Lessons from a Tennis Addict on a Quest to Become a USTA 4.5 Player

Want more topspin? Think “hello/goodbye”

Want more topspin? Think “hello/goodbye”

"Give me more TOPSPIN!""Get under the ball!""Stop compressing the ball!""Turn the ball!""No, that's too flat!"For years, so many coaches barked out words like this to me over and over. I knew they were right, but every time I wanted to scream:"YES, I desperately WANT...

Serving in the Sandbox

Serving in the Sandbox

"The sandbox is a wonderful place To pass the time of day;Where imagination is limited only By the child who loves to play."--From "Sandbox", Author unknownBy P.J. SimmonsAnyone who's been along with me on the "Road" knows that my serve has been a major preoccupation...

When Your Coach Believes in You

When Your Coach Believes in You

By P.J. Simmons“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” --Zig ZiglarI love spending time over holidays with my Dad and stepmother, two remarkable people who exude life-affirming, positive energy every...

“You Throw Like a Girl” (and You Serve Like One Too)

“You Throw Like a Girl” (and You Serve Like One Too)

By P.J. SimmonsIt was almost 4 decades ago, but I still remember the sting I felt when someone said it to me for the first time.I was only 9 years old, which in retrospect seems so young. But back then nine felt "big." And in the mini-society of 9 year old boys that I...

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Want a Killer Serve? Top Tips from a Real 4.5 Player (Guest Post)

Want a Killer Serve? Top Tips from a Real 4.5 Player (Guest Post)

The following is a guest post from Jim Olson - an avid 4.5 player from Madison, WI who I met earlier this year at Bollettieri IMG academy. Jim started playing at 13 years of age but became especially serious about the sport in 2001 while living in Little Rock, AR....

Project Serve: Fixing the Trophy Position

Project Serve: Fixing the Trophy Position

As I mentioned in a recent post, I'm on a mission to transform my serve from a weakness to a weapon. It's a process that's involving a lot of patience: I'm breaking down every aspect of the serve and, in the process, trying to break some deeply ingrained habits.Last...

Project Serve: From Weakness to Weapon

Project Serve: From Weakness to Weapon

Andy Murray's expression in this photo (like he's about to yell an expletive or kill someone) pretty much sums up the way I've felt about my serve for the past two years. Until recently, my serve has been a source of considerable frustration, anger and fear: I've...

“I’ll Take That Mistake” – Best Coaching Advice Ever

“I’ll Take That Mistake” – Best Coaching Advice Ever

By P.J. SimmonsRecently I had the pleasure of playing a doubles match with my friend Kirk visiting NYC from Little Rock-- an awesome player who blew past 4.5 level years ago. I met Kirk at IMG Bollettieri Academy and remember thinking, "If I could play like Kirk...

To Grunt or Not to Grunt: An Amateur Tennis Player’s Dilemma

To Grunt or Not to Grunt: An Amateur Tennis Player’s Dilemma

If you love tennis, you've undoubtedly participated in at least one heated debate about "grunting" (or, in some cases more appropriately, "shrieking"). Should it be completely discouraged or accepted in moderation? Should grunting in pro tennis be penalized when it's...

Recipe for Good Tennis: Positive Thinking, Perspective– and Puppies

Recipe for Good Tennis: Positive Thinking, Perspective– and Puppies

By P.J. SimmonsIf you’re serious about improving your tennis game, you already know that tennis inevitably comes with tons of frustrations, heartaches, and injuries. We tennis players have to constantly persevere through peaks and valleys in performance (“I thought I...

How to Cure Tennis Elbow (and Golfer’s Elbow) in 5 Minutes a Day

How to Cure Tennis Elbow (and Golfer’s Elbow) in 5 Minutes a Day

By P.J. SimmonsCount your blessings if you've never had tennis elbow (aka "computer elbow" or "mouse elbow" because it also strikes folks who spend hours at the computer). Known as "lateral epicondylitis", it's a condition that can cause an intense, searing pain and...

Ball Machines Are Better with Music (And So is My Game)

Ball Machines Are Better with Music (And So is My Game)

For about a year I've been spending about an hour a week alone on the court with a ball machine. There's no way around it: to make technique automatic, you need to hit a lot of balls-- and a ball machine is cheaper (free at my club) than hiring a hitter or a pro.Until...

10 Tips for Better Doubles Strategy

10 Tips for Better Doubles Strategy

(Photo: I took this at the 2011 US Open - Austria's Jurgen Melzer and Germany's Philipp Petzschner in final set before winning their second Grand Slam doubles title)Coaches often say that playing doubles strengthens your singles game and vice versa. Having played a...

2 Must-Read Tennis Psychology Books that Changed My Game

2 Must-Read Tennis Psychology Books that Changed My Game

As summer was ending two years ago (August 2010), I was totally burned out from work. I had spent almost every night and weekend over the previous year writing a book on a tight deadline while also working a high-pressure full-time job. I knew I'd need a serious...

Schooled by a 12 Year Old at IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy

Schooled by a 12 Year Old at IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy

In February I took my first trip to the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton Florida, thanks to an invite from my friend Devin Tao who I'd met through NYC clinics. Devin was generous enough to invite me despite the fact that all the other guys in the group he...

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Feel free to reach out to me directly at roadto45@gmail.com or leave comments at the end of any of my posts!