Archive | February, 2012

Late bloomers.

24 Feb

Over the past 10 years alone I have coached in excess of 25 players who have plied their tennis overseas, most of them at US Colleges. It is a great thing to see players strive and achieve their dreams. And many of these players were “also ran” juniors. What they had was the ability to not lose sight of their dreams, and to stick at the task in hand.

You don’t have to be a child prodigy to go places in tennis. In Australia we have had many examples of the “late bloomer” on the world stage – Wayne Arthurs, a doubles journeyman until his late twenties, went on to win his first ATP tour singles title after turning 30, Peter Luczak much the same; even Sam Stosur to some degree is a classic late bloomer. Top 50-100 most of her early career, now late 20’s and she is a WTA top tenner.

You could even argue Pat Rafter fits the bill – whilst he did breakthrough as a 19 year old – as a junior Rafter could not make Queensland state teams. The message here is simple – sometimes it is the player that starts late, has a real passion for the game in their more enlightened years, has not suffered “burn out” and does not take things for granted that pushes through to be the better player. This is why all juniors should stay involved and engaged with the sport. Keep chipping away at your targets and goals and look to achieve that breakthrough.

Like everyone’s Mum used to say – “Better late than never”

The PRO.

PS. check out the link which is a good example of one such player.


How much should I play..

21 Feb

Junior talent, how much should you be playing?

20 February 2012 |   0 1

HOW MUCH SHOULD I BE PLAYING?   by former Tennis Australia Head Coach, High Performance and Club Master Pro Jamie Parrott.

One of the most frequently asked questions from players and especially parents of younger players is “How much should I train? And how many matches and tournaments should I gear up for?”

In my 30+ years of coaching tennis I would be rich if I had a dollar for every time this question has been asked. I have, over time and with coaching industry consultation, come up with the following information which should be of use to you all. The table is reflective of the coaching pathway I  devised over time and was used by Tennis Australia at their commercial tennis centres and also published on their web-site. It aligns with each of the progressive levels in Australia’s accepted junior coaching pathway.

Please remember all young players are different and have different needs. This is not just dependant on size and physical development, but technical ability, stage and type of gamestyle development,  and in terms of sleep patterns and recovery, so the tables are generalisations that are a guideline only.

Hot Shots Minis and Red Ball 2-3 2-3 4-6
MLC Orange and Green ball Hot Shots 4-6 4 8-10
Development Squad 7-8 4 12-13
Comp squad (starting level) 10-12 5 15-17

*On court tennis, includes coaching sessions – squad training, private lessons, and matchplay.

** Off court physical training includes tennis specific fitness, other sports, school P.E etc

In addition to these training hours players should also be following a competitive schedule too. Whether it be at coloured ball challenges at Hot Shots level, JDS tournaments, local and schools competition or tournaments, or simply practice matches as part of a weekly program – they are all important parts of a players development.

I generally recommend players are ready for inter-club competition at an advanced Orange or early Green ball stage of their development. Ideally these formative years should be on a clay court (en-tout-cas in Melbourne). The surface is much softer therefore reducing injuries in growing bodies. It also plays slower, which it makes it the best learning surface. Kids have to learn to work the ball and their opponent around the court, and when defending are more able to run balls down due to the slower court. Check out your local club and get involved in their competitive pathway. I also suggest players enter and play JDS and OJT level tournaments at the appropriate stages of their development.

Level Practice matches and competition Matches per year
Green ball 2 sets / 1-2 matches per week 30 – 40 matches
Development squad level 4 sets or 2 matches per week 50-80 matches
Competition squad level 6 sets or 3 matches per week 60-80 matches

In any form of endeavour that you wish to take seriously there is no substitute for practice and persistence. Time on the court – more specifically quality time on the court is paramount to achieving any milestones in the game. Like anything there is no substitute for hard work. So continue to strive for your goals and climb the player pathway – and remember to “do your best every day”.

The PRO.

Serve BIG and eat meat – just like Milos.

17 Feb

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic from Canada, who had a match in the Australian Open against Lleyton Hewitt where he averaged 217 km/h on his first serve and who this week hit a 250km/h bullet in the ATP event in San Jose this week, was asked “how?”

Here’s some serve tips from one of the most exciting prospects on the tour. 

Speed isn’t everything. Start with rhythm. And focus on target areas.
“Even from a young age I was able to serve pinpoint, play well. I spent a lot of time on it and just never focused on speed, that sort of came I guess with a lot of hours. I just have a good mental outlook on it, I think. I keep the same rhythm for everything. I’m able to hit all the spots from the same toss and I think this is important, to try to give away as little as possible.”

Work out in the gym.
“The speed has gone up gradually. Obviously I’m getting stronger and working more on my fitness and that is helping.”

A good shoulder helps!
“I’ve got a good shoulder, so I’m fortunate. I remember in school I was good at shot-put and all that kind of stuff with the shoulder, and that was without even working on it.”

Learn from the best. This is great stuff – love the comment on tempo and control of a match. Good goal for you all.
“Pete Sampras has always been my idol, because I just liked his style, the control of his serve, how he was able to do the same thing with one toss, hit all the spots. I thought he had a tremendous second serve and he did a very good job controlling the court and controlling the pace. You always had the feeling that the match was in his hands, win or lose. That’s something I’ve been working on and trying to develop as much as I can. I felt as those Sampras inspired those things in my game and development.”

Eat red meat.
“The night before a match, I eat medium-rare steak. Can I get to 260km/h with my serve? I don’t know, maybe. As long as I keep getting the free points I’ll be happy, I don’t care if it’s 165km/h or 265km/h.”

In a study The PRO is currently carrying out with his players – one group using a radar and benchmarking serve speed, and the other not using it…the overwhelming outcome is that using a radar while training definitely helps players attain faster serves sooner.

So there it is – one point for all to remember Raonic didn’t develop that serve overnight. He definitely used all the “P” words: perseverance, patience, positive thinking AND the 3 most important “P” words of all – practice, practice, practice. And maybe you too can serve like Raonic.

*Thanks to the tennis space for their Raonic interview.

The PRO.

A pleasant surprise.

12 Feb

I took a phone call the other day – and it was from a “past” player I used to coach wanting to catch up for a coffee. This is one of the great joys of teaching and mentoring young players. They grow up and often come back and look you up. We sat and reminisced.

Simon won the National Grasscourts and Claycourts in the same year. He was a short, strong lefty with a passion for hard work and a competitive streak that was borne through his love of Aussie Rules football and cricket. He was the youngest in a family of over achievers – doctors and lawyers one and all.  To get Simon to travel and play was a real challenge as he loved his home town, his team sports, his family and his mates. When we did venture overseas for a swing of ITF junior events Simon showed his grit and class on clay and extreme heat with consecutive semi final and quarter finals in places as far flung as Greece, Egypt and Cyprus.


There were some classy juniors on that trip – he ran into current ATP tour top 100 players Dudi Sela, Tamiraz Gabashivili and Marcos Baghdatis and managed wins against 2 of them. In a memorable match in 42 degree heat in Giza, Egypt, Simon was getting the very rough end of some horrendous line calls from a local player. I was charting the match and had seen enough so went in search of the referee. He was sitting in the air conditioned club room, drinking coke and definitely not in the slightest bit interested in intervening in anything to do with going outside, especially where a local player was concerned. Consequently I dragged a reluctant and over weight ref out to the court, where he proceeded to give my player a warning and code violation and I got a dressing down on tennis etiquette “Egypt” style. Somewhere in the midst of all this my much loved Guy Laroche wrist watch disappeared. It can be a steep learning curve on the ITF junior circuit.

Like a lot of Aussie juniors, Simon lost his way somewhere between 18 and 20. He kept playing footy, joined a cricket club and didn’t venture far from home. And now. Well he finally did travel – He’s living in London, has been for 5 years now, and is currently one of the top cricket player agents going around. Just shows all that training, discipline and time management skills learnt as a junior tennis player come in handy in so many ways.

The PRO.

China the 5th frontier.

7 Feb

Yao Ming Makes Appearance at China Open

..everything is BIG in China – even Jo-Wi Tsonga is dwarfed by NBA star Yao Ming

Who can it be now?

7 Feb

What a SLAM.

5 Feb

Australian Open 2012 is over for another year. 686,000 + fans through the gates, scintillating matches, controversies, a newly crowned women’s world #1, 2011’s dominant male player continues where he left off.

It was an Open of epic proportions. The world’s media converged on Melbourne, 295 international journalists from 45 countries.

Here is just a quick snapshot of some of the Eurosport vision, including some tongue in cheek video blogging from Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic – look for the cameo performance from Novak Djokovic in locker room A.


The PRO.