There is no doubt in my mind that Serena Williams is the GOAT of women’s tennis. Statistically and bio-mechanically over her career, she is likely the best server in either gender. As a long time fan of hers, that’s why this match was so difficult to watch.

Pro athletes know that if you are not at your most fit, you are vulnerable to situations exactly like the one that yanked Serena out of a 5-1 lead in the third set versus Karolina Pliskova in the Quarter Finals of the 2019 Australian Open. Serena was rolling through the third set but, getting a little fatigued, due to her lack of fitness.

Several women on the WTA tour have had children and come back to the tour. All sports enthusiasts must give proper respect to those who can make a living again as a pro athlete after childbirth. But the training is understandably grueling! All the more reason to give Serena credit for that and her other health challenges.

On the flip side, athletic trainers would probably characterize her body at that time as at least 20 pounds to heavy. Suddenly, the fatigue of that carry can translate into clumsy footwork, which likely contributed to a rolled ankle at that point. Luckily, not enough to get a trainer to re-wrap it tighter or, to effect her gate. She had no discernible limp. In that situation, even if your movement is questionable, it comes down to making good decisions in each point. When do you give yourself the green light to swing away!

Starting at 5-1, she STILL should have won the match during any 1 of 4 match points. Pliskova did not dominate any of those. In each, Serena had chances to go for a winner. Many coaches would call that being a “mental midget” for not swinging away every chance she got.

What explains why a great champion would not reason her way out of that box? Great question. Perhaps, this is an advertisement for on court coaching during the majors. It was tortuous to watch Pliskova get back into this match. Not even Carolina could believe it.

Dear TennisDr:

Thanks for all the private lesson time over the last couple months for my 10 year old Danny.  He is really enjoying it.  We will be traveling to my homeland South Africa over the holidays and I am considering a hiatus until next year.  What do you think?

Maggie J.


Hey Maggie:

First, I think Danny made significant progress in terms of his coordination, limb strength, and skill acquisition. He now knows the 5 fundamental shots of the sport and can continue to practice them on his own though we will need to check for flaws early next year. He also knows how intense and difficult the sport is to learn mentally and physically. Letting that challenge ferment a while, away from lessons, is likely an advantage.

I had my first lessons when I was 10, but my motivation to practice was locked in by my parents who both played. They valued the sports safety, physicality, and intrinsic coping skills, as they were both educators and musicians. Danny needs those aspects as much as any child his age. Your countryman and commentator Cliff Drysdale has promoted these intangibles on air his whole broadcasting career.

Danny’s ability to shake off small, but inevitable, frequent failures and bring his focus back to task is likely THE most important life skill that tennis offers in spades. Current research tells us the brain is physically being wired for these functions right now and many more. During these years the brain gets wired for empathy for the feelings of others, or it doesn’t, like Donald Trump’s brain.

Research shows now that failure is far more valuable than success to human development. Trump is another great example here as he was always allowed to escape failure.

That is why tennis is the best sport in my opinion for all kids. Better than team sports, it is a constant test of dedication and mental resiliency but it is also a showcase for handling disappointment in ourselves and empathy for those across the net. From a motor skills perspective, this age sees normal sputtering communication between brain and limbs.

When I was 11 and 12, my mother drove me all over Southern California and watched quietly and dispassionately while I lost my first 8 tournaments in the first round. Her enlightened attitude was that if you have a passion for the sport, failures and practice come with the territory, as did her passion for the cello. Musicians accept failures as routine. Finding passion for something challenging is the key and why physical education and music in schools must be expanded.

At 11, my parents took me on my first international trip. They knew that seeing other cultures is an important adjunct to this maturation process that we now know is going on quite physically through brain function studies. I hope Danny gets a chance to drink it all in during the trip. Yes, check back in January.

Ever wonder how to make tennis your exact cardiovascular workout? How fast should my heart beat during exercise? How long should my workout be and how many times per week? These are great questions and ones that more Americans should ask. This article will provide the basic answers to these questions and you don’t need expensive gizmos and gadgets.

THR is the optimum speed your heart should beat for maximum cardiovascular effect. Too fast and the duration of your exercise session suffers and injury risk rises. Too slow and the cardiovascular system is insufficiently taxed. Staying within a couple beats a minute of THR controls intensity properly.

Many exercise machines and gym posters come with a “zone” for your exercise session, but here are more exact calculations you do for yourself without gadgets. WARNING–it’s important that before starting a new exercise program that you CONSULT A PHYSICIAN. Assuming you are clear to start, there are three main elements to design your cardio workout–Intensity, Duration, and Frequency. Let’s begin with the principle of intensity, which is best controlled at THR.

Intensity of your exercise can be measure by how fast your heart is beating and you don’t need an expensive heart rate monitor of fancy wristwatch, just two fingers. There is a good chance that some time in your life you will need to find out if someone’s heart is beating, so this is a useful skill to practice on yourself. To find your heart rate, gently push two fingers into the soft area to the side of your windpipe or on the palm side of your other wrist below your thumb.

Press lightly until you feel the blood pulsing beneath your fingers or adjust your position until you do. Count the number of beats in 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to get your pulse or beats per minute. Taking your pulse before you get out of bed is called Resting Heart Rate (RHR). Knowing your minimum and maximum pulse is essential to finding your Target Heart Rate (THR) during exercise.

Calculate your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR), the fastest your heart can physically beat, by simply subtracting your age from 220. CAUTION–YOU SHOULD NEVER INTENTIONALLY EXERCISE AT THIS HEART RATE. Now that you know your resting (RHR) and maximum (MHR), you now know the range your heart can beat or Heart Rate Range (HRR) by simply subtracting the slowest (RHR) from the maximum (MHR) your heart can beat. Now you are ready to find your personal and accurate THR.

Sedentary individuals, those that do not exercise regularly, should begin an exercise program at 60% of their range. So, THR = (HRR x 0.6) + RHR. Active individuals, those that regularly exercise at least 3 times a week, should exercise at 65% of their range. For them, THR = (HRR x 0.65) + RHR. Elite athletes, or those with a background of endurance training, can exercise at 70-75% of HRR. Now for duration and frequency.

The duration of exercise at THR should be at least 20 minutes with 5 minutes of warm-up and 5 minutes of cool down. A good warm-up would include stretching of major muscle groups and gradually ramping up heart rate toward THR with the reverse for cool down.

The frequency of exercise at your THR should be 3-5 times a week for improvement and at least 2 times a week for maintenance of your present level of fitness. IMPORTANT–research shows that even lower intensity exercise can still have significant beneficial effects like longer lifespan, enhanced mood, and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Controlling the intensity, duration, and frequency of exercise is the key to getting the quickest and most profound benefit.

Regular exercise and cardiovascular fitness have been shown to help prevent degenerative diseases like stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. It has also proved to help improve allergies, asthma, digestion, stress management, and sleeping disorders.

Interestingly, it is also at least as important to weight control as good nutrition. Plan two or more different ways, or modes, of exercise to promote THR. Whether you choose bicycling, yoga, table tennis, gardening, or even boogie boarding, regular exercise is easier to stick with when it’s fun. Good luck and have fun with your new exercise program!

Racket sports are asymetric. That means they yank and twist on the spine due to forces expressed on the body unevenly. What is a symetric sport you ask? Weight lifting is symetric as both sides of the body are active in a mirror image.

All this means that racket sports players get “pulled out of wack”! Well, our ship has come in.

You’ve heard of the revolutions in the Middle East and Wisconsin right? Well, there is a quiet technology revolution starting in Chiropractic, which allows soothing, potent treatment of chronic pain with no twisting, popping, or cracking of joints. Plus, the patient can now actually see documented progress and an end to treatment. That deserves a WOW!

If you are an athlete, especially those playing an asymmetric sport like baseball, tennis, table tennis, golf, or racquetball this is big news. This is also big news obviously for non-athletes with chronic pain, coaches, and personal injury lawyers!

Several of my clients told me that I must go see the new pain treatment machines at Dr. Mel Bahri’s Westwood Clinic ( in Los Angeles. His reputation among my clients was swelling (he he).
Once there, I tested two new technologies (ProAdjuster and Myopulse) that can help eliminate the infamous stigma that has kept new patients away from Chiropractic treatment for many years. The two main complaints are the “cracking” of joints and the indeterminate “end of treatment”.

Over several sessions I tested the ProAdjuster (by Pulstar) and the Myopulse (by Advanced Biomedical Technologies). Both machines have been cleared by the FDA for treatment of chronic pain conditions. This article will describe the ProAdjuster treatments.

With this technology, the patient sits comfortably in a massage chair in an upright position without the need to turn the head or neck or even remove their shirt. The ProAdjuster applicator, called a Fras, contains a sensor (piezoelectric), which first sends a light tapping (percussion), into the spine at each backbone segment or vertebrae as a test force.

This force is reflected back from the body, like sonar from a submarine in water, to tell the computer about the position of the bone and stiffness of nearby muscle. The software takes the results of each percussion test from each vertebrae in the spine and INSTANTLY creates a complete and detailed picture of the spine on a large monitor.

That picture reveals the whole spine, its curves (or lack of curves) which gives the doctor and computer specific locations for treatment–the pre treatment data. The computer program then highlights the five most displaced vertebrae and tells the doctor, with a pleasant female voice, where to place the soft fingers of the Fras to administer the treatment phase for each displaced bone.

The body’s natural defenses cause muscles around displaced vertebrae to spasm or rigidly prevent greater misaligned bone from moving further from its proper position. Metered and specific GENTLE percussion is now administered by the computer through the Fras in a series of oscillating taps. These taps coax the vertebra into proper position which also relaxes the nearby muscles, enhancing range of motion, and relieving pressure on the adjacent nerves.

The treatment phase actually feels GREAT. For Chiropractors and patients alike, this is a revolution!

Post treatment re-analysis by the Fras allows objective measurement of changes in spinal position, which can be compared to other sessions and the pre treatment testing down the spine. The patient can actually see and understand the treatment with the doctor standing next to them. That, by itself, is a valuable physical medicine concept that is hard to understate.
The results are instant and easy for a patient to read. No delays, no specialist interpretations, no x-rays, no huge CT Scanners, scary MRI machines, or Sonogram Studies, etc. The software displays the percentage of improvement on the screen for both patient and doctor to objectively assess overall progress allowing BOTH to plan further treatments if needed. The patient, doctor, and computer as a instantly well informed healing team. What a concept!

Incredibly, it actually feels great the whole time. If the days of flinching and tensing up for Chiropractic cracks and pops are numbered, I can adjust to that!