Tennis is never on hold: from Melbourne to North Finchley

Tennis is never on hold for the Aceplay Tennis coaching team. Whilst the pro’s melted in Australia and we chewed our nails, cheered and reflected on all the drama from the Australian Open we were also hard at work here at Ravens Tennis Club in North Finchley, London.

Although winter has actually arrived it hasn’t been enough to stop us and our coaching programme. Frosty courts calls for creative coaching and whilst the younger kids have been taking their lessons in our club house, I’ve also been working on the psychology with the performance players. Last night did a fantastic analysis and reflection session after a grade three tournament last weekend brought a mixture of results. We spoke about the impact of tension as both a positive and negative reality in match play, how nerves can affect our performance and make movement, shot selection and execution harder than ever and how me may cope with these pressures.

Onwards and forwards for us all.

Watching Andy Murray is the reason I love sport and of course tennis!!

Watching Andy Murray on the Melbourne Arena tennis court in his first round match against Roberto Bautista Agut reminds me of not only why i love watching muzzer but why i love sport, tennis and watching it live.

On the back of his sad and tearful press conference two days ago Murray started his first round Australian Grand Slam match struggling physically. Although as expected he competed admirably he was just off the pace against an opponent he had previously not lost a set against. And then Murray starts fighting back. And the drama, adrenaline and sheer belligerent determination in him returns in the third set and the belief returned to his mind and seemingly replaced fears and pain from his hip. It is the reason he is great champion.

For me watching it also reminds me that goals, targets, hopes dreams and ambitions seemingly out of our reach can be achieved against the odds. Believing in yourself is often not easy. I know this from my own life struggles, but watching Murray and others like him is so inspiring and so motivating.

Junior tennis holiday camps for 2019

Camps 2019

Great news. Our 2019 junior holiday tennis camp information and details are now available for viewing and download.

Perhaps the most coveted and loved part of our annual tennis programme is the holiday camps. These run in parallel to Barnet Council School holidays and have a fantastic reputation built over a period of 10 years+.

Our coaches, tennis leaders and assistants work in coordination to ensure that children of all ages, abilities and from all walks of life can come to our tennis club here in North Finchley London N12 and have a fantastic experience. It is one they will want to repeat and share over and over, just ask the hundreds of children who have been here before.

We are proud of our reputation, it has been built through attention to care and detail and would love to share it with you. Come and join us and become part of the Aceplay Tennis family!!

Well we are nearly there. 2019 is looming over the tennis net and within touching distance. Upon reflection 2018 has been an unusual year. Not just because of social, political and environmental stuff that fills our newspapers, televisions, smart phones and thoughts but because it’s been quite a year for tennis.

On the pro circuit we saw the greatest male tennis player of all time Roger Federer continuing his remarkable tally of major title wins despite the exciting comeback of both Rafa and Novak to challenge his crown. Roger may not end 2018 as world no.1 but he remains No.1 in our hearts and i only hope he can maintain his remarkable levels in 2019. In the ladies game perhaps the greatest player of all time Serena come back to the tour as a mum offering us not only some exciting tennis but the greatest and most uncomfortable melt down ever seen in the US Open Final. Her upset and antics undoubtedly was important in the current world climate but it did diminish the incredible achievements of a new star Naomi Osaka as she won her first major tennis title. All sorts of drama and action kept us on the edge of our seats and i have no doubt 2019 will be just the same.

In the smaller but no less significant tennis world of the Aceplay Tennis team (significant i hope to all who came and enjoyed some court time with us) we enjoyed another fabulous year on court. A massive thank you to all who have trained, visited, enquired, played, connected via social media or like you took the time to read this blog and engage with us. Thank you a million times over, without you this is nothing.

A very happy and peaceful year to you all and i hope 2019 brings some of your hopes, dreams and wishes.

Queries over a Christmas holiday camp 2018

I have been unexpectedly and very humbly inundated with requests and queries regarding a Christmas tennis holiday camp over the school holiday’s this year. Unfortunately this is not something we have scheduled. Traditionally the time of year and weather has shaped the coaches rest and recovery timetable to include a fortnight off the tennis court over the festive period and that is the reason we are not running.

Many many thanks to you all for your interest. I am in the process of preparing the annual schedule for holidays camps in 2019, which will be posted online in early January.

Winter time tennis coaching in London – It’s minus out here but we’re smiling

The best thing about loving your job is that whatever the environment throws up you adapt!! This week the Winter has been biting hard for us outdoor tennis coaches in London and whilst it never ceases to amaze me how the kids turn up in shorts and T-shirts (only then to realise how blooming freezing it is) we cater, adjust and adapt.

Last night (see photo above) it was a biting cold night but for Matteo and myself. But despite these elements the end of term Friday evening tennis group tournament was as fun as always. The kids bring their warm spirits and love for the game onto court with them and it is infectious. Happy coaches and happy kids is a great formula for any tennis coaching session.

The worst part of being a tennis coach during the winter – sunny sky but frozen tennis courts!

There’s nothing worse than waking to blue skies and sun before realising that the temperature is close to zero. Leaving for work this morning took longer than usual. Not just because putting on five layers of clothing is a chore itself but then waiting in the car for the engine to warm up and defrost the ice enough to drive.

It is a beautiful sparkling sunny day over North London. Finchley was glowing with the frost but i had not anticipated the tennis courts being unplayable. It is the first time this morning and by the time i had WhatsApp’d the morning group they had turned up. Sadly we had to abandon play but not before we tried and agreeing that ice skates are needed!

Rest and Recovery – An essential part of sport and training

As it was my son’s birthday I’ve just had most of the weekend off the tennis court. After a four hour shift of training on Saturday morning I came home, collected my son and we went to the Emirates Stadium in Islington to watch our beloved Arsenal FC. What a treat for us both and whilst it wasn’t the best performance against Huddersfield we managed a 1-0 win. It made me think about the physical endeavours on the Arsenal team (three intense top level matches in 6 days) as showing up on the pitch and thinking about the importance of rest and recovery to help keep the performance levels we would want and hope to achieve.

Feeling refreshed after the change of scenery I can report on the essential inclusion of some rest to aid recovery as a tennis coach and for my tennis players. Including proper downtime off the court, whatever the player’s level is so important. The demands of learning, training, thinking, understanding and processing what is being passed on takes mental energy and this energy can only be found through good eating, rest and having fun off the court!!! Make sure you schedule some in.

Working hard is hard work – but the results are worth it!

Luke

I know that it can be tough to put everything into a training session. It doesn’t matter what your level or in fact what you are doing, if it feels like the energy reserves are low then giving your all is tough.

On the video (highlighted ‘Luke’ at the top) you can see how hard my performance player worked despite the fact it was cold, late at night and he was tired. I set up a set go lines laterally along the baseline and then asked he keep jogging on the spot. The trigger was me calling ‘go’ when he moved to the next space and to the tennis ball. Hard work but he gave it his best and as i always point out learning, changing and ultimately improving is a process but the results will reveal themselves. And when they do boy does it feel good!!

The psychological importance of the coach – player relationship

Last night with our outdoor courts busy for a team match i travelled to a local indoor centre to train. Here i met Luke, who at 16 is doing really well, has a mightily impressive LTA rating, and had just reached the semi-final of his first ever grade 3 (LTA system) tournament.

Due to his exam schedule, bad weather and illness this had been our first training session in three weeks. Afterwards i reflected on how important the session had been. Not just to continue our technical and tactical work but as a chance to ‘catch-up’ on his efforts on the court since we had last met. He had been holding onto all his thoughts, both positive and negative, for these three weeks and was badly in need of letting me know how it had all been going.

This makes me think about the need, in a close relationship, to share and be heard by someone of importance. It is the basic principle of counselling, to externalise something held internally, and in tennis which is perhaps the toughest psychological sport so important.

It was a great session. Not because he played well, in fact he was rusty and physically his fitness had dropped quite a bit through the exam and revision period, but because we were able to reflect together on his efforts and plan the Christmas break tournament schedule he left feeling more positive and looking forward to the future.