November 28, 2010

I'm Drinking Even More Coffee!

If Dr. Oz tells me to drink more coffee, I've got to do it, right?

In a recent "Health and Fitness" newspaper column, written by Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz, it was pointed out that "compared with people who skip coffee, those with high blood pressure who enjoy one or two cups daily have better 'artery distensibility.'" Meaning? The arteries of coffee drinkers are better at expanding and contracting. Meaning? The coffee drinkers' flexible arteries may improve their blood pressure.

You probably know that Dr. Oz is one of Oprah's big buddies. And you probably know that Drs. Roizen and Oz are the authors of the popular "YOU" series of books, including YOU: The Owner's Manual: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger. So I'm just saying if they're drinking coffee to improve their blood pressure, of course I'm drinking coffee too.

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

November 26, 2010

Happy Black Friday! Tennis Art For Sale!

It's Black Friday - the biggest shopping day of the year! Instead of joining the throng at the mall to save $5 on pajamas, go for something truly unique, feed your Tennis Fixation and support the charity of your favorite tennis star - all at the same time!

While the stars of the ATP play in the 2010 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, an auction of art created by them is going on. Each of the players recently created a unique piece of art by hitting paint-covered tennis balls against large canvases. Each canvas was then overlaid with a stenciled image of the star, ultimately revealing a one-of-a-kind self-portrait.

Just to give you an idea of how all of this worked, check out these photos. Here's Roger Federer working on his piece:

And here he is with the stencil:

Here's Rafael Nadal with his piece:

And here's Andy Murray with his piece:

Want to see these cool pieces or actually place a bid? Just click on this link: ATP Art of Tennis. You'll be taken to the site where you can bid, through eBay, and you can check out more images showing these "artists" at work.

The other cool part of this is that, as you probably would guess, they're doing it all for charity. All proceeds from the art as well as autographed racquets used by the players will benefit charity, with 50% of the proceeds going to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals official tournament charity – Save The Children – and the other 50% going to each player’s chosen charity.

So spend your Black Friday supporting your fav tennis stars, checking out some awesome art and shopping for charity! And do it soon - all of these pieces will be sold by the end of the ATP Finals - November 28.

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

November 22, 2010

Eenie, Meenie, Miney - Tennis Coach!

This is Part 3 of a series on finding and getting the most from your tennis lessons.

So, you've decided to spend the time and money on private lessons. You're looking for a great tennis coach. You've even come up with a list of potential coaches. But how do you find the one that's right for you?

1. Give all of your potential coaches a call. While this seems obvious, I know plenty of people taking lessons from coaches they never spoke to prior to their first paid-for lesson. People like, ummm . . .  me! But you can learn quite a bit by just making this phone call and you most likely will weed out one or two potential candidates just based on your phone conversation.

2. Ask for AND talk to references. Before you commit to a coach, ask him to give you some references who you can call. Don't be embarrassed about this. A good coach should have several names to give you, people he teaches who won't mind spending some time talking to you. If your potential coach avoids giving you references, avoid that coach.

3. Talk to other students. So you get some references. Give them a call! Don't  avoid the hassle. You're potentially entering into a long term relationship with this coach. Do your homework and make the calls asking - How long has the student taken with this coach? What are her work habits like? Is she always on time? Does she cancel at the last minute? What are her strengths? Weaknesses? What to they really like about her? What do they hate?

4. Watch some lessons. This is such an easy and cheap way to find out what a coach is like. You may feel weird about it, you might think you're disrupting the lesson, but most people won't have any problem with this. And I'm not talking about sitting there staring at a one hour lesson. Just drop by for 15 to 20 minutes in the middle of a lesson to see what's happening and see if this lesson represents the kind of lesson you want to take.

5. Take a lesson. After doing all (or even some) of the above, just go ahead and take a lesson. And pay for it. No coach is obligated to give you some kind of free try-it-out lesson and you shouldn't expect that. It's their business after all!. But you also don't have to get into a long-term relationship right off the bat. So take the test drive, see if you click with the coach you've honed in on. Do you understand what's happening during the lesson? Do the instructions make sense? Are you getting too much talking and not enough hitting? Are your questions being answered? The actual lesson experience should tell you whether this is the coach for you.

Want to read other posts in this series? Just click on these titles and find out how to get the most from your tennis lessons:

Part 1 - Federer Hired A Tennis Coach - Should You?
Part 2 - Where, Oh Where, Can I Find A Great Tennis Coach?

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

November 20, 2010

How To Make Me Quit Your Tennis Team

I am a quitter. I admit it. I'm a quitter and I'm leaving one of my tennis teams at the end of this season because I just can't take it anymore.

Now, I am the first person to tell you that a good team player doesn't quit just because she's "unhappy" with the team. A good team player puts the team's success above her individual success. A good team player plays when and where her captain sticks her, no questions asked. That may mean playing with the player no one else wants to play with. That may mean playing the "sacrifice" line. That may mean playing a much lower line than you believe you deserve to be playing. That may mean playing with sub after sub after sub. That may mean playing the late match EVERY SINGLE WEEK. But does it mean playing in the face of ALL of those things?

I think not.

But that's what I've been putting up with on one of my teams and, this past week, I reached my breaking point.  And what was it that finally gave me the last push I needed to come to this decision?

This past week, I was once again playing with a sub I had never met before we stepped on court to be partners.  She was very sweet but somewhere during the 3rd or 4th game of the match she told me, "I am having a really hard time when I'm up at the net and you come up to the net. I don't know how to play when we're both at the net. It's confusing to me."

Did I mention we were playing doubles?  And she was having problems with both us of being at the net?

We won that match but to say it was a struggle would be a huge understatement. I worked really hard as did my partner (no surprise there). But I just can't keep playing every week with different partners and trying to figure out how my partner plays on top of trying to figure out how my opponents play.

So I'm quitting this team.

And this has not been an easy decision for me to come to. I have really questioned myself - do I have the wrong attitude about all of this? Am I really justified in thinking I should be playing a higher line? Does my captain actually believe I'm so strong that I can win with any old sub she can dig up to stick with me? Is there some secret over-arching strategy in place here to win lines that I am unaware of? Or is there some subtle message I'm being given that I'm not wanted on this team? Am I possibly over-thinking this and veering into some kind of tennis team paranoia?

Guess what? I don't care anymore.

Just to make clear - I know its hard to be a team captain because I've captained several teams. You are constantly balancing winning against keeping your team cohesive and happy. But as far as I can tell, my captain is not the least bit concerned about my happiness. Maybe she cares if I win my line or not but she is making it way too hard for me to do that.

So, to my captain I say - Congratulations! If you hoped to come up with some way to get me to quit because you didn't have the guts to tell me to leave, you have succeeded.  Good luck finding another player who shows up every week and plays with subs who apparently are oblivious to the basic strategies of doubles.

Because I quit!

This post originally appeared on Tennis Fixation's blog page on the Tennis Now website. Click here to read this and other great Tennis Fixation posts on Tennis Now!

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

November 16, 2010

Another Great Tennis Cake

Remember when I told you all about the great people at Wilton and how they had come up with a tennis ball cake that you or I or any other tennis fanatic could make?  Well, guess what?  There are all kinds of crazy tennis themed cakes happening in the world!  This is definitely a whole new Tennis Fixation category.

I know what you're thinking - someone here at Tennis Fixation has WAY too much free time on her hands when she is actually spending time on-line looking at tennis cakes.  But once you start, it is really hard to stop. 

For example, take a look at Tim's cake, shown in this photo.  Someone went to a really big effort to make sure Tim's birthday celebration included this very unusual tennis-themed birthday cake.  I'm not quite sure what to make of this.  Is Tim the last man standing? Does he really favor pink shorts? And what of his English partner? Maybe Tim is a great doubles player and he took his two opponents out.  But did he take out his partner too?

Anyway, I thought this was Tennis Fixation-worthy and if I wanted to see it, I knew you all would want to see it too. I definitely have to make a tennis cake for my next team party.

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

November 12, 2010

How I Get Coached By The Bryan Brothers

If only you had a tennis coach you could call upon anytime, day or night. Someone who would always be there for a last-minute stroke tune-up right before a match. A coach who could show you step-by-step exactly how to hit that two-handed backhand return, even if you want to know how to do that in the middle of the night. If only you could get coached by the Bryan Brothers. Well, your wish is granted! Simply download The Tennis App for your iPhone, iTouch or iPad and your own personal tennis coach is just a touch or two away.

I've searched and looked at every tennis app available for my iTouch and this is, hands down, the best thing out there. It's completely interactive. It shows you how to hit every, single important stroke in tennis. And, in many videos, it features the very cute and very Slam-winning doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan.

The Tennis App provides you with what seems like a gazillion videos from the Bryans and several other top-level touring players showing you how to hit incredible tennis shots. You want to see how to hit a really great topspin forehand? Well, download that stroke and you can see Bob Bryan doing just that in three different videos - from the front, the back and the side. And you can slow each of those videos WAY down to see him hit the shot frame by frame by frame. Comments and tips are included with the videos so even us less-than-stellar players can figure out exactly what Bob is doing.

But maybe you like Mike better and want to see his topspin forehand. Guess what? The same series of videos is available with Mike. Other featured players include Jelenda Jankovic and Anna Chakvetadze so you know you're getting high quality stuff.

Sounds good but what if you're a lefty and you don't think all of these prejudiced-towards-the-right-handed-player videos will work for you? Just scroll down to the Preferences and select "Left Handed" to see all of this stuff from a lefty's perspective. How cool is that? I'm impressed and I'm right-handed.

And there's more! There's a "News & Info" section, giving you up-to-date tennis news, player tweets, ATP and WTA rankings and live scores when matches are happening.

What is my absolute favorite part of the Tennis App? Believe it or not, it's free! All of this stuff costs you nothing! I actually paid good money for my Bejeweled 2 app so I'm amazed that I'm getting everything the Tennis App offers for free.

My recommendation? Download this app NOW. These guys are going to figure out what a valuable little item this is and I'm sure it won't be free for long!

This Tennis Fixation post originally appeared on one of my favorite tennis web sites: Strawberries & Scream.


© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

November 7, 2010

Why I Love Playing Tennis Indoors

Andy Roddick, Roger Federer and a bunch of other ATP guys are in Basel, Switzerland right now playing in the Davidoff Swiss Indoors tournament.

And guess what? I played an indoor match today too! Me indoors . . . Roddick and Federer indoors . . . mere coincidence? Or some kind of strange tennis destiny. You decide.

In the meantime, I was thinking how much I love playing on indoor courts.  Because when you're scheduled to play indoors, you know you're going to play!  You never have to worry about the weather.  Or the sun. Or the wind. Or the lawn care guys blowing leaves. Or little kids walking by the court going, "Hey lady!"  (Yes, it happened.)

But when I first joined my indoor team, I wasn't too crazy about being indoors.  It was always too loud. Or too echo-y.  Or too air-condition-y.  Or too weirdly lit (I can go on and on with this stuff.  Just see the post Top Excuses For Losing In Tennis.)

So there are a few things to watch out for when playing indoors.  Here's the list I've come up with:

1. Court Surface - Not all indoor courts are "hard" courts.  They may be made with a softer material that results in a slower or lower-bouncing ball.  You may know this about your own home courts (as I do since mine are like this) but it can take a few games to figure it out if you're playing a match in a new place.

2. Ceilings - Surprisingly, there is no standard indoor court ceiling.  They can be flat or pitched.  They can be solid white or have dark wooden beams running all over them.  They can have hanging light fixtures.  So you need to look up at each indoor court you play on and see what's going on.  And I mean look up before that first lob comes your way.

3.  Noise - While you may not have a small child pestering you (see above), these are often strange noises to contend with on indoor courts.  Fluorescent lights buzz.  Air conditioners switch on and off.  Bystanders are seated very close and talk very loud.  They may be watching your match, which can be intimidating, or they may be talking about their new tennis shoes, which is just rude.  Be aware of these distractions and blow them off.

4.  "Wind" Conditions - OK, so you don't have to deal with the real wind.  But I have played at a place where the air conditioners were hung over one end of the court and blew on me every time I served.  This is exactly the kind of stupid thing that bothers people with tennis ADD like me.  And exactly why I never serve from that end of the court whenever I have to go play there.

5.  Temperature - Amazingly, indoor courts can get pretty hot.  At my club, I think the strategy is to run the air conditioners during the winter and on major Jewish holidays.  That's the only logic I can come up with.  So don't overdress - wear layers and adjust to the temperature as you play.

6.  Players - Watch out for these indoor players.  In my experience, I feel like people who play indoors just play a different, trickier kind of tennis.  They're often older and have been playing tennis for a long, long time.  They know they can't use the outdoor elements to wear you down.  So they come up with an unending supply of spin shots, slice serves, sharp angles, short balls and perfect lobs.  I've gotten to the point where, if I have an indoor match and look over and see a couple of old ladies, I take a deep breath and try to mentally prepare myself to work my butt off.    

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

November 5, 2010

Let's Get Real - How Many Calories Can I Burn Playing Tennis?

So you think tennis is a really great workout? Not so fast, my volley-slamming friend. Let's calculate how many calories you can really burn off playing tennis.

We all know how to lose weight - burn off more calories than you take in. The question then is how many calories can you burn off by playing tennis?

I went on-line and found several sources to tell me what the calorie burn is for tennis. I first checked out, an on-line site that lets you easily keep track of your calories taken in and calories worked off. (This site also has an iPhone/iTouch app that is very easy to use.) Myfitnesspal gives these calorie counts for tennis:
  • Tennis, General - 408 calories per hour
  • Tennis, Doubles - 291 calories per hour
  • Tennis, Singles - 466 calories per hour
Another site that gives calorie counts is This site has a Physical Activity/Exercise Database that you can search to find the number of calories you burn while exercising. The little twist with Fitwatch is that you enter your weight to find the number of calories burned, so presumably the calorie count is a little more customized. For me, at my weight (which I am not telling you), here's what Fitwatch has to say about calories burned during tennis:
  • Tennis, General - 433 calories per hour
  • Tennis, Doubles - 371 calories per hour
  • Tennis, Singles - 495 calories per hour
And then I visited a third site - Again, with this one, you had to enter your weight to get the calories burned calculation. They had this to say about calories burned during tennis:
  • Tennis, General - 414 calories per hour
  • Tennis, Doubles - 295 or 355 calories per hour (there were two different kinds of doubles)
  • Tennis, Singles - 473 calories per hour
With these figures in mind, I'm guessing that, in doubles, you probably burn off about 300 calories an hour and, in singles, you can burn off about 450 calories an hour. And when calculating how many hours you've played, be sure and deduct some for all of that time spent standing around, chatting, drinking water and running to the bathroom between sets.

Now remember - it doesn't do any good to burn calories playing tennis if you're just packing them back in by mindlessly eating. To give an example, let's say you're at a match waiting to play. Let's say your league requires the home team to provide snacks and the usual junk is out there. So while you're waiting, you have a banana (90 calories), 10 peanut M&Ms (103 calories) and 3 mini Reese's peanut butter cups (132 calories). You've now taken in 325 calories without eating a real meal. You have to play a solid hour of doubles to burn those mindless snacks off. (Unfortunately, this is pretty representative of what I do while I'm standing around waiting to play.) Conclusion - play a lot of tennis and stay away from the M&Ms!

This post originally appeared on Tennis Fixation's blog page on the Tennis Now website. Click here to read this and other great Tennis Fixation posts on Tennis Now!

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

November 4, 2010

Tennis Ball Cake, Anyone?

Sometimes I worry that I’m taking all of this tennis stuff way too seriously. For example, I lost a match yesterday 6-1, 6-0. Not fun. In fact, it kind of ruined my day and made me wonder, “should I even keep playing tennis? What is the point of all of this hard work when I lose like that? How in the world can I keep going when the next match may just be another blow-out?”

And then, something happens that puts it all into perspective. And that’s exactly what happened this morning when I came across the Tennis Ball Cake. It seems my obsession with tennis isn’t all that crazy — because there other are people in the world, specifically the people at the Wilton cake decorating company, who understand just how fanatical tennis players can be. Crazy enough to invest significant amounts of time and money in a sport where they often get blown off the court. Fanatical enough to want a Tennis Ball Cake.

Am I going to order a Tennis Ball Cake anytime soon? Perhaps. Will I keep thinking about this cake to the point where I eventually take a stab at baking one? Very likely. For now, I’m enjoying the idea of the Tennis Ball Cake as evidence that, at least for a tennis player, I am 100% normal.

This Tennis Fixation post originally appeared on one of my favorite tennis web sites: Strawberries & Scream.


© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved