Footwork and Timing EXPLAINED PERFECTLY!: In 25 years of coaching, I've never come across a simpler and more effective way to describe these two crucial areas of the game, and what's most amazing is that these were written in 1925, almost 100 years ago, by former top player of his time Bill Tilden. I've spoken to numerous coaches and players, who also love this, especially the words for timing, as no-one could come up with what Bill did. I've been using this successfully with players on court for several months too.
I think coaches these days can easily get caught up with over-analysing the game, and sometimes the simplest things are best. Yes, the game has changed a lot in 100 years, but footwork and timing are two areas that are timeless. The human body hasn't changed in that time, so the purpose and ability to use footwork hasn't changed. It doesn't matter what technology you have in the racket either, as timing the ball requires the same skill now as it did back then.
The purpose of footwork (by Bill Tilden): Footwork is the means to perfect weight control and balance.
We all know the importance of balance, but weight control is something slightly different, and crucial when it comes to achieving that great timing. Balance is always about stability through the body, but weight control (and distribution) will change depending on the circumstances of the ball and the shot being attempted. I've found that body weight awareness is also a great way to think about it, having awareness of how your body weight is distributed when preparing for the shot.
How to time the ball (by Bill Tilden): Timing is the transference of the player's weight into his stroke.
The simplicity of it is genius, and it works well on every kind of shot from defensive to neutral, to attacking. Even just the smallest amount of body weight transfer forwards enables better timing, and more efficient transfer of energy from the body to maximise racket speed at contact and therefore power, spin, and control. Get out on court and try it!
FUN FACT!: If we get that far, the last two named storms in the alphabet this season, will be storm Vincent and storm Walid. I was very disappointed to see they don't have an option for X, Y or Z!
Our Team Hawker Squad players are awesome even if they don't win!: Yet they are still winning, more than ever before! The point is we have a fantastic group of players in the squads at the moment, and it's a priviledge and a pleasure to work with them week in week out, especially when it comes to preparing for and playing team matches, when they get the chance to represent the club.
Team Hawker squad members won a record 46 LTA tournaments in 2023, and we had a record 17 different winners. I love that indicator of strength in depth! Special well done to Filip, who won 8 tournaments in 2023, to Ronak, Aryan, Thomas, and Arian, who all won their first ever LTA tournaments in 2023, and of course to Lucca for all his incredible achievements in 2023!
Hawker Jets latest!: We started the season with a huge 12 teams entered into Surrey's Team Trophy competition, which included 5 teams from Paul's growing army of squad players. The aim is to win your division which ensures qualification to the knock-out phase of the competition this term. We're still awaiting confirmation of the next stage, but it looks like we'll at least have an U16 Boys and an U18 boys team in the next stage. We of course defending champions in the U18 Boys!
To see the latest results, and read the latest reports, do check the Hawker Jets page!
Team Hawker Squads: Another year is underway, and I'm hugely motivated as always to do the best I can for all our players! The emphasis as always, is on developing the players as individuals, maximising their potential to perform in competition, and using tennis to aid their development as kind and happy humans. Squad sizes are maximum 8 players on 3 courts. Click the link for more info, and for new enquiries, please contact me directly to arrange a free assessment and chat.
Paul Stow's continued success: Paul currently heads up most of the mini-tennis program at Hawker, and also runs some classes for yellow ball players. We continue to be incredibly lucky and very grateful to have him as part of the Hawker coaching team. He's an excellent coach, and doing wonderful things with many of our younger players through training and regular Matchplays. Places in Paul's regular classes are currently not available due to overwhelming demand. Please follow the link to see the timetable, and there you will find another link to join available waiting lists. To contact Paul directly, please use this form.
Skills & Drills with Nick: Skills & Drills had a great start last term. There are class options on Weds 6.30-7.30pm (full), Thurs 5.45-6.45pm (full), and Friday 4.30-5.30pm (1 space for Yellow 10+). This is a great addition for higher standard players to add to their weekly training, and also a suitable session for competent players who can't commit to tennis, but still want to play each week. Please contact Nick if interested.
Matchplay (Sponsored by Richmond/Sheen Sports): Matchplay is a gem for local juniors who wish to compete regularly and without having to travel too far to gain match experience, and the opportunity to develop their skills in the match environment. It’s open to players from other venues as well as Hawker, and caters for all levels. Please follow the link for more info.
New courts: Our new courts are still looking and playing fantastically almost 2 years on, and are available to hire 3 days in advance through our Clubspark page.
Past features of the newsletter that may be of interest:
Richmond/Sheen Sports: You could go to an online retailer, or a budget superstore, and you may save a few pounds, but you won't get better overall value. Here's the best option, pay a visit to RichmondSports or SheenSports!
They are managed by enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable staff, equally passionate about sports as they are about the local community, where they support many local clubs and schools, including ours.
Your individual needs will be met in a way the bigger retailers can't match, in terms of better advice, a more personal service, and a genuine desire to fulfil your sporting needs whatever they may be.
Being part of Hawker Tennis also entitles you to 10% off, so you'll be getting excellent all-round value, whilst helping them to keep helping us and other local clubs.
What does it take to help a player reach national level?: Every journey to national level will be unique and differ from every other, but there are many aspects that are essential, so from my experience of doing this at Hawker in 2023, I've written an article on what's needed to maximise the chance of success if national level is the next goal in a junior player's journey. Check it out here!
Why don't teenagers listen to their parents?: I always wondered why parents would often say to me 'When I tell my child to do this or that exercise to help their tennis, they don't listen, but they'll listen to you, so could you tell them?'. I was left thinking 'what is wrong with these mini humans? Surely good advice is good advice, so it shouldn't matter who is giving it?'.
Yes, you might be thinking of simple reasons why this happens, and yes, we all know that to differing extents, teenagers don't listen to their parents, but what is actually going on, and why is this also important for tennis coaches to understand? Click here for full article.
Tennisplayer.net: I'm an established contributor on this world leading coaching resource site, having written 2 lengthy series of articles, the first in 2016/17 on 1-2 Rhythm, and the latest on Marginal Gains in 2020. There is currently an offer of 30 days free trial to access the whole site!
Racism: Check the link for the latest from myself and the LTA, though nothing has been updated since September.
Feel free to get in touch about anything at all.
Remembering Joe Horner (it's all too easy to forget, so this memorial will remain on this page. I hope people continue to find enough time to reflect on the growing issue of mental health, especially in younger people): Joe was a regular face at Matchplay during many of his teenage years. He loved coming down to play, to mix with friends and enjoy the special atmosphere. His highlight was winning the 2009 Summer Tournament Doubles.
Sadly, Joe struggled with severe depression from his early 20's, and his mental health largely deteriorated during this time. He was very open about his problems, and had so much love from family and friends, but tragically in April 2019, he took his own life.
I have very fond memories of Joe, because he really understood what Hawker Tennis was all about, and fully appreicated being part of it even from a young age. He turned into a fine young man, so considerate of others, and always a pleasure to chat to.
After finishing education, Joe worked as a keeper at Chessington Zoo, and then moved on to ZSL at London Zoo. ZSL work worldwide on conservation to help save endangered species, something that was very close to Joe's heart.
For those who knew Joe, perhaps you would like to donate to this cause, or write a few words on his memorial page. Links are still up to date in 2022, and as follows:
Summer 2023 - Premier Division Winners, U16 Boys Div 1 Winners, Grade 3 Winners, PYWTW Finals