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Wednesday
Feb232011

Repost - Nick Bolletieri Article and Comments

Omnipresent tennis coach Nick Bolletieri has been writing articles for tennisrecruiting.net, a site used by college tennis coaches and junior players. I've enjoyed the articles quite a bit, despite harboring some long-held suspicions about Bolletieri's actual coaching (A lot of people have trained at his academy over the years, but I was never sure how much coaching he was responsible for.). At any rate, here's his latest:

http://tennisrecruiting.net/article.asp?id=674

Read it? OK, here are my comments.

I think the article gets off to a rocky start with his response to a question about keeping focus after "blowing" a big point. He says, "If I could figure out how to strengthen player's ability to handle adversity..." and makes a joke about not only being the most popular coach on tour, but being in demand to help everyone who gets frustrated solve their problems. He's not making himself out to be much of a coach here. He has no idea how to help players respond to adversity? That can't possibly be true. He says that working on "coping skills" is "untouchable." The only explanation I have is that he doesn't see this part of the game as his role (He has two Sport Psychologists and a Master's-level mental skills coach on staff at his academy.).

From there, I think his approach of using video to construct more detail about these "blown" points is constructive and a great place to start in conversation, with coaches and mental skills coaches, about how to approach these points. A lot of times, it's hard to develop objective information about what happened in a match, and video is by far the best tool we have. I think it's critically underutilized below the top levels of tennis.

I think it's a little odd that he ends that section by saying that "the most important thing" is to play every point like it's a big point. Well, if that's most important, shouldn't that be first? Shouldn't that concept be flushed out a little more? Isn't it exhausting to treat every point the same? Is it even possible? How do you train to do that? 

I really liked his treatment of the question about playing someone who is better than you. His advice isn't earth-shattering, but it conveys many of most important aspects of approaching these matches: being assertive on big points; adding a little chaos into the mix by playing some unexpected shots; carrying yourself with confidence. Overall, I think this is a nice summary of how to play well as the underdog, so I'll forgive the collection of coaching cliches that serves as the article's closer.

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