Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 ITA Convention Impressions

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of making a presentation about what we’ve being doing with the SpeedChain to about 100 college tennis coaches at their annual convention (“2007 ITA Coaches Convention”) in Naples, Florida (12/14 to 12/17/07).

First, I want to thank all of the coaches who attended the presentation, and I hope that we were able to provide them with some new and useful information regarding how to increase the overall performance level of their players.

Second, I want to express how grateful I am to the person who has been the greatest supporter of the SpeedChain and TennisSpeed, and who is a true legend among modern American tennis coaches, the one and only Greg “The General” Patton (former USTA National Coach, Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame member and currently Head Men’s Tennis Coach at Boise State University). Our presentation would not have ever happened if not for all of Greg’s help in getting TennisSpeed get off of the ground.

Third, I want to say thank you for all the support given to TennisSpeed over the past two seasons by our 4 collegiate early adopters of the SpeedChain:

Boise State Men’s Tennis (Head Coach Greg Patton)

UCLA Men’s Tennis (Head Coach Billy Martin)

Colorado Women’s Tennis (Head Coach Nicole Kenneally)

Syracuse Women’s Tennis (Head Coach Luke Jensen)

Overall, I thought that the presentation at the convention went quite well (I am thankful that I have had some experience speaking in public in front of larger audiences—that turned out to be one upside of my whole academic science experience), and the I think our message was well-received by the coaches who attended. And, we also received a wide range of very interesting and challenging questions from the coaches regarding the SpeedChain training concept, and our findings from our various pro, collegiate and junior early adopters.

From the TennisSpeed side, what was especially interesting was that we learned who among today’s college coaches are the great “seekers” of advanced (coaching) knowledge and who want to learn the most cutting-edge ideas and methods to help their players find their highest level. Not surprisingly, most of these coaches lead programs that have been very consistently successful season after season.

Alongside our presentation, there were also a number of other interesting talks and on-court clinics given by various experts in the American tennis community at the Convention, including one by celebrated American coach Nick Bolletieri, but the one presentation that stood out in my mind was the featured on-court clinic led by former Top-5 player, Todd Martin on Saturday afternoon (December 15th).

“Coach” Martin’s clinic was essentially a one-hour primer on how to be successful in singles at the pro level. The ideas that Martin presented were indeed fascinating and enlightening, and for many coaches there, counter-intuitive. When you compare Martin’s “4 skills” to the kinds of tactical ideas that are commonplace in today’s collegiate and junior game in the US, the way to be a successful tour pro is almost 180 degrees opposite from the prevailing “Big Strike/First Strike” philosophy so widely held in American tennis at the high-performance level.

Martin’s clinic was titled “Taking it to the next level: 4 skills necessary to transition from college to pro tennis.” Effectively, Martin summarized the four core tactical adjustments (taught to him by former top-10 player, Jose Higueras) he had to make in order to improve his chances to succeed on the tour after two years as an All-American at Northwestern University.

I created a written summary of the ideas that Martin presented over the course of his scheduled hour and you can email me at speedmaster [at] tennisspeed [dot] com if you’re interested in getting a copy (it’s a PDF file, FYI).

Oh, I thought I would close out this post by mentioning this recent development for us here at TennisSpeed…

TennisSpeed has been invited to give a technical presentation about our work with the SpeedChain to the newly-formed Tennis Education Group (TEG) based in Spain (yes, that Spain with the 12 pros ranked in the ATP Top 100) sometime in February 2008.

What’s really exciting about this opportunity is that many of the top federation coaches in Spain are already involved in this new venture (spearheaded by Jofre Porta (who coached Carlos Moya to ATP #1) and Pedro Zierof (one of the top physical trainers in Spanish tennis)), and TennisSpeed is honored to have the opportunity to speak alongside these luminaries of Spanish tennis.

Until next time, TTFN!

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