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Tennis Anyone
September 2014 Article

Contact John Mills

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Things To Do and Not To Do

John Mills Photo
John Mills, USPTA

  • Do not feed "down" on the ball, feed from below your waist.
  • Always "feed" the ball in the warm up with an "open stance." When is the last time you have seen a pro feed a ball in the "closed stance"?
  • Never warm up hitting your best shots, never use your full pace and never put the ball away in the warm up.
  • Learn how to properly feed a "lob" in the warm up. It is harder than it looks.
  • In the warm up, never try to return your opponent's practice overheads, catch it, and then feed it. This saves time and a lot of lets on the adjacent courts.
  • Do not "play the point" in the warm up - wait for the match to start.
  • Do not let the warm up go to long, do not ask for too many over-heads (2-3) or do not hit more than 3-4 serves. It will make you seem nervous and not confident in yourself. The warm up is not for practicing.
  • If you have any great or specialty shots, do not hit them in the warm up.
  • Do not think that a "bad warm up" will relate to a "bad match."
  • Remember, most players play completely different in the warm up than in the match.
  • Refrain from making "negative" gestures in doubles when your partner makes a mistake. Other potential partners will not like this and you may one day ask, "why will no one play with me?"
  • Do not show frustration or emotions regarding your mistakes or bad shots. Showing negative posture will give power to the opponents. If you make a mistake because of bad form, just take a second and do an air practice the way it should be hit. Think positively about the next shot and performing it correctly.
  • Do not talk about tennis with your partner in the changeovers. There will be plenty of time for that in the match.
  • In doubles, keep your conversation to a minimum with your partner.
  • In doubles, use the phrase "Let's". It connotes teamwork and not placing the blame on anyone. Remember: "Let's go!" or "Let's get the point started!"
  • Do not get into lengthy conversations with your opponents on the changeovers. If necessary, move your water, etc. away from theirs. Many players do this to distract you. (Over complementing you on your game, etc.)
  • Never pick a tennis ball up with your hand. Always ball to strings, then strings to hand. This promotes racket head control,
  • You will play good and bad during any match. You just have to win 51% of the points.
  • 80% of the game is footwork. Next time you are playing poorly, concentrate on being more aggressive with your footwork.
  • Always in doubles, ask yourself "what can I do to make my partner look better.
  • Tennis is about camaraderie and making connections with people for life.

Good luck on the courts!

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This column is copyrighted by John Mills, all rights reserved.

John Mills' experience includes four years as head pro at the Windemere Racquet & Swim Club, where he was responsible for organization of all tennis activities at the club. John also played college tennis at the University of Houston and has spent 20 years teaching tennis at the Memorial Park Tennis Center, the Pasadena Racquet Club, and as the head pro at the Bay Area Racquet Club.


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