Staying Out of the Way
I started teaching tennis in the mid 1950s. Not a day goes by where my
mind doesn't say, "here we go again." My toughest lesson is not with
my students - but with their parents. Parents, please read this
several times and be honest with yourself, and if the shoe fits,
please loosen your laces a bit and just be a mom or dad to your kid.
Let the coaches do their jobs.
The role of leader carries a great honor and responsibility.
Successful leaders embrace the power of teamwork and tap into the
strength that each member of the team brings to the table. A leader
must be the one that accepts success or failure - and never shifts
their role of being a leader.
Developing Positive Self Esteem
Self esteem boils down to one thing: what you think about yourself!
No matter where I go or who I talk to, your chances of any success
starts with you. You have two simple options. You can either be
positive or negative.
Show Me! Let Me See It!
No matter what you think, I have never found two students who are
exactly the same, and I've coached and worked with tens of thousands
of students. With this in mind, coaches and educators must find a way
to be successful that will often differ by student. Coaches vary in
the way they teach the game, but the most productive method I apply is
based somewhat on their ages.
The Importance of Teamwork
Nick Bollettieri has assembled quite a team at IMG Academies. Tennis
may be an individual sport, but Bollettieri knows a lot about
collaboration - and the kind of teamwork it takes to do something
profound. He did just that when he opened the IMG Bollettieri Tennis
Academy, and it is the team of people at IMG Academies that he credits
for making it such a wonderful place to train.
Know Your Stuff!
One of the most common questions people ask me is how I can relate to
so many different types of personalities on the tennis court. Well, it
ain't easy! Each player has their own way of dealing with everything.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with a
player at any level is that you have to know your stuff! If you don't,
you risk losing their trust and respect.
Sooner or later, you will play doubles. So, you should accept this
near fact and find a solution. For this, I can help you. The main
difference between doubles and singles is that doubles is a game of
court positioning. Doubles has two players on each side of the court,
which automatically means less open space. In doubles, the reduced
court space limits creativity and results in specific shots being hit
80 and Still Jumping
For many years I have been close with the folks at West Point and the
Military. I have not only spoken to the cadets, but I have also
developed a very strong relationship with their tennis teams and
coaches. At the 2010 US Open, I opened up my mouth and sort of
suggested that I would be interested in skydiving with the Golden
Knights for my 80th birthday (July 31, 2011). I didn't think much of
it afterwards, but Coach Peck set the wheels in motion.
Many years ago a tennis player came to the IMG Bollettieri Tennis
Academy to get back into shape and prepare for the senior tour. He was
one of the greatest players ever, and I asked him how he accomplished
so much.His answer: "When I walked on the court, there was only one
thought in my mind, and it stayed with me until the final point of the
match: I will hit the last ball over the net." Who was that person?
Go For Every Ball
During my first practice sessions with Venus and Serena Williams, one
of the first things I noticed was that the girls would run for every
single ball, no matter where it bounced on the court, including some
that were out by several feet. When I asked them about it, they told us
about their father's rule: "When you see the ball coming over the net,
react to the ball with your feet and know that you can reach the ball."
That intensity and focus is one of the things that makes them special.
Two Simple Tips to Improve Your Game
As a coach I am asked all kinds of questions about the game of tennis.
People want to know how to fix anything from their strokes to their
anticipation to their movement - and, just about everything in
between. Here are answers to two questions that I am often asked
that can help you fix your game!
Taylor Dent: An Inspiration to Anyone
I love watching sports, I love playing sports, and I appreciate and
respect athletes that play the game with energy, passion, and
dedication. These are the values that I try and instill in my students
and staff every single day at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy.
Having Taylor Dent practicing on courts right next to them is a breath
of fresh air to our students.
Becoming Aware of Yourself, Part II
The last segment of "Becoming Aware of Yourself" outlined the initial
evaluation process. I stressed honesty as the key component in
analyzing your strengths and weaknesses. By being honest with
yourself, you can successfully pinpoint the areas of your game you
need to improve upon. This article gets more concrete with
Becoming Aware of Yourself
Personal awareness refers to your ability to know yourself as a tennis
player and as a person. You can develop your strong points even
further. Developing a sound and thorough personal awareness will help
you identify your strong points, limitations and areas for
Growing a Champion
At any given time at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy we have
students attending from over 72 different countries from socioeconomic
groups that range from those on full scholarship to those of
incredible wealth. As diverse as the group is there are certain key
traits we look for in indentifying future champions.
Tennis has the Power to Help!
I traveled to Ethiopia in December with one thing in mind: bring my
adopted son back to America, be a father to him, and give him a better
life. My eyes were opened to a world that I'd never seen before. I
didn't realize how large of an impact it would have on me. I encountered
a culture where people are extremely gracious, wonderfully spiritual and
tremendously resilient - all characteristics that I strive to embody
in my life.
Stretch Your Way to Better Tennis
The game of tennis is much more than just striking a ball. When you
watch matches you will see all types of hitting styles, various
strategies, and lots of variety in movement on the court! Unlike raw
natural ability and common sense, mobility is something you can
actually improve with practice. Here are some tips on things you can
do to improve flexibility and mobility.
Sizing Up the Opposition
One of the most important skills that any tennis player can have is
the ability to size up their opponent quickly and easily. Knowing how
to read their opponent starting at the warm-up gives a player a
distinct advantage. Whether playing for high school, college, a
recreational league or even in the professional ranks, the ability to
size up your opponent is a huge advantage.
Relationship Advice from a Pro
I am often asked to share words of advice to newlyweds at their
wedding receptions. It wasn't until I married Cindi that it dawned on
me how similar marriage is to playing doubles in tennis. Below are my
tips on how to increase your odds of creating a winning doubles
team... both on the court and off.
Observations from the 2009 US Open
This year's US Open was an exciting one! For the first time in six
years, a new men's champion was crowned... congratulations Juan Martin
Del Potro. Kudos also go out to Kim Clijsters who proved all the
naysayers wrong... Both players brought excitement and a renewed and
much-needed spark of interest to the game.
The Perfect Athlete
When I think about the perfect athletes throughout history, a few
names come to mind. Jordan. Gretzky. Nicklaus. Palmer. Oh... and Tiger,
even though he missed the cut and collapsed at the two most recent
majors. History's perfect tennis player? I plead the fifth.
Down, but Not Necessarily Out
Coming back from a serious injury is never an easy thing to do,
especially if your career depends on the health of your body.
Rehabilitation takes commitment, hard work, perseverance, and, most of
all, patience. Nick Bollettieri discusses inspiring comeback stories
Would I have Coached Rafael Nadal Differently to Prevent Injuries?
Since the French Open, I have been asked by the media, fans, friends,
and just about everyone else whom I've encountered about Rafael Nadal.
They all want to know if I would have coached him any differently as a
youngster and as a professional to prevent injuries. I can honestly
and definitively say, "Absolutely not!"
The Bollettieri Development System
In the early stages of my career, I realized that if I worked longer
and harder than anyone else and surrounded myself with loyal,
committed people, I could be somebody. I realized that if I learned
from my defeats and had the support of my friends, I could make an
impact on children. This has been my life's work, and it has paved the
way for what has become the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy at IMG
It is a common phenomenon in the game of tennis for players to spend
the majority of their time and energy focusing on their serve.
Although I am not disputing the importance of a great serve, I like to
have my students practice and place more emphasis on developing a
great return of serve. The best professional players instantly put
pressure on the server with great return of serves. Let's delve a
little deeper into this crucial part of the game.
Nadal Does It, Why Can't I?
Rafael Nadal is an incredible player; his physical make-up, movement,
tenacity, and "will to win" have ensured his spot in either the #1 or
#2 spot in the world.Nadal's game is an extremely "physical" one,
which includes his heavy top-spin forehand hit with a full western
grip. People love to emulate the top players, so if Nadal hits with a
full western grip then they want to, too! But, before you make this
game style decision, let's examine the western grip a little closer.
Monica Seles - Two Handed Wonder
Monica Seles holds a special spot in this coach's heart. Her
competitive spirit was second-to-none, she is genuinely kind, and her
professional accomplishments are numerous and impressive. She will be
inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009.
Bollettieri reflects on Seles' game - and her contributions to the
A scratch of the head, an eye-roll after a double fault, a painful
wince - children are amazingly perceptive and acutely aware of their
parents' reactions to their performance on the court. Nick
Bollettieri talks about the role of the parent with the tennis-playing
junior, and how parents can help children be happy, healthy, and successful
both in life and on the court.
Courier: "The Grinder"
Jim Courier's career can be summed up in just a few words: hard work,
guts, and passion! He has had to work for everything that has come to
him in life, but the fruits of his labor have produced four Grand Slam
titles, a #1 ranking in the world, and membership on the victorious
1992 Davis Cup Team.
Jelena's Climb to the Top
Even though it happened and lasted for just one week, Jelena
Jankovic's journey to reach the top of the tennis world was achieved!
As anyone who has ever successfully climbed a mountain unattainable by
the vast majority of their peers, her sense of triumph and euphoria
was both deserved and hard-earned. Jelena made it to the top through
sheer hard work and determination.
Racket-Head Speed: What is it and how do I get more of it?
The term racket-head speed is thrown around by tennis commentators,
coaches, spectators and players all the time. Generating this speed
consistently is the solution to a more powerful game. The faster you
can get your racket moving through the zone when making contact with
the ball, generally the more power you will have. Let's talk about
how to generate more racket-head speed without sacrificing control...
When Do I Take the Split Step?
Nick Bollettieri takes a look at the serve-and-volley, identifying
what the best players do to get to the net effectively.
Max Mirnyi - A Tall Tale of Success
Max Mirnyi has been training at the Academy for seventeen years, and
he's left a footprint here at least the size of our 300 acres. The
6'5" Belarusian has been such a fixture here at the Academy for so
long that he is considered family. Young players all look up to him
(literally and figuratively) when he shows up to practice. Veteran
players, coaches, staff, all respect and admire his talents and his
character. But, I can remember when Max wasn't so tall or
'Boom Boom' Becker: A Serve Built on Confidence
I've been bombarded with questions about service technique, asked to
analyze serve motions down to the quiver of a single cell, begged
relentlessly for that "miracle" tip that will send the ball 140mph
over the net and in the corner of the service box - No matter what the
magazines print in bold on their covers, no such miracle exists. A
good serve is a confident serve, and confidence is the payoff of
having a whole lot of self-discipline.
Will the Serve and Volley Ever Bounce Back?
On court, the power game is linked to the economy of energy - points
end after fewer strokes and in less time. On the other hand, a game
built around strategy, like the Serve and Volley game, is linked more
to patience. I believe the gradual disappearance of the Serve and
Volley in modern tennis can be traced back to several factors; the
difficulty and time commitment required for its development, equipment
advancements, improvements in the players' physical fitness, and the
fans thirst for the more "glamorous" game.
The Coaching Carousel
The coaching carousel spins again, this time with the break up of one
of the highest profile teams on the ATP Tour, Andy Roddick and his
coach, Jimmy Connors. The first question people usually ask is "What
happened?". As in many cases, knee-jerk reactions, speculations, and
rumors inevitably begin to pile up and ultimately bury the truth.
The Return of Davenport
Davenport's back! That's good news for women's tennis, and with her
commitment to play in the Fed Cup and her eyes set on the 2008 Beijing
Olympics, better news for American women's tennis.
Beat the Cheat - Part II
There will always be people who choose to cheat. Therefore we must
develop skills in our youth that heighten our ability to maintain our
composure in the midst of unfair competition - whether on the court or
off. Developing these skills will prove invaluable to young players
both in tennis - as well as in life.
Beat the Cheat - Part I
Anyone who has spent more than five minutes at a junior tennis
tournament knows how prevalent cheating and accusations of cheating
are even at that level of play. The questions we must address as
coaches and parents are: (1) What causes our youngsters to cheat? (2)
How do we teach our kids to handle cheating when they are on the
Master the Backhand Court
If you are like most people then your forehand is more dependable and
aggressive than your backhand. If your opponent attacks your
backhand, there are two ways to approach the problem: either improve
your backhand - or simply hit more forehands!
The Lost Art of the Drop Shot
Let's face it, today's game is all about power and hitting the tar out
of the ball. For the most part, the game of tennis is now
predominantly played behind the baseline. This evolution has brought
many advances to the game, including the need for increased physical
training, as well as requiring players to hone their mental games.
However, one skill lost in this transition has been the fine art of
the drop shot. If used properly, I believe that the drop shot can be
more effective than ever before.
Welcome to the Evolution
On today's tennis courts, you can find a wide variety in the styles of
play and the personalities on the court. Every match seems to
showcase something different to amaze and delight fans. The power is
there, but there is a mix of speed, agility and all-court play. The
game has evolved into a much more physical sport than ever before.
But you need more than physical strength and stamina to be successful
in today's game. Just take a look at the number one players in the
world on both sides.
What Really Matters?
As a tennis coach I have learned a lot by observing others both on the
court and off. There is one trait in people that is difficult to
define, but we all know it when we see it... a strong character.
Although there is no direct link between one's level of character and
one's level of ability on the tennis court. However, I can say
without hesitation that there is a direct link between the level of
happiness one enjoys and the quality of one's character.
Breaking Down Your Opponent (Part 2)
Last month I talked about breaking down your opponent both technically
and physically. The last way to do this is mentally, which often
starts before the match begins.
Breaking Down Your Opponent
There are some things that never change, whether it is on the athletic
field or in life. Some people may not be as good as others, some may
be better, and others are equal. But in every situation there are ways
to break down your opponent.
Federer Crashes to Earth
Who would've guessed that Roger Federer would make an opening round
exit from the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells? I certainly wouldn't
have predicted it, especially for a guy that had won 41 consecutive
matches overall and three consecutive titles at Indian Wells. If you
did pick this upset, you could have retired after a short trip to Las
Vegas! But is this really that big of an upset?
2007 Australian Open Preview
As we look ahead to the start of the upcoming 2007 tennis season there
is plenty to be excited about. At the top of everyone's list is the
first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open. Last year's Aussie
Open saw Amelie Mauresmo win her first Grand Slam. Roger Federer won
his second Australian Open, and his third Grand Slam tournament in a
row. This year's Open should be nothing short of spectacular!