February 21, 2010

Serena's Plan for the Future

I just read what has got to be the greatest Serena Williams post ever. Please rush over to read it yourself and leave a comment for the Tennis Chick. Here's the link:

Serena Williams: Nail Technician?


© Kim Selzman 2010
All Rights Reserved

February 18, 2010

Keeping A "Players Cheat Sheet"

Have you ever played an opponent and thought, "I've played her before and I know there's something I should remember about her game but I just don't know what it is." And then sometime during the match, when she's hit her 18th short, wide, slice return that you just can't get to, it dawns on you: "Oh yeah! She likes to hit that short, wide, slice return that I just can't get to!" But by this time the damage has been done.

This USED to happen to me a lot until I started my little "Players Cheat Sheet."  This is a list I keep by a player's first name (since I often don't know their last name) where I put a few little notes that I can look over next time I meet up with them.

So, for example, I played Julie from Fancy Pants Club yesterday (names changed to protect someone I beat) and here is my little note for her:
  • Julie - Fancy Pants - leftie, hard 1st serve low w/spin, returns short & wide to deuce server a lot, net girl needs to back up and take every other return, tires easily, doesn't like to move
And that's it for Julie.  Now, next time I or anyone on my team comes up against her, I'll remember I wrote a little note about her, I'll figure out her first name , I'll look it up and hopefully I'll put a stop to that short, wide return before she gets too far with it.

Now, I don't keep notes like this on everyone - just on people who I think may be regular opponents or who do something so well that I don't want to forget about it.  I also keep notes on people I partner with so I know how they like to play, what they do well and how I should plan on playing with them.  I keep all of this info on my Blackberry just because I know I'll always have that with me.  You could just as easily keep a little notepad or even just a piece of paper in your tennis bag for your own Players Cheat Sheet.

Does this seem a little overboard?  I don't think so.  I put a lot of time and money into my tennis and so its worth it to me to make these notes every once in a while after a match.  And next time I see Julie, I won't say, "What was it about her?"  I'll tell my partner "Just run her around and be ready for her short, wide return."  Ensuring yet another victory over the Fancy Pants club!

PS - I keep another kind of Cheat Sheet on my Blackberry - more on that next time!


© Kim Selzman 2010
All Rights Reserved

February 9, 2010

Don't Practice With Your Tennis Coach

Huh?  Don't practice with my tennis coach?  If I'm don't practice during my lesson with my coach, what am I supposed to do?

Well, think about this. There is a big difference between learning to do something and practicing something. Your tennis lesson is your time to learn - stroke technique, form, footwork, court position, strategy and tactics. You need to take advantage of all of the knowledge and coaching your coach can give you - get every last cent of your money's worth out of that lesson.

Once you've learned some things, you need to get out and practice them, preferably at least twice a week.  Of course that means you may need to find some people to practice with you.  But tennis is a social game - you must know somebody to hit with!  And check out your club or area courts for drills and clinics that may be low or even no cost and will give you a chance to just hit lots of balls.

Also, think of how many things you can do on your own.  You can work on strokes with a ball machine.  You can hit up against a wall and get a lot of footwork in.  You can practice your serve out on a court all by yourself.  Heck, you can practice your toss standing in front of the TV with a rolled up ball of socks!

All of these are things your coach would not only encourage you to do but would be happy, maybe even excited, for you to do.  They will not only improve your game but will help you move forward in your lesson so you are ready for your coach to take you to the next level.


© Kim Selzman 2010
All Rights Reserved

February 5, 2010

Taking "Steps" To Improve Your Tennis

Here's a statistic I came across somewhere (since I can't remember where, it must be true):

* A tennis pro averages about 10 to 12 steps between each ball they hit.

* A 4.0 club player averages about 6 to 8 steps between hits.

* A 3.5 player takes about 4 to 6 steps between shots.

* A 3.0 player averages about 2 to 4 steps between shots.

You know footwork is important.  But did you realize it was THAT important?

The reality is when you move more between your shots, you hit better shots. Why?
  1. You achieve better court position. Taking many small steps allows you to make adjustments to your location on the court as the ball is still moving towards you. Big, wide steps often result in you being in the wrong place when the ball finally gets to you.
  2. You are lighter on your feet and therefore can achieve better body position or form when hitting the ball. In other words, you can turn your upper body and shoulders more easily with smaller steps.
  3. Your weight is more appropriately distributed and you have better control of your momentum. Heavy, lunging steps often result in your momentum moving in the wrong direction (or at least not in the best direction) and continuing to move in that direction as you're hitting.
So how do you get yourself to take more and better steps on the court?  Improving your footwork is accomplished by simply becoming more conscious of what your feet are doing.  At first, it will be very awkward for you to force yourself to think about how many and what size of steps you are taking.  But if you can become more aware of your feet and can practice taking smaller, quicker steps, this improved footwork will soon become a part of your game.  Just keep moving and you will experience footwork success.

FYI - I like the photo I have added to this post because this girl is taking such a HUGE step as she goes to hit her forehand.  Maybe its the camera angle, but I'm guessing she's more of a tennis model and less of a tennis player.


© Kim Selzman 2010
All Rights Reserved

February 3, 2010

Australian Open Wrap-Up: Did Anyone Notice Serena Williams?

Well, the Australian Open has been over for several days and I've seen plenty of news stories about Roger Federer winning his 16th Grand Slam title, beating Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6. But what I haven't seen a whole lot of is anyone commenting on the fact that Serena Williams won both the women's singles AND doubles titles. Again. Just as she did last year. 

Am I the only person who thinks this is a remarkable feat?  I'm sure if Roger Federer had won the men's singles AND doubles titles, we would hear no end to what a miraculous accomplishment that was.

Anyway, congratulations to Serena who just becomes more and more impressive in my book.  And, let me also point out how much I loved what she was wearing.  I'm sure lots and lots of those dresses will be sold.  The Maria Sharapova dress, on the other hand, will be available at 75% off in just a few more weeks.  (FYI - the Serena dress was also $20 cheaper at my fav tennis shopping spot!)

Here's Serena in her great Australian Open 2010 dress:

Day 13 - Serena Williams wins the Australian Open

And with the trophy:

Serena Williams Wins - WTA Australian Open

And again with the trophy after hitting the showers:

Off Court At The 2010 Australian Open

And with Venus and the doubles trophy:

Day 13 - Serena and Venus Williams win the women's doubles Final at the Australian Open


© Kim Selzman 2010
All Rights Reserved

February 2, 2010

Don't Throw In The Towel!

Have you been in this position lately? You lost the first set 1-6. You're now down 1-5 in the second set and only two points away from the whole thing being over. AND it just started to drizzle and you want this match to end already. The court is getting a little wet and slippy but you don't want to make up those last two points at a later date, so you turn to your partner and say, "Let's just get this over with. The court is just barely damp and I don't want to forfeit these last two points."

So you sit back, mentally, relax and play out the end of the set. And, what do you know? You somehow win that game. And the next. And a few more. And it stops drizzling and the court dries up and suddenly, without realizing it, you're in a 6-6 set about to go into a tiebreaker! What just happened?

OK, I'll admit it. This just happened to me recently. And I've been thinking about how we went from being unable to beat an unbeatable team to being in a tiebreaker. I think a couple of things happened:

1. We didn't give up. We could have forfeited those last two points just to get off the court. We could have tanked on those points to avoid the forfeit but to get to the loss and get off the court. But we didn't. We kept playing.

2. We relaxed. Honestly, we had nothing to lose at that point. Once we were going to keep playing, we did just that.

3. I think our opponents had decided they had already won the match. I mean, they were only two points away. I think they hung back and weren't trying quite as hard to beat us as they had been.

So what was the conclusion? Well, we lost the tiebreaker 8-10 and thus lost the match. But it was a great way to lose and it gave me a lot to think about. The team that seemed unbeatable really wasn't. And giving up should just never, ever be an option.

Now this happened to me and I thought it was weird and very typical of something that only happens to me in my tennis. But, just a few days later, Serena Williams came back from being down a set and at 0-4 in the second set to beat Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. So it happens to the pros too! Or maybe it just happens to me and Serena.

Lesson:  Relax and never throw in the towel.

© Kim Selzman 2010
All Rights Reserved