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Coaches Corner - tip of the month


BOOK-A-MILLION: Do Tennis Players Read?

Having just visited Books-A-Million's big box store in Port Charlotte, Florida, I was struck by the paltry number of tennis titles on their shelves. Would you believe six (6)? One copy only for each title with Andre Agassi's autobiography, Open (2009), and Timothy Galwey's classic, The Inner Game of Tennis (1974), bookending the "collection." Well, not exactly, since it took me more than a few minutes browsing the sport's section – yes I know the alphabet – to locate them somewhat out of order wedged haphazardly between soccer, swimming, and surfing books. But at least they've got those two excellent reads.

jakbeardsworthtennis.comI did ask the check-out clerk how many titles they had on the shelves. She smiled and said, "One million." All kidding aside, whatever it is, it's a huge store so there are many thousands!

Is this an indictment of Books-A-Million's view of tennis as a noteworthy topic? Or is it the cold, hard manifestation of supply and demand? I'd venture a guess that it's the latter.

Tennis players apparently don't read.

I didn't bother to count the number of golf titles, but I'll estimate that there were at least fifty (50.) Are golfers more curious than tennis players?

Sure, Agassi's book, a New York Times best seller, has sold well over 100,000 copies to date in both hard cover and now in paperback, had a crossover appeal due to his past and present notoriety and because of its 'revealing all' nature – his childhood with an overbearing, immigrant Father, the troubled Bollitieri Academy years, the early and not so early lifestyle choices, his relentless pursuit of Steffi Graf, the maturation process that led to his embrace of philanthropy and education, the ultimate citizen of the world stature enjoyed today – and the literary high marks it received, with Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer doing the writing for his friend while refusing to be noted as the co-author because "…it was his [Andre's] story."

My own first book (I hope to release a second one this summer), More Than Just the Strokes (2005), sold a mere fraction of copies by comparison. Yet it still made Amazon's Top 10 "tennis instruction" category, since tennis' publication numbers are miniscule when compared to other genres, even other sport's genres such as the aforementioned golf.
I'm, nonetheless, fortunate to currently contribute bi-monthly tennis articles for the last three years to Harbor Style Magazine, Southwest Florida's premier magazine. Besides being available through subscriptions and at newsstands and in bookstores, it is readily available on a complimentary basis at its prominent advertiser's business and professional locations. When I query those truly seeking to improve their game as to whether they had read my latest article, I'm surprised to learn that they haven't bothered.
Hey, c'mon. Fifty years of experience teaching and coaching the game isn't exactly chopped liver.

When I query those same aspiring higher individuals as to whether they visit my extensive instructional archives on my website, I'm often disappointed with their answer. But it's more likely for them to ask me, "Did you see that new Tennis Magazine article on…?"

So, I suppose one shouldn't be surprised at all by BAM's microscopic selection of tennis works.

It's a pity, but I'm guessing that it is mostly true – that tennis players, comparatively, are collectively not a very curious bunch. They just don't…read.

Will someone please tell me that I'm very wrong on this...


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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]
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