James Clear, “The highest level of mastery is simplicity.

Most information is irrelevant and most effort is wasted, but only the expert knows what to ignore.”

“Beginner = ignorant simplicity

Intermediate = functional complexity

Advanced = profound simplicity

Certainly there is some obvious judgment in the beginner to advanced spectrum above, but for sure we can all see (I hope) in others when they perform with ease.

This circles back to a long conversation/interview I did with Brent Abel a few days ago.

Here is a link for that interview –

I was curious about how his game has evolved over the years, and the elements he sees in others as regards his outlook and experience as a teacher.

As always this rotated back to Tom Stow with Brent’s comment about how before hitting the ball he and others would move silently about the court, rehearsing as it were.

Tom would tinker with the precise position of the hands, the elbows, the posture, and how they determined  the first move to what I think he called the “carrying position.”

And as regards simplicity – nothing is more important than the quality of your first move.  Tom described this as simply “dead hands.”

The video below is dated (sorry) but the message still resonates (or at least it does with me).


The following test identifies your first move:

The server hits a strong serve (could be to your forehand or backhand) but halfway across the court the ball hits the tape – loudly.

No way you would have known it would hit the tape, but from racquet contact to the tape you have enough time to  react.

Monitor your first move.  Not about stepping in.  Not about racquet back.

Simply turn. The hands go along for the ride.

Waiting for the ball with your weight balanced on the back foot.

Less is more.

Practice this to simplify your strokes and prepare more quickly.

You will find you more time to hit the ball.  Really.

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