Thursday, April 23, 2020

Lendl and Green Discuss Development on UTR All-Access; Parenting Aces Talks with Tucker on Coaching Creativity During Pandemic; ITF Academy Course for Beginning Tennis Players' Parents

Leschly, Lendl and Green
I've attended more webinars in the past six weeks than I have in the last decade, with two of them I attended today providing valuable information. The UTR All-Access series, which has given everyone access to top pros and coaches, featured fitness expert Jez Green and eight-time slam winner Ivan Lendl, both of whom have worked with Andy Murray in the past decade. Lendl has been a consultant for the USTA (my 2016 Tennis Recruiting Network article on his work with top junior boys is here) and Green is currently working with Alexander Zverev at Saddlebrook.

Both Lendl and Green agreed that the game has changed, just in the past five to ten years, and Green said, even with extended careers now commonplace, starting a physical fitness plan with a player at a young age (16-17) is a huge advantage.

Lendl, now 60, said the biggest change in the game since he was winning titles is the speed at which it is played. He said all sports from the 80s, including tennis, look like they are being played in "slow motion."

Green said the most important part of developing a fitness plan for a world class athlete is being able to read the player's personality, and he contrasted the different personalities, and body types, of Murray and Zverev.

Lendl was asked what surprised him most in his observations of top pros and he said the intensity of practice, or rather, the lack of it.

I'll close this recap with another quote from Lendl about what quality is most important in identifying future champions.

"I have not seen a top player, or a player near the top, that hasn't been viciously, viciously in capital letters, competitive. That's what gets them through. They can learn to overcome things that happen to them, bad luck, disappointments, and that vicious competitiveness can get them through."

UTR CEO Mark Leschly also provided the chart below (sorry I could not get a complete screen shot, but the girls ages missing from the bottom line are the same as the boys), which plots the UTRs Top 100 players from age 14 to 23.

Today's webinar, and all previous ones, are available on demand at the UTR All-Access site, by clicking on the On Demand Webinars heading. Next Tuesday's webinar will feature Steve Johnson.

Lisa Stone of Parenting Aces hosted Trent Tucker and Matias Marin of the Tucker Tennis Academy in Tulsa on Facebook live today, and they gave an excellent presentation on how they are keeping their students productive and providing instruction during this lockdown. Although no one likes having to refrain from in-person instruction, Tucker made the point that this tournament hiatus is the ideal time to go deeper into the vast array of analytics now available to coaches. Marin shared documents and videos, and mentioned that breaking up their Zoom lessons into smaller groups has been more productive for them.

I also learned from Tucker that the Northern California section has already canceled its sectional tournament and will not resume any sectional events until August 1st at the earliest. I checked the other 16 sections, and they all appear to be abiding by the USTA's current assessment date of May 31st.

Today's conversation with Tucker and Marin can be found at the Parenting Aces YouTube channel.

The ITF Academy has made available its course for parents of beginning tennis players here. Registration is required, but there is no charge.