ETI 040 | The “X” Factor

Rotational body power But, is there a way to separate the hips from the shoulders as one winds up or unwinds The “X” Factor shows how to get a little more stretch and release

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ETI 039 | Improvise (when necessary) on the tennis court

A few years ago I was encouraged to take a class in improvisational theater. It took me months to find the courage (stage fright and more) but I finally enrolled and then thoroughly enjoyed this class within the Stanford continuing studies program.

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ETI 038 | Dead Hands

The 3 R’s of tennis – ready, read (where the ball is going) react!

As to your reaction – what precisely is your first move? What moves first, what initiates your preparation?

Really an important question.

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ETI 037 | The Art of Winning

80% of the points in professional end with an error, 20% with a winner.

As regards unforced errors, if your opponent never misses and is patient as the day is long, would you consider missing a routine forehand in the 12th shot of a rally a forced or unforced error.

I am now believing that errors are simply errors, and the distinction is unnecessary.

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ETI 036 | Spin – Changing Two Things at Once

Three factors control your tennis shot – not your feet, not your eyes, not your balance (though all of those do help) but the only three elements are; Angle of the racquet face, Swing Path and Tempo.

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ETI 035 | The Dead Spot on the Racquet Face

Swing path, type of spin, power, 3d playback (with Zepp) but perhaps the most interesting as well as the most useful is the data that shows where you make contact on the racquet face.

And before going further, one of the most important (IF NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT) skills in the game of tennis is concentration, focus, and closely and continually watching the ball.

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ETI 033 | Throwing vs. the Pendulum

Consider the elements in a strong and fluid overhand throw – and how the actions of the hand and elbow can be used or even copied in the modern forehand as well as certainly the serve.

Once when racquets were heavy and wooden, we could see (and still see now and then) a type of pendulum swing – back and forth with little whip or acceleration. Interestingly McEnroe still uses such a forehand to truly devastating effect.

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ETI 032 | Attitude – the Space between Stimulus and Response

An excellent book, Man”s Search for Meaning, written by Victor Frankl, serves as a useful guidepost in living but equally when playing on court.

When Andy Murray hooked up with Ivan Lendl to capture his two grand slam titles, he was working at the same time with a sports psychologist (the same one who had worked with Lendl years before) to improve his attitude – to improve his emotional responses to the challenges he faced (and still faces) on court.

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ETI 031 | Building Self Confidence

One of Northern California’s legendary teachers, as well as a dear friend and mentor to me, Fred Earle penned the following 5 keys – that he expected his players to answer with a resounding yes, each and every day at the end of practice or a game.

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ETI 030 | Forward Spin

Squaring up – Hitting the ball true – precise contact on the back of the ball.

We all know about topspin – but have you ever tried to strike the ball with true topspin – where the ball rolls forward – precisely forward?

The following drop hit drill will improve your time spent practicing on court – and help you with your forehand and or your backhand.

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ETI 029 | Tap Tap Tap

Balance, holding your finish, placing your weight precisely against the ball.

Yes there are many ways to hit the ball, and many ways to play this game, but with all the variety of styles and technique – our best professionals are balanced more often than perhaps we readily notice.

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ETI 028 | Scan and Zoom

Is there more to it than simply watching the ball?

Well, the answer is yes. But the answer is not readily apparent.

Scan and zoom describes two different visual orientations, both of which occur on court.

In your own game, are you better at scanning or zooming? Better yet, are you skilled at both?

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McEnroe, Courier and Sampras

Power Shares Champions Shootout.  Great event.     Let me repeat – great event. The format is brief, two one set semifinal singles followed by a one set final between the two semi winners.  In this case Mac played Courier, Sampras played Blake – and then in the final the younger man beat the oldest man…

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5 Keys to Playing (and competing against) the Pusher

Every club has one of these, a player who moves very well, makes darn few errors, often hits the ball softly or with unusual form, but over and over again this is a player who wins, and more than that this is a player that most dread. The term “pusher” is somehow derogatory, implying that…

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Returning the Kicker

We have positioned the camera at eye level, on the baseline, as though returning serve in the ad court. I nearly hit Antony on one of these serves, but no worries Mate, he is an Aussie. That said I think this camera angle gives you the feel for how this serve jumps up and away…

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ETI 023 | Borrowing Pace – Tennis Ju-jitsu

Tennis ju-jitsu. Blocking, borrowing, deflecting the ball, playing with angles and change of pace.

The game is not always about power and winners. Just as easily the game can become one of rebounding the ball, using the opponent’s force and incoming shot to create our own.

This style, ju-jitsu if you will, comes from shorter strokes, firmer grips at contact, and a willingness to look for angles, dinks, drops and more.

McEnroe was the unquestioned master of this – try it out for yourself.

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The Tradition Continues – Segura – Connors – Djokovic

  Novak Djokovic captured his third consecutive Australian Open title.  Crushing David Ferrer 62 62 61 in the semifinals, and wearing down and then beating back the challenge of Andy Murray 67 76 63 62.  The end the fourth set of the men’s final showcased a dominant and domineering Novak Djokovic and a dispirited but…

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Andy Murray’s New Attitude – you read it here first

Ours is a wonderful, but equally ours is a very difficult game. We have all had days when we played great, sometimes unexpectedly great. And we have all had days when we played far far below our best level, said another way far below our expectations. When some say the game is 95% mental, I…

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Drop Hit One Handed Backhands – a hidden practice gem!!

Start a rally; deliver a ball to the adjacent court when responding to “ball please.” In nearly every instance the swing is a drop hit forehand. Sometimes those forehands are deliberate and practiced (that is good). Other times those forehands are wristy, in poor form, somehow not acknowledged as genuine practice opportunities. Truly – practice…

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ETI 019 | Fire the Extensors

Many elements are combined to produce the serve – and one of the secrets is to have all the elements firing in the appropriate sequence.

Timing – we have all felt the effortless hits and unfortunately we all have at one time or another, felt the effortful hits.

One of the most important sequence during the serve occurs with regard to the racquet drop and the knee bend.

In general, on the serve, one must fire in quick sequence large muscles first leading to smaller and then smaller muscles, culminating in a whip at the top of the swing.

As regards the racquet drop and knee bend, the best one I heard on this was from Vic Braden, who said, “Fire the extensors baby!”

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ETI 016 | Positioning for the Hit – Moving in Twos

Hopefully you have seen and worked through the podcast entitled Weighting and Waiting.

And as a subtle review, baseball batters “wait” on the pitch with their “weight” back.  Similarly, pitchers and quarterbacks start their throwing motion with their “weight” back.

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ETI 015 | Lobbing along the line of your shadow

In addition to consistency, control, spin and power, much less trying to produce your best tennis when the chips are down, a large part of the game includes your precise awareness of the conditions – meaning the direction of the wind, as well as the location of the sun.

The next time you are on court with the sun high in the sky, but equally when it is at your back, take special notice of your shadow. As the sun moves through the sky the line or alignment of the shadow will change.

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SloMo Analysis of Sam Stosur’s Kick Serve

I had a chance to be courtside at a WTA tournament in Stanford California, marveling at as well as filming  Sam’s incredible serve. With an impressive run at Roland Garros to reach the finals in 2010 and her US Open title in 2011 over Serena Williams, Sam Stosur has played at the highest level of…

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ETI 011 | The Active Non Dominant Arm

Whether ice skaters keep their arms at same level when spinning Or the baseball pitcher uses the non dominant arm to “trigger” the unwinding For your forehand and serve the non dominant arm is important

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ETI 010 | The Pete Sampras Snap

At the net put your forearm at net level and parallel to the net strap, with the racquet head at right angles to your forearm.

Now practice quickly turning your hand and wrist such that the racquet head snaps forcefully against the net strap.

Take your time, keep experimenting – and once this feels somewhat natural – toss up a few (rather than tossing down a few) and see how it feels on the serve.

You may be pleasantly surprised!

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