Tuesday, 18 January 2011

G'day mate

Dear Kids and Parents,

I have just spent three days attending the 2011 Grand Slam Coaches' Conference in Melbourne. This was funded through a three year scholarship programme that I am on in conjunction with Tennis Scotland, Glasgow City Council and Sport Scotland. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity because it was an inspirational experience and gave me a chance to meet coaches from all over the world.

I thought I would share some highlights with you:

1. We had a talk from Paul Annacone. Paul is currently the coach to Roger Federer and has previously coached Tim Henman and Pete Sampras. The most important message that he had for young players was that success is a journey, not a destination. He said the reason that Federer and Sampras are so successful is that they are aware that they are on a very long journey. During that journey they are going to win a lot of matches but they are also going to lose a lot as well. In the context of the longer journey, he says we need to encourage youngsters not to be afraid of winning or losing.

He also said that Roger Federer still LOVES to play tennis and still enjoys travelling the world. He believes that it is his love of the game and his unique perspective that will enable him to continue to keep winning grand slams.

2. I watched Andy ROddick practise on the Hisense Arena (equivalent of Court One at Wimbledon). What struck me is how intense he was, even during a practice session. So even a pro Like Andy gives 100% to every training session. He also had very controlled breathing. So all you kids who know about breathing techniques when playing, keep it up!

3. During a session delivered by Bruce Elliot who is a leading academic in sports biomechanics, he pointed out that Andy Murray's forehand is a great model of a super-efficient technique. So get on you tube and start copying Andy's forehand.

4. There was lots on nutrition and being strong. So make sure you are eating red meat for iron, drinking milk for calcium and getting plenty of complex carbohydrates (pasta, bread, rice) when you are training hard. Eating smart is crucial for good performance in all your sports.

5. We had a talk from Gil Reyes who was Andre Agassi's fitness and nutritional advisor for 17 years. One of the best stories he told about Andre was after he lost in a Grand Slam final. The next day he turned up at Gil's house. Gil said you could always hear him three blocks away as he turned his hifi in his jeep up to the max. Andre Agassi parked and walked up to the door. He rang the bell and when Gil came to answer, Andre said, "Losing stinks. Let's get to work." The mark of a true champion is someone who comes back even stronger and wants to learn from their mistakes.


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