What is the GBA (Game Based Approach)?

Tired of taking the same old tennis lessons and hearing the same old tips with same the old frustrating results?

THE GBA IS A MORE INTUITIVE WAY TO LEARN TENNIS. Think of The Game Based Approach more like The Performance Based Approach. Instead of focusing on technique or "the strokes" first and hope you figure out how to use them in a game later, the GBA is the complete opposite. It focuses on getting you to understand how to play the game first and then uses technique as a tool to get you to perform better.

The GBA does not just get people to play "games" and ignore technique. It uses a systematic way of integrating the tactical, physical, mental & technical together. The way tennis is being taught is shifting away from traditional "model" based coaching.

If you're only hearing your coach tell you you're getting better but you're not really sure, get measurable results...find out what the ITF and players around the world already know.. The GBA is the best way to learn tennis.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Game Based Approach Is Here

I just wanted to share this article I found...

Following its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s when players such as John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and Martina Navratilova helped to boost the popularity of the game, tennis saw a decade of decline or flat growth.

A fresh focus on how the sport is taught to beginners, using slower balls, and a push to expand grassroots programmes have revived participation and the number of people playing tennis worldwide has increased significantly over the last few years.
"Tennis is growing because we're changing the way the game is being taught at starter level," said David Miley, director of tennis development at the International Tennis Federation, the sport's world governing body.
A key change was the introduction in 2005 of three different lower compression balls - red, orange and green - which are 75, 50 and 25 percent slower than standard tennis balls, making it easier for beginners of any age to keep a rally going.
More than 30 countries across six continents are now part of the ITF's scheme to promote use of the slower balls.
"We've made a conscious effort to reposition our sport," said Miley. "It's moving a little bit more away from being like learning the piano, where you learn the scales for six months before you ever get to play music, much more towards soccer.
"The first day somebody comes to play soccer they kick the ball, they play the game and no one is telling them all the technical stuff; they are playing."

The United States has seen a sharp increase, with participation up 43 percent between 2000 and 2008 and more players taking to the court last year than at any other time in the past 15 years, the Tennis Industry Association said.
"There have been a lot of grassroots programmes which have helped reach more players on a local level and build more awareness for the sport," TIA president Jon Muir said.
Britain has also seen a boost. A survey conducted by Sport England between October 2007 and 2008 showed the number of people over 16 who played tennis at least once a month rose to 939,500, up 65,500 from the previous survey in 2005/06.
Steven Martens, player director at the Lawn Tennis Association, agreed the use of slower balls and smaller courts for children had helped to get more people involved.
The number of under 18s in Britain competing in six or more tournaments a year has more than doubled to 22,500 over the last 12 months, up from 11,000 at the same point in 2008.
"This has been helped by increasing the quality and quantity of competitions available as well as having a systematic talent identification programme in place," Martens said.
Asia has also seen a growth in participation, with six million people in China playing tennis at least twice a week in October 2008, more than triple the 1.8 million two years earlier, according to the Chinese Tennis Association.
The CTA said last year's Beijing Olympics, where China won bronze in the women's doubles, could give the sport a further boost in coming years.
"We hope there will be faster growth of tennis participation with the help of the Olympics," CTA deputy director Gao Shenyang said.
Gao said that since the Games the CTA had focused on encouraging mass participation by launching an amateur league project and holding promotions in cities across the country.
The growth of tennis appears resilient to the economic downturn, with research showing that sales of balls and racquets have held steady despite the retail sector as a whole struggling.
The TIA charted economic indicators, such as the consumer confidence index, against participation and shipments of tennis equipment and found both continued to increase when the general economy was on a negative trend.
"Tennis has experienced a level of growth unmatched among other sports and participation doesn't seem as impacted by a down economy," said TIA executive director Jolyn de Boer.
John Callaghan, professor of sport at University of Southern California and an expert on the role of sports in society, said compared to other non-team sports, such as golf, tennis had remained popular because it was less expensive.
"Tennis is relatively cheap. A good racket costs less than $200, considerably less in the sales," he said. "And court and club fees are much cheaper than with golf."
According to the LTA, the average cost of club membership in Britain per week is £2.50 ($3.65) for adults and 85 pence for under 18s. As well as 11,000 club courts, there are 10,000 public courts, many of them free.
"The game is so readily available," said Callaghan. "Just get two or four people together and you have a game. Fitness centres have a huge following...but tennis offers more fun, competition and a better social environment."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top 5 Best Tennis Instructional Web Sites

Top 5 Best Tennis Instructional Web Sites...

#1. icoach- The ITF's site with the best content from top international coaches from around the world. It's a paid site, but like most paid sites, for the price of a private lesson you get a lot. This site focuses on all aspects of playing & coaching, not just videos of a guy standing there swinging a racquet talking about technique.

#2. TennisOne - Great content, good articles from international coaches and lots of Quicktime clips of the pros.

#3. Tennisplayer.net - Created by John Yandell, Similar to TennisOne, good articles and lots of clips of the pros.

#4. Ace Coach - Lots of great content about coaching and playing tennis from a 21st Century approach. Created by Wayne Elderton who writes articles for the ITF & TennisOne among others.

#5. Tennis Canada's PTA - A great resource for learning cutting edge coaching techniques. Lots of instructional video and interviews with top coaches.

Sites you may want to skip:

Anything with Jimmy Connors & Tracy Austin called: Tennis Fundamentals.


Monday, March 16, 2009

How to find a good coach

  Coaching tennis is a funny gig. I could be a good player & have absolutely no coaching experience, get some business cards made up, walk into a club and Bang! I'm coaching 35 hrs a week making good money. Other professionals like accountants,  dental hygienists or even golf pros all pay mandatory fees to some kind of association and they must attend certain professional development opportunities each year to maintain their status. For tennis pros, some clubs make it mandatory to take a weekend course to get certified, some don't. 

  When looking for a good tennis pro, try asking the students of the pro you're interested in some questions like:

1. do you have fun ?
2.  do you hit lots of balls? 
3. are you physically active?
4. does the coach listen to your needs?
5. is there good feedback?

 Look for a coach who asks you questions like, "What level are you?" and " What can I help you with?" You want a pro who listens to your response and asks some follow up questions like: "when you say you're having trouble with your BH do you mean when you rally or when you return serve?" Beware of the coach who thinks they know what you need without asking anything after only "rallying" with you for a minute.

The USTA did some stats a while back on why people stop taking tennis lessons. The #1 reason was the coach tried to change them. If you're doing "major surgery" in your first lesson and you haven't agreed to it.. you're with the wrong coach. 

You want a coach who gives you specific targeted feedback on one thing at a time. Beware the coach who barfs out 7 different things you're doing wrong in your first three shots. Great coaches will highlight your correct performance rather than continually harp on what you're doing wrong.

Ask lots of questions of your coach. Good coaches will gladly answer how what they are teaching you connects to the "big picture" of how your game is developing.

25 years of coaching experience doesn't always mean you've got a great coach. It might mean 25 years of doing the same old thing. Tennis is constantly evolving and so are coaching methodologies. 
Ideally, you want to find a coach who respects coaching education and is curious about finding new ways to improve player performance. But most of all you want to learn the game from someone who makes it fun!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Using Video to Improve Player Performance

Improvements in technology are making video analysis more and more popular. I've been using video for a while and recently I've begun to upload video to individual player websites for charting and measuring technical/tactical goals.
 I'm using an extendable pole with a tripod head and some hooks welded to the side. This makes it easier to get a much higher view of the court to record tactics. 
 Anyone can be very effective using video analysis without Dartfish. I've heard pros say they are reluctant to use video because they don't have it. Dartfish is expensive, has a steep learning curve, only PC based, has too many versions (only the most expensive version has decent features) & doesn't accept Quicktime files (like those from TennisOne).  Bottom line, Dartfish has a lot of bells & whistles but if you know how to breakdown video, that's most import skill that players appreciate, not just fancy graphics.
Instant on-court video feedback is a great way for players to see how well they're implementing tactics. So get out there and use that camera!

If interested, the ITF recently reviewed a DVD I produced with Wayne Elderton on developing young players. here's the link:


The promo video:

Some pics of the set-up. Coming soon.. mini laser projector hooked up to laptop to better show video. Can be projected on floor or curtain up to 60 inches.. Also looking to customize a laptop platform that can be hooked up to ball cart..


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