Do NOT Copy the Pros!!

playing tennis


It was 2003… the year I earned my tennis teaching certificate.

Despite my playing experience and theoretical understanding of teaching tennis, there were still so many gaps in my knowledge about how to actually coach people.

My students were all unique individuals – each with their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.

As a young coach, it took me a while to learn that I had to adapt to every single student I encountered.

Once I became a certified tennis coach, I assumed that the methodology I learned from this esteemed tennis teaching organization would provide me with a “one-size-fits-all” formula that would suit every student that entered my tennis court.

I was wrong!!

Only when I learned that people are unique and they each had to be approached according to their personality, did I begin improving as a tennis coach.

Tennis is not a one-size-fits-all sport.

You were born with certain personality traits which are reflected in the way you strike the ball, the way you move, and the way you make decisions on the court.

skilled coach can help you discover the basics of how to play tennis in a way that complements your own unique playing style.

Don’t try to be like the pros!

Be yourself and play tennis in your own way…

The way that feels right to you.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.

Lessons and Tips to Improve the Serve Return

playing tennis

In order to improve the return of serve, there are certain aspects that a tennis player should consider:

the kind of grips to wait for the serve with: eastern, semi-western (forehand grips), continental/hammer, or backhand grip; either one has a role according to the player’s strengths;
court position for the first and second serves;
– the best footwork to return the serve;
– the technique (to control a fast incoming ball);

– what type of serve the player usually has problems with: flat and fast, kick, or slice?

The serve return, even though a player has less time to react to it, can be trained and improved at any level.

Players must learn the proper grips, footwork, how to read the opponent’s serve, and where to tactically place the return.

For a thorough analysis, here are some WebTennis24 lessons and tips to improve your Serve Return:
Best Grips for Returning Serve
How to Return a Fast Serve
How to Read the Serve
Drills to Improve the Serve Return
Return of Serve Tactics for Singles
Return of Serve Tactics for Doubles

Additional helpful tips:
Why and How to Shorten Your Backswing
How to Make a Clean Contact With the Ball

Enjoy playing your best tennis!

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.

6 Differences – Average vs Top Players

playing tennis

Tennis is a fun sport and great for meeting people.

In the beginning, players discover the game, then fall in love with the idea of hitting the ball over the net, exercising, winning points, and competing.

But after a while, we all want to take it to the next level: better technique, more consistency, more power, win matches and tournaments…

I have this friend who, after playing tennis for 3 years, has made a lot of progress. He can rally with an advanced player but when it comes to playing actual matches, you can obviously see his struggles.
So what does it take for my friend and any player, whose level has been stalling, to move up in ranking?
Below, I’ll highlight a few differences between the average and top players:

1. Top players create opportunities.
While average players wait for things to happen, the top players are proactive in controlling the point and looking for opportunities to win. They have a good knowledge of tactics and strategies that they can implement according to their opponent’s style of play.

2. Top players are mentally tough.
Average players let everyone know when they miss a shot: they get angry and loud as if the “gods of tennis” are against them.
Top players stay calm and in control of their behavior on the court; they understand that showing negative emotions fuels their opponent’s confidence, so they avoid that.

3. Top players are aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
One of the aspects that I’ve constantly seen from average players is their lack of patience to develop their game from the ground up. They want to compete but do not take the time to develop a solid foundation.
Top players constantly assess their strengths and weaknesses and build their game around that. They understand that any technical flaw must be corrected…and they do it.
Average players tend to ignore their weaknesses and rely on one or two strokes they feel comfortable with.

4. Top players practice to improve.
Most of the average players just want to play matches. Their satisfaction lies in winning matches even if that means competing against less gifted players.
Top players want to practice their tactics, consistency, and strategic placement more than they want to play actual matches. You can see top players spending a lot of time working on one single shot until they get it right.

5. Top players prepare for their matches.
Proper food before, during, and after a match is one of the aspects top players are aware of in order to perform at their best. They pay attention to a proper warm-up before the match, stretching, and recovery exercises after it.

6. Top players respect their opponents.
Once a player reaches a certain level of excellence, they will develop compassion for their fellow tennis players knowing the dedication and effort that it takes to perform at high levels. That’s why the top players have respect for their opponents, compassion for the ones who lose matches, and share the excitement of their wins with the ones who helped them get there.

Knowing the above qualities of top players, would you say you are among them? If not, would you be willing to work towards achieving that level?

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.

How to Teach (Or Learn) the Proper Distance to the Ball

The proper ball distance appears to be an ardent subject that tennis coaches want to know when teaching beginning players.

Some young players (beginners) indeed have difficulty achieving an optimal contact with the ball – getting either too close or too far from it. Therefore, coaches try to find solutions to help their players hit the ball more naturally and in balance.

Unfortunately, there is no quick or easy solution to this and, if you ask me, I consider this will get fixed naturally through repetition. The only way a beginning player realizes to “feel” the optimal contact point and space to the ball is through lots of practice. Eventually, the player will develop the proper timing, hand-eye coordination, and footwork to position the body and racquet most comfortably and naturally.

BUT if you really want to speed up the process, I dare to suggest a couple of drills that you and your student can do to get a clear understanding of where the contact with the ball should be and improve the timing to achieve that:

1. Have your student (or partner) position in an open stance (feet parallel to the net) or square stance (feet sideways to the net) and racquet held at a “contact point” position: racquet face towards the net, proper grip, arm slightly bent (see picture below). By the way, this can be applied when practicing either forehand or backhand groundstrokes.
practicing proper ball distance
From the “contact point” position, hand-feed a few balls towards the player’s racquet. After the ball bounce, the player should push the ball and swing from that point on, and follow through.
Practice contact and follow-through without backswing.
This drill will teach the player where the contact with the ball should be (spacing and body position). Eventually, they will register that. With proper timing and footwork developed through repetition, this will become a habit.

2. Repeat the previous drill with a slight adjustment: instead of tossing balls for your student, you will rally with them this time. Your student will begin every stroke from the contact point position (no backswing) while pushing and following through after each contact.
Again, this will teach the player proper spacing to the ball.
One important tip is to rally with your student from the service line or just behind it in order to avoid a bigger swing and take the racquet back.
You can even use foam or any light junior tennis balls to keep things simple in the beginning.

Try these two drills and let me know if your student develops and gets a better feel for spacing to the ball.

One more tip: do not over-emphasize other technical aspects such as footwork or body position. To get the contact and timing right, allow the student to focus only on the ball; let the other elements happen naturally… for now.

Additional Note:
For players who want to learn the above technique by themselves, I recommend either using a ball machine or asking a tennis partner to feed (by hand) some balls to them.

Related Content: Strokes Progressions Lessons (learn tennis without a partner or coach)

(Per readers’ request I am attaching more pictures showing the “point of contact”, below)

proper ball distance
point of contact
point of contact

 

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.

7 Steps for Making a Great Connection with Your (New) Students

tennis coach with kids

The following pieces of advice address mostly to coaches but players can also find some applicable uses:

As a tennis coach at WebTennis24, I often get emails in which players or coaches ask for my opinion on certain subjects. One of them was how to make a good impression as a coach in front of your new students.


In this regard, I made a video that will show you the first 10-15 minutes of what you can do with a new tennis student (beginner or even intermediate). In this video, you’ll find my “magic” formula on how to interact with new students and how to make them feel welcome and excited to learn tennis. It has worked great for me throughout my over 15 years of teaching tennis, and it will guarantee to help you too.


Besides that… in preparation for the upcoming lesson (or a match if you are a tennis player) it is good to develop some “rituals” that prepare you mentally for what comes. 
I used to get quite nervous especially when meeting new students and/or their parents.

So don’t worry: you are not the only one getting nervous; a lot of coaches are too… the students also. If it helps, you can only imagine that your students are more nervous to meet you than you are to meet them. Or, if you are a player before a tennis match, your opponent might be more nervous to play against you than you are.

Here are some of my “rituals” that I do on the way to my lessons in order to ensure that I would be properly prepared and my students will find a true professional in me as their coach:


1. In the car, as I drive to the tennis court, I practice some breathing exercises: take a slow deep breath in – hold it for 4 seconds – release slowly; do this about 5 – 7 times.

2. Say positive things to yourself such as: “I can’t wait to meet my students”, “I love what I do”, “This is going to be fun!”, etc.

3. Get on the tennis court at least 10 minutes before your students arrive; prepare all your teaching gear and be ready early.

4. As soon as you see your students coming towards the court, put a smile on your face and walk to them looking happy to see/meet them. Stretch your hand out and introduce yourself first, then ask for their names (memorize it).

5. As you can see in the video I mentioned above, it is important to ask your students questions, find out about them; that would make them feel welcome and important.

6. If you get nervous, smile; smiling is a great way to help you relax; also, ask your student questions during the lesson: “what do you feel about what I just taught you? does it make sense? does if feel natural?” etc.

7. And last… actually this should have been first: make sure you have lesson plans ready (a general plan of drills and things you want to teach before you get on the court). I sometimes carry little pieces of paper with notes that I find important to say or do during the lessons. This helps me to know that I do not leave things out and takes some of the pressure off considering that I don’t have to remember everything.

I hope all these tips are of help to you. Write in the comments box below and let me know your thoughts.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.

Should You Play Singles or Doubles?

tennis practice
Every so often, my students surprise me with some rather simple yet challenging tennis questions that I keep thinking of even after I consider I gave them the best answer…

One of such questions is: “Should I play singles or doubles?”
Most of the players who ask this are beginners or intermediate level in search of their tennis identity: “am I a singles or doubles player?”

My answer is usually as follows:

“If you don’t mind running, then singles is for you. But if you enjoy team sports and having an easy-going partner to work with, doubles is for you.
The two are different in the sense that in singles you have more court to cover and you’ll have to be quite consistent with your groundstrokes, while in doubles it is more about playing at the net, feeling comfortable with volleys, and strategic placement of your shots.
In my opinion, the game of doubles is more complex and exciting than the singles one.
Even if a player enjoys the one-on-one competition, they could benefit a lot from playing some doubles matches from time to time.
If you ask me… I like the singles matches. Even though I enjoy a doubles match from time to time, the fact that playing singles means I am responsible for every shot and the effort I put in is mine 100% gives me the assurance that the match is totally up to me and the way I perform on that day.”

Either way… enjoy your tennis!

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.