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Coaches Corner - tip of the month



Jak Beardsworth Tennis: April/May Tips articleNo, I’m not referring to what occurs after witnessing a truly amazing event, an event that was so incredible that it was both figuratively and literally a jaw dropper. I am referring to the ideal manner in which you position your jaw when on the court in general, and more specifically to the moment at which you’re striking the ball – slack jawed (see image).

Consider for a moment those individuals who find it necessary to wear a mouth guard to negate their serious teeth grinding response to stressful dream states and promote jaw relaxation. Even if you, like most, do not find a mouth guard necessary, I’m sure that on occasion you wake up with the realization that you experienced what might have been an anxious night in dream land.

Next time you’re walking through your club or park to your court take a moment and observe player’s faces at the shot making moment. What you see will, first and foremost, amaze you, and then probably elicit a chuckling smile. They’ll be players fiercely baring their teeth, ones with eyes bulging, ones with eyes squinting, and many with jaws held tight with the lower portion often misaligned to one side. Some of these facial expressions are reminiscent of threatened characters in chainsaw movies.

Even players who breathe – exhaling through their stroke to promote relaxation – can be victims of excessive muscle tension specifically triggered by the signature sound that they make, especially in Clubland.

That audible sound should, in its “melody” if you will, facilitate relaxation instead, not the heightened fight-or-flight state our ancient ancestors experienced at the site of a large predator bearing down on them. It should not draw you into an in-between-zone that’s either too tentative or too jacked-up.

The signature sounds of today’s tour professionals are, interestingly, all over the board from the shrieking of Sharapova and Azarenka, to the combative grunts of Nadal, to the more serene and even keeled tone of Andy Murray – if there’s anyone that needs that it’s the emotional Scot, to the mostly inaudible, always expressionless, Federer.

I still clearly recall just about everyone naively poking fun at Pete Sampras’ ever present slack jaw’dness both during and in between points back in his prime. They didn’t get it folks. Perhaps they were too conditioned previously by the Connors-McEnroe sounds and sights of fury. I have no idea whether or not Pete learned that, along with the relaxed tonal quality of his exhalations, or it just came naturally along with his easy going manner. I suspect the latter. I do know that he was, and still is on the Senior Tour, an unbelievably good role model regarding that component’s part in enhancing one’s overall mental toughness in a game fraught with never ending stressful situations.

Questions and comments are welcome at anytime for all tips present and past via email.

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Tips Archive

  • May, June, 2013 JUST TALKING HEADS OR MORE [read more]
  • March, April, 2013 SELF-TALK: Good, Bad, or Indifferent [read more]
  • January, February, 2013 BOOK-A-MILLION: Do Tennis Players Read? [read more]
  • December, 2012 THE KEY TO TOUR LEVEL BALL STRIKING: And How to Learn It [read more]
  • November, 2012 ARE YOU A THUDDER, A TWANGER, OR A PINGER: Racket Dampeners [read more]
  • September, October, 2012 SMART SHOTS [read more]
  • July, August, 2012 TEN TOP STRESS REDUCERS [read more]
  • June, 2012 MAKING YOUR LESSONS STICK [read more]
  • May, 2012 THE IMPOSSIBLE: Accelerating and Decelerating Simultaneously [read more]
  • April, 2012 PLAYER DISCONNECTION [read more]
  • March, 2012 BENDING THE SERVE IN [read more]
  • February, 2012 UNDERSTANDING TERMINOLOGY: Drill vs Clinic vs Team Practice [read more]
  • January, 2012 PLAYING SCARED? [read more]
  • December, 2011 CUTTING OFF THE ANGLE…VERTICALLY [read more]
  • November, 2011 WHY COACHING? [read more]
  • October, 2011 THE EASY BALLS ARE NOT EASY [read more]
  • August/September, 2011 NEVER TOO LATE FOR OLDER DOGS [read more]
  • June/July, 2011 HARD COURTS, SOFT COURTS, and YOUR BODY'S ADAPTATION [read more]
  • April/May, 2011 JAW DROPPNG [read more]
  • February, 2011 TIP 2 | POOH POOHING DOUBLES STRATEGY SESSIONS [read more]
  • February, 2011 TIP 1 | CLAY TO HARD, HARD TO CLAY [read more]
  • December, 2010 JOHN ISNER’S “GOOD MISS” [read more]
  • November, 2010 THE MOST NEGLECTED SHOT IN THE GAME [read more]
  • October, 2010 BALL BOUNCING and the SERVE [read more]
  • September, 2010 TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE BALL [read more]
  • July-August, 2010 SUMMER SCHOOL COURTSIDE CRIB SHEET [read more]
  • May-June, 2010 THE 2-HANDED JUMP BACKHAND: The Dumbest Shot in Tennis [read more]
  • April, 2010 THE STANDING AROUND SYNDROME [read more]
  • March, 2010 THE ELUSIVE SERVICE TOSS [read more]
  • February, 2010 PREPARING TO START THE POINT: Serving and Receiving [read more]
  • January, 2010 DEBUNKING THE MODERN GAME [read more]
  • December, 2009 RELAX – IT'S JUST A RALLY BALL [read more]
  • November, 2009 DEFEATING THE POACHER [read more]
  • October, 2009 PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE [read more]
  • September, 2009 SERVING SUCCESS: Warming-Up vs Match Play [read more]
  • August, 2009 THE SPLIT STEP: Defending the Court, Rushing the Net, and More [read more]
  • July, 2009 THE THIRD GROUNDSTROKE [read more]
  • June, 2009 HOW MANY HANDS DOES IT TAKE? [read more]
  • May, 2009 THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL [read more]
  • April, 2009 PLAYING IN THE FLORIDA WIND [read more]
  • March, 2009 Letting them Play for Peak Performance in Clubland [read more]
  • February, 2009 SUPPORTING YOUR GAME [read more]
  • January, 2009 RESPECTING THE GAME: Top 10 Do's & Don'ts [read more]
  • December, 2008 Getting the Warm-up Right [read more]
  • November, 2008 Visualize...Realize: The Mind Body Connection [read more]
  • October, 2008 Reading Their Mail [read more]