How to Slide on Clay
This is the third installment of our three-video series on how to slide on clay. As the world's leading supplier of clay court surfaces, the question we get asked more than any other, from teaching pros and players alike, is about how to slide on clay.
Sliding not only makes you more efficient and more consistent on clay, it makes the game more fun, so we have put together a three-part video series on how to slide on clay. Check out part 3 on our website. We hope you like it and find it instructional. Give us your feedback. Play the Clay, Learn to Win and Play for Life!
"What's New" Product Video
- from Tennis Warehouse - Wilson Women's Apparel, Yarra Dress/tank, Pure Lime apparel
Meditation on Mastery, Part One–Motivation, the X Factor
Kim Shanley, Publisher TennisOne
- Master, Part One–Motivation, the X Factor
- Mastery, Part Two–Tale of Two Masters (Agassi and Sampras)
- Mastery, Part Three–Flow
I call this a meditation rather than an essay or opinion-piece. The latter suggests I have assembled a juggernaut of ineluctable facts and logic and will now fire up the mental Zamboni, rolling over the hapless readers with one argument after another until they tap out with a gasp, "Okay, I get it." The opinion piece has a certain Dick-Cheney-Jack-Bauer-shoot-you-in-the-knee coercive satisfaction to it. However reluctantly, let's leave off torturing the reader into agreeing with us. A meditation, in contrast, suggests a deeper thought process, a more open, head-scratching rumination. It's an invitation to take a journey together. It's not about agreeing or disagreeing with my opinion (not primarily anyway), but about seeing what I think I see.
In the course of this three part meditation, we will follow what the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega Y Gasset called the Jericho Method. Any big idea, Ortega warned, name it "happiness," "love," or "mastery," sits as a flattened cliché on the page, ringed by outer walls of seemingly lifeless academic definitions. Inside those barriers are the walls of common sense, the knowledge of the collective "we," the things we think we know because, well, because everyone knows them. All these walls stand between us and any authentic and intimate knowledge. So following Ortega's methodology, we must proceed like the Israelites of the Old Testament, who kept circling the town of Jericho, blowing their horns until the walls crumbled.
First Turn – And the First Puzzle: Why So Few Masters?
When it comes to skills mastery, the path may be narrow but the gate is wide. The path is narrow because, according to performance scientists, you must put in a minimum of 10 years of deliberative practice to achieve expert skills–whether it's in playing the violin, chess, or tennis. (And perhaps for those familiar with this idea it has now become one of those lifeless academic formulations.) The gate is wide because nearly anyone of average talent, who follows the narrow path of deliberative practice long enough, will pass through it and achieve mastery.
Maslow: Lower level needs must be met before individual can fulfill higher-level needs, including self-actualization (mastery).
That said, I haven't done justice to the arduousness of the path. Deliberative practice is far different than our usual notions of practice. Professor Anders Ericsson of Florida State University, widely accepted as one of the leading thinkers and researchers on expertise, says "People who play tennis once a week for years don't get any better if they do the same thing each time. Deliberative practice is about changing your performance, setting new goals, and straining yourself to reach a bit higher each time."
But even acknowledging the difficulty of the path to mastery, why, given that the path is open to just about everyone, do so few pass through the gate and become masters in their chosen field? Time and money are two huge answers. According to one of the most renowned researchers of human excellence who preceded Ericsson's generation, Abraham Maslow, we have a hierarchy of needs. Until our lower level needs of physiology (food, water, sex, sleep) and safety (physical and monetary) are met, we can't focus on the higher level needs of love, esteem, and finally self-actualization (i.e., mastery).
So typically we need parents, a spouse, or some organization to sponsor us and support us while we're devoting ourselves 4 hours per day, 5 days a week, for 10 years, to achieving expert skill levels. That kind of support is not readily available in this world, so that introduces a major roadblock for many people on the road to mastery.
But even with these significant barriers to mastery–the difficulty, time and money required to achieve mastery–why so few masters? Especially when the rewards in terms of fame and fortune are so great? The resource barriers to mastery can be overcome with enough vision and heart–and a measure of luck (think Venus and Serena Williams in tennis, Lance Armstrong in professional cycling, or the Baltimore Raven's offensive lineman Michael Oher, whose rags-to-riches story is depicted in the movie "The Blind Side").
After the lower level needs are satisfied, the answer to why so few achieve mastery comes down to one thing, motivation. In his book, The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How, Daniel Coyle calls it the X-factor. Motivation is the fire within, and for a rare few, the fire burns higher and higher, fueling the drive to pursue 10 years of deliberative practice. Many start down the path with some level of determination, but for a variety of reasons, the fire sputters out and they stop pursuing the path to mastery.
The Second Turn–The Myths of Motivation
Remember our methodology–the Jericho Method–circling around our subject (mastery) and knocking down the outer walls so that we can understand at a deeper level. We've moved around the periphery of what is required to achieve mastery and the barriers to achieving it, and now we're stuck again trying to penetrate the black box of motivation. Why do some have it and most don't?
Stanford Professor Carol Dweck's studies reveal the positive and surprisingly negative effects of praise.
Here we have the aid of an exciting new book in the field, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by writer Daniel Pink. According to Pink, who has assembled an impressive collection of business, social and psychological research, most of what we think (and I thought) we know about motivation is dead wrong.
According to Pink and others, we've become so intent on pumping up everyone's self-esteem that we've become a nation of praiseaholics. (1) We seem to have a near-religious belief that praising kids is good, and praising them more is better. "According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart."(2) Gold stars for every effort, trophies for all participants, have become mandatory for America's schools and teams.
One little problem: this type of praise often backfires, demotivating kids. So how does this happen? Kids praised for being smart or talented often believe that every challenge is a test of whether they're smart or talented. Over many years of experimentation, the kids praised for smarts and talent become more easily discouraged (demotivated) compared to kids who are praised for trying hard.
According to Stanford University Professor Carol Dweck, who has studied the effects of praise on school children for the last 20 years, praise can be an effective motivator if done the right way:
- Praise effort, not talent or intelligence
- Praise specific improvement
- Praise only when it's deserved (kids know when it's phony and often think they're being singled out for praise because the teacher thinks they're dumb and need the extra encouragement)
Carrots and Sticks–Sending the Donkey in Reverse
Daniel Pink's new book- assembles the case for why our common sense ideas of motivation are wrong4
According to the research compiled in Pink's book (Drive), it turns out most of our common sense beliefs about motivation are erroneous. Most corporations, for example, set up performance goals for their employees and tell them, if they meet those goals, they'll be rewarded with more money. However, this deep-rooted way we "manage" people usually is a great way to demotivate them. Pink cites the work of Carnegie Mellon Professor Edward Deci, who analyzed thirty years of research, "Careful consideration of reward effects reported in 128 experiments [covering work, school and athletics] lead to the conclusion that tangible rewards tend to have a substantively negative effect on intrinsic motivation."
The research shows that once people think they are being paid fairly (and their lower level "needs" in Maslow's hierarchy are addressed), most people work for reasons other than money (intrinsic goals such personal freedom, creativity, autonomy, skills mastery). When a carrot is dangled in front of them ostensibly to motivate them, people's motivation switches from intrinsic (doing things for ourselves) to extrinsic (doing things for others), and quite often their motivation drops through the floor.
The Third Turn–Intrinsic Motivation
We began this with an inquiry into mastery–how it's achieved (10 years of deliberative practice) and why so few achieve it (most lack sufficient motivation). When we look at the common sense practices in force in our society to instill motivation, the research shows "our system" for motivation is broken. It robs people of the intrinsic motivation, the inner passion required to dedicate 10 long years of deliberative practice required to achieve mastery.
So if intrinsic motivation is the key to mastery–and perhaps the reader has arrived at the sinking feeling of having guessed the next question–what is the key to intrinsic motivation? So yes, we must continue with the Jericho Method, circling even closer, even tighter around our elusive goal, which is understanding mastery. For those readers who aren't too dizzy or too impatient, I invite you to join me in the next stage of this meditation. To do this, I propose to look at the lives of two masters just retired, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Both have recently published their biographies, revealing intimate portraits of their motivations and careers.
For those readers who aren't about to have their minds changed about managing people or coaching kids by a few egghead experts, that's fine. There are miles to go yet in our journey. I invite you to buy Daniel Pink's book Drive, read the New York Magazine article (below) on Carol Dweck and praise, keep an open mind, and join me in the next meditation.
See next newsletter on 5/15/10, "Mastery, Part 2: Tale of Two Masters (Agassi and Sampras)."
(1) Acknowledge TennisOne writer Happy Bhalla's deep insight into praise in his articles and in his new DVD, Achieving Peak Performance the Wholistic Way.
(2) "How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The inverse power of praise," New York Magazine, Feb. 11, 2007.
(3) I would be remiss if I didn't give credit to our outstanding cohort of TennisOne writers for a good deal of the inspiration for this meditation. The mastery of tennis skills is, of course, a perennial theme for our TennisOne writers. In particular, our Senior Editor Dave Smith has consistently encouraged readers to pursue the path of deliberative practice and skill mastery. In fact, he has written two of the best selling tennis books on the subject which I would encourage you to check out in our TennisOne Writers Store, Tennis Mastery and Coaching Mastery.
As always, we would love to hear from you! Questions, comments, personal experiences all create helpful dialogue for everyone! Please click here to send us your email.
Nadia Petrova and the Two-Handed Backhand
Michael McDowell looks at the two-handed backhand of Nadia Petrova using the SportsCAD Analysis program. Petrova has been a fixture in the top 20 of women's tennis since 2003 and her two-handed backhand is a major weapon in the arsenal that made these results possible. McDowell provides an overview of the two-hander, identifying key elements of the stroke and suggesting fixes to problems students encounter when trying to add this stroke to their repertoire.
Serve & Volley for More Doubles Wins
Greg Moran tells his students that high level doubles can best be described as a race to the net. He usually backs up that statement by saying that 10-time Grand Slam doubles champion Anne Smith once told him that “the team that controls the net wins the point 85% of the time.” He's talking about serving and volleying, and if your team can become adept at it, you’ll have huge advantage in every match you play.
ProStrokes 2.0 – Ivan Ljubicic's Backhand
This 31 year old veteran, who held a career high ranking of #7 in 2000, has had a rekindling of fortunes. His ranking has climbed back up to number 15 following a breakout performance at Indian Wells with wins over Djokovic, Nadal, and Roddick on his way to capturing the title. He holds wins over nearly all the players currently within the top ten, an amazing record against the best players in the world, and much of his success can be attributed to his serve and the ability to back up his serve with punishing ground strokes.
TennisOne Writers Store
One of your many new benefits as a TennisOne membership is your ability to purchase selected instructional DVDs at 20% off ($7.50 off each) in our new TennisOne Writers Store (login in first to access members links):
- "Building Your Serve from the Ground Up," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Building Your Ground Game," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Building a Kick Serve," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Achieving Peak Performance the Wholistic Way: The Mental Game," Happy Bhalla Members – Public
- "Building a World Class Serve," Phil Dent Members – Public
- "Building a World-class Volley," Dave Smith Members – Public
- "Best of Ken DeHart," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Corrective Techniques & Myths," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Defeating the Monsters in Your Mind," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Skills, Drills, and Games for Beginning Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- "Drills for Intermediate Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Drills for Advanced Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- Click here to see all the benefits of a TennisOne Membership.
- Click here to sign up for a risk-free, TennisOne 30 day free trial membership.
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