Ladies and Gentlemen of Tennisopolis,
Welcome, I have created this new group for the members here on Tennisopolis to share with you personalized interviews from some of the greates players, coaches and business leaders within the industry. As we explore the inner workings of their individual passionate pursuits, allow me to give you some professional information on my writing and reporting background.
Many years ago, I began the journey of writing by keeping a personalized online diary of my favorite personal quotes, which can be found on twitter: twitter.com/jlampione. In addition, I expanded into facebook, and then, eventually became published with a shared collaboration with The Bleacher Report (www.TheBleacherReport). I am now proud to say that I have established three brand new companies that support the very passion that drives my day to day writing and reporting.
SW19 Tennis Magazine: www.SW19TennisMagazine.com
Tennis Mind: www.TennisMind.co.uk
Tennis Logic Management Services: www.FindaTennisCoach.com/detail.php?siteid=2259
In the coming months, I will be posting the latest interview within this group and should you have any questions, comments or inquries, please feel free to leave your comment at the bottom of this page or you can send me a direct email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you again and I look forward to speaking with you all very soon!
Replies to This Discussion
By Jason Lampione (Contributor) August 11th, 2011 (The Bleacher Report).
The ultimate achiever in sport, business and life! Dr. Allen Fox has accomplished what so many only dream of doing. Born on June 25th, 1939, in Los Angeles, California, Allen had lived a life full of passion and purpose. His monumental achievements go back as far as high school where he was Southern California junior champion, a member of the Junior Davis Cup team, and won the US National Junior Doubles at Kalamazoo.
Thereafter, Dr. Fox had attended UCLA and was a three-time All-American, (1959-61) winning the NCAA national doubles title with partner Larry Naglar in 1960, and then, the singles title in 1961. He has earned his B.A. in physics and continued his education to complete his Ph.D. studies in psychology. Dr. Allen Fox was inducted into the UCLA Sports Hall of Fame, along with other mentionables that include the Pepperdine University Sports Hall of Fame, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame, the Southern California Tennis Hall of Fame, and the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
In addition, Dr. Allen Fox has coached the men’s team at Pepperdine University to a top-five ranking in Division I for 10 consecutive years, including six NCAA quarterfinals and two final berths. Among Fox’s team members were Brad Gilbert, Martin Laurendeau (Canadian Davis Cup Captain), Kelly Jones (coach of James Blake and former #1 ranking doubles player in the world), Glen Michibata (Princeton men’s coach, and former Canadian Davis Cupper and #1 ranking doubles player in the world), and Richard Gallien (women’s coach at USC).
Dr. Allen Fox has also coached and consulted numerous world ranked players on both the ATP and WTA tours with great success. Such players would include Dinara Safina, Sam Querrey, Dimitri Tursunov, Justin Gimelstob, Ashley Harkelrod, Scoville Jenkins (US national junior champion in 2003), and Mike McClune (US national junior champion, 2007). He even worked with John McEnroe when he was playing on the professional circuit. And, continues to consult players from around the world who seek his guidance and mentorship. Now, please welcome Dr. Allen Fox!
Welcome Allen, I am very happy to be here with you today! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share with us your personal and professional achievements over the course of your successful career. I have received much feedback from our readers who are anticipating reading this wonderful interview that you will sharing with them. Without further delay, let us begin.
(JL) Allen, growing up as a young athlete how did you first become involved with the sport of tennis? Can you recall a specific experience as a young player that you'd like to share with us? How was parental support during those times growing up in Tuscon, Arizona?
(AF) I actually started playing tennis while living in Tucson, Arizona when I was almost 14. I took a couple of lessons from a University of Arizona tennis team member and practiced against a backboard. Three months after starting I played in a city 15 and under tournament and lost to the winner in a close match, despite the fact that I hadn’t yet learned to serve (So I served underhanded.). There weren’t many players in Tucson in those days, so I could see that the top wasn’t very far away. That inspired me to practice. I had no parental support other than my mother taking me to the backboard daily and telling me to practice for an hour. I guess I was a pretty well-behaved kid, because she left me alone at the backboard and practiced for the required hour.
(JL) When you left Tuscon, Arizona and relocated to Beverly Hills, California did you feel pressure to perform in high school? You had mentioned during our conversation that you had transferred from Tuscon High School to Beverly Hills High School, how old were you entering into Beverly Hills High School? Did you have any outside influences that gave you the desire to wanna be the best?
(AF) I entered Beverly Hills High as a junior at the age of 16, having transferred from Tucson High, where I was the best player in the Southwestern United States in the 18 and under division. I didn’t feel the slightest pressure to perform from anybody other than myself at any time in my career, including high school, university, Davis Cup, or elsewhere. I wanted to win on a personal basis as powerfully as was humanly possible. No outside influence could have made me want it more or try harder.
(JL) In 1960, you had attended the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) and teamed up with Larry Naglar to capture the NCAA doubles title, can you tell us how it felt winning such a prestigous event? What was the experience like during those days playing competitively in the National Collegiate Athletic Association at the division one level?
(AF) Winning the NCAA doubles in 1960 was not a thrill at all. I was interested in the singles. Once I lost in the singles event, I wanted to win the doubles, but it did not replace the disappointment of losing in the singles. As for competing at the Division I level in college, I was not overawed by the experience at any time. I was, in short order, one of top 5 players in Division I. In my years at UCLA I won every dual match at the number 1 and 2 positions except two, and these were against Rafael Osuna of USC (I also had a win over him) and Chuck McKinley of Trinity, both great players.
I won the NCAA singles championship in 1961 in my senior year and that win also clinched the team title for UCLA that year. It was an exciting win for me, but I must admit that the draw opened up in such a way that I felt I could not lose. That year there were 3 players that threatened me. I was very consistent, and I felt that there were only three players in college tennis at the time that might beat me: Rafael Osuna (top 10 in the world), Larry Nagler (1960 NCAA singles champion), and Ramsey Earnheart (of USC, ranked #11 in the United States). All three of them were upset in the tournament, to my great satisfaction and relief, and I was never close to losing even a set in the tournament.
With those guys out, it was a cakewalk for me, although my coach, JD Morgan, wasn’t as relaxed about it as I was. In those days the team event co-existed with the individual event, and each team got a point for each individual match its team members won. We were tied with USC going into the singles final, and my coach was worried about me losing to Ray Senkowski of Michigan, victor over Ramsey Earnheart in the semis. I said to JD, “Relax coach. There’s no way under the sun I can lose to this guy!” And I didn’t. But as a coach later myself, I understood JD’s concern. (More than once when I coached at Pepperdine I had cocky players guarantee me wins and lose.)
(JL) What was your experience like attending UCLA? How did your game develop in college as you progressed as a player on the UCLA team?
(AF) My experience at UCLA, although painful in my junior year, was crucial in my development as a player. It gave me an opportunity to practice hard and play a lot of matches while getting an education. In my junior year I began a long string of losses to Larry Nagler, my team mate and doubles partner. I had ended my sophomore year as the number one player on the UCLA team, and it hurt to move down to number two the following year. Nagler was a great athlete (played first string basketball at UCLA as a freshman under John Wooden), and he beat me so many time that he got into my head.
I was very consistent and reached the finals of every intercollegiate tournament in Southern California. (There were 3 big ones each year – Valley Hunt, Ojai, and the Pac 10 Championship) But in my junior year Nagler beat me in the finals of each of them and, in addition, at the National Clay Court Championships and Balboa. The only good part of this was that it pushed me to practice long and hard to try to overtake him, which I finally did at the Valley Hunt tournament in my senior year.
(JL) When and how did you make the transition from good player to world-class player? What were some of your accomplishments during this progression in your success?
(AF) 1961-1962 was a pivotal time in my tennis career. It was then that I made a jump from quite a good player to a world-class player, and to this day I’m not quite sure what caused it. But that year I won singles titles at the NCAA Championships, Cincinnati, and Southhampton (a major event on the grass court circuit) and was named to the Davis Cup team. Suddenly, I was capable of beating anybody in the world on a given day. This initial phase extended into early 1962 when I won the US National Hardcourt Championship in La Jolla. After that I was an established player, and, although I was in graduate school in psychology at UCLA, I practiced with the UCLA team every afternoon, played tournaments every couple of weeks during the school year, and played internationally every summer.
(JL) How did college tennis compare to tennis on the international tour and what was the tour like before the Open Era? Did you get compensation for playing on the professional circuit? If so, what was the experience like?
(AF) For me the transition from intercollegiate tennis to the international tour was seamless. In those days the best players in the United States stayed in college, usually for their 4 years. So there was not a great jump to the international level. This was all before the ATP existed, the tournaments were nominally “amateur” but when you reached the higher levels you negotiated appearance money. The top players in the world got about $1,000 a week (Roy Emerson, Manuel Santana) and it scaled down from there. At my peak I was getting about $300 a week, which I thought was stealing. Imagine, I thought, getting paid to play tennis?? Heck, I would have happily paid my own way just to play (and did in the early days). The whole thing was exciting and fun!
(JL) Did your coach at UCLA put pressure on you to win? How many hours a day did you dedicate to the each practice session?
(AF) I felt no external pressure during this time, nor at any time afterward. All the pressure I felt came from myself. I wanted to win every time I walked on court, and I was able to put out 100% effort every time in every match. I took every match seriously, and if I was able to beat somebody 6-0. 6-0 I certainly tried to do it. I was a fanatic practice player, and I put in long hours of work on my game. My theory was that as soon as I left the practice court my game stopped improving. So I stayed on the court every moment I could. Six to eight hours on weekends and during the summer was normal for me. After tournament matches I would take a rest and come right back to the practice court for another hour or two. I liked the practice; I loved the winning; and I felt the more I practiced the better my chances were of winning.
(JL) You seem to have had a number of jumps in performance. What caused these?
(AF) As with everybody, confidence comes in cycles, and with confidence comes big improvements in performance. When I got hot, I could and did beat anybody. One of my biggest jumps started at the Canadian National Championship in 1966 in Vancouver, played on grass. I was down 2 sets to love in the semis, but came back to win in 5 sets. By the final, I was brimming with confidence and beat Alan Stone of Australia very easily. Two weeks later, at the Pacific Southwest tournament in Los Angeles, I remained hot, and beat the four best players in the world on four days without losing a set. These were Manuel Santana, Tony Roche, Fred Stolle, and Roy Emerson, each had won one of the Slam tournaments that year. Of these the most thrilling was beating Emerson in the finals. He was then and had been for several years, the best player in the world and was one of my idols. I never thought I could beat him, but that day on the center court of the LA Tennis Club in front of 4000 home court fans I just couldn’t miss.
(JL) What was it like to play Davis Cup for the United States? During those years, who were the top players? What country did you have an opportunity to compete against? What was that experience like for you?
(AF) My experience as a Davis Cup member was as a secondary player. The top guys over the years were Chuck McKinley, Dennis Ralston, Arthur Ashe, and Cliff Richey. I played against Iran, a weak team, so there was no real pressure on me. I didn’t think there was any way I could lose, so the matches were a lot of fun. I met the Shah and played in front of 4,000 Iranians and basically put on a tennis exhibition. In this sense it was much like most of my intercollegiate matches when I was at UCLA. I felt no threat of losing, so the playing was a lot of fun. That was the kind of situation that made all the work worthwhile – playing pretty good but not very good players in a big situation in front of a hefty crowd with no risk of losing. Playing against very good and very dangerous players was never as much fun because of the risk of losing. Then there was pressure, not from the outside, but internally generated. I loved the winning, but the matches themselves were very stressful and required tremendous concentration. I looked forward to the tournaments, was excited with the prospects of winning them, but didn’t enjoy the process of fighting my way through tough competitive matches.
(JL) How did your competitive experience as a player impact your coaching career?
(AF) My competitive experiences gave me first-hand information on what it takes to win tennis matches. I was not a great athlete, so I had to work extraordinarily hard on my strokes, techniques, and strategies. I had to be very alert to my opponent’s weaknesses because I did not have the guns to blow my opponents out. Rather, I had to break down their weaknesses. I was also highly driven but risk averse, so choking was always a possibility for me against dangerous opponents. I had to learn how to control my nerves and function when my hands were getting shaky. All of this was very helpful when I became a coach at Pepperdine University.
(JL) What did you learn about coaching that surprised you? Can you describe how a collegiate coach becomes successful by sharing a few examples with us that you've learned from other coaches within the NCAA?
(AF) I was somewhat surprised when I first started coaching as to what the job entailed. I had thought I would simply teach my players how to do the things I did on court, and they would become better tennis players. Little did I expect that 90% of my job would entail handling psychological and motivational issues. Most of us think that other people will think and behave somewhat as we would in a similar situation. (That is, until we live for awhile and get multiple experiences of reality.) As a player, I was goal oriented, highly motivated, rational, did as I was told, and did not need a great deal of hand-holding from my coach. I soon learned that most people are not like this. I learned that the most important job of the coach is not teaching the players how to play, rather it is to get control of the players. Only then can you teach them anything. And every successful coach does this in his/her own unique way.
Dick Gould at Stanford did it by being very smart and people oriented. He wasn’t a disciplinarian. His practices were loose and not terribly long. He handled each player differently. He knew which player to kick in the butt (and when) and which player needed a pat on the back and an understanding ear. Glenn Bassett, the great coach at UCLA, did it with firm but fair rules, hard, long, repetitive practices and great personal devotion to the team. And I did it differently from both of them. I led from the inside, almost as a “leader of the pack” kind of coach. In my early years I could play as well as any of my players (for a set, anyway) and I had been a better player than most of them. I also had a sharp wit and knew more about a lot of things than they did. (I even tutored some of them in their studies on trips.) So they did what I said for a combination of reasons. They respected me and didn’t want to become the object of my wit in front of the team. I mentally dominated the team, but did not do it with strict rules or punishments.
They just didn’t want to mess with me. My playing career was a great help with my coaching, and I did enjoy the competitive aspect of recruiting and training a strong team and then sicking them on opposing teams. Winning was fun, losing wasn’t, but none of it was as much fun as when I was playing myself. On the other hand, I couldn’t play at high levels any more myself, and coaching was a lot more fun than not playing at all. It had many but not all of the aspects of tennis competition that I knew and loved throughout most of my adult life. The one part of college coaching that I hadn’t expected but that was extremely important was motivating the players and teaching them to control their emotions. This was far more difficult than I realized before I began coaching.
(JL) Expanding from our previous question. Was there another aspect of coaching that you didn't become aware of during your career that you now enjoy? How has the personal relationships you've forged with your players (past and present) affected you as a person and coach? What lessons do you think your players have learned most and do you stay in touch with them?
(AF) One other aspect of coaching that I was not aware of beforehand but that I have greatly enjoyed has been my personal relationship with my players and ex-players. I recognize (and always have recognized) that tennis is just a game, played essentially for fun. (Of course much of the fun comes from winning.) But as seriously as I have always been in competition, I’ve always realized that it’s just a game. But beyond that, this particular game is a great analog for the competitive and achievement aspects of life itself, and it has been personally satisfying to mentor my players in their off-court lives.
Through tennis they have learned the lessons of how hard work, emotional discipline, staying alert to what’s working and what isn’t, assuming all problems have solutions, and taking personal responsibility for performance help in becoming successful in whatever area of achievement they find themselves. I stay in touch with many of them and, as with my children, I am happy when they are happy and doing well. It is rewarding when they tell me I have had a positive influence on how they are handling their lives now that their playing careers are over.
(JL) To date, who have you been coaching on the professional circuit? During your coaching sessions with your player, what do you normally discuss in your conversation? Do you work with your player on the court or converse over the telephone?
(AF) I have been coaching Igor Kunitsyn (#62 ATP) for the last few years, and it is more like what I originally thought college coaching would be like. Igor is 29 and very logical. Of course he is emotional too, as we all are, but he is very reachable with logic. I don’t have to motivate Igor, and I don’t try to control him. He has a wife and child and plenty of reasons to be practical and want to win. I work with him in an unusual way – mostly by telephone. I go to a few tournaments each year with him and identify weaknesses that I think he can strengthen.
We discuss appropriate drills and how to do them, and he disciplines himself when I’m not there. We also discuss mental and emotional approaches that will help him against certain opponents and game plans. When I make suggestions, Igor wants to know why it is so. He has to be convinced that there is a good reason for something before he will do it. Once convinced, however, he doesn’t need me standing over him pushing him to do things. He takes care of himself, much as I did in my playing days.
(JL) In what ways have you made Igor Kunitsyn a better player? Can you describe Igor's playing style and how his playing approach hindered his ranking? What have been other major influences you have had over Igor during the time you've worked with him?
(AF) The main physical adjustment I’ve worked on with Igor has been to give him more tools for aggression. Previously, he was a body-punching baseliner. However, he didn’t have quite enough power to hit winners consistently with his groundstrokes. This left him vulnerable to players who were either more consistent than he was, or to players who had a big shot and who could eventually blow him out. These issues kept his ranking at about 100 to 120 ATP. To counter this, Igor spent a great deal of time doing volley drills and becoming proficient at the net.
Now he can hurt opponents by getting control of the point off the ground and transitioning into the net for the finish. He’s now using his exceptional speed of foot for offense (with quick movements forward) rather than strictly for defense, chasing balls down on the baseline. The other influences I’ve had over Igor concern, as one might expect knowing my background, his mental game. He is very smart and reasonable, and he understands immediately the effects of emotion on performance. He’s become more emotionally disciplined and resilient to the many ebbs and flows of good and bad fortune in tennis matches. He gotten tougher and is competing better.
This is probably due, at least partially, to having more weapons in his game and more options in his game plans. But it’s also due to understanding what emotional reactions he and the rest of the players are likely to have in various situations and being prepared with a plan to counter his own difficulties and take advantage of those of his opponents. The mistake most players make is to simply let nature take its course emotionally, without mental preparation or plan.
(JL) Over the years you’ve written several well-received books, “If I’m the Better Player, Why Can’t I Win?” “Think to Win,” and “The Winner’s Mind, a Competitor’s Guide to Sports and Business Success.” What have you written most recently?
(AF) For the last many years, in addition to my consulting and coaching, I have been writing a book that uses all the information on the mental game that I’ve garnered in my playing career, my coaching (17 years at Pepperdine), and my consulting with players, including pros like Dinara Safina, Dimitri Tursunov, Igor Kunitsyn, and even John McEnroe (many years ago) as well as college players and recreational players. It turns out that everybody has the same problems, varying only in degree. Getting angry, frustrated, discouraged, choking, losing confidence with losses – these are all natural and normal responses to the emotions generated in competitive tennis matches. In my book I discuss these and other emotional issues and suggest techniques to counter them. Having been through these problems again and again with players of all levels I’ve learned, through experience, what works in most cases.
The response to the finished product, “Tennis: Winning the Mental Match,” has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s been endorsed by Jose Higueras and Jay Berger (the heads of men’s tennis and coaching for the USTA), Brad Gilbert, and Tracy Austin. A number of pros on the tour are using it as well as university tennis teams and individuals. The reviews and responses have been heartwarming. The book is available on Amazon, Kindle, Ibooks, Tennis Warehouse, and on my web site, allenfoxtennis.net. (You can see some of the responses by looking up the book on Amazon and checking out the customer reviews, of which there are five).
(JL) In addition to your book, what else has been keeping you busy? You had mentioned that you travel quite often around the United States, can you tell us where you have visited and the services you've been providing?
(AF) I’ve also been doing speeches, seminars, and book signings for the last six months. I spent a month in Hawaii speaking at 9 clubs, a week in Northern California doing a specialty course for the USPTA and speaking at 4 clubs; 3 weeks in Florida, speaking at all the major academies (Saddlebrook, Macci’s, Evert’s, Solomon’s, Bollittieri’s, etc.) and 12 clubs; as well as Southern California, where I was the keynote speaker at the So. Cal. USPTA annual convention, and talks at clubs from Los Angeles to San Diego. In short, I’ve been keeping busy.
(JL) How can players at the recreational and collegiate levels contact you for a consultation? Do you provide services for other organizations and/or companies? If so, can you give us a few examples?
(AF) If players at the recreational level or higher want to employ my consulting services they need only go to my web site, allenfoxtennis.net, sign up for an hour’s consulting, and then we will, by email, set up a convenient appointment time to speak by telephone. It turns out that consulting on mental issues by telephone is almost better than doing it face to face.
It’s quite easy to talk this way, and the information passed back and forth is the key to competitive improvement, not looking at my aging face. The site also has articles on various tennis topics and describes and makes available for purchase all of my books, including “Tennis: Winning the Mental Match.” In addition, pros, tennis academies, tennis groups, and tennis clubs can inquire on my site about having me visit their facility and provide them with talks/seminars or clinics.
(JL) Do you have snippets of advice for parents and players that you can provide as we conclude our interview?
(AF) 1. Try to remember that tennis is just a game played for fun.
2. Part of the fun is looking at it as a project upon which you work over time to improve your skills. It’s more like building a model airplane than it is a life and death struggle for superiority.
3. My Golden Rule of Competition: “Don’t do anything on court that does not help you win.” (This works off the court as well.)
4. You must control your emotions rather than the other way around. (Uncontrolled emotions are the usual cause of forgetting the “Golden Rule.”)
5. Buy a copy of “Tennis: Winning the Mental Match,” and read it carefully.
Thank you Allen for a beautiful segment, it was truly and honor and a privilege to have spoken with you today for our interview. I am certain that many people will be enjoying this excellent piece that you have shared with us, and would like to wish you the very best in all that you do. May you be blessed with continued success, health and happiness.
Ryler DeHeart, Tennis: The Dark Horse of American Talent and Heart.
By Jason Lampione (Contributor) August 11th, 2011 (The Bleacher Report).
Ryler became a more defined player during his developmental days while attending the University of Illinois as a student-athlete. He was a participant of the 2003 NCAA championship team that included ATP professionals Amer Delic and Rajeev Ram (who were the biggest hitters in the lineup of players).
He graduated as a psych/pre-med major, although his core passion and love still lies with tennis. Ryler DeHeart is now working on establishing himself in the Tampa Bay, Florida area and hoping to begin his own academy, where he will be forging the hearts and minds of junior players from around the world. If anyone can produce national and international champions here in the United States, it is certainly Ryler DeHeart; he has tremendous leadership abilities and passion for what he does.
Following is my interview with Ryler:
JL: Ryler, as a young and up-and-coming-athlete, what sports have you participated in that gave you the needed skill-set and abilities to help accelerate your playing career in tennis? What important lessons have you learned from those experiences, and do any of them stand out more so than others? If so, why?
RD: I played soccer at a young age and some of my first sports memories were watching and playing many different sports. I started with soccer and when I began playing tennis, I played only for fun and because I enjoyed playing the game more than any other at the time. That is the main reason why, when I was about 11 years old, I decided to pick tennis as the sport I would concentrate on.
I think not specializing in one sport too early on in the development of an athlete is very important. The reason I feel very strongly about this is because of how important it is for kids to become good athletes first, and good tennis players second. If a kid is put into tennis too early, without those crucial athletic skills (for example footwork skills developed in a sport like soccer) that child is at a disadvantage from the beginning and is also much more likely to become burnt out. In my opinion, kids should play many sports and have fun when they are young, then pick a sport for the right reason—because they love it!
JL: As a rising junior player coming up through the USTA and ITF ranking system, was there a specific training methodology that you implemented on a daily basis that gave you the needed confidence to drive your success to the professional circuit? Did you have a pre-match ritual or mantra that you conducted prior to the match that you felt gave you an edge?
RD: My training as a junior player was quite a bit different than my later years in tennis. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time working on my game and developing a technical base of sound fundamentals that is so important to have in any sport.
I basically figured out what I needed to do to hit the ball the best way I could hit it and do it a million times over. My training would vary depending on the time of the year and whether or not I had tournaments, but I would basically play as much as I could as a kid because I loved the game. I loved improving and practicing, so putting that time in and seeing the hard work pay off was the most enjoyable part for me. I am not a very ritualistic or superstitious person, but I did enjoy listening to music that pumped me up.
JL: During your professional playing career on the ATP circuit, how have you evolved as a person, player and coach over the years? How has the experience transformed your perception on life and can you share any personal principles or philosophies that you have developed during your training and travels with our readers?
RD: Trying to reach the top ranks of a sport is always a challenging feat that forces a person to explore themselves. When you are pushing yourself like you have to as a professional athlete, it forces you to really discover what you are made of and what you are willing to do to achieve your goals. I learned way too many things in my nearly six years of playing to write about here, but one of the main principles I live my life by is that there are no shortcuts to success in anything in life. If you want something bad enough, you have to work for it and earn it with what you say, what you think, what you believe, and most importantly what you do.
JL: In our previous conversations, you had mentioned that you were interested in developing an academy in the Tampa Bay, Florida area. Can you expand on that further? How will your business model of the academy be different from your competitors in the local area? Where are you currently at in the development phase of the academy?
RD: I am heading up all the programs, including the junior program (which we are building from scratch) as the head tennis professional at the Seminole Lake Tennis Center located in Largo, Florida, between Clearwater and St. Pete beaches. I am trying to instill some of the principles that I implemented in my own training as a player and to offer our kids the best combination of technical, tactical, physical and mental/emotional development and training as possible. In my own tennis development, I have found that many coaches are very good in one or two of these areas of development, but very few coaches recognize the importance of all of them and the balance of combining all to get the very most out of a player.
JL: As an extension of the previous question, what kind of impact are you looking to make with your academy within the local community of Tampa Bay, Florida? Have you mapped out a long-term vision for the company and what will be your target market and objective both short- and long-term wise?
RD: At Seminole we are looking to offer players a balance between these aspects of player development that is very hard to find. The program we offer stresses the development of a player as both a physical athlete and as a tennis player. We are targeting all kids and players in the area that want to improve their tennis and their fitness—and, most importantly, want to have fun doing it. The short-term vision is to grow the club and program to be a very successful developmental tennis base in the area. The long-term vision is to have multiple clubs and academies that share our vision and love for the game of tennis: fun, fitness and sport and health in general.
JL: As a professional player transitioning more into the coaching role, have you thought about the type of impression and impact you'd like to make with the juniors you'll be coaching on a more full-time basis? What principles and philosophies will you been instilling to the many junior players you'll be coaching over the next couple of years that will benefit their playing careers both in high school and college?
RD: I would like to impress a very positive and uplifting spirit into every one of my players, no matter what their perceived level or ability. Human beings tend to put themselves into categories and boxes according to what people say and think about them and eventually start to believe that as truth. Your limits as a person are set by you and you only. Therefore, if you work your butt off and believe in the path you are on, the sky is the limit!
I have always believed that your biggest goal as an athlete should be to be the absolute best you can be and get the maximum potential out of yourself. I think there is no substitute for hard work, discipline and intensity, and I know that if you want to get the most out of yourself in anything you do there are no shortcuts to success. My favorite quote is one from Arthur Ashe. He said: "Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome." (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/arthur_ashe.html)
JL: I have noticed that you have a website under development called "Ryler DeHeart." Can you share more information about the site and the kind of content you will have on it? I have seen many websites that feature their own junior players and the progress they have made in the USTA and ITF. Do you plan to follow the same format, or will you introduce a whole new concept and approach to the site? Have you thought about linking the academy to the current site you have under development?
RD: There is nothing on it! I had a website before that a friend from college put together for me, but he got a real job and didn't have time to update it, so we decided to get the domain in hopes of doing whatever we thought best with it. I would love to get it going and put stuff about both my playing career, and more importantly, what we are doing now—trying to motivate and inspire junior players here in Florida. If you know of anyone who would be interested, let me know!
JL: Have you considered any partnership programs with the USTA High Performance in Boca Raton, Florida? Do you think it is essential and important for academies and companies to share information on player development for the greater good of the sport here in America? Or, do you think it can hamper the progress of the relationship between coach and player if outside influences (i.e., parents and/or other coaches) can contribute to the player's overall playing performance?
RD: We have applied for a grant for 10-and-under tennis equipment, and in the past few weeks have begun to develop a relationship with the USTA on the coaching side (before it was only based on my playing career). I would like to continue to work with them and help in any way I can.
I attended a high performance coaching convention a few weekends ago in Boca, with Jose heading it up, and it was very helpful and informative. I will be the 16's boys and girls zonal's coach for the Florida section at the end of July at Wake Forrest University. The greater good of the sport and the welfare of the kids must always come first.
JL: You had mentioned during a blog talk radio segment that you are experiencing current physical injuries that are preventing you from competing on the professional circuit. How has this impacted your decision to continue with your training and potentially harming your world ranking? Do you see yourself doing both the academy in Tampa Bay, Florida and traveling around the United States to compete on the ATP circuit?
RD: I have signed a two-year contract to be the head tennis professional here at the Seminole Lake Tennis Center (SLTC), working under the direction of the Golub brothers (who have run a very successful junior academy in Brandon, Florida for the past several years).
This is my main focus now. I had too many injuries to continue playing full-time on the tour, but did receive a protected ranking that (after sitting out a full year from any competitive tennis) will enable me to come back and compete in many professional tournaments in the area when my body allows me to do so. I am trying to get fit and healthy and mainly nursing and rehabbing a herniated disc in my lower back.
JL: In conclusion, where do you see yourself in the coming years? What aspirations do you have as a player, coach and business owner moving forward into 2011 and beyond? Is there anything you'd like to personally share with the up-and-coming-players here in the United States?
RD: The main focus now is to get things going here in Seminole and to build a very successful junior academy that reaches out to players of all levels and ages. I would like to drive all the people that I work with as I was driven—to be the best player and person I could be both on and off the court.
I think my serious playing days are behind me; however, I still enjoy getting on the court and hopefully my name will be seen on professional draws again sometime in the near future.
I would tell American players to put their heads down and get to work, but most importantly to enjoy the wild ride of tennis and have fun playing the game—with passion and because you love it.
If this isn't the case, then do something to change it, because if you don't have a passion for what you are doing everyday, then you will not ever go as far as you can and you will never be truly happy doing it. Work hard; stay the course and the sky's the limit!
Thank you, Ryler, for giving me this wonderful opportunity to have interviewed you. You certainly bring a new level of passion, excitement and energy to the court and I am certain that any up-and-coming junior player would be lucky to have you as their full-time coach. As you progress in 2011, I would like to wish you the very best and hope that you enjoy as much success in the development of your new academy in Tampa, Florida as you did in your professional playing career on the ATP circuit.
By Jason Lampionee (Contributor) August 5th, 2011 (The Bleacher Report).
"Howard Waldstreicher of Half Hour Power"
Howard Waldstreicher is an internationally known expert in tennis training and fitness based on the success of HalfHourPower. In addition to speaking engagements and training sessions with professional and college tennis athletes, Howard contributes articles to tennis magazines and newsletters. He is the author of the acclaimed series “Are You Gym Fit or Tennis Fit,” and has articles appearing in upcoming issues of USTA Magazine highlighting the skills, training and mindset needed to excel on the court. A leader in the tennis fitness industry, Howard recently completed a speaking tour designed for tennis athletes, coaches and professional players.
Howard has been a fitness enthusiast and tennis player for over 30 years and has tried every technique and routine to improve his body and performance. At almost age 50, married and with two kids, he still keeps up with the 20-year-olds on the court (when I'm 70, the 40-year-olds, I hope!). To Howard, fitness is all about the movement. Whatever you do, you must be able to move with agility, balance, and stability.
Howard operates his own gym in Denver, Colorado where he runs HalfHourPower classes and private sessions. His workouts focus on quickness, strength and reactive core training, and include all ways to train with his bands—always from a standing position, because that is how he lives and plays. Howard has found that this technique applies particularly well to sports, and as a result he has had the opportunity to work with some of the top athletes in the world.
Howard lives and breathes the lifestyle he teaches—always active, with effective training and a good diet. He is extremely passionate about the new training he has developed and is always excited to see people benefiting from exercises designed to improve their performance.
Now, introducing Howard Waldstreicher and his newly formed company HalfHourPower:
JL: Howard, can you tell us how you became so passionate about fitness and what made you decide to do it on a full-time basis and eventually as a life pursuit? Being involved in the industry for over 30 years is there any pearls of wisdom you'd like to share with our readers and fitness enthusiasts?
HW: I have always been passionate about fitness and nutrition. After my dad suffered a deadly heart attack when I was 19, I literally changed overnight. I was already eating well, but then realized why should I wait till I have a heart attack, start now. Of course my sisters always said I ate weird when in reality I was eating the way we were meant to. I was eating brown rice with vegetables, I cut out all processed food. Basically, if I couldn’t visualize where the food came from I didn’t eat. For example, I new where fruits and veggies came from , not to mention they were only 1 ingredient, but where does a cookie come from for example.
Do we grow them, no, so I don’t eat them! It's funny, but when you start eating really well, you also start thinking more about your fitness. I started running, doing pushups and situps. Of course, I wish I knew then what I know today. I never would have done those ridiculous situps, which trainers still have people do. So my pearls of wisdom for your readers who want to stay or become a lean mean machine is “You can’t out train a bad diet”. For your fitness enthusiast: Intensity is the key , not duration. You must train movement and not isolate muscles, leave that to the meathead bodybuilders.
JL: I have noticed that you have developed a company called Half Hour Power, can you tell our readers more about it? Have you created a mission statement along with your company? If so, can you tell us more about that as well?
HW: Half Hour Power is 30 minutes of explosive maneuvers designed to get you stronger, faster and leaner in less time than traditional workouts. Its interesting how they came about. After I was laid off from my job in 2000 I always had this idea of the quick intense workouts. It became even worse when I became a Mr. Mom. My kids were young and I had no time to make it to the gym, etc! I need something I could do in my house. My basement became my lab. Now understand, I was using weights then doing the traditional workouts, benchpress, curls, etc! At that time, I also started playing tennis and basketball when I got a break at night, but what I realized was, my knees and back were hurting me, I was getting slower, I just wasn’t my old young self. I had these bands I purchased and decided to give them a shot. I realized I could mimic all the moves on the court with my band and I was getting smoked.
I never had that feeling during a traditional workout. I started making up all these routines that were the hardest workout I ever did and it had to be in the 30 minutes time slot. I knew it was hard so I tested out my routines on my basketball and tennis playing friends. What happened was what I expected, they couldn’t make it through and they loved it. Well, to make a long story short, within about 8 weeks gone were any pains I had, and I was moving like I did when I was in my 20’s. I am 50 years old now and am still moving better than most twenty somethings on the court; with the key being, no pain and not getting injured. The most important thing I realized which I did naturally was that I was training the way I play, that was the key to my success.
JL: In our previous discussion, you had mentioned that Half Hour Power was a real money maker for facilities across the country, can you give us a breakdown on the profit potential that a business can gain from utilizing the Half Hour Power system at their club? Will you be offering a consultation to facilities that express an interest in implementing the system into their mainstream program?
HW: Yes, HHP is a tremendous addition to facilities. The thing is that it’s not just for tennis. Look, tennis players are some of the fittest and leanest athletes in the world, why wouldn’t members want to learn their secrets and train like them. Footwork is footwork. It may sound funny, but I train tennis players the same way I train my football players or soccer players or basketball players. All ground based sports need to focus on the first step.
An overhead in tennis is the same footwork as a baseball player going back for a flyball or a quarterback or defensiveback guarding a wide receiver. Partner training is my favorite way to train and doesn’t take up much space. Here is how a tennis club makes a lot of money on the hhp system. Say they have 12 players on the court. They are separated into two groups. One group works on their footwork while the other group is using the same footwork done in the bands. Example. Maybe group 1 is doing overhead footwork drills in the band, after about 4-5 minutes group 1 then gets fed overheads doing the footwork they just practiced. We charge each person $25 and its all on one court
JL: In viewing your website www.halfhourpower.com, I have realized that Melanie Oudin and the Bryan Brothers have contributed their time in creating the video with you, have they commented on their personal experience using the system?
HW: I speak with the Bryan Brothers pretty regularly and they are loving the workouts and its really paying off as they just won Wimbledon and became the winningest doubles team in history. They aren’t getting any younger, and the band movement workouts are really keeping them injury free and are feeling faster to the ball. Unfortunately, Melanie isn’t really doing much, she is having boyfriend problems, etc!
JL: Have you incorporated the Half Hour Power system with other professional sporting teams or individuals that you'd like to share with us and how that experience affected their playing performance?
HW: As I mentioned above, HHP is perfect for any ground based sports such as football, soccer, basketball, etc! Usually in football and soccer win the first 5 yards and win the game. I think teams and coaches are still old school when they think they have to work out for hours. That is so wrong, What can be accomplished in 30 minutes is really amazing. Teams and coaches need to get away from the traditional bodybuilding exercises, that’s the problem. It really does nothing for them as far as getting them faster, move better, stronger core, and so forth.
All sports are played from a standing position and you need to train that way.Everyone talks about the core, but they still have no idea how to train it from a standing position. I walk into a tennis academy and they still have them doing situps (that’s a back problem ready to happen). Basically its this: Train movement not isolated muscles, When you train movement, you use less weight and can really get after it (more weight will just cause injury, typically), it’s a more holistic approach to training. You will also burn more calories because more muscles are being used. Also, get way from being a rep counter.
Your workouts will be so much better and your team if you give a time frame. How much work can they get done in say 30 seconds or 45 seconds. My job is not to train athletes so they become better exercisers, but to become better athletes! So, is the bench press lying on your back going to make you a better athlete or a press from a standing position with movement for example.
JL: After receiving my very own version of the Half Hour Power program, I was absolutely amazed by how much diverse bio-movement was involved and the simplicity that it offered. Does half hour power offer progressions from beginner to advance levels for those seeking a more challenging program? If so, how can they find out more about it?
HW: That is absolutely correct. The simplicity that is offered. I really see gyms having band rooms and eventually getting away with the weights. Leave it for the meatheads. The dvd you did is a beginner/intermediate workout. I just released a more advanced workout on our website. The time increased from 30 seconds to 45 seconds and some more advanced exercises. That said, some of my hardest workout are when I go for 20 seconds, because I go all out. I change how hard I work based on the timed interval I give.
It never fails, but people come into my gym for example and they say how hard can this be, its bands, doesn’t look so bad. Usually they can’t breathe within the first 2 exercises. Why, they are not used to moving and working their whole body at once in a holistic fashion. I’ll never forget this one story, this guy call me up says he heard about my system and wants to try it. He thought he would run to my gym (for him about 3 miles one way) workout for 30 minutes and run back. A good workout he thought.
Well, after the first exercise he had to sit down for a few minutes, out of the 30 minutes maybe he did 15 minutes if that at a very easy pace. He comes up to me afterwards, puts his arm around me and says 'THANK GOD IT SNOWED THIS MORNING'. It’s a sprinters workout not a marathoner. Whose body would you rather have, a sprinter or the marathoner.
JL: Does Half Hour Power offer classes for the general public or is it training specific for individuals with certain athletic ability? Or can anyone of any level of fitness utilize the program? If so, can you give us an example of each and how the program can affect change in their daily exercise routine?
HW: Yes, as mentioned above. I have tennis players, soccer, basketball , runners, and tri-athletes as well as people who just want to be fit. I treat everyone like an athlete. Think about it, you walk everyday, you play with your kids, again you do all that from a standing position with movement. So guess what, I have had people come in with back, knee and hip problems and they have disappeared.
I have a group of women who used to go to the JCC to work out. Their friend was bragging about me and they tried it. At first they would come to me 2x/week and then 1 day at the JCC. Well, that didn’t last, as they decided it was so boring working out the old way and who had the time. They have been with me for years . If you look on my website under the training tab, those are some of the girls I am talking about.
And even more surprising, four of the women's husbands now come to me. One of them a former colonel in the air force is still shocked about the 30 minutes. I really thinking the men love it because 1. They are dong workouts like professional athletes (so are the women), but, they are getting results fast. Weight loss takes time so anyone who tells you different is just giving you a line. But, they see better movement on the court after 3 sessions.
JL: With so many fitness programs being produced every year and marketed, how does Half Hour Power differentiate themselves from the competition? Have you crafted a personal and professional philosophy over the years being involved in the fitness industry? If so, can you share those philosophies with our readers and fitness enthusiasts from around the world?
HW: So many fitness programs. The problem is a lot of these have people do exercises just for the sake of doing exercises. Like I mentioned previously, I am not looking to make people better exercises but either better athletes or just fit to do what they need to do. You want to mimic the movement people do as much as possible. And if you are dong exercises on your back what is that mimicking, sleeping. Let me ask you a question Jason, Have you ever been hurt just sitting or lying down. Probably not, but as soon as you stand and add movement everything changes and your body is more at risk. I just don’t see the 1 hour workout anymore, not to mention who has the time but, as mentioned before it’s the INTENSITY NOT THE DURATION. Especially for my athletes, their bodies take enough of a beating on the court or field.
Now, on the field or court you know that sometimes its not the talent that wins but the WILL imposed. You must be able to impose your will on your opponent. How do you train for that, Well I can tell you its not by benching 400 pounds, etc…Your body has to be able to move in any direction at any given time. Example, In tennis for example, if I am running everything down with ease my opponent gets a little antsy and tries an even better shot, well, he probably will make that shot 3 out of 10 tries. The odds are in my favor and I just imposed my will on my opponent. If I can’t run down those balls that isn’t happening.
JL: Half Hour Power has achieved some notable recognition in the tennis industry, where do you foresee the company heading in the coming months ahead? Do you have other potential partnerships in the makings? If so, can you elaborate on how this possible collaborate can assist with the growth of the company over the years?
HW: I see HHP going into other sports. We started with tennis because that was my passion at the time and we had the #1 doubles team in the world. Then the USTA came on board and Rick Macci. I am also heading out to the Shanghai masters to give a seminar and now that tennis is so big in China we are looking at partnering with the Shanghai sports industry group
JL: Howard, you've worked directly with TEAM USA who is represented by coach Ryan Freeman, how was the experience and the training environment at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy? Will Rick Macci be utilizing the Half Hour Power system in all of their junior development programming?
HW: Rick Macci LOVES the HHP system. When I first met with Rick, I was warned that he will make a decision within 2 minutes if he likes what you have or not. He asked me what I thought about running for tennis players at his academy. I said they don’t need me for that, they can do that at home, but I don’t recommend it for players. It’s all about the first step. He said I love it , lets do it. I did a demo with his top juniors that afternoon with his lovely wife watching. Well, the kids loved it, smiles so wide. They never did anything Like I showed them and it was fun. Rick’ Wife came up to me and said that was unbelievable, usually the kids HATE the workouts, but they all stayed and wanted me to show them more.
Rick says that HHP is a game changer at every level and the best fitness product tennis has ever seen. When I first started training Ryans Kids at Ricks, they were all confident, yeah we work out, blah blah. Well They started running around the courts to warm up. I blew my whistle and said that is NOT how HHP warms up. I put them in the bands and as you would expect after just 10 minutes of first step runs after our dynamic warm up they were gassed. I also showed them some cool partner standing core workouts they just loved, but I guess everyone loves them because they really feel it in their abs, deeply.
JL: If you could give some advice to those interested in using the Half Hour Power system, can you give our readers some tips on training and how it can benefit them for both the short-term and long-term?
HW: Don’t overdue it at first. Start with the basics. Don’t move up to the more advanced dvd until you can comfortably handle the first dvd. Don’T get to heavy a band. People always want to go heavy. Get the movements down and be able to go all out with the easier band first.
I always tell everyone, you know why the pros are so good, because they do the basics better than everyone else. I tell them their bodies will feel great. I don’t want you to get sore. Again, that’s not what I am trying to do., I can do that really easy, so what. The fitter you get, the harder it get!
JL: Do you offer one on one sessions at your location in Denver, Colorado for those looking to make even bigger improvements to their daily fitness and will you offer consultations via skype in the near future or offer online guidance through the Half Hour Power website?
HW: I do offer one on one sessions. A lot of times people start out with one on one sessions to learn how to do the movements properly and then move on to a class. That isn’t necessary though, they are all movements you would do naturally on the field.
It is hard for people who aren’t coordinated at first, but guess what, they learn to become coordinated because they are doing movement. I haven’t thought of doing anything with skype but sounds like a good idea. Or offering guidance through the website with video…
JL: In closing, how can potential companies and individuals contact you with regard to purchasing your system? Do you have a Half Hour Power quote or saying you'd like to add for our readers in conclusion?
HW: Companies can contact me via email email@example.com. In fact, what a great system for companies as well, 30 minutes, intense, little space…I think I gave a lot of quotes throughout..My main one is 'We don’t play lying or sitting down why train that way'.
Thank you Howard for sharing your wonderful fitness wisdom with us today! I am sure that HalfHourPower will be an important part of the many lives you will positively affect both in the gym and outside of it. The value you bring to the sporting industry is incredible and any client or business would be lucky to have your product and service. I'd like to personally wish you much success, health and happiness in all that you do.
2011 World University Games Head Coach Ryan Freeman and Team USA
By Jason Lampione (Contributor) August 11th, 2011 (The Bleacher Report).
Ryan Freeman is a USPTA. P-1 professional with more than 20 years of teaching experience. Recently, Ryan was named the head coach of the World University Games for the United States for the 2011 World University Games to be held in China. He also helped develop Half Hour Power, a revolutionary exercise program used by top pros, including Mike and Bob Bryan and Melanie Odin. A native of South Carolina with a degree in education from Clemson University, Ryan has been involved with tennis and teaching his entire life. He played tennis in high school and college and taught for several years at the junior-high and high-school levels. Ryan's passion for the game is evident in all aspects of his teaching.
Jason Lampione (Reporter/Question): Was there a single event or experience in your young adult life that provided the inspiration as the "jump off" that gave you the idea that being involved in tennis would be a life pursuit? If so, can you provide the readers with some personal details both as a player and coach that made this career path possible over the years?
Ryan Freeman (Interviewee/Answer): Actually, it's a funny story how I got into tennis. I began late in life in today's standards, I was 12. I was playing a round of golf with my dad and on a par three the club slipped out of my hand and went into the river.
My dad was so angry that the next day I went and played tennis! I never stopped once I started. I was very fortunate to have a HS coach who was amazing, and I played five years of varsity tennis for him. Because of him I decided to be a teacher and coach. My major is elementary education, and I did teach school and coach HS tennis before I became full time in tennis.
JL: Can you tell us more about your playing background and experience and how you were able to transform from player to coach and what made you decide to do coaching as career choice? What lessons have you learned from being a competitive player that you can take away from those experiences and impart them into your current players learning?
RF: I played five years in HS and then went on to play at Newberry College in South Carolina. I always knew that I wanted to work with children on a teaching/coaching level. And of course I knew I would never go pro in tennis! I wanted to be able to give back to a student the way my HS coach did. There is something special that happens when a player listens to you and in a single moment, it clicks. The smile you get and the instant feedback is the best feeling in the world.
As a player, I always lived in the moment on the court and always, always, had fun. Even in my losses, though upset, I was having fun. I was playing a game, right? So when I step on the court to teach either a 2.5 player or I am working with the USA Team, I always have fun and I want them to have fun as well.
JL: Do you have a belief system or set of principles that you live by that applies to both your playing and coaching background? If so, can you give us a break down on each one and how they apply to everyday life?
RF: You always evolve and grow each day. Each morning the sun rises, it gives you a new opportunity to learn. And I believe strongly in that. You never stop learning as a coach or a player. Or even a person for that matter. I am also a firm believer that you have to take chances in life. If you want something, don't be afraid to go for it. I don't want to look back in 35 years and say, "What if?" I may fail, and in fact, I have failed many times before, but one of my favorite lines is, "You can't steal second base if your foot is on first."
JL: I have noticed that you're actively involved in the "Junior Tennis Grants" program and initiative, can you tell us more about this company and the whole concept and idea behind it? Where do you see this company heading in the coming years ahead? Do you have any short and long-term goals and objectives you'd like to share with the readers?
RF: JR Tennis Grants was set up as a non-profit to help students learn and excel in tennis. As of now we are only taking full-time students, and they must each qualify through a financial application. Our goal is to take the second tier kids that the U.S.T.A. does not pick up and provide them with free full-time tennis at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy. Right now we are only working with Rick, but our goal is to offer this to other tennis academies as well.
We just had our first major fund raiser and Ryan Sweeting participated. We are hoping to be able to provide free housing as well in the upcoming months. Our other goal is to be able to offer grants for the part-time students as well.
JL: You had mentioned during our phone conversations that you're associated with the Rick Macci Tennis Academy. How did you become involved with the Rick Macci Tennis Academy and what are you currently doing with them? Do you have any personal and professional goals that you'd like to achieve being employed with the Rick Macci Tennis Academy? If so, can you elaborate to our readers on the specifics of those goals?
RF: Rick Macci is the home of JR tennis grants. But he was also kind enough to let us use his facility free of charge to hold our Team USA try outs. He even took time out of his day to speak to each of my players. Rick Macci is a true coach, and although he has had huge success with his students, he is still grounded and spends eight to 10 hours a day on court. I know his second passion is commentating, and I hope to see him on TV soon.
He has been a guest of the radio show In the Tennis Zone and has also been featured on the Tennis Channel Academy. Every time I meet or talk with Rick I try and pick up one pointer or tip from him. He is a wealth of knowledge. His Director of Tennis, Bryon Gill, is a good friend of mine and my partner in JR Tennis Grants.
JL: You have been appointed as head coach to represent Team USA for the World University Games that is being playing in China coming up in August. What preparations have you made during your appointment to ensure the success of Team USA heading into China? How is each team member hand selected from all the collegiate colleges and universities from across the United States? Do you base your selections on ranking, player availability or over all performance (athletic and academic) at the college level?
RF: A quick fact on the World University Games. They are held every two years and bring in over 9,000 student athletes and coaches from over 200 countries. They are second only to the Olympics in size. This year was a difficult one for us. We have not had a team in several years compete in the World University Games. I had to educate the college coaches to the games again. I emailed all of the universities and asked for letters of recommendations of players that they thought would be a good fit.
I was not looking for the best players per say, but they had to have the best qualities on and off the court to represent our country. There is an honor code we have, and I want to be proud on our team. Once I heard back from the coaches, I did phone interviews with dozens of players. From there I invited the top players to Florida where we had a three-day practice. It was then that we made the finally decision on the team. We have some of the top players from universities such as Stanford, Kentucky, Texas, BYU, UCLA, Memphis and Minnesota.
JL: I have heard from various sources that the team is financially responsible for the trip to China. If so, have you received any support from outside sources to help assist the players in this transition coming up in August? If someone wanted to make a donation to help assist and support the team what is the best way they can do that? Do you have any charities or events coming up that you'd like to announce to our readers that might spark some interest abroad?
RF: This is the tough part. The players have to pay for the entire trip on their own. The NCAA, USTA, USPTA, ITA and the PTR have all turned down our request for money. And you know how hard it is for college kids. The Games are $1,500 per player/coach and that includes accommodations and travel once we get there. We are responsible for getting to China on our own. I have been fortunate enough to secure a major sponsor, XTEP, from China. They are providing all team uniforms/shoes/bags plus $1,500 per player to help offset the cost of the trip.
Some of the coaches for my players have sent checks to me directly for the team. The NCAA is very strict on this issue, so we have not been able to do the fund-raisers that we wanted to and players cannot accept money themselves. I was really hoping that the alumni from each school would step it up for the players, but so far they have not. Anybody that wants to contribute can send checks directly to me and those funds will go to the players.
JL: The website that you have provided me, www.halfhourpower.com, is a very unique training methodology. I have heard that Rick Macci has given two thumbs up on this phenomenal program. Can you tell us how this training has effected you and the important role it plays in preparing Team USA for the World University Games coming up in August? How has this training program impacted your life and what testimonials have you heard from those that have used it?
RF: HHP (half hour power) has been instrumental to my players. The debate going on now is how the ratio is to on-court training vs off-court training. Most coaches go four hours on court to two off court. The best thing about the HHP system is that players can get tennis specific workouts without using the gym. It trains your body to how you play the game, on your feet, not lying down. Players get all the moves, stretches and core strength they need in just 30 minutes.
And don't get me started on how good it is for injury prevention. That's the main reason Fed has been so good for so long, zero injuries. The coaches of my players are using this system on a regular basis, two to three times a week, tops, no more. The feedback has been amazing. The players are faster and recover quicker. But the best part is that you can do it anywhere. We have also received feedback from recreational players, this system is not just for the elite players, it's for anyone who wants to take their game and fitness to the next level.
JL: In closing, where can we expect Ryan Freeman to be in the coming years? Do you have any major projects on the horizon that you'd like to share with us today? Is there any advice that you'd like to share with our readers, especially those thousands of players and coaches who play simply for the enjoyment and pleasure that tennis brings?
RF: Well, I have been named the head coach of the USA team for the next two events after China. I will be recruiting players for games in Russia for 2013 and South Korea for 2015. So you will see my name out there again trying to get some of the best players to represent the United States! My advice, keep playing and have fun! Always keep an open mind and always be ready to learn something new, each and every day!
Thank you Ryan for making this a wonderful experience and for sharing your time and coaching knowledge here with our readers at Bleacher Report. We know you'll be working hard in the coming months ahead and we wish you the very best in China.
For those interested in supporting Ryan Freeman and the World University Games team here in the United States, please contact me (Jason Lampione) directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on how to make a direct donation.
Interview with Ed Tseng: 2005 USTA Pro of the Year and Mental Toughness Expert
By Jason Lampione(Contributor) on May 26, 2011 90 reads
"Ed Tseng, Mental Toughness and Peak Performance Expert"
"Do you have trouble with…PERFORMING UNDER PRESSURE, FOCUS, CONFIDENCE, MOTIVATION, or OVERCOMING SLUMPS? There’s a solution…"
Ed Tseng, a leading authority on mental skills in sports and life, an award-winning tennis coach and a sought-after speaker, has spent his life researching solutions to these challenges. He is the author of the book, “Game. Set. Life.” which has been on Amazon’s Top 10 in Sports Psychology and featured at the US Open Tennis Championships. Tseng is also co-author of the forthcoming “Success Simplified” with Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) and “The Pinstripe Principles – Mental Toughness Lessons From The World’s Greatest Team.”
Ed works in-person and by telephone with individuals and teams in the area of mental toughness and peak performance, from athletes and coaches to salespeople, musicians and students. He is a sought-after motivational speaker, and had lectured to organizations such as the USTA Tennis Teachers Conference, Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, Special Olympics, Mercer County Juvenile Detention Center, Disney, Rider University, Princeton University, Leverage Sports and Entertainment Agency, Weichert Realtors and MOPS (Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers). As an internationally known tennis teaching pro, Ed was named Pro of the Year USTA 2005. He is also a volunteer coach for the Special Olympics.
JL: Ed Tseng, tell us about yourself. How long have you been teaching tennis? What got you into tennis? What is are your qualifications and/or training background with the development of junior players here in America?
ET: I have been teaching tennis since I failed out of college, twice, studying computers (because my father did). It (failing out) was the best thing that ever happened to me, because it was then that I followed my passion. I called the president and vice president of the USTA/NJ district and was mentored by them. But my parents encouraged me to get a degree, so I ended up enrolling in Ferris State University's Marketing/Professional Tennis Mangement program and graduated in 1997. In 2005, I was named Pro of the Year USTA/NJD. I have worked with all levels from entry level beginners to professionals, as well as lecturing on the mental side to players, coaches and parents.
JL: I see that you have written a book called “Game. Set. Life,” can you tell our readers more about the book and what influenced you in writing it? What is your vision and purpose for the creation of this book and the impact it might have on the readers perspective?
ET: "Game. Set. Life - Peak Performance for Sports and Life" uses the principles of mental toughness in sports and applies them to success in all areas of life. My goal is to show people that the mental side of sports is just like the physical side—it can be mastered with proper training. "Game" is also a tool that I use for my mental toughness coaching. I not only want my book to be "thought-provoking," I want it to be "action-provoking" as well.
"Game. Set. Life. By Ed Tseng" "The Pinstripe Principals By Ed Tseng"
JL: Have you adopted any core personal or professional principals that you live by or teach to your fellow developing players or co-workers ? If so, what profound impact has it had? Do you believe that every coach should adopt core principals to live by to set a standard of excellence in both philosophy and teaching?
ET: I take pride in "walking the talk" as I not only teach the principles in my book, I live them. As I mentioned, I frequently lecture to coaches on my mental toughness principles. It is tough to say what type of impact my work has had, but I certainly have gotten very positive feedback from my seminars, one-on-one coaching, my book and daily mental toughness blog (www.edtseng.com). Yes, I do believe that a coach should have a set of principles that they can follow.
JL: I've noticed that you have a website called edtseng.com, can you tell us more about that and some areas you cover in the website?
ET: My website features my daily mental toughness blog, which is read by people of all ages, all industries, from all over the world. People who want to master the mental side of sports and life. I also feature a full list of products/services that I provide.
JL: You have a company called “Tennis Solutions,” can you give us more background information on the your company and how you came about developing it? What is some of your objectives in establishing this company? What lessons have you learned personally from starting this company and have your grown from the experience?
ET: Tennis Solutions began as a tennis management company, providing group and private lessons, as well as summer camps. Starting up my own company was a scary experience, but like many things in life, BIG RISK = BIG REWARD. Had I not started my own company, I truly would not have written my book, I would not have become a professional speaker or done many of the other things I have in the past few years.
JL: You seem to have a passion on “Mental Toughness,” can you give us more insight as to what it means to you personally, and then professionally? What strategies do you use to ensure that each player or student you work with understands the basics of mental toughness? Can you give us an example of a student you had that your strategy worked effectively and the kind of impact it had on you and your student?
ET: The beauty of mental toughness to me, is that it is learnable. Most people think you are born with it, but that is not the case. In addition, I feel that being mentally tough in sports can carry over to school, work, relationships and any area of life. I have many mental toughness strategies, which I share in my book and in my daily blog.
One example of mental toughness is when a notoriously negative and emotional player started working with me. After a few sessions, not only was he improving and winning more, but an official went up to him after the match (which he lost) and said, "Great match, you played like a gentleman." Imagine how the player and parent felt. This also carried over to other areas of life.
"Ed Tseng with Billie Jean King at the US Open"
JL: You have been known around the Princeton, New Jersey community to give public speaking engagements and speeches, can you tell us more about that? Do you enjoy speaking about a certain topic that you believe in more than others? What events have you done recently and you planed on doing your public speaking on a full-time basis?
ET: My main topic is mental toughness and peak performance in sports and life. I have spoken at tennis conferences, corporations, schools, organizations, real estate offices, non-profits and even juvenile detention centers, all over the country. My plan is to increase the number of speaking engagements and bring it to a global level, eventually training others to become mental toughness coaches.
JL: You had an opportunity to meet other influential coaching and playing figures in and out-side the industry and business; what have you learned from this shared experience being at the 2010 U.S. Open? Does any one experience in particular stand out more than others, if so, why? How will you implement this experience in your future endeavors as a business owner, coach and player?
ET: I have had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with some amazing and inspiring people, from Bob Ryland, the first black professional tennis player to Rayna DuBose, a top basketball recruit turned amputee, New York Yankee players, Billie Jean King, Jennie Murphy a blind athlete, Special Olympics athletes, CEOs, musicians, gang members and the list goes on. Every experience is enlightening to me and I value all of them whether they are a celebrity or fan. I constantly share my experiences via stories in my seminars, blog and mental toughness coaching sessions.
JL: What coaching advise would you give to a young and aspiring junior who wishes to enter the ranks of the A.T.P./W.T.A. tour? What “roles” do you think parents and families should play in the development process of the junior, and what advice can you give to parents whose seeking to employ a coach to be the “right” mentor for their child for the long term?
ET: First and foremost, have passion. Next, believe ANYTHING is possible. Then, work your tail off. Don't try your best...do whatever it takes. Persist. Parents have one role-to provide love and support.
JL: Well, in closing can you tell our readers what is on the horizon for Ed Tseng? And, the “Tennis Solutions and Edtseng.com website and company,” that you've established in Princeton, New Jersey?
ET: No telling what is on the horizon, but my present goals are to complete my second (Success Simplified with Stephen Covey) and third (The Pinstripe Principles) books by the end of the year, map out a game plan for 2011 as far as speaking engagements and a business/marketing plan. Nobody knows what the future holds, but I focus on going all-out in the present moment and leaving a legacy. I enjoy helping people and that fills me up more than anything.
"2005 USTA Pro of the Year in Central, New Jersey"
JL: Is their anything you'd like to say or mention on your behalf to our readers here at The Bleacher Report In conclusion?
Ed Tseng and Billie Jean King at the U.S. Open ET: Four words: Don't quit, can't fail.
Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to share this interview with the readers here at 'Bleacher Report'. There are many lessons that can be taken away from our shared session today and one of those lessons that stood out the most was, ''First and foremost, have passion. Next, believe ANYTHING is possible. Then, work your tail off. Don't try your best...do whatever it takes. Persist." -Ed Tseng.
We wish you the very best in all that you do and continued success, health and happiness moving forward in 2011!
To work with Ed Tseng or hire him to speak to your team/organization, email: email@example.com, call (609)558-1077 or visit his website at www.edtseng.com, where you will find a wealth of information that will assist in your transformation no matter your background or area of expertise. For continued support and assistance, you may contact Jason Lampione at firstname.lastname@example.org, with any further questions, comments or inquiries.