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Coaches Corner - tip of the month



I’m back on my soap box encouraging older players – and demonstrating to them on court every day - that, yes, older dogs can learn new tricks. This after overhearing a couple of closed minded naysayers proclaiming that you cannot, that you are resigned to a flawed game if you’re of a certain age. Are these folks victims of their own lame acceptance of mediocrity, or just too lazy to really try?

Jak Beardsworth Tennis: Tips for SeniorsI thought I had put this misperception to bed a few years ago in my book, More Than Just The Strokes. Apparently these guys didn’t read it, or have ever visited my website (free) -  dedicated to those who always aspire higher - to open their minds up to the possibilities.

Allow me to remind those in doubt that none other than former world #1s Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, and Andre Agassi disagree with such a negative stance. Connors said, while dominating the Seniors Tour a few years back, “I think I can strike the ball better now than I could 15 years ago. And I think I anticipate better than I did in the past.” Agassi, according to his coach, Darren Cahill, was still more than holding his own at the end of his career because “he never trained [practiced] to maintain, he trained to improve.” And Pistol Pete, not long after he retired, offered, “Honestly, I think the best tennis I played was when I was older. I was ten times the player as I got older than when I was really dominating.” Okay? Got it? You can keep getting better despite the physical realities that come with chronological advancement.

Still not on board, and, as a result, warming-up for two minutes at most so that you “won’t get too tired to play,” or announcing, “let’s not waste anymore time warming-up,” and then proclaiming “f.b.i.” to start the match? Okay, here’s some more evidence.

I just got off the court today with an 80+ years young player who works out with me 1-2 times per week to stay sharp and to, yes, continue to improve, which she most definitely has! Ranked in her divisions top 10, she’ll be representing the USA – invited by the USTA – at the 80 & over ITF world team championships in Turkey in October. And there’s another 80+ player that I’ll be working with tomorrow, a recreational player, who this summer developed, I kid-you-not, a one-handed topspin backhand that she said she wanted to learn after watching Roger Federer’s. And then there’s also a slightly older gentleman who has acquired, and relishes, an uncanny backhand overhead over the past couple of summers right in front of me.

In the news recently we learned that 61 year old marathon swimmer, Diana Nyad, failed in her attempt to swim from Cuba to Key West – that’s if you can even refer to her effort as a failure. This was her second attempt, the first, 32 years ago when she was 29, also ended without fulfillment. After having to give it up after 29 hours in the water – still mentally strong but physically gassed - she addressed the press candidly: “I’m almost 62 years old. I’m standing here at the prime of life. Ithink this is the prime, when one reaches this age. You still have a body that’s strong, but now you have a better mind.” I had the pleasure of meeting her on an airplane back when she was doing television commentary for CBS at the US Open. Her effort and comments came as no surprise at all to me after that one conversation with her. She exuded always aspiring higher.

Yeah, sure you’re slower, less flexible, less powerful, and somewhat vision impaired compared to your youth, or even 10 years ago. So what? Does that mean you have to resign your Self to standing pat with your game? I think not! You can still continue to improve your ball striking skills, anticipations skills, strategy and tactics, mental toughness, and more. So, c’mon, it’s time to lose the tired “old dogs” cliché once and for all, get to work, and have even more fun meeting the challenge!

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]
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  • 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]
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