjoy the sport to the fullest.

tennis forehand

Do not let a lost point or a miss on an easy ball start you down a path of negativity that will only increase your errors, because you are remembering points that are over and you can do nothing about them, rather than the points you can control-the next ones. Opponents are not blind, if you start getting angry and hanging your head you are just fuelling the opponent’s confidence and depleting your own, a simple recipe for losing quickly.

When playing in a tournament I am a firm believer in not knowing my opponent until the day of the match. I’ve seen too many players check out the draw to see they are playing a seeded player and then spend the next week before the match getting that losing feeling. Instead, spend that week focusing on your strong points building a confidence; you have an excellent chance to succeed no matter who the opponent is going to be.

tennis backhand

There is no shame in losing to a superior player; there is no fun in losing because you have mentally beaten yourself up before or during the match. Stay positive all the time during matches, do not hurry in between points and breathe, play to your strengths and enjoy the battle of shot making and wills. If you are winning do not change and try to hurry the end, stay on an even keel. If you are losing a tight match you can play the same strategy because the difference is probably only a few more unforced errors on your part, concentrate harder on less errors. If the match is lopsided against you change your strategy to something different.

Stay positive and you’ll have more fun and win more matches.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Grips and String

  • Grips and String

Here are a few facts about grips and string that will help you play better tennis.

The type of grip you use is obviously up to you, there are many different ones out there. I personally like the synthetic cushion grips that are flooding the market. When mine start to wear out I just go to Wal-Mart and buy the Wilson Cushion Pro, it’s inexpensive ( around- $4.00 ) and extremely comfortable. Grips are very easy to put on, just follow the directions.

The grip size is very important to your play. To find out your correct grip size, take a ruler and spread the palm of your playing hand. Measure from the middle of your second life-line in the middle of the palm to the end of your ring finger, that measurement is the grip size your racquet should show. Racquets generally range from four to five inches in grip size and is displayed either on the butt of the racquet or the side. If you see ¼, that means 4 and a ¼, if you see 3/8, that means 4 and 3/8, and so on. Comfort is all important- you can deviate from your actual grip size by an eighth of an inch either way. If your hand measures a 4 and a ½, your comfort grip range is from a 4 and 3/8 to a 4 and 5/8, whichever one of those three sizes feels the best is fine to play with. Do not play outside of your range; if you do there will be gaps in space between your hand and the racquet causing the racquet to turn in your hand at contact of the ball.

There are so many different strings on the market that it can become very confusing. For the average player here are my recommendations. Find a medium priced 16 gauge synthetic string. String gauge, or thickness, runs from 15 up to 19 gauge with the lower gauge being the thicker string. If you play with a 15 gauge string the durability is greater but the playability is less. In other words, your strings will not snap as quickly but the feel of your shots will be less. The thinner the string the more spin you will be able to put on your shots. I find that for the average player the 16 gauge is durable enough and offers the thinness to play the different spins.

There is another way to get both durability and playability when having your racquet strung. Consider asking for 15 gauge strings used for your cross strings and a thinner gauge used for your main strings. When you put spin on the ball the only strings affecting the shot are the main strings. Thin strings snap more easily because the strings move in your racquet causing friction, so, it stands to reason that thinner strings have less mass and will break faster. If the cross strings are thick and the playing main strings are thinner you will maintain the playability and have half your strings with more mass resulting in less breakage. If your stringer uses large reels of strings the price should remain the same, but if the stringer uses individual packages of string and has to open two- the price could go up.

Racquets will have the recommended tension range on the side of the shaft. If a racquet’s range, for example, is 55 to 65 pounds stay within the range. If you go above the range you run the risk of cracking the frame due to stress. If you are unsure of what your tension should be for your type of play you can never go wrong by staying in the middle. The simple rule is for more power go for a lower tension-for more control go for a higher tension. The lower tension creates more flex in the looser strings generating power. The higher tension means the strings are tighter and will not bend as much at contact giving your shots more control.

Keep an eye on your grip, strings and tension for better tennis performance.

My new tennis teaching tool for you will be launced this week. “Complete Tennis Mastery” app will have 117 tips and lessons right on your phone to take to the courts.

Good Luck- Have Fun!!

Use Your Senses

Use Your Senses

Playing better tennis depends an awful lot upon using our physical senses. As you know our five senses consist of smell, taste, sight, hearing and touch; use of our natural gifts will lead to improved play.

You can eliminate the first two of the above smell and taste. The only way they might be involved are in extremely bad situations- first, taste would only occur if your opponent smashed it down your throat and second, if you are playing so badly that you happen to really stink that day could bring in the sense of smell.

The other three senses definitely have major roles in your game.

tennis forehand

Sight is fairly self explanatory- tennis is a game primarily of movement and sight. How many times have you heard to keep your eye on the ball? This is the basic premise when discussing the sense of sight in tennis, but there are many other factors that include sight. Watch the opponent’s racquet before contact. If the swing is low to high expect topspin coming toward you or if the swing is high to low expect to see backspin. Topspin will cause a higher bounce while backspin will bounce lower. While the oncoming ball is in flight it is possible to see the amount of spin on the ball. If the ball has a great amount of rotation on it you will be able to prepare for a more exaggerated bounce. Also, look for the amount of pace and arc of the approaching ball to help you know the type of response needed with your preparation and shot.

tennis volley

Hearing comes into play when the opponent is hitting the shot. The sound of the ball coming off the racquet gives you a lot of information. First, the hardness of the hit tells you of the oncoming speed and will have you prepare for a full backswing or tell you to shorten the backswing to adjust for the power. If you hear a brushing sound during the opponent’s hit expect more spin. Lastly, if you hear the opponent hit the ball off the frame of the racquet you will probably get an erratic bounce, so beware. If you are playing a point and are at the service line or closer to the net I would advise not to let the ball bounce when you hear that frame shot.

If you don’t think sound is not important, then why did the players fight to have the airport’s take off and landing traffic changed at Laguardia and JFK outside of the US Open? -To hear the ball at contact!

Touch comes into tennis the more your ability improves. Touch and feel are basically the same thing in our discussion here. If you are recently new to tennis I urge you to carry your racquet around as much as possible so that your comfort level in the feel of different grips becomes natural to you as soon as possible.

The feel in hitting different spins and touch shots comes with ability. You will know when you have reached an upper level in the game when you can sit in your living room and mentally feel hitting your forehands, backhands and other strokes.

So, come to your senses for better tennis.

Good Luck-Have Fun!

Wellness Care Site

Wellness Care Site

Online Tennis Training is proud to offer it’s readers a new site for those of you interested in improving your over all general health, improving eating habits, creating better fitness routines and working to attain a new healthy and happy lifestyle.

My daughter, Courtney Longua, has created Bay Area Core Wellness for the sole purpose to help people reach the goals stated above. She is passionate about her new endeavor.

Please click the banner link on my site of Bay Area Core Wellness to get all the information and see Courtney’s impressive credentials that will assist you to attain that new healthy, happy and fun lifestyle we all are striving to reach.

More tennis lesson articles will be posted soon.

Good Luck-Have Fun!! Bill Longua

Bad Calls

Bad Calls

What should you do when facing an opponent who tends to make questionable line calls? Here are some personal experiences of mine, some will be examples of how not to handle it but some are more mature. Tennis is on the honor system and is one of the reasons it’s such a great game.

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Do not hit anybody, you can get arrested.

Unless you are in some important tournament players must make their own line calls, you have to make up your mind how important the match is to you to decide to what degree your action should be if faced with bad calls. Tournaments or team matches are obviously more important than a pick-up match.

tennis forehand

I have played in countless matches and if it’s team or tournament they are important to me, but 99% of the players are honest. You have to start with that premise. If bad calls start to happen, here’s what to do. First decide if the player is actually cheating or just has bad eye sight. There is a difference even if the result is the same. In either case you begin politely and never on the first bad call, in fact I start on the third. We have all made bad calls in our lives by mistake, it’s the nature of the beast, so you have give the benefit of the doubt. Once you’ve reached the third one call the opponent up to the net and politely mention that you have noticed some calls that you thought were incorrect, most times that is sufficient. If you are in a tournament and it continues stop play and ask for a linesman. Do not get rattled because that is exactly what the opponent is trying to get accomplished. Bad calls will not be necessary anymore if you are mentally out of it. Juniors should call for a linesman in a tournament or their coach if playing for a club, high school or college team.

The tricky part comes when playing a league doubles match. You can try to ask for a linesman but there is probably not one around. After the first net encounter I appeal to the opposing partner’s heart of fair play and ask him to overrule the call. He may not overrule that call but I have found he will start to so as not to be lumped in as a cheater also. If bad calls are being made and the partners are doing nothing about it they are just as guilty and you can remind him or her of that fact.

Since I’m not Freud I not going to get into why some people purposely make bad calls, but I will say there are good and bad cheaters. Bad cheaters make bad calls anytime and rarely win because some action has been taken. Good cheaters make bad calls only when it counts and sometimes may win. A good cheater never makes a bad call at one all in games and fifteen all, they make it at four all in games and deuce.

Okay, enough about bad calls, I feel a bit awkward even writing about it but it has popped in the search words I see. What makes tennis so great is the heat of the battle while knowing the opponent is working just as hard as you and trying to be just as fair.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Tennis Match Calm

Tennis Match Calm

 

I always found it easier to play tournament matches than team for the simple fact that if I lost a tournament match it only affected me, but if I lost a team match I thought I was letting my team members down. If you have the same feeling-forget it-all true competitors know that no one is trying to lose, just the opposite, so that nervous feeling should exist for you anymore-done.

Another fact that will help you is to know that a bit of nervousness is a good thing. It will increase your adrenalin for faster response time when playing. If the adrenalin builds up too much remember to take long deep breaths in between points to help you to calm down.

The easiest way to forget about the nerves is to try to remove the importance of the match from your mind. When playing points try to concentrate on your stroke production, such as, preparation, eye on the ball, foot work and follow through. You will be surprised of how removing your mind from the match and just concentrating on strokes will lose the nerves and cut down unforced errors.

tennis forehand

Another area to concentrate on is your foot work in between your shots. Think about keeping your feet moving which will naturally have you better prepared for the next oncoming shot.

When serving, please take your time, it is the only time during a point that you have complete control. Take some deep breaths, bounce the ball a few times and relax. The point cannot start without you. When receiving, have a plan in mind for your return, when there is a plan there is no need to be nervous.

tennis serve

Lastly, while you must keep the score in mind do not get down when a point is lost. You are going to lose a lot of them; bad vibes will only bring you down and create a feeling of panic-no need-it’s only one point.

So as you can see, to play a quality match there is way too much to concentrate on than nerves.

Learn all the strokes from my book “Winning Tennis Strokes”-click up top, or go to my home page for links to my $4.99 tennis app “Complete Tennis Mastery” to have 117 lessons right with you on your phone at the courts.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Eye-Power-Motion

 Eye-Power-Motion

Every sport has a golden rule that should never be broken. I would not hesitate to say that sports involving a ball the golden rule is keep your eye on the ball. Tennis will continue in the same tradition, “Keep your eye on the ball.”

Perfect form will all be for naught if you keep fanning yourself by missing the ball, or hitting a shot off the frame of the racquet. Keeping your eye on the ball will insure a good connection with racquet and ball, therefore, a firm shot.

When should you start watching the ball? The answer is simply as soon as possible. Players should try to watch the ball come off the opponent’s racquet, this will allow for the quickest reaction toward your next shot. Of course, try to watch the ball make contact with the ball during your own shot.

tennis forehand

Motion

Motion can both help and hinder your tennis game. Beginners and intermediates often have trouble with motion.

When waiting to play your next shot, movement is needed to help you react toward the shot. Stay loose, bounce lightly on the balls of your feet, so that your opponent won’t send a shot whizzing by while you’re standing flat footed and cannot react soon enough. Quick movement toward the ball is also necessary so there is more time for stroke preparation at the time of contact. This is the time when lack of motion will be a great asset. When preparing for a stroke, try to remember to move only what is necessary. It stands to reason, the more motions going on when preparing and stroking the ball, the more chances for error.

tennis forehand

Power

There are two kinds of power in tennis, uncontrolled and controlled. Uncontrolled power occurs when the player swings the arm too hard when attempting a shot. The shot may be fast, but the odds are not very high that the ball will land where you want, probably outside the confines of the court. Controlled power is shifting part of your weight into the stroke while not swinging the arm quite as hard. The weight shift will generate the same amount of power and still keep control on the ball.

Power is also created by the head speed of the racquet at the point of contact. Head speed is not created by a fast swing, but by speeding up a firm wrist snap through the contact point.

tennis follow through

Learn all the strokes, strategies and more from my app Complete Tennis Mastery, go to the links on my home page.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Easy Tennis Cures

Easy Tennis Cures

Last article was one of few words and many pictures, this one is all words because I’m going to give you some incorrect short cuts to keep a point going when in some particular difficult situations and I obviously do not have pictures of bad strokes. Let’s go over some common problems that pop up on us now and then. These cures are not text book correct, but you will stay in the point longer.

We have all found ourselves in the middle of a forehand stroke and realize we are too close to the ball. Think about it, where does your shot generally end up? I’ll tell you, it generally goes long. When the ball is too close to the body you must pull your arm in so the head of the racquet can make contact with the ball. That movement causes the face of the racquet to open, or face up, and will result in an out ball. If you find yourself at the start of your forward motion on the swing noticing that the ball is to close you must close your hand to help straighten the racquet face, then, take some pace out of the stroke because all you want to do is keep the ball in and stay in the point. I admit you must think quickly, but you will stay in the point.

What do you do when at the net and a ball is blasted straight at? If the ball is below your shoulders the response should be a backhand volley, it’s faster to defend yourself with the backhand because the forehand would require much more movement and there is no time. If the ball is above the shoulders the forehand should be used with a one sideways step out. Where the problem arises is when the ball is coming so fast that a step out cannot be done and the ball is coming right for the face. To block the ball and stay in the point stick the racquet in front and roll your grip from the correct Continental to the incorrect Western and block the ball. It sounds like there is not enough time but there really is. Get out and practice it awhile.

I don’t wish this upon anyone but if you have hurt your shoulder to the extent that reaching above the head causes pain you can still play tennis and have a somewhat effective serve. I have taught this to many an injured player. To hit a serve with an injured shoulder hold the racquet in the Western hand grip, toss the ball in front in line with the hitting arm and approximately head high or just slightly higher, pull your arm straight up in front so the hand is shoulder high and the racquet head up with the face a little laid back, then push the handle forward and brush down the back of the ball. The swing will cause back spin which keep your ball low after the bounce. What you lose in power you will at least gain some advantage in spin and bounce. This does not work for overheads. With a hurt shoulder either volley an overhead or better yet, bounce it and hit a ground stroke.

To get the extremely wide volley or ground stroke I’m finally going to give you a tip that is text book correct. Most who try to extend for either of those balls hit them wide, and the reason for that is not enough turn, which does not allow for the face of the racquet to come all the way around, so you hit the ball wide. A complete turn backwards is needed to have the face of the racquet facing towards the opponent’s side of the court. Look at it one of two ways, you should be completely facing the back fence or your back and rear end should be facing toward the net when striking the ball.

I hope the tips get you out of some tough situations.

Learn all the correct strokes and more from my book

Winning Attitude

Winning Attitude

I’ve been asked how to maintain a positive winning attitude in matches, let’s go over some ways to keep it.

Knowing your strong and weak points goes into a confident or winning attitude. If you are a team or tournament player you have played enough matches to already have a grasp of a strategy that will focus on the stronger areas of your game. So, having a strategy going into a match will give you confidence. Also, knowing that you might have to change that strategy in a match will also help. (Search back for the article on changing a losing strategy.) If you know that a change may be needed you will not panic if it occurs.

half volley

When playing a point, I will say, every point matters, but not so much that you get down on yourself when you lose one. You are going to lose lots of them. I’ve played enough matches to be able to interpret body language, if you get down on yourself after the loss of one or two points your opponent will see that, get pumped up and seize the momentum, which will change your attitude and confidence. Remember, the loss of one point is just that, ONE POINT, not the match. Realize this and move on!

Try to maintain the same pace during a match, especially if you’re ahead. If you are winning and attempt to speed up the match careless errors will occur and hurt your momentum. You are already winning, don’t alter it. (Just like never split tens.) If you are losing slow down a bit to regain your focus, not to the point of gamesmanship, but just enough to help you. Twenty five seconds is allowed between each point.

tennis slice

When you are watching the pros on television you have probably noticed that most will turn away after points, they straighten their strings or towel off. These are planned to pump themselves up, focus on the next point or just trying to relax. The point here is to stay positive at all times. Negative thoughts will only bring you down.

Lastly, the best way to stay positive is understanding that a loss will not affect your next meal or where you are going to sleep. While we all want to win, having fun is the best way to maintain a winning attitude, it is only a game. Try your best and keep your cool.

Learn from my book “Winning Tennis Strokes”- click on the tab at the top of the page. Go to the home page for my 117 lesson app “Complete Tennis Mastery” for links to Apple and Google Play.

Good Luck-Have Fun

Outdoor Tennis Season

Outdoor Tennis Season

The best idea for you and your tennis playing family members is to improve your tennis game for fun and health now that the outdoor tennis season has arrived. Purchase my tennis lesson app “Complete Tennis Mastery”, 117 lessons right on their mobile device. Everything at your finger tips right there on the courts. Just $4.99.

iPhone users go to: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/complete-tennis-mastery/id882905316?ls=1&mt=8 or search the app store.

Android users go to:

http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=projects.aarticleapplication or search Google Play under paid apps.

Good Luck-Play Well, Bill Longua