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Coach ADHD kids tennis and Archery

Tennis and Archery are the right sports for kids with inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive minds
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 FAQ on ADHD-Tennis


you got all to become super tennis coach with ADHD-tennis. Not sure what major you have in school, if you like to go medical school, your experience should help you with an unique background. One area is to study ADHD tennis with players before and after taking ADHD related treatment/drug.  Maybe tennis combined with other medical treatment can deliver best results...
best regards



thx for goods words on ADHD-Tennis.  You got a case now. I am sure you can make your grandson
successful in ADHD as well as tennis.  yes, I once contacted Peter for commenting on ADHD-tennis. Actually
he did agree with the concept that Tennis is the right sport for ADHD kids.  He is too busy, we are close
in distance (2 hrs drive), but never met each other.  He also promoted vegetable diet helps...
Sure, keep in touch.  Good luck!




I have read your article on google search. I am searching some valuable information from internet in relation to issues faced by tennis player who has ADHD issues. My daughter is 11 years old. She has been playing tennis last 5 years and she is passion about her tennis, but the progress in tennis is not great as she is suffering from issues such as late movement, lack of attention taking instruction, focus etc.,  We have been trying various methods to come out of these issues. Still it is going on. Recently, we have consulted a children behavioural Paediatrician and found that she is in borderline ADHD.


Our son has ADHD although he has never been diagnosed. We will be seeing a neurologist at the end of October. He goes to an Academic school and of course he is struggling with focus etc.  I know it is easy to put your kid on Ritalin or other zombie drug. You even mention in our article “ A combination of medications and behavioral therapy is the mainstream ADHD treatment.” Problem is we don’t want him on drugs as we have seen too many detrimental effects of such usage. Do you think Tennis and no drugs will work?
One thing that is for sure: he can focus with the right teacher. He can play the hardest Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Tchaikovsky songs on the piano by memory (no notes). He is gifted in this area. We hope tennis can help him and want to put him at IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis Programschool next year if he can get accepted there. Looking forward to your thoughts.





I read his school report,  I am sure drug should help. My study shows tennis is a supplemental to medical treatment.
Pls also pay attention to his daily food (ADHD friendly) and ensure he has enough bed time/sound sleep.

Regarding to tennis,  parents full commitment (such as IMG idea) is great:  there is no hard evidence that ADHD kids cannot excel in tennis.
Actually,  there are lots of world class athlete with ADHD: tennis provides a way to channel through their excessive energy and frustration.

Your son takes pride in work, he should has lots of confidence in behavior.  This is the very important character needed for a good tennis player!

Keep in touch.








I just happened on your website yesterday and thought I would send you an email. Our son is 9 and is in 3rd grade he was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 5. Soon after that he was at our older daughter tennis lesson and he picked up a racket and showed some promise by hitting a few balls over the net. Both my wife and I really never played tennis growing up. I ran track in high school and  I was on two national championship teams and was fortunate to run with several Olympic teammates. Very early on we noticed that he liked tennis and was very good, especially volleys, things that happen fast to keep his attention. We worked a lot on understanding how his brain works and try to use it as we say “a force for good instead of evil!”He is very athletic, much more than I was at his age and he moves around the court with ease. Just wanted to tell you thanks for your work on this subject. I think in a way the ADHD may actually help in that he does not get mentally tired and with his demeanor on the court may drive his opponents crazy. And forget about physically tired that just does not happen very often at all!







Let your son to participate Jr. tournament and test out. He should learn more on emotional control and concentration in the real battle field.

I watched the videos, his form is very solid. His follow-through is complete for both backhand and forehand. Very nice.








Hello Jose, I hope this finds you well and on court working your coaching magic with ADHD kids. I've been following your work for many years and have been remiss for not contacting you sooner. I very much admire the work you are doing especially given your professional background and training. I've been coaching tennis for over 20 years now including adults and beginners, with ADHD -combined type. It is a struggle. I was formally diagnosed in 2011 and now working with a good support team to help me manage. My tennis development has been and continues to be an ongoing struggle. So much confusing and contradictory information in the world of tennis, especially on the FH as I'm sure you know full well. I'm extremely keen on professional development and would love speak further with you with respect to strategies for coaching and playing tennis with ADHD.

Forehand is so confusing it's driving me crazy, so many conflicting theories, some very old fashioned thinking and closed minds in the coaching field!  My problem is I do not have a stroke blueprint in my mind to work with, I am going around in circles jumping from trial and error to try to figure out what to do and don't trust much of what is being coached.  I have limited wrist mobility, maybe only 45degree layback capability so to point the flashlight at the ball is somewhat difficult.  Some coaches say layback happens automatically when hip is engaged, others say you must consciously set it back as part of the preparation, who to believe.  I am convinced that I am snapping my wrist into the ball to try and get more power and never get clean contact.  It is impossible to hit the ball with all kinds of technical thoughts going on but worse, with a stroke you do not have confidence in and is not repeatable under pressure or just in fun rallying.  The ADHD brain make an already difficult learning process even more difficult, especially with all the confusing information about the stroke.  I like how you have tried to use images and models to make it clear.


I do know this, the women's swing (WTA) is quite different from the men's swing (ATP) in a number of key respects.   Women take a longer swing (to get more power/racket head speed and lock in their wrist), more low to high, vertical to get spin.  Men have same side swing and more horizontal  swing path, wrist seems to flex it seems shortly after contact, we see this with a lower finish (other than Nadal type reverse FH).  I want to learn the APT stretch shortening FH, used by Fed, Nadal etc. and want to be able to teach it.


I have a big problem over thinking the FH stroke and all the conflicting information I have seen and watched on Youtube and on court.  Lock your wrist, don't lock your wrist, racket back fast, wait to take racket back, swing is linear, swing is rotational, and on and on!  It is difficult to know how the stroke should feel, so many conflicting thoughts and instructions.  Maybe I can send you a video of my FH.  I think it is very likely I do not watch the ball well, jumpy eyes, very impatient.  I don't have trouble with shot selection. Here are my inputs/questions on FH issues:



·      Breathing is a big factor and I noticed that I don't do this properly as part of my stroke.  Part of the my ADHD condition is I also suffer from General Anxiety Disorder, and have much tension and stress in my stroke (and life).  I think this would be an interesting thing to include in your study, the impact of comorbid conditions often associated with ADHD that and how they can influence and impact tennis learning and performance.

·      I have "jumpy eyes" and now have to work very hard on developing "the quiet eye" and still head.  My concentration on the impact zone is compromised, I think of too many technical things to do and try and control

·      There is no GWC stance, I'm very unbalanced and don't feel good creating 1st or 2nd rotation

·      I swing at the ball like a baseball swing (I played lots of baseball as a kid and my brain thinks that is the way to swing a tennis racket until now, as you say, there really in no swing in a FH stroke.  Trouble pointing but cap at ball after the bounce and bringing it forward properly is a big challenge!!

·      I like the concept of two impact points, but find it hard to point the butt cap and pull and then at right time lift and wipe.  Is there an expertise I can to get lift and wipe movement feeling right?  I have trouble with how to rotate the arm properly on both first and second phases of the stroke (ball swing problem interference likely).



Glad to know you are interested in ADHD tennis.  Thx for complementary.

Do you agree FH is most difficult stroke in tennis?   FH is full of confusion:  power vs. consistency, drive vs. spin, early preparation vs. pace, look the ball vs. aim the target...  Every coming ball is different, we have to deal with emergency all the time, have to decide (under pressure, with emotion!).   This is the fun part of tennis, nothing to do with ADHD or not.  You have to do multiple choice quick:  which is ok for ADHD.   Normally they have concentration problem, however, if a person with ADHD is on, he can decide quick.  If the setup time is too long, he might be distracted, and hard to focus.   Do you have issue on making your mind fast on court?  Do you tend to think too much? Do you normally use your 6th sense in your FH?

Emotion control is most challenge for ADHD tennis.  If too emotional on court, everything is gone.  

We can discuss more topics as:

1) Emotion control

2) Concentration

3) Deal with unpredictable

4) reaction/action fast

5) Decision path


H stroke form is very important.  Good form can make hit very efficient/consistent/preventing injure. Good form looks good.  However, we have to know which elements are the core, which are style.  Over teaching is harmful to ADHD kinds on the court.  Need to coach them the "core" skills.

In FH, I think most important thing is the contact, a clean contact/sweet spot.    All others should be based on a good understanding of contact.    Unfortunately, the contact is too small, too short, and less predictable/repeatable, we have to prepare lots of things before the contact.  For the same reason, after contact activities are almost equally important, such as follow-through.   Since we cannot control/predict the contact, we have to pay more attention to before and after contact, to be close to contact as much as we can.   That is why racket orientation and racket acceleration before and after contact are considered two most impacting factors in FH coaching.

However, perfect form cannot guarantee win.  On the court/in the tournament, effective footwork and strong mind are the key factors: best player uses foot and head more than hand.


ADHD has no problem on foot, but has lots of problem on mind.   They deserve to learn the best form.

FH coaching starts with contact, and then adding more elements in a sequence of before contact,  later adding after contact such as lift/drive, windshield wiper, follow up/through, and fancy reverse FH follow-through...    For ADHD players,  need to add more drills on those after contact element,  they should see obvious improvement even more than practicing too much on arm looping/wrist snap/flashlight pointing...    I use to ask them:  do you believe your racket can still "impact" the ball even after the ball leaving/off the contact?  Basically, the coach extend the "time" in ball/racket contact to tailor the short concentration time. This is my way of coaching ADHD kids.


Just hit no pace FH starting with racquet cap pointing to the no pace ball, as simple as many times. No swing no pace, no acceleration at all. You can sense the racquet orientation change/forearm rotation, and laid back of your wrist...   Pointing the racquet cap to the ball "forces" you to lay back the wrist for a stable GWS. It does not make you think too much on your wrist (lock or snap... it is very harmful to debate under such a short contact time...).  As you know, this laid back wrist is good for stability, however, on purposed wrist lock is bad (make your muscle too rigid, and mess up the body dynamic chain, then compromising the power).    Pls send me video clips so that I can comment in details.


Hope my answers help.






I recently read your article on line called Tennis the right sport for adhd kids.  I am wondering if there is someone you could recommend in Oregon area that teaches tennis to adults with ADD?  I am a 69 year old woman who plays tennis and as it has become more completive I find my add really is a factor in my playing ability.  I have played for many years, but was just diagnosed five years ago and am on Straterra, which has really helped with my concentration.  I am rated a 3.5 and play on a city league team at my club and also do USTA.  I know there must be a way for me to follow the ball until I lob it back and also mid ct lobs.  I track it for awhile and then take my eye off the ball and miss it.  Also after I hit the ball more than two or three times I look up and lose my concentration.  I enjoyed your article and think some of the things you talked about could apply to me.  I appreciate your teaching kids tennis and know it must  be rewarding to them.  Again, any info on a pro in my area would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.




Glad to know that you are interested in my article.   It is amazing that you have a such high standard in tennis play in your age (my mom is now suffering leg problem for years). Unfortunately, I do not know any pro who can help out in ADD tennis in your area. 

ADD affects player's concentration ability for sure. However,  all of us should feel difficult when dealing with a fast moving ball.   Every coming ball is different, each shot needs different way to handle.  In the game,  you are in an emergency mode all the time.  You gave me an example on lobs, which is even more difficult to handle for a normal mind.  Do not feel bad.  My recommendation is to have a teaching pro to practice lobs.  Relax your mind and body at the same time (not holding breath) when you are in a preparation position: then, let it goes... Pay more attention to your forehand which is 80% of shots in the game.  For other shots, like lobs,  if not that good or comfortable, no problem.   It is very small percentage.  When you have a control forehand, you even have not much chance to deal with those balls which require your other strokes.  My point is that you can treat other strokes for "surviving" only. Get a lethal forehand to control the game.
Good luck!




It was so great to read your article about ADHD children and tennis! We have an 8 year old boy who has been struggling with ADHD and just started looking into tennis lessons for him. Knowing what his challenges are, we realize that it requires a special kind of coach in order to make the tennis experience a successful one for our son. The typical kind of lesson just doesn't work as you pointed out so very well. We were hoping that you might have some advise for us in terms of where to find a good coach for our son and decided to shoot you an email. Do you by any chance have any recommendation for ADHD experienced tennis coaches in the my area (northern suburbs)?
Would love to hear back from you! Thanks so much for your time,


A:  thx, I will find out and reply.




Jose _ I ran into an article that you wrote that was interesting to me(Coach ADHD Kids Tennis Jan2010).My son is 13 years old and has ADHD. The hyperactivity component seems to have subsided as he has gotten older  (he was diagnosed at age 4 and started taking Focalin at age 8)but the other issues including  attention deficit, impulsiveness and defiant behavior are alive and well. He has been gifted with athletic ability from birth but at the same time cursed with ADHD. When he was 8 his baseball team won the State Championship. He has been on several successful soccer teams and has been playing tennis since he was about six years old. For most of his baseball teams he has played shortstop and batted clean-up. He Most recently Taylor is attempting to go year round in tennis. I fought this at first but now think it might be the best path. If he decides he does not want to play tennis anymore at the end of the year than he can go play another sport.
I have told his coaches about ADHD but they do not really understand it and furthermore they do not really make much effort to give him any extra assistance. I realize that it is not necessarily their job to coddle him but they do spend a lot of time on the court with him. There are many days that I do not see much improvement with him and I do see improvement with other kids that do not have as much natural talent. He does not seem to respond to basic instructions well such as move your feet, keep the ball in play, be patient, etc… He  has had some success in tourneys but has not moved up the ladder as quickly as a kid should that has his talent. If you have any comments I would  love to hear them .If I lived in your area I would love to bring him to a clinic. If you have any special clinics throughout the year let me know .Best Regards





It is a difficult decision on baseball vs. tennis especially he did well in his team in baseball.  Switching from team sport to individual sport needs firm decision.

Having him to play more in tournament to feel the "real" tennis is a real test.
He has to learn to deal with well in emotion control and resilience on court by himself.  Emotion control sometimes is even more challenging than concentration for ADHD kids.  Tennis is a best training handle "changes".  Tennis is about dealing with "emergency" :  every coming ball is different.  he has to deal with it by himself.
In team sports,  coach can decide your kid to sit in bench, which is not the case in tennis.  regards. Jose




I am a mom of a 6 year old boy. We are constantly getting behavior marks in school that are not the sit still ones. We recently got our son involved in tennis lessons. I feel exercise is a better brain booster than what a pill can do. I can say, he has only played tennis for one month ( 8 sessions) and loves it. I am wondering if I need to take him for a one mile run in the mornings before he heads off to school to calm his energy before he has to SIT in class until lunchtime. Anyhoo, tried to find some updated info on you and this knowledge you have with teaching these kids. I know I ask his coach ( probably not a good joke) if he took his patience pill before the lessons begin. So far, we are happy with the strides he has made in tennis. If we can bring it into the classroom....he attention span on the courts are still short lived while he has to wait his turn to hit....luckily there are only 3 boys and 3 girls in the class so the one on one has been there!!!






your boy is on the right track:  start to play more tennis, be patient.    Not good idea to do too much tennis before school, and not sure patience pill is needed right before lessons.   SIT in class still and playing tennis are totally different requirements to him.  Tennis is not a burden to him, it is way to release his mind and train his brain/control system.   I am not saying not to take pill.
Group lesson is for making him interested in tennis.  However,  watching other kids playing might make him out of concentration.  Later on,  when his basic tennis skill is ok, you can take him out of group lesson to 1 to 1 tennis coaching/tournament in 1 year.  Why not?




Jose -

I wanted to reach out to you on behalf of our son Mike who is a competitive tennis player and struggles during matches due to his ADHD.

In addition to having ADHD, Mike had a tragic preventable eye accident in a classroom on 5/9/11 in a classroom and after 6 surgeries, remains blind in his right eye.

Mike has a great attitude and has found ways to overcome his blindness when playing tennis.

His greatest challenges are patience, confidence, self induced stress, strategy, distractions and consistency.

He does have the physical attributes to be an excellent player but he seems to always beat himself.

Mike attends a well respected Tennis Academy  with  a strong Coach.

What are some recommendations/tools, etc you can offer to help make Mike the best player he can be?

Regards,  LL






Hi, LL,

I think below drill is good for Mike (to improve his FEEL on tennis):   find a racket without string (an old wooden racquet w/o string is more desirable since the head size is smaller),  have his coach feeding him 100 balls (50 forehand and 50 backhand),   let Mike hit the ball to the virtual sweet spot.   This drill can be a routine warm up.   He might think this is wired,  I am sure he will be used to it. My point: if hard to focus and concentrate with eye and mind,  just improve sense of FEEL.   He can imagine and feel to hit the ball rather than see the contact at sweet spot.
    Good luck







 Hi Jose,
I saw your contact and 2010 article on coaching ADHD kids. My son was diagnosed with ADHD a year ago. We have used tennis as a means of helping him focus and concentrate since the age of 4. He is now a passionate and keen player, good enough to reach the first step of a Tennis Australia talent development level for 10U age players. His current coach is a wonderful person who has come from a much more traditional and focused playing background. She is patient and disciplined, willing to learn, but is sometimes perplexed about how to train an ADHD athlete, how to help him understand the commitment required, concentration in teaching stroke production and the timescale for his learning compared to normal children. She seems to have a excellent ability to teach him, but is sometimes perplexed about why people who have coached her so successfully always seem to confuse my son when she asks for their input. We both worry about how he will cope in the more traditional official tennis training structures.

Do you have any literature or other references on coaching the elite ADHD athlete that you can pass onto us?

Although the odds are well against him, my son is determined to become the best tennis player in the world. Willingness to put in practice as well as good quality practice and good habits on court are some very big obstacles. I did not think he would get this far, now we need to seek advice,
Hope you understand my dilemma and I do wonder how Michael Phelps mum did the hard yards. My son is lovely, but in all manner of things outside of tennis, he truly struggles, in tennis he is just beginning to be challenged and I fear within traditional structures, he may not cope.,
Hope you can help
Regards,  PH






Hi PH,

Glad to know your son is passionate tennis player. Let us forget about ADHD for 1 minute.

Do you have any ideas how a normal tennis player (without ADHD) copy with coaching in mental related?   A lot!    Adding ADHD, just a part of it.    My point is: tennis is game of dealing with frustration and emotion control by itself.   It is ok to stay with current coaching structure for 90% as long as the coach is good enough with normal situation.  You can look into the rest of 10% relating to ADHD.

If Michael Pelps mom worried about  ADHD in 90%,  the history could be far different.

Do not let ADHD as an excuse on tennis court.

The only thing we can do is to find some specific drills helping your son to improve concentration and emotion control on court.

Let his coach highlight top 3 mental related disadvantages, we can start from there.







I recently read your article on line called Tennis the right sport for adhd kids.  I am wondering if there is someone you could recommend in my area that teaches tennis to adults with ADD?  I have become more competive I find my add really is a factor in my playing ability.  I have played for many years, but was just diagnosed five years ago and am on Straterra, which has really helped with my concentration.  I am rated a 3.5 and play on a city league team at my club and also do USTA.  I know there must be a way for me to follow the ball until I lob it back and also mid ct lobs.  I track it for awhile and then take my eye off the ball and miss it.  Also after I hit the ball more than two or three times I look up and lose my concentration.  I enjoyed your article and think some of the things you talked about could apply to me.  I appreciate your teaching kids tennis and know it must  be rewarding to them.  Again, any info on a pro in my area would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.   SH




Glad to know that you are interested in my article.   It is amazing that you have a such high standard in tennis play in your age. Unfortunately, I do not know any pro who can help you in ADD tennis in your area. 


ADD affects player's concentration ability for sure. However,  all of us should feel difficult when dealing with a fast moving ball.   Every coming ball is different, each shot needs different way to handle.  In the game,  you are in an emergency mode all the time.  You gave me an example on lobs, which is even more difficult to handle for a normal mind.  Do not feel bad.  My recommondation is to have a teaching pro to practice lobs.  Relax your mind and body at the same time (not holding breath) when you are in a preparation position: then, let it goes...


Pay more attention to your forehand which is 80% of shots in the game.  For other shots, like lobs,  if not that good or comfortable, no problem.   It is very small presentage.  When you have a control forehand, you even have not much chance to deal with those balls which requre your other strokes.  My point is that you can treat other strokes for "surviving" only. Get a lethual forehand to control the game.


Good luck!   Coach Jose




Jose,I first want to thank you for your interest in teaching kids with ADHD to play tennis. I always refer back to your information from time to time. I do have a question for you...Our 14 daughter started to play tennis about a year ago. She also has ADHD and the biggest problem she faces if the inability to keep score...Last year in a tournament she was playing awesome however she didn't keep score properly and it cost her the game. She walks away feeling very inadequate and not prepared. I am hoping you will have an method to keep score that seems logical to the ADHD mind. Thanks in advance for your help. Take Care, LA
LA, then just trust her opponent to keep the score if keeping score distract her focus on court. As a matter of fact,  she just needs to concentrate on her stroke. If you force her to keep score, her performance might be impacted... It is not that big deal.  If she can play high level tennis,  there are judges to keep scores anyway.  Do not give her pressure on this.  As long as she plays good tennis,
it is a blessing... regards. jose

How to coach ADHD kids in sports (not limited to tennis)?
see this web link which has lots of useful info:

Dear Jose, any more insights on mental side of tennis if not limiting to ADHD-tennis and what is your input on dad's role in coaching kid tennis? HY
Hi,  HY, I think there are three big “C” topics relating to mental discipline in tennis: 1)    Concentration 2) Confidence and 3) Control.

Statistically, Most of top tennis players reach or closely reach to their physical limits and their technical skill limits.  However, they still have lots of potentials in mental. In other words, they only use a friction of their mental edge in the match.  Why?  The answer is that they are still not confident enough. Confidence can help tennis players react to adversity well. A very interesting statistics shows that top tennis players have much high come back rate after losing 1st set than Jr. players. It is 37% vs. 12%, about 3X difference.  It suggests that top players have much higher confidence than Jr. players. Now the question is how to build confidence in tennis play? One habit is very relevant to the answer: image success and think confidently by expectation before action.   “This pill can relief my pain”   People who are confident like to take any challenges. 

The next topic is “how to be a good parent before a good parent coach”. Parent coach is a “Poor Dad” or a “Rich Dad”? Once, my friend told me his “nightmare”: his grown-up son writes a finance “how-to” book, and he is the “poor dad” in the book.  I know what he means.  I asked myself a question after I read Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”:  does a parent coach belong to “Rich Dad” or “Poor Dad”?  At least, one thing is sure that parent coach has a mentality not just to be a bank to their children.  We can be a successful “Poor Dad” as a parent coach as long as we guild our kids by achieving excellence via trying their best. We will not be a respectful “Rich Dad” if we do not encourage our kids to take challenges, and not create more opportunities for them to take.  A parent coach will not be like a “Rich Dad” leaving tens of millions of dollars to his kids, and not like a “Poor Dad” left bills to be paid when he dies.  A parent coach produces strong athletes and capable individuals who are totally financial self-reliance.  After we complete our coaching role when our kids are grown-up, we are still proud of being their life coach, but not just their bank. We can help them to polish their resumes if they are willing to find jobs they like, or write financial plans to start their own business.  No matter what, they have to be strong and competitive first.  We teach our kids that money is not as powerful as a competitive character.  Parents do not provide their kids tons of fish, but ability and tools to catch fish.  If a parent commits to be a parent coach, he commits to provide his kid the ability and tools other kids do not have.  So the question is not about “Poor Dad” vs. “Rich Dad”; it is about a parent vs. a parent coach! President Barack Obama recalled Madelyn Dunham, his grandmother who died one day before the Election Day: “she encouraged and allowed us to take chances”.   Ms. Dunham is surely successful in parenting Barack Obama.  In an interview back to 2004 with Chicago Tribune, Ms. Dunham said:” I suppose I provided stability in his life.”  “Stability” is such a heavy word here! As a parent coach, we need to keep challenge ourselves how to create this kind of “stability”, more growing opportunities, and platforms to inspire our kids to do better jobs.  Driving them to improve techniques is only one part of the challenges.   When we focus on strengthening their tennis performance, we also need to pay attention to their leadership skills, power in teamwork, self-confidence, and even thinking about to empower them as global citizens.  

In tennis,  coach dad always help kid to make game plan besides simply "make noise" commenting the games on and off the court. On “game plan”, any competition needs a game plan.  Making a game plan is a good challenge to both coach and player.  It is a mental topic relating to sport psychology since the coach has to work with player to “predict” the game.  The game plan is a kind of contingency plan, which includes:
    * Pre-game preparation
    * Plan for errors during the competition
    * Avoiding competitive stress

(1) Pre-game pep: coach can write down some crispy words to make instruction as simple as possible, such as “more serve-and-volley”, “add more spin in backhand”…For some players, this includes listening to music or meditating.

(2) Plan for errors: errors are going to occur during competition, but the players that have a plan for getting back on track are more likely to bounce back and succeed. Sit down with players to find out what motivates them after they make a mistake. With that knowledge, help them devise a strategy for dealing mentally with errors that happen during the game.

 (3) Competitive stress management:  Coach needs to help players to eliminate the unknown. Explain what players should expect during every game. Work with them to channel their nerves into power. Nerves are a natural part of competition, but those players who learn to control.    

Regards. jose

Dear Dr. Li, I am a tennis pro in the Boston area.  I found your name in an article on the website and I am wondering if you may be able to assist me.  I am starting to teach tennis to children with autism and would like to know if you have any experience with this.  I am curious to know if you can share any successful teaching plans or drills that you may have used with autistic children.  Thank-you. Yours Sincerely, RD
Dear RD, Glad to see more tennis pro teaching needed kids tennis.   ADD kids are lack of concentration, coordination and emotion control. They are the last pick and 1st ridiculed in any sports team. I found that tennis is a better fit for them as long as proper methods/drills are used.  Since their attention time is only less than 8 seconds,  5 seconds ball rally in tennis is a perfect fit (most of other sports require long setup time). Ok,  my methods can be shorted as:
(1)  simplify instructions: they are impulsive, only teaching the "core" rather than "style".  e.g.  I consider forehand backswing looping is a "style"
(2)  special drills:  to improve focus, I ask them to "look/tell" the "words" on the flying ball, bouncing balls 10 times on racket before each hit  (ball has to be inside the sweet spot I draw on their racket): 1st let ball hit the racket, then racket hit the ball as 2nd.
(I realized lots of beginners drop off tennis, because they skip 1st, and jump to 2nd makes tennis too difficult)
(3)  work with parents:  for normal kids, a coach's experience is to try be away from parents (you know what I mean). For ADD kids, it is opposite.  I coach both parent and kid on the same court.  When parents believe playing tennis is an alternative  treatment to their kids ,  they are super coach on 7/24.   
(4) be more personal:   I takes movie clips to do stroke analysis to those ADD kids.   Visual is 10X powerful than verbal instruction to them. when I discuss with parents about good nutrition and diet for ADD kids, such as Wheat Germ and Loquat on tennis court, extra trust and reputation built to those kids: "this coach is also a Dr.?".   Yes,  when I commit to teaching ADD kids,  I commit to learn both tennis and ADD in depth. Hope those 4 points are helpful to you.regards. Jose 



Dear Jose, thank you so much for your prompt response.  It sounds good to get together in July.

We live in San Jose.  Paul has not tried it before.  His dad has knowledge of tennis.  We are missing the time and way to teach since he is a very special kid.  Paul is a very sweet, loving, helpful kid.  Unfortunately, his disability gets in the way and gets him very upset, frustated and bored.  We lack of the capacity to handle Paul since he gets frustated easily and starts with physical tantrums against us just because we want to teach him something. That's why, I am searching for outside help since we need to learn how to help him as much as he needs to learn how to control himself.
Havind his dad as an observer sounds great too since I believe Paul really needs that one on one assistance later on.
Thank you so much. God Bless.Sincerely, JM
Dear JM, one option is to have father as "observer", so that father can train Paul after summer classes. It is very important to have parents involving the coaching in my ADHD-tennis programe. Jose

Dear OM,  "...HE DON'T HAVE FUN IN THE MATCHES..."   This is the most common statement from parents to Jr. players I have received. You are not alone! No fun simply because he cannot easily win the matches as he did before?   winning is fun, losing is no fun, especially when friends and family members are in the audience.  He is the vicious cycle now:  cannot win leads to no fun,  that "no fun" attitude makes him losing more matches... This vicious cycle is not ADHD kids specific, it applies to every players!
Federer used to be "very emotional, easy frustrated" on court in his Jr. years.   I read an article written by his father.  He mentioned a magic word "transition", which helped his son to be out of that vicious cycle, and finally becomes the #1 in the world.  The opposite example is Safin who still keeps suffering "angry, progressive, frustrate, loss his mind...", now is almost out of tennis top list. Your son is #1 or #5 in 10-12 years group, when is grown up to >12 years, is he ready for an "effective transition" to move up to new platformfor competing?  I am sure his coach should give him the best tennis training, addressing skills, physical and mental.  My experience is that each kid is quite different in all those three areas:  maybe your son has more edge in physical than other kids in 12 year age group, but he needs to pay more attention to mental?   He has to balance all three areas.  It is not un-common that tennis parents send their kids to physical camps to improve strengths, and ask coach to teach mental skills when their kids hit performance growth bottleneck right before they are about to moving up to new age group:  13-14 year age is the critical point when a "transition" should take place, I mean the right transition. Without this transition,  the tennis life might be terminated as the worse case.    We can discuss more on this "transition" in details later. Back to ADHD,  yes,  ADHD kids tend to be out of focus, more impulsive, and easily frustrated, than normal kids.  However, I like to clearly declare to you that ADHD is NOT the excuse for your son not doing well in tennis!   If parents think this way, your kids will be act that way.You have to be very positive to your son that ADHD does not do bad on his performance as long as the right attitude and method are in place.  Michael Phelps (the 8 gold medal holder in Olympic swimming) has ADHD,  but he never used it against his performance. If he did it, he will not be #1 in swimming.    Now the question is how to go around those ADHD problems in your son's tennis. If he has tendency to lose concentration during match,  let us figure out exactly how.   I am teaching our students how to deconcentrate from "bad" to "good", rather than other way around.  We can talk more on this... By the way, tennis is more fun than swimming.  Every stroke is the same and predictable in swimming.  However, every stroke is different in tennis.  They are unpredictable. Playing with different people with different audience should have lots of new personal experience.  Let your son identifies those differences, enjoys those differences, and deals with those differences.  Winning is the end result.  He can enjoy the end result if he wins,  however,  he should 10X enjoy the whole process of playing tennis, I mean the play process, rather than the end result only.  We know we can enjoy driving (a car) sometimes, and do not care the destination, because driving itself has more fun than where to go...Pls explain this example to your son...regards.Jose

Hi, Jose, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR REPLAY!!!!! I will explain you a history from my son about how he is desconsentrated,    
When he was 10 he was playing a match, he was winning 4-0 first match, when his uncles and his father arrived to see him, he started to loss, I was there and he told me that his uncles and father go out. he loss the first match 6-4 and the second 6-0, he never returned to the  match. When hi is winning hi is very focus but when he loss a point he start become ungry and loss more points, sometimes return sometimes no . sometimes he start to cry and shout every loss point. He is progressing, before he was concentrated 4 games, then 1 set, now sometimes hi is on focus one set, two sets or three, we think he complicated the matches, because most of times he is better than the opponent. Then "transition" coincides with change of his two backhand  to one backhand, he wants to made this changes and Raul told him that he has the strong for the one backhand but, that he will loss many matches for a long time and my son  is aware of that and he does'nt to return two backhands. When he is playing a match sometimes he don't let go the one backhand ,he did a slice (I don't know how to write the word). And he is lossing many matches for that. and he become frustated in the matches, minutes later the match ,he become to be normal.  In a matches I guess he is nervous , he told that hi isn't nervous but we see that he don't move his feet and he is like no wish to play, I know something is happening in his mind. After he is lossing, he start to play very well. I guess he does'nt trust himself, he is dare to do more that he trusts
He is taking fitness and he is improving the games.I guess is matter of maturity but I want to help him and I guess we have to work on that. He wants became a professional and we want to help him to make true his dream .I know he learn more if he watch than he hear words, could you sell me a videos that you use? thanks for your help. OM
         Hi, OM,  I also invite another Jr. player parent to join this discussion: (His kid is a very good Jr. player in California)
         My 7 years old girl has a similar problem in her swim meet: when she leads in the race,
         she can swim very fast, and even faster. However, if she feels she cannot be
         #1 in the race right at half lap, she tends to drop the race, because she cannot accept
         #2 and #3.    This is one of the common "mental" issues in youth's sport.
         I told my daughter that she is still the winner even though she is #3 in race as long as
         she tried her game plan in race. 
         Lots of kids do not understand the meaning of "winning" in sports.  Or they are not strong
         in "mental" yet even thought they are good in physical and skill.   Mental training might
         be ignored in 1st 5 years of tennis.    Let us look into this issue from two angles:
         (1): You have a clear goal: expecting your son to be a professional tennis player.  You have
         to know that being a successful tennis pro is a very very difficult task.  On your road to
         the mountain top, any fall down frustrations are very common. You and your kids have to
         be fully prepared on this.  You have to have a big and long term plan.  As long as your
         son's play is moving toward the right direction under the right plan,  losing several
         matches should not be thought as that bad.   In other words,  parents should have
         correct attitude torward win or lose on court.  I know lots of kids are under very high
         pressure from parents.  They cannot play well if their parents are watching the game.
         I know Agassi's sister (she used to be a very good Jr. player in early 1970s)
         lost every games when she saw her father in audience becasue she believe her father
         pushed her too hard.  
         (2)  Let your son know that the most fun and challenge part of tennis is how to turn around
         under 0:4.   Ask him:  do you really to take any challenges?  do you really want to grow
         to be a real man?   do you really want to show off your avaiblity to your friends?  do you
         really enjoy tennis?   NOW it is a time to prove: you can do it.  NOW, I mean, start to
         move your feet,  start to think to use new game plan,   start to release whole stress,
         start to be confident...    Let your son know that those famous tennis greats experienced
         so many of those 0:4 situations, rather than afriead of this lossing situations,  they do
         hope to have this type of experience, because they can use this harshness to improve
         their mental toughness, and grow to be more stronger.   He should like this, rather than
         hate this.  If your son can turn around from 0:4 to 6:4,  I am sure he should learn more
         than straigtht 6:0.  What one he feels he can learn more and feel more interesting?
         Ok,  pratically,  he can try to calm down using game change off rest time,  deep breath
         5 times,  DO NOT HIT HARD BALL,  just start to have several deep, high, lobbing balls,
         so that the pace is slowed down,  try to get back every balls,  let player at other side
         to make more enforced errors, not your son.   Retriving every ball, play defensively.
         Sometines, softball, meatball are even more difficult to deal with. 
         You son has to learn how to play "tricky" balls.  Tricky balls are from the tricky mindset.
         Tennis play is sometimes like chess, requiring more mental challenge.  Be smart. He
         has to know how to control his emotion.  When his mind is under control,  his full body
         belongs to himself, so that he can make his own game.  Use more thinking when playing.
         Why frustrating?  because he starts not to use his mind, his body does not belong to him.
         In other word,   his mind has to be trained stronger, so that his tennis can be better. Regards. Jose
My son, Tyler, has been recently diagnosed with ADHD. We have been looking for a sport that Tyler would like; just to name a few-- gymnastics, soccer, swimming, kung fu and tae kwon do. I am hoping your coaching style we convince Tyler to like and mostly, enjoy playing Tennis. Any suggestions on sports to ADHD kids in general? WS.

 I prefer >7 years old in tennis training.  (I have one case to train parents in tennis instead since their ADHD girl is only 6 year old).
  It is better to have him try different sports: swimming and Kung fu are good choices behind tennis.  Those individual sports are better than team sports for ADHD kids.
 (1) find a fitting sport for Tyler to burn his extra energy for better night sleep, so that he can have a better focus in school
 (2) tennis ball rally ~ 10 seconds match their short attention spin, also tracking ball can improve their mind concentration
 (3) face to face interaction with coach can help ADHD kids learn instructions effectively and control their impulsive behaviors in social contact.regards Jose
Hello I'm a psychomotortherapist in the Netherlands and work with children and adolescents. A large group of them is diagnosed with adhd or autism. Youre tennismethod sounds intresting and inspiring. Can you send me some more info on things like -the program: what is actually taken place during sessions? -how long takes the program? how many sessions? -are there any effectreports,is there any scienific ore effidence base for the program? These are hot items in the Netherlands now. greatings end lots of thanks in advance . VDB
 thx for interesting my program which is still under experimental progress.  I am applying funds to support this program.
as you know, any effect report or scientific evidence need to be carefully studied in a more systemically or controlled way.
I will update the progress in my web site.   It takes more time and effort. Will keep you informed. Regards. Jose
Dear Prof. Brody, I like to make my question more straightforward:  I plan to train Jr. players by hitting
more 1) topspin and 2) high  ball combined in forehand.   Based on your book, to maintain
80 mph speed in forehand,  adding both spin and strike ball high (e.g. waist height, even close
to shoulder height) can help to improve margin of error.
That means,  Jr. player will hit topspin from low to high, but from high to higher.  My
experience hit high ball in forehand is very difficult, uncomfortable... I thought there
is a biomeachnical limit if hitting zone is high.
Unforturnatly,  high ball forehand is not taught well in text book.  High ball forehand means
to hit the ball at the highest of its trajectory, not hit in rise, not hit late, but at its hightest
Pls give comments if you have time. thx in advance. jose

Jose,  I am sorry it took so lonbg to answer your letter, but I am very far behind in my work. Had I known what was in your mail, I would have put it to the front of the line. From my quick reading of your article, you understand what is in my work. I congratulate you. Not only do you understand my work, but you are capable of going beyond it.  I am sorry that I am not a biomechanics expert and could tell you
about the hitting of an 80 mph groundstroke. As far as I know, there is no biomechanical reason to prevent hitting a ground stroke at 80 mph. You clearly understand what happens AFTER the ball leaves the racket. Just as an additional bit of information. My calculations say that  ball's velocity is reduced by 50% in going from baseline to baseline. To find out how much time a player has to get to the ball, you need either to track the ball instant by instant or know the ball's average speed baseline to baseline. It is approximately 75% of the originalspeed. So to find how much time is available fo the 80 mph ground stroke, take 75% of 80 mph (or 60 mph) and divide the distance (78 feet) by 60 mph (88 feet/sec)which comes out to 1.3 sec). H Brody
Dear Jose, I would like to register my son Paul to this amazing program. He is 8 yrs old and has ADHD/Auditory Processing Disorder. We decided not to give him medicine but it is a challenge since at home he gets very dramatic, impatient, bored, etc. We are very busy and stressed since our 2 yrs old boy, Lucas, requires more attention than ever since we are going to have a baby girl in 3 more days. Also, we are looking for a program that we can afford since we have a tighted budget now that we are going to be five and my husband is the only one working. Regards.  MS
Deara MS,  it is your decsion not to give him medicine, but you need to talk to the doctors 1st.  My understanding is that medicine for ADHD treatement is still the mainstream.  Sports are complementory. Regards. Jose
Hi my daughter is  featuring on your home page. Wish there was something over here is Australia like what you guys have got going over there! She is happily playing her tennis again but is hard to find coaching that can really grab her attention and understand her. Doing a great job! maybe one day see you all. Mom.
 your daughter is a good role model to lots American ADHD kids who like to learn tennis. She is the ambassador representing ADHD kids in tennis world.  I hope my web site is useful to her.  I coach lots of ADHD kids.   Now I "on-line" coach two top ranking jr. players in california.  Regards. Jose
Jose Li, Hello, my name is Jake Sattelmair, I am from the Ratey Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating research and advocact regarding the brain-body connection to optimize human potential. I am  writing to you with a keen interest in your initiative to benefit children with ADHD through tennis. My colleague, Susan Pelican, and I are working alongside Dr. John Ratey,
author of the book "Spark: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain" to spearhead one of our organization's primary
initiatives - the promotion of exercise as an absolute necessity for optimal brain function. Our interests in this field are broad - ranging from  how PE programs improve education in schools to the importance of exercise to maintain cognitive function with age. However, we have a particular  interest in the special properties and benefits of tennis to people with ADHD. Susan especially has done some amazing work using tennis to help young people with ADHD in an academic setting. For this reason
we are drawn to your organization and would be very interested in connecting with you to discuss this shared passion. Please do let us know of your availability/interest and how best to  follow up. Also, we recently posted a short piece about this topic on our
Facebook page (The Ratey Institute) - if you are a Facebook user we very much welcome you to check it out and comment.
We look forward to hearing from you, and wish you all the best . Jake
Hi, Jake,  I will contact to Prof. John Ratey, and I do plan to write a book on ADHD-Tennis. let us discuss on phone. Regards. Jose
Do you have any experience with kids taking ADHD drugs (Concerta) and performance in sports. My daughter swims and I am concerned about how Concerta will affect her performace. I can't find any information

Hi,  i do not have tengible info on it. You might find it useful from swim great Phelps's mother. She wrote a book on his son
ADHD drug vs. swim, hard decision she made when Phelps is 12 years old.  I forget the title of the book.  Cheer. Jose
I have a competitive level player who was just diagnosed with mild ADHD. She's a high school age student playing top level USTA tournaments. I found your site helpful explaining one major problem we've been having with her tennis. Some times its seems like she doesn't see the ball and I found your article on eye grazing patterns very interesting.

Do you have any suggestions on how you get a top level player with ADHD to work on seeing the ball better, if they can?
             1) do not let Plevinsky feel that her ADHD is a disadvantage in her tennis.  If she is in competitative golf, ADHD
                 is a ture disadvantage.  However, in tennis, it is not.  My article will explain the reason.    I do not think her
                 opponent can gain extra confidence when she is known ADHD, as long as she does not think that way...
             2) in daily drill, mix up 100 balls with different brand names (penn, wilson...),  ask her to tell the ball's brand names
                 when you feed the ball to her in rally.  By doing this,  you force her to focus on the right thing: the ball, with
                 a quiet eye.
good luck, jose


Graham,  very good question. Actually I am planning to write a 2nd article on this topic: how to deal with a ADHD kid in a group enviroment, which is more pratical and difficult for kid, team, coach and parents all.  We cannot isolate ADHD kids by doing
private lesson and non-team sport. We have to encorage them to paticipate in a team.   I will share more to you in March.
What is your coaching business in UK?  Jose
My 10 year old granddaugter has been diagnosed with ADHD sincc t5. She dosen't get any physical activity eithe. Her mother works all the time to support them. I am disabled so transpotation is tricky but possible. I have always felt tennis would help can YOU SEND ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION FOR LESSONS FOR MY GRANDDAUGHTER.
Maybe she starts on any physical activitiies 1st.  Glad you think tennis can help, yes, truely can help. Any phyisical training can help her. It will be more easier to start on tennis after she is more familiar with phyiscal such as jogging, swimming...  jose
Hello Jose,

Great site. I used to be a very good player but later as I moved up the USTA rankings in juniors ADD and the anxiety it caused, led to my career spiraling downward. I am curious... How, exactly, without the anxiety, how does the ADD affect tennis performance? Obviously forgetting the score all the time. But in the actual hitting: should I expect to frame a ball every once in a while because of my bouncy eyes? How often? Will I misread passing shots? What else? 

Knowing this will strongly help with the anxiety I feel when I play. 

 My phase 1 research is to prove tennis is the right sport for ADD kids.Phase 2 work focus on how add affect "performance" in tennis.   You just ask me a very good question I care very much (to most of coaches, this one is irrelevant).   Tennis is a mintal game (especially at high rankings).  ADD as a mintal "disorder" definately affects tennis performance. If we know how to affect,  we can minimize the bad things before they happen.  Jose
 I live in Los Angeles and have been teaching my granddaughter tennis starting at her age of 5. She is now 7 years old. I am not a pro, however i've been playing for 3o years and well versed. We have just discovered, actually I suspected for about a year now, that she is A.D.D. She clearly has a future in this sport.. 6 months ago I started giving her private lessons with a Pro in L.A and with his teaching experience and my only suspecting there might be a ADD problem she has progressed quite nicely.

We all thought it was time for her to get involved in a clinic with other kids ( she has only taken private tournaments ) and no real matches. When she participates in a private one on one lesson, I can enforce focus and constant
ready position. Her ground strokes are superb, however since she has started to participate in a clinic environment, the obvious A.D.D kicks in, focus is lost and unless I'm standing at the baseline constantly reminding her to get ready, it is disastrous.

The shame of it is that as a 7 year old playing with kids that are 2 and 3 years older, she hits the ball as well or better then they do.
Now i need help and your advice or whatever it takes. Should she be in a clinic with other kids ? Her coach does not know of her
condition. Is she better off with private one on ones until we discover the proper meds ? Should she be coached by a pro that specializes in ADD children or one that simply is aware of her condition ?

I am perfectly willing to pay for your advice, donate to your organization etc. etc.  TY
sorry for late reply.  will be back late next week for Xmas, we can call each other. "...I started giving her private lessons with a Pro..." sounds great.  My experience is that parent (grandfather for your case) involvement in coaching ADHD kids  tennis is very positive.    Two extreme cases are; parents drop kids to coach, all yours attitued,  or strong oppinon over coach, drive coach crazy...  Let us make phone calls to go through details... Jose

We are very interested in tennis lessons for our son, who has ADHD and NOS Autism, unfortunately, Palo Alto is too far us to travel, to take him to see you for lessons. If was wondering if you can refer another tennis instructor, in the South Bay? We would truly appreciate it! Thank you

Pls find coaches from WWW.USPTA.ORG  web site.  Good luck. Jose

 Hello Jose,  I am writing to thank you very much for you effort in trying to explain to me the 2nd C. The example you gave was good and it actually worked for a bit in practice. But as soon as I started playing sets, it started breaking down as I didn't have time to focus. 
I think by this age, it is what it is. If I were still thinking about going professional, I would maybe take a flight to California to see you. But since I am about to graduate and get a job, I don't think it's worth it. In the end, it was nice meeting you and I respect the work you are doing. Thank you and please continue. Maybe you will help my children!
 I still am not understanding the "converging" part of the 3Cs. The first C, considering, I understand. Example: when the ball comes to you, you have to consider the opponent and then where to hit the ball.The third C, concentrate, I also understand. I have struggled my whole career trying to figure out what to focus on at impact. Visualizing the impact in my mind is interesting and probably does help. I never thought of that. But I do not understand what my mind should be thinking between the first and third C. I guess I am not understanding the concept of a "converging mind." Finally, I am located in Florida so it would be difficult to meet in person or for lessons to discuss.Peter

Peter, tennis is "game of emergency"! In real match, you are at emergency mode for every stroke. Daily training is not dealing emergency. Under emergency, you might behave totally different... Those professinals have lots of speical "emergency" experience and training. E.g. you need to do 2nd C under "emergency", that means you have to practice 2nd C in read match. Tennis is a mind game. You have to use your mind wisely: you need to think, but not think too much. You have to focus, but focus on right thing on right time. If you lose the game, sometimes you have to blame your "legs": maybe that day your leg is not as fast... Maybe your do not breath right, maybe your motion takes over... too many factors...My point is you have to have a total tennis training plan, then add 2C thing as suplement on top it. Do not give up .
that is the core question on 2nd C for your case on how to improve, which requires the lessons. Pls give me time to explain it off court (on line), which I have not done it before on 2nd C specific off court. On court, I have one drill to to improve the 3rd C ( which is the bottom-line). To elimilate 1st C effect (re-action), just isolate 2nd C to 3rd C transition,do this simple practice:
(1) you drop the ball by yourself, and hit this no-pace ball so that you visualize the impact in your mind by 50 times. It is a boring drill, but help (via my research, you still can hit this 0 pace ball to 80mpr in forehand if you are good at it!)
(2) same drill, but do it on very diretytype of court, make the ball bounce unexpected, and hit 50 times (no need to pay attention to your opponent, but deal with the hit zone difference). Pls do believe that some simple and boring drills can make big differences (hire high fly coach might not). regards. Jose


Tennis game is 10% technique and 90% mental?

Thanks for the valuable information. It helps me to review myself and set the next immediate goal properly. I don't know much of other coaches, only Nick; he's quite popular on the website. Yesterday I read an interview of Tony Roche, he's so right. It's 10 percent technique, and 90 percent psychology. 

Seems like I go back to the original question: How to convince jr. player to adopt new techniques? I've been thinking about this for so long. I still don't know the answer. I might get closer today. At least I know how hard it is now.

It really doesn't matter how detailed I break down a move, or how simple I made that one detail for her to try, Sarah just doesn’t want to get her hands on. It's hard to get start, and harder to keep it up. That's human's nature, I think. Anything I offered to Sarah, she just doesn't want it. She doesn’t have the guts to say “No” to me but instead she will give me many funny moves to make me believe that she’s incapable of doing so.

Most kids play tough and tougher to win. With or without proper forms, they will stretch their arm and hit the ball solid. My daughter is not a tough girl. Compare to other tough kids, she has the best form, but no strength, no solid hit. Now I finally understand that why she's not used to stay with the ball. Her arm is too soft to store energy. She always tries to soft control the ball (open racket head, brush the bottom of the ball), and plays kind of a smart game because she can’t hit the ball. 

Well now she saw the picture of Great Wall. It makes her believe that she has to stretch her arm and try to drive the ball hard. This weekend she changed a lot. She hit lot winners from forehand stroke. She finally can push the ball out on forehand. Great wall worked. This week we'll move on to backhand and volley.

The 90 percent psychology, probably will take 90 percent of training time.  Spent $60 on one-hour private lessens; I expect only 5 minutes following instructions, nothing on technically correct. Is it a waste or is it the price we have to pay? Since Mom Oracene kept telling the Williams sisters "Champions don't do things like that.” I believe they did the same silly things again and again like everybody else.  I hate long hours, but occasionally I have to use it to start a new move. It's hurt on both sides to force kid learn something. After I tried every possible method, the long hour was the most effective way to get it done. I watched Super Nanny. The way she calms down a crying baby is just sit by the baby, no talking, waits as long as it takes. I may call it the silent treatment. Also in China, we had the sleepless treatment to train a hunting eagle. So I'll take long hours as a psychological way to make kid learn something, but not as regular routine.  

The Williams sisters won because they developed their secret weapon – the power play.

It's a good idea to set some immediate goals that are not too hard to achieve, while having the big secret weapon in mind. These days every secret is publicly observed, so many open secrets. People start argue to each other, which way is better.

My next object is to stay with the ball using long linear push. Sounds simple but I have a lot to adjust. Stop; shoulder sideway; loop back down; great wall; shift body weight, lean forward; arm push out; lock wrist firm; keep racket head closed; fully extend arm; drop body weight; root leg; extend body; … I need the whole package to create body flow and a relaxed move. Anything too short or missing will break the rhyme and looks like forcing the ball. Also I have to cut out all the un-necessary moves. Let's see how it works. 

 Thing are all related. Last time I met a tennis dad on court, talk about his daughter’s flat feet. He believes that to start running, move upper body (lean) first. I told him move leg (kick back) first and drive the body. He won't believe me. If I were he, I will just give a try; see if it works. I also tried to mention the great wall to control the ball. He walked away. I'm pretty sure now that no great wall, no control. That takes a while to figure out. Even player can force the ball in court; she has to keep fighting hard. This forcing will keep players from moving to the next level, the relaxed hit.

Yep, Relaxed hit. That's my secret weapon. Hold it but not tight. Loose your body but keep in form. Stretch but don't force anything. Loop, loop, loop, like throwing a chain ball. Keep in balance but always ready to kick back run. Start quick, stop firm. Body for power; arm for control. It's the body loop to generate power, not arm swing.

Thanks again for your help.BH


You mean “what are the most difficult tennis shots from a point of view in mental?” Most players might agree that serve and overhead are two hardest shots to hit.  Why?  What makes them particularly hard is that they have much time to “think” before executing the shots. Experts believe that too much “think” mix irrelevant thoughts to the command leading to “distractions”, affecting negatively the rhythm and coordination. I do hate hitting overhead smash in my whole tennis life because I always “worry” what other people would think if I miss the overhead. This kind of worrisome makes my muscle tight and my footwork slow. Most likely, I held my breath, closed my eyes, used my whole might to suck the milk, “bang”, just hit nothing but air, then I missed my overhead in match point… I simply think too much under high pressure. That sounds interesting.  In previous chapter, we keep addressing smart play by “think, think and think”, now we seem to contradict ourselves by raising a concern that “think too much” is not good.  Yes, that is one of the beauties of tennis.  It is very tricky. It is a big challenge to parent coach to understand the role of thinking in tennis.  Here, we are talking about “think, but with a mental discipline”.  In this chapter, we can go deep on this topic to see the impact of stress to the mental tennis; one of the areas “relationship between the body and mind” should be interesting topic. Think vs. think too much myth is relating to how our mind controls our body.  Our body can follow our mind if we think right. If we think too much, e.g. we think in a wrong direction through an undesirable path, our body will do wired thing.  Our mind is such a powerful king to lead the whole nation (the body)?  Yes.   Our mind can adjust the temperature in a particular part of our body, when we are under stress, our body get sick; when we do correct mediation (Yoga), our body can recover from illness.  In tennis, mental is believed to outperform physical.  Chris Evert is not the most physically talented player, but people believed that nobody is better than Evert mentally.  As you mentioned in your writing in pro level play, “It's 10 percent technique, and 90 percent psychology”. 

The problem is our daily training routine does not practice mental strength at all: always feeding ball after ball for improving stroke techniques and physical.  The question is how to practice mental skills.  In the match, “big point” determines the game, set and match. Some players have strong mental to win the big points. Can we create “big point” scenario in practice, so that the player’s ability to handle pressure can be improved?

Unlike swim with the different importance of stroke (such as last stroke for touching the wall), I think talking about “big point” in tennis is no help. Every point is equal. The training should be emphasized on how to treat those points equal, rather than creating the “big point” for special treatment. However, there is kind of mental relaxation training to teach player how to manage stress. I like to take this opportunity to introduce the way in which Dr. Weinberg teach regulating anxiety in tennis play.

Excises #1: muscle relaxation

In practice, on purposely hit balls with muscle tension in odd number, and hit balls with muscle relaxation in even number. By switching back and forth, the player can increase the awareness of muscle impact to the stroke quality: relaxed muscle can help to generate powerful shot, not the other way around.

#2:  mental relaxation

In practice (and in play), repeat one (or two) your favorite word, or sing your favorite song/music.  It works very well to most of my students and even myself.

Excises #3:  Controlling breath exhales

Grunters are not welcomed, but legal. Exhale in a burst fashion right after contact in stroke production.On technique, I fully agree your term "long linear push", which should give forehand more "drive".  Just imagine hitting "12 billiard balls in a row"...    I do not think I get your point of "body loop".  You are referring to backswing?  My personal view is that "looping" is a "style", not a "core".   Bjom Borg has big looping in forehand, However, Johnny Mac and Jimmy Corners just put racquets back in forehand.  It is more meaningful to discuss techniques to Jrs. when their mindset is on higher "platform". I have a chance to read Ellen Tsia's essay recently.  Seems that this girl does stand up high on top of a platform with lots of understanding to life.  I believe her parents might teach her lots of non-tennis staffs, which does help to lift her up.  When I push very hard on my daughter's butterfly swim, she asked me "Dad, “why do you want me to do that?" near the pool side, with tear in her eyes... I have no answer; I even have no guts to look at her at that time.  I know her mental is not at that level yet, but I push her physical.  She is only 6.5 years old. It got to be harder.  Maybe I should pay more attention to forest rather than tree now...  I have no crystal ball in my hand. 


As a parent coach, paying more attention to mental aspects in tennis can give Jr. player the edge in practice and game as well.  If only giving Nick Bollettieri 30 minutes to coach your kid,  he might spend first 20 minutes on mental related training, and then demo the grip and hit the ball for the last 10 minutes.  “ Use your brain on court”. Now John Wooden is back again in this chapter.  We can discuss the third level of the pyramid: condition.   Do “condition” matter in strong mental building effort?  Yes.  Condition means “mental-moral-physical linkage”, and it is about an overall coaching plan to cover the rest, exercise and diet for preparing the tennis matches.  To sharp our mind, moderation must be practiced.  That is why Yoga and Tai-Ji are popular among athletes nowadays. John pointed out “dissipation must be eliminated”.   The next level of “condition” is “poise”.  It is about a mindset to ensure players are ready in combat on court:  just being yourself, being at ease in any situation, and never fighting yourself.  In a game, lots of players fight themselves!  They create themselves as their #1enemies.  That is one of the biggest out of focus problems for lots of tennis players.   Again, do not fight yourself.  Your #1 enemy is still at the other side of net.

I rate Ellen Tsay with high scores on “condition and poise” after I read her article. Jose