The Academy Style of Coaching & Our Great Delusion

On Jul 14, 2010, at 3:18 PM, Cesar wrote:

Good to hear from you. By the way, I would like to resume class, but I do not feel I can improve my skills if I am teamed up with beginners like (Frank, nothing personal about Frank). If there is a chance that you could team me up with one of your 4.0 players, I am interested in resuming class. Otherwise, I am playing regularly at USTA Flex 4.0 and I am rallying with my tennis partner here at BH, Monday thru Friday in the morning.

Best regards,
Cesar
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The Academy Style of Coaching

Hey Cesar:

I’m glad to hear that your days are now filled with challenging 4.0 players and plenty of events to test yourself. You have obviously improved tremendously since taking your first lessons with me. Congratulations!

On the other hand, I’m sorry to hear that you FEEL you can’t improve your skills with a particular member of your former class attending. I will consider your request and see what can be done, however, as a long time student of mine who has a better than passive understanding of the sport, you should keep in mind that…

The “Academy Style” of coaching tennis is used at practically every major tennis facility for professional preparation in the world and Division 1 university campus. It’s based on isolating each skill every player needs to improve and does not discriminate by level of ability. Even more so when a ball machine is employed.

For example, on one court the coach works on serve, on another approach shots, on still another angled volleys, etc. When the whistle blows, all students regardless of age or skill, change courts. At an Academy, REAL beginners are usually taught privately to prepare for that rotation that isolates each skill set. At some point, even in football, a scrimmage is held in which the players practice those exact skills under a bit more competitive circumstances, but rarely is a scrimmage “full contact”. For me, the Academy Style, and tennis, the “scrimmage” is a 10 point game.

When it comes to your subjective feelings about your level of ability, BE CAREFUL! The 3.5 and 4.0 levels are notorious for providing delusions about tennis skills. The fact is that Steve W is more skilled and a better athlete than you. Michael O has very similar skills and is a better athlete, and Frank L is SLIGHTLY below your level of tennis skills but also a better athlete in that he is faster around the court.

The question is, does this matter when it comes to playing points at the end of a session in which we have isolated the skills you need to improve for over an hour? NO! In a 10 point game you cannot beat Frank 10-0 and Steve cannot beat you 10-0, but even if that did happen, there are PLENTY of skills that you need to improve during a point that still elude you.

BEWARE: This is the great delusion of ego in our sport! This tennis delusion is much more difficult to observe than in golf in which the conflict is so clearly “the player vs. the course”. The best coaches in our sport have realized something critical for the industry when it comes to helping people improve in tennis…

It’s the ball not the player!

Sincerely,
TennisDr.com

Non-Dominant Arm Mechanics in the Serve

Q: What are some of the important considerations for the non-
dominant arm during tennis?

A: This is a topic that comes up frequently during biomechanics
discussions in all sports. In tennis, the role of the non-dominant
arm/hand is more important than one might think. Here’s one great
example illustrated in an email I just sent to London:
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July 2, 2010 (Nadal/Murray Wimbledon Semifinals)

To: Miles Maclagan, Head Coach Andy Murray
C/O Lawn Tennis Association
National Tennis Centre
100 Priory Lane
Roehampton, London SW15 5JQ

Dear Mr. Miles Maclagan & Other Coaches:

Andy Murray is one of the only elite players I’ve ever seen
who throws the tossing arm away and back during the follow
through of his serve and I can prove, in mechanical terms, that
it is a significant disadvantage.

In the vast majority of sports movements leading to asymmetric
impact or acceleration of one body part, the concept of “breaking”
is universally employed. What is “breaking”?

Breaking is easy to notice. In place kicking the non kicking foot plants
abruptly so it can pass its momentum to the kicking leg. In loose or wet
turf, that is why kicks cannot go as far.

In throwing, the kinetic chain passes momentum all the way up the
body starting from the ground. For a one armed throwing motion and
tennis serve, the kinetic chain transfers momentum from the ground,
through the legs, to the torso, then into the arm, hand, and racket.
Each passing its momentum, like a whip, in a snapping acceleration
toward the hand. To pass its full momentum onward, each segment
stops, like a billiard ball hitting a row of others which are touching.

In most serves, and right handed throws, the left arm comes across
the torso to help counter or stop the trunk rotation, thereby sending
more momentum into the arm.

Murray’s left arm does not. It goes away and behind without helping
to stop the trunk rotation. It does not supply any “breaking”, or opposing
motion, to the torso. Mechanically, less momentum passes into the arm.

Andy Murray’s serve is certainly a great one. But at this level of expertise
in any sport, one percent improvement can make a huge difference!

Good luck with all your players.

Sincerely,
TennisDr

Jonathan Bailin, Ph.D., USPTA
Exercise Physiology~Biomechanics~Ergonomics
Sports Medicine & Ergonomics Associates