Monthly Archives: March 4, 2021

This is a typical gym workout. It changes every few months. I work with Lenny Parracino who works out of Breathru Fitness and is associated with The National Academy of Sports Medicine. This is for what ails me, not you. If you want to do this kind of thing, see a trainer who knows what they’re doing. The NASM has a very good program to educate trainers. That would be a good place to start.

Stretches

  1. Self-Myofascial-Release: self-myofascial-release (SMR) means that you roll around on a foam roller, lacrosse ball or other hard rolling object so you can free up the fascia that covers muscles. It can be immensely painful, like rolfing yourself, and you will hate it for the first few weeks but it is very effective.
    • SMR on back and side of calves; back, side and front of the thighs; buttocks and inner thighs.
    • SMR on the spine with twist: with knees up, lie on top of a foam roller and roll from between the shoulder blades up to the neck. Do the same thing again but this time stop at various places along the spine and drop your knees to one side then the other to get a spinal twist.
  2. Neck stretch
    • stand straight, tuck chin a bit and rotate right shoulder blade back and down.
    • Put the left hand on the back of the head and rotate the head so it is looking down at your left pocket.
  3. Twisting shoulder stretch
  4. Latissimus dorsi stretch on ball
  5. Forearm stretches
  6. Downward facing dog calf stretch
  7. Three step seated hamstring stretch
    • sit on the side of a table with one leg on the table and the other foot flat on the ground. Put a rope around the foot on the table.
    • Straighten the back, lean forward and push the knee down to the table.
    • Turn the foot inward and pull on the rope. This is a stretch for the outside of the calf.
  8. Kneeling hip stretch

Strength work

  1. Arm raises
  2. Abdominal twist on ball
  3. Side stance lunge with rotation
  4. Front lunge and reach: this mimics the movement of bending and reaching for a tennis ball. It teaches you to stay in a stable position as you reach and works your trunk and legs.
    • With a weight in your right hand, step forward with your left foot to a comfortable distance.
    • Bend your knees and go straight down. At the same time twist to the left and reach out with your right hand while your left hand moves back and to the right.
    • Do the same exercise on the other side of the body.
  5. Backward lunge and twist
  6. Forearm curls
  7. Stretch cord rows

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What follows here is an unnecessarily detailed description of my tennis strokes.

Preparation: before each point, I mentally prepare myself.

Free the muscles in my neck and jaw using the Alexander Technique.
Smile at the thought of winning the next point.
Think about where I want the ball to go.
Rehearse the next stroke I am going to use, usually the serve or return of serve.
Say the score.

Basic Stroke Mechanics.
Twist my trunk to bring the racket back.
Step into the ball and bend my knees.
Grip the racket solidly with a neutral wrist position, approach the ball with a closed racket head and hit the ball early rather than late.
Swing through the ball and up and follow through.

Forehand/Two Handed Backhand
Keep my feet moving.
When my opponent hits the ball, jump into a split step.
Twist my trunk to bring the racket back as I run to the ball.
Step into the ball and bend my knees.
Swing through the ball and up while thinking about where I want to ball to go.
Move back to the neutral position on the court.

Slice Backhand
Keep my feet moving.
When my opponent hits the ball, jump into a split step.
Twist my trunk to bring the racket back as I run to the ball.
Step into the ball and bend my knees.
Swing under the ball and up while thinking about where I want the ball to go.
Move back to the neutral position on the court.

Serve: there are three important parts of my serve: 1. bend my knees and rotate my trunk 2. move my head and spine up towards the ball – this keeps me from tilting my head forward and taking my eye off the ball 3. snap across the ball at impact to get as much rotation as possible.

Twist to the right and toss the ball with a straight arm. At its highest point, the ball will be in line with my head and a racket length in front of the baseline.
Bend my knees and rotate, loop the racket behind me and aim the edge of the racket at the ball.
Snap the racket across the ball at impact while thinking about where I want the ball to go.
Move back the behind the baseline.
When my opponent hits the ball, jump into a split step.

Return of Serve: I use a one-two-three rhythm to return serve. One is when my opponent hits the ball. Two is when the ball bounces on my side of the court. Three is when I hit the ball. Keeping this rhythm in mind helps me adjust to different service speeds.

Keep my feet moving.
When my opponent hits the ball, jump into a split step.
Step into the ball and bend my knees.
Swing through the ball and up while thinking about where I want the ball to go.
Move back to the neutral position on the court.

Passing forehand/passing backhand: this shot should either land at the volleyer’s feet or pass them to the right or left. It’s also useful as a winning shot when your opponent is at the baseline because the angle is so sharp.

Keep my feet moving.
When my opponent hits the ball, jump into a split step.
Twist my trunk to bring the racket back as I run to the ball.
Step into the ball and bend my knees.
Swing through the ball and up sharply while thinking about where I want to ball to go.
Move back to the neutral position on the court.

Approach Shot
Twist my trunk to bring the racket back as I run towards the ball.
Move to a position behind and to the side of the ball.
Step into the ball and bend my knees.
Swing through the ball and up while thinking about where I want the ball to go.
Be sure to finish the swing before moving forward.
Move forward to the net until my opponent hits the ball then jump into a split step.

High Bouncing Shot
Keep my feet moving.
When my opponent hits the ball, jump into a split step.
Twist my trunk to bring the racket back as I run to the ball.
Lift the ball by swinging the racket up and in a circle. The racket will end up facing down in front of my body.
Move back to the neutral position on the court.

Lob: because I have had problems with tennis elbow, I avoid hitting shots with an open racket face. For this shot I use a flat racket face.

Keep my feet moving.
When my opponent hits the ball, jump into a split step.
Twist my trunk to bring the racket back as I run to the ball.
Hit under the ball and sharply up with a flat racket face while thinking about where I want the ball to go.
Move back to the neutral position on the court.

Volley
Preparation: stand with the racket head up and racket directly in front of my body.
Move forward on the diagonal and step into the ball.
The racket moves very little in space, it just meets the ball.
Keep the racket head up when hitting a low volley.
Just meet the ball when stretching for a volley.

Forehand Overhead
Move to a position behind and slightly to the side of where the ball will drop.
Twist my body to the right and point up at the ball with my finger.
Swing the racket in a figure eight and hit the ball while thinking about where I want it to go.

Backhand Overhead
Twist my trunk to bring the racket over and behind my left shoulder while running to a position in front of and slightly to the side of the ball.
Snap the racket up and over the ball while thinking about where I want it to go.

Drop Shot: a successful drop shot lands near the outside line of the service box and short enough that it bounces at least twice in the service box. I use a continental grip for the forehand drop shot to avoid tennis elbow. Don’t you do that.

Keep my feet moving.
When my opponent hits the ball, jump into a split step.
Twist my trunk to bring my racket back as I run to the ball.
Step into the ball and bend my knees.
Slice down at the ball and forward while thinking about where I want the ball to go.
Move back to the neutral position on the court.

After the Point
If I won the point I say, “That’s like me!”
If I make an unforced error I go onto the next point.
If my opponent makes a winning shot I congratulate them.
Start the preparation for the next point.

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Directive affirmations were developed by Lanny Bassham. They are a very effective tool for changing behavior. A directive affirmation has a time limit – the hopeful deadline for changing the behavior, a goal – whatever it is you want to change, the payoff, and your plan to reach the goal. Write or print out five copies of the affirmation and put them all over your house. Work with each affirmation for 21 days and then wait at least 9 days before starting a new affirmation or continuing to work with the current one. Below are affirmations I have used.

Ignore the score
Apart from saying the score after each point is completed, it’s better to ignore the score. Worrying about being down 0-40 isn’t going to help. The best thing is to concentrate instead on the preparation for the next point.

11/3/03 Apart from noting the score, the only thing I think about is execution. As a result, I play fearlessly, willing to go for any shot at any time and I enjoy playing in a competitive situation because I’m not worried about anything. I run a mental program for each point and reinforce each winning point by saying “That’s like me!” I record my performance analysis and read and visualize my Directive Affirmation daily. Apart from noting the score, the only thing I think about is execution.

Automatic strokes

When I was learning to drive a car, I was very awkward because I had to think about everything. After a while, driving became automatic until I had an accident and then I had to start all over again. Tennis is similar. If I have practiced my strokes enough, I will be able to perform them automatically in competition.

12/27/03 My preparation and strokes are automatic. As a result, I can concentrate on where I want the ball the go when I am playing the point and I will be able to win more points. As soon as the point is over, I say the score, free my neck, smile at the thought of winning the next point, think about where I want to put the ball and rehearse my next shot. When I win the shot I say, “That’s like me!” My preparation and strokes are automatic.

Nervousness

I was getting so nervous in league competition, “would I let my team down?”, “will I be able to win even one game?”, “will my serve land in the other court?”, that I couldn’t peform well. The purpose of this affirmation is to expect calmness when I play because I’m as prepared as I can be, there’s nothing more I can do about it.

June 7, 2004 Once the match starts I feel comfortable because I have prepared as well as I can. As a result, I am relaxed and perform better. I rehearse everything that happens on the day of the match, I practice 3 times a week, I record my performance analysis and read and visualize my Directive Affirmation daily. Once the match starts I feel comfortable because I have prepared as well as I can.

Nervousness/ignore the score

When league play started up again this year, I had a bit of a meltdown in my first match. The purpose of this affirmation is to expect to be calm, not worry about the score and to remember to return to the mental preparation for each shot if I start to falter.

8/29/04 Apart from noting the score, the only thing I think about is execution. As a result, there is no time to get nervous or worry about losing. If I start to worry, I need only to run a mental program for each point, think about where I want the ball to go when I hit it and reinforce each winning point by saying “That’s like me!” Apart from noting the score, the only thing I think about is execution.

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Having recovered from a bout of tennis elbow (are you sure you should be listening to me?) that curtailed my season last year, I am playing one set of singles and one set of doubles once a week in the Los Angeles Tennis Association. To increase my chance of actually improving my game, I occupy my mind with positive, constructive thoughts. It helps to break competition down into the following parts:

  1. practice: I rent a court for an hour before competition and practice just as I would on practice days
  2. point: before each point I run through a mental program
    • I free my neck (this is that Alexander Technique stuff)
    • smile at the thought of winning the next point and think about where I want the ball to go.
    • mentally rehearse my next stroke – usually a serve or return of serve.
    • say the score.

    after each point: I congratulate myself if I win. If I don’t win, I forget about the last point and start the process above all over again.

  3. game – on the break during crossover I mentally rehearse shots other than serve and return of serve
  4. set: sometimes I have to wait up to an hour to play the second set. During this time I practice footwork
  5. day: I can be nervous on days of competition. If the wind is blowing,
    it’s even worse. Whenever I think about the competition, I mentally rehearse
    the steps above – practice, point, game and set.

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Agassi, Andre
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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free your neck
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