Category Archives: benefits

5 Quick Tips for Reaching and Maintaining Peak Performance

While the following tips can be used for tennis or any other other sport. They also apply to our daily life and work no matter what we are involved in.

To reach maximum performance you will need to follow these steps:

Develop a grand vision. A vision that will pull you to get up every day and work toward that fulfillment. In tennis for example, you would have as your grand vision to be number one on your local league or be in the top 3 of your high school tennis team within the next 12 months. The vision you design will drive you to create specific goals and activities that you will work on daily. Without the proper vision you will not have the excitement you need to get up early every morning and get to work!

A professional businessman running up the stairs with the text inspiration determination innovation excellence passion vision with a bright white background - concept design vector illustration art

Have abundant energy and strong health. Let’s face it without health we cannot do much! In tennis we must maintain a healthy and injury free body in order to practice and play matches at a high level. To succeed in everyday in life we need the energy and vitality to last us a full day of strenuous work. We must eat healthy, exercise daily and most import, get enough quality sleep. Recharge your batteries completely for the next day!

Green Healthy Living Apple Illustration on white background.

Attitude plays a huge part in reaching and maintaining peak levels of performance. You must develop a champion’s attitude. A champion’s attitude means that you will find a way to win or get things done. You will stay the course when difficulties arise. In tennis and in sports in general you will sometimes find that the momentum will swing from your opponent to you and back and forth. With the proper unwavering positive attitude and training you will find away to turn the match around.

Motivational Saying positive thoughts lead to many things happening and leading to great things

Habits and rituals play an important role in gradually making your process of reaching peak performance almost automatic. The habits you create will get you into the proper mindset. Some of the basic essential habits that need to be established for success in tennis are proper focused training, pre-match routines, healthy diet, and a champion’s mindset. For success in life we also need the proper healthy diet, effective exercise routines and time alone or in nature to to reach proper emotional balance.

Business man pointing the text: Motivation is What Gets you Started Habit Is What Keeps You Going

Finally, you must be surrounded by the right people or as I say the proper emotional network- It can’t be all work and no play. You need to also achieve a balance in your life, and a part of that balance is making sure you have a strong network of family and friends around you. Having healthy and loving relationships will increase not only your success but also your happiness. Spend time with your loved ones and make sure you take care of these relationships. In tennis you also need to have the people around you that will help you excel and give you the right advice. Whether it is friends or parents or even a coach, having the right supporting individuals around you is huge!

Hands of young people close up on sunny nature background

Although these 5 steps look simple of the surface, the challenge becomes to maintain consistency in these steps, day in and day out. I would really enjoy you sharing your experiences with me. Look forward to hearing from you!

The Importance of Goal Setting in Tennis

Most of us are fully aware that goal setting is essential part of achieving things in life and during this time of the year many of us have already created the financial, family, health and relationship goals we want to achieve during 2015. In tennis this is no different. Whether you are a beginner or advanced tennis player you need to create goals which will propel you to improve in specific areas. It is proven that setting the right goals in tennis will enhance performance and improve motivation.

One of the important things to understand is that there are different type of goals that you can set. There are outcome, performance and process goals. Outcome goals are more general and would be for example wanting to be the best player on your varsity team or winning your regional singles tournament. In order to reach your outcome goals you need to set performance and process goals. A performance goal will refer to your actual performance as a player and include things like increasing your 1st serve percentage or reducing your unforced errors in a match by 20%. This type of goal can be measured and progress towards the goal can be tracked. The last type of goal – process – refers to how a player will improve a particular stroke. The process involved in creating and perfecting that stroke will be the focus.

The other essential part to understand is that goals need to be SMART goals. What does this mean? It means the goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and be constrained to a certain Time or Time Bounded. Creating this type of goal will maximize the probability that you will achieve the goal as long as you also create a workable action plan.

Also keep in mind that a goal is categorized either as a short term goal or a long term goal. A short term goal can take days, weeks, or a couple of months to accomplish while long term goals are those which will usually take 6 months or more to accomplish. Don’t just set long term goals. It is important to maintain motivation by setting short term goals which one can see progress in as a stepping stone to your long term goals.

The Best goals are SMART goals!

Now let’s look at some examples. Let’s select a short term goal. For example, you are looking to be able to hit the forehand volley down the line consistently, which would be hitting 7-8 shots in out of ten during a rally.  And you would like to achieve this improvement within the next 3 months. Choose a set of actions which are easy enough to follow on a continuing basis. A) Plan to set a side 30-45 minutes at least once a week to work on this stroke. The more time you dedicate to this the quicker your improvement of course but I know we all have time constraints and the important thing is that you stick to your plan and make it reasonable for you to follow. If you cannot find a hitting partner you can look at renting a ball machine from your local tennis club; for a 30 min rental pricing is usually very reasonable. B) If possible take a couple of private classes with a local tennis pro just to make sure you are using the right grip and you are using the proper technique. Sometimes all it takes is a little tweak of the technique for you to attain consistency and power. C) Determine to study videos available readily on You Tube that show pros hitting their forehand down the line to watch their technique in action. The mind learns visually also so the more you see something like a tennis stroke done properly, the easier it will be for you to emulate that.  D) Finally, review your goal and your progress on a regular basis to make sure there is progress. In this case, progress can be measured easily because you can track a 70-80% success rate in your forehand down the line.

As mentioned before, a long term goal is a goal that will likely take longer then 6 months to accomplish. If you are a beginner B player in your local league, a long term goal would be to improve your game enough so that you can move up to the A level in the next 6-8 months. This more then likely means that you will have to improve several strokes in your game and maybe add a new shot to your arsenal like volley or drop shot. These improvements to your game can be considered short term goals which you will need to develop as explained in the previous paragraph.

Whatever your goal is, the important thing is that you should write them down and make sure they are SMART goals. Studies have shown that you are about 30% more likely to achieve your goal if it is written down. Review them preferably every week or at least every 2 weeks to make sure you are on track. For long term goals it is essential to write down the progress you have made on a monthly basis.

Wishing you the best of luck in meeting your tennis goals in 2015!

How Yoga Can Boost Your Tennis Game

Yoga for tennis – a no brainer right! Yeah!

Well I bet most of the tennis players reading this do not practice yoga regularly. I know because I see it first hand every week at the tennis club I where I play and with almost every one I play against. Eventually the conversation with my peers arrives at the topic of getting older, getting injured more often and slowing down but that’s where I interject and tell them it doesn’t have to happen that fast…have they considered practicing yoga to boost their tennis game? Answer: uhh no. Well if you also answered no then read on and get a really good idea of what yoga can do for your game.


About 6 months ago I finally decided to start practicing yoga on a daily basis. Believe me when I tell you that it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made for my body.  You see I’ve had my share of injuries throughout the years as I’ve not only played tennis but also practiced soccer and even did numerous triathlons – I’ve suffered through pulled calf muscles, back strain, quad strain, etc – and I’ve been quite upset at myself because I knew these could have been avoided if I had taken stretching and yoga more seriously.

So what prompted me to finally decide to give yoga a serious try?

Well, a couple of years ago I suffered a partial tear in my left meniscus and I needed to have surgery to repair it. The recovery took several months and afterwards I still felt a little pain specially after playing on a hard court. I was aware that yoga had been used by athletes to recover from a knee injury but I never took it seriously. Only after suffering through the pain for several more months did I decide to look at yoga in more detail.

I didn’t have the time to attend a full class in the morning or evening, so I did the next best thing and downloaded  an app on my android phone and started practicing yoga on a daily basis. By the way, the apps these days keep on getting better and better! Well, in time I started to see the wonderful benefits that practicing yoga daily can bring. You see, yoga not only helped increase my flexibility but it also assisted in reducing the pain I felt in my knee. As I strengthened the muscles around my knee, the pain gradually diminished. This was my primary goal and I accomplished it.

However I also found other amazing  benefits which actually became my favorite part about yoga. The first side benefit received was learning to slow my breathing and to breath deeply. This has helped me recover faster from a high heart rate after playing a long point. Deep slow breathing also improved my mental focus. As I worked on slowing down my breathing between points I was forced to concentrate on the next point and the strategy that I was going to use.

Now that you understand the benefits, what poses should you do? Well, when I decided to look more seriously at yoga, I looked at the best possible poses specifically related to tennis and these are the most recommended poses that I found:

  • tree pose – helps strengthen your thighs, calves, ankles and back. It can also increase the flexibility of your hips and groin. Your balance and concentration can also be improved with constant practice.
  • triangle pose – this exercise builds up strength in the lower back and upper legs while you remove tension from the lower and upper back, the hips and the hamstrings through both the twist and the stretching. The exercise is good for your sense of coordination and sense of balance.
  • warrior II pose – strengthens your legs, back, shoulders, and arms, building stamina. It opens your hips and chest, and improves balance.
  • spinal twist – one of the few basic poses that rotates the spine. Most bend the spinal column either backward or forward, but to become truly flexible it must be twisted laterally as well. The movement also tones the spinal nerves and ligaments, and improves digestion.
  • chair pose – strengthens the lower back and the legs and by doing so,  creates more space in the chest and belly.

planting roots

Incorporate these poses into your regular fitness program and the most important part, of course, is for you to be consistent. You will be pleasantly surprised at how yoga can help transform your game.  Remember that while yoga is improving your flexibility, it is also increasing your strength and balance and even your focus. Practicing yoga will train your brain to relax during a match!

Here’s a quick list of all the positives that yoga practice can bring:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved balance
  • Stronger core muscles
  • Increased leg strength
  • More stamina
  • Restored and revitalized energy
  • Injury prevention
  • Improved full-body coordination
  • Symmetry and balance on both sides of the body
  • Improved mental focus

It doesn’t matter how old you are. Even if you are in your teens or twenties, getting into the daily routine of practicing yoga will provide great sports and overall health benefits. Follow a routine that you can do every day for at least 15-20 minutes or even develop your own routine. As I mentioned before, with today’s smartphones it is extremely easy to download an app which will lead you through a complete routine.

From experience I believe the best time for running though your routine is early in the morning as it will energize you and get your day started  with a great burst of energy. I also recommend that you have a shorter routine that you can follow right before you play your match AND right after you finish your match. This routine can be a short 5-10 minute routine which will warm up and stretch your body before you go into your hitting warm up full speed. The yoga routine after your match will help you cool down the muscles properly and it will assist in improving even more your flexibility.

Enjoy your yoga routine!





Getting the Most from your Practice

One of the main issues I have with my teenage kids today is constantly reminding them to practice effectively or as I put with a specific purpose in mind. Whether it is on the tennis court or on the soccer field where I have also taught recreational soccer, it always good to have fun but to also focus on practicing with specific objectives in mind. Today I will focus specifically on things you can do on the practice court that will help you help you tremendously when you play a match that really counts.

Plain and simple, practicing with a purpose means that every time you go out on the court for any type of practice, be it with a ball machine, a partner or just a hopper of balls to hit serves, you should have before hand a specific goal you want to achieve from that practice session.

When I play a practice match with my tennis buddies, I always have in my mind what I want to practice usually in groups of games. For example the first 3 games of the first set I will focus specifically on hitting my backhand down the line as much as possible to create winners or force errors. If I’m not satisfied with the results after 3 games I’ll extend that goal to another 3 games until I am hitting that shot consistently. The next 3 games I could focus on hitting cross court forehand with a severe angle to open up the court. Of course I’m not trying to attain my goal on every single shot but as soon as I get a good opportunity I go for my “goal” stroke.

I also have complete sets where I’m just focused on minimizing my unforced errors and trying to keep the ball in play as long as possible. I try to avoid going for winners and keep my opponent moving back and forth. This specific practice strategy has helped me in matches where I’m behind in the set and have slowly crept back by forcing my opponent into errors before I do.

I will also practice my serve and volley for several games at a time or also play aggressive tennis where I take any short ball and come into the net. The key is sticking to your plan whether or not you are winning the set against your partner. Remember that the goal is to improve the stroke or tactic you are working on.

Pros of course have specifics that they work on every time on court. Here’s a couple of videos showing the Pros in action. Check out Tsonga  below hitting every ball with a purpose, practicing a forehand backhand burst drill


Here’s Del Potro practicing groundstrokes also at high level.


Besides practicing with a purpose, there are other valuable practice tips I want to leave you with which you should also develop into habits.

1. Get into the habit of visualizing your shots. Before hitting the ball your shot must have a purpose and that means just before you hit your shot in your minds eye visualize exactly where you want the ball to go, what trajectory it will have over the net and exactly where it will land. You’ll be surprised how well this works once you do it often.

2. Watch yourself practice. With today’s smartphones everyone has a video recorder in their hands. Have someone else record part of your hitting session or use a tripod, which are are also inexpensive these days. Watching yourself hit you will discover a wealth of information which you can then compare to videos of pros on you tube. Watch your technique for example on the forehand and then compare to how some of the pros hit theirs. You’ll be able to make the adjustments necessary to improve your stroke.

3. Practice your swing in slow motion. You’ve probably seen some of the Pros do this often after missing a shot. They will do several slow motion practice swings of the shot they just missed. By doing this you can see exactly what your form looks like and make corrections if needed. It will also help create muscle memory of the correct technique.

4. As mentioned above, set goals for your practice session. Have a very clear goal of what you want to accomplish. It is best to concentrate on a single stroke for a while or for the whole session until you are satisfied with the results.

5. Stretch for full benefit from practice. Stretching properly before practices is probably one of the most important tips I can recommend. Stretching should be developed into a daily habit because it will prevent injury and allow you to become more flexible over time. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I actually like to include stretching and a short yoga routine into my daily exercise. For Pros, stretching is a must as described in this article by Nadal’s physiotherapist where he states “Several hours of stretching is a very important part of the daily routine both as a warm up, an exercise in itself and then recovery.”

So next time you decide on hitting the courts, make sure that you have a specific plan for what part of your game you want to work on. You will get so much more out of your routine practice.

Until next time. Enjoy your practice session!

YouTube Videos courtesy of  TheUSTATennisPlayer

The Sport for A Lifetime!

Is getting kids to play tennis from a young age such a good idea? Well as you will soon see, it not only is a great idea but it could be one of the best things you can do for your kids! For all of us that already play tennis there is not much convincing that has to be done to get us to acknowledge the benefits that tennis has in our daily lives. Most of us play tennis to stay in shape and that’s fine. ( Although I would argue that as we get older it would help if we actually get in shape to play tennis to avoid injuries. )

Serving for the match

However few of us are really aware of all the benefits that tennis can provide. Sure there are the basic health and fitness advantages but there’s a lot more. I started thinking about this at least 6 years ago when I began to teach tennis to my 3 children when they were 5-7 years old. I knew that getting them outside was my first priority as I did not want them inside on the computer all day or watching endless episodes of Sponge Bob. So the physical benefits are obvious but I also began seeing that tennis was going to improve their motor skills, their concentration and their work habit!

Without realizing it, I had stumbled to some of the reasons that people today consider tennis the “sport for a lifetime”. I thought it would be interesting to see where experts stood today on this topic and thus decided to do a little research. Well, what I found out surprised me in a very positive way!

The results of my research actually led me to conclude that not only was I right but I was amazed to see how many other benefits there were to getting kids to play in a regular program. True, one of those benefits is that they might be incredibly talented and grow up to be a great professional player. That would be great but most parents are not thinking about that, they just want to keep their kids healthy, active and busy!

Of all the benefits I found I’m going to mention my top 10 here but I encourage you to visit  the articles I mention at the end which include at least 20-30 more reason of why everyone should play tennis.

Freeze - Right there!

My Top 10 Benefits of Playing Tennis Regularly (specially for kids!)

1. Provides aerobic fitness by burning fat, improves cardiovascular fitness and assists in maintaining higher energy levels.

2.. Develops fine motor control by use of touch shots like angled volleys, drop shots and lobs.

3.  Assist in bone strength and density by strengthening bones of young players and helping prevent osteoporosis in older ones.

4.. Improve immune system through its conditioning effects, which promote overall health, fitness and resistance to disease.

5. Improves hand-eye coordination because you constantly judge the timing between the oncoming ball and the proper contact point.

6. Assists in developing a work ethic and discipline because improvement through lessons or practice reinforces the value of hard work.

8. Promotes the accepting of responsibility by practicing skills and checking your equipment before a match, and by making accurate line calls during a match.

9. Helps control stress effectively because the physical, mental and emotional stress of tennis will force you to increase your capacity for dealing with stress.

10. Promotes the learning of problem solving since tennis is a sport based on angles, geometry and physics.

Again, all of these are amazing benefits that we sometimes take for granted because we don’t realize that we are receiving so much from the sport. No excuses now! Get busy and find a local program to join! But don’t forget the number 1 reason for being out there as always…and that is to have fun!

Supporting articles:

photos by: Frédéric de Villamil & Sudhamshu