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.

Easy Way to Teach the Volley [Video]

The Volley is my favourite tennis stroke to teach, and that’s because I follow a progression that is both educational and fun for my students to learn.

It all begins by presenting the Volley as a “catch” and imagining that the racquet is an extension of the player’s hand.

Here are the steps that I follow (see the video below for visual demonstration):

1. I toss a few balls towards my student’s dominant side and ask them to catch. While they do that, I emphasize the fact that they do not take the hand back before catching the ball, nor do they follow through after catching it. So the volley should not have a backswing or a follow-through.
It is a catch and a push. The pushing should come from stepping forward towards the ball or getting the bodyweight into it.

2. After getting comfortable catching the ball (by the way, to take some pressure away you can use soft balls such as kids’ balls for the student to not be afraid of being hit in the face), proceed to catching the ball using the racquet.
Help the player imagine that the racquet is a bigger hand and that they should attempt to once again catch the balls, this time on the strings. Tell them that they should not be swinging, just tapping the ball so that it goes over the net (by the way, the player should be no more than 6 feet away from the net, at this stage; later on, we’ll show them where to position and how to cover the court).

3. Continue the same drill while the player slides, gradually, the hand lower towards the bottom of the grip. All this time, the student is taught to hold the racquet with a “hammer” grip (like they would be hammering a nail with the edge of it).

4. Once the player feels more comfortable catching and tapping the ball with the strings holding the racquet with a hammer grip, the next step would be to learn the basic footwork. Explain to them that power, when volleying, comes from catching the ball out in front and moving the bodyweight into it.
For that, as they prepare to catch the ball on the strings, they have to take a step in the direction of the ball.
(Note: Keep in mind that we are at the beginning stages of learning the volley, therefore the footwork that the player learns is a basic one, keeping it simple and not overwhelming them with too much information. Later on, we’ll add the more complex movement that requires covering the court and getting to the ball in balance).

Some of the technical aspects, that a coach should pay attention to:

  • don’t let the racquet head drop below the hand level; keep the racquet cocked so that there is a 90 degrees angle between the forearm and handle;
  • no backswing – racquet stays in front of the line of shoulders;
  • no follow-through – after catching the ball, the racquet comes to a stop and is brought back to the ready position;
  • remind the player that power comes from catching the ball early and stepping into the shot;
  • the racquet head is slightly open (facing up) so that later on, combined with a high to low push (or punch), it will create under-spin which is essential to control the ball. 

For a visual presentation of this lesson, see the video below.

To learn how to teach tennis to children or any beginning player, visit the Kids section or 10 Lesson Plans for Teaching Beginning Tennis Players from WebTennis24.

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.

Easiest Way to Win in Doubles

When I was asked to express my opinion about which doubles formation is the best and which is the least effective at winning points quickly, I did not hesitate with my answer: both players at the net (both up) would be my favourite, while the two players at the baseline (both back) to be the defensive one and taking longer to finish/win points.

doubles tennis tactics

Here is my argument about why you should consider playing at the net more often:

But before I get into the details I want to point out that my analysis is done as a general guide and, when assessing one team’s best tactics and strategies, we should consider each player’s technical skills, experience, and their capability to work and communicate as a team.

I believe that the best doubles formation is… both-up.

When the two players manage to get to the net, they will be in the best position to put pressure on their opponents, cover the court and finish the points in the quickest way possible.

When the team is at the net, the best chance for the opponents to pass them is using the back court by sending the ball over their heads (lobs).

The both-up formation has the following advantages:

  1. It puts pressure on the opposing team (which is defending), giving them less time to prepare for the shot.
  2. They can cover a lot more court and there is almost no opening for the opponents to pass (except when using the lob which, if not executed properly, can be a “smash” opportunity).
  3. The ability to put the balls away (finish points) is greater at the net due to the many angle opportunities and the fact that they can contact the ball above net level.

But let’s not rule out the reasons why some players or teams prefer to play from the baseline, in doubles…

The case for both players staying back can be understood considering the following aspects:

  • Both players are not comfortable playing at the net but they possess reliable ground-strokes.
  • The team is receiving against a strong server – in this case, it is wise to begin the point with both players on the baseline and advance after the return is safely made.
  • The team’s serves are being aggressively attacked by the opposing team (example: if the serve is not powerful or deep enough, the returner attacks the net player; in such situation it is a good idea for the server’s partner to begin the point further back, close to the baseline).

Disadvantages of playing both-back formation:

  1. Many angle openings for the opposing team to put the ball away.
  2. Hard to cover the forecourt (against drop-shots or short angles etc.).
  3. Difficulty in finishing the points – they wait for the opposing team to make mistakes.

Any committed doubles player should strive to improve the net skills (volleys and overheads) and most importantly transitioning to the net which for most part can set them up for a comfortable play at the net if executed properly.

For more detailed analysis of how to play and win in doubles, sign up for the Training membership to learn how to play against different doubles formations, how to communicate with your doubles partner, how to cover the court and get to the ball quicker – watch easy to follow graphics and detailed information for beginning and advanced players.

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 Engage Players to Practice More Often

tennis practice

We all love playing tennis, but not so much “practicing” it…

Oftentimes, coaches find it frustrating to see the lack of time their players put into practice the skills they learn.

Playing the game is obviously more fun than the repetition required to hone a skill like forehand down the line, kick serve, or drop shot.

So what should you do (as a coach or tennis parent) to engage players into practicing their skills more often?

It all depends on your players: are they beginners, intermediate, or advanced?

– If they are beginners, give them ideas of fun tennis drills and games they can either practice by themselves, with a friend, or with a family member.
Let them know that by the time the next lesson comes you would like to hear about the games or drills they did; show interest and give them tasks to accomplish: 50 backhands down the line, 100 serves, play two sets with a friend, rally 200 balls over the net, etc.

– If they are intermediate or advanced players, you might want to remind them about the benefits of practicing: consistency under pressure, better shot placement, winning more matches, more power and foot speed, etc.
For these players, you can also give them tasks to accomplish until the next lesson with you: 100 serves down-the-T, 50 drop shots, 200 forehands cross-court, 50 kick serves to the ad court, etc.

On or off the court, when it comes to explaining to your students the benefits of practicing and playing more tennis, some will pay attention and follow your advice while others would need more reminding.
People are all different and you can test what works and what does not.

The bottom line, self-motivation is a rare thing among most people. This is where the coach or parent must step in. We all need a little push sometimes…

To learn more about how to create exciting practice drills and lesson plans for tennis, check out the Lesson Plans section at WebTennis24.

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.

Lesson Learned…

tennis lessonIt’s Saturday morning… I’m with my younger daughter (9 years of age) who has her last tennis practice before the next day’s tournament.

As it ends, I ask Bianca to play a practice match against her older sister, Cezara.

Bianca, who lately has been dominating the “battle of the sisters” is up 9-6 (tie-break to 10 points). Matchpoint, right?
But that’s when she makes the mental mistake that only inexperienced players allow to happen:

“Daddy, if we get to 9-9, are we going to play by two points?”

I take a deep breath, forcing myself to control my frustration. I know what is about to happen:

Her opponent (Cezara) comes back to even the score at 9-9 and eventually wins the match: 13-11.

So what is this about?

When Bianca was ahead 9-6, her mind should have been focused on winning the next point and closing the match. Instead, she thought about 9-9. Whatever her mind was preoccupied with… happened.

This was her lesson which I hope she understood:

Whatever our mind focuses on, happens!

Whether we visualize good or bad things, that’s what we get. It’s a universal law that applies to everything in life, including tennis.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Teaching Professional

Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.

Second Serve – Spin, Tactics, and Mental Tips

second serveSecond serves are the ones that you cannot miss.
The pressure is on you and your opponent knows it (if they are a savvy player, they will prepare to attack your second serve).

1. Before you toss the ball up, tell yourself what you intend to do with your second serve:
– if your opponent shows an intention to attack it, consider slicing it (brush sideways). That will keep the ball low and difficult for your opponent to go for an aggressive shot.
– if your opponent stays back most of the time, a simple kick serve should do it to dip the ball over the net and make it bounce high off the ground.

2. Everything you’ve learned in practice… forget about it. This is not the time to think about your technique. You should just let your habits take over your movements. Toss the ball up and hit it after you previously told yourself what you’d like to accomplish (see the previous point).

3. Hit your second serve with confidence. It is easy to let doubting thoughts cripple your mind, therefore training your mind to stay on the positive side is crucial for delivering consistent second serves.

Have fun on the court!

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Teaching Professional

Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.

6 Ways to Add More Power to Your Serve

power serveWe all need more power on our serves, don’t we?
While the internet is abundant in videos to show us how to hit “killer” serves or add “15 extra miles per hour” to them, I’ll simply give you a checklist of what you should consider doing in order to improve your serve. Then you’ll go on the court to practice it…
By the way, there is no magic formula to improving anything other than lots of practice.

1. A fast serve is a combination of proper technique, timing, and body flexibility.
2. Use your legs to add power (bend them during the toss, then spring into the shot).
3. The toss should be further in front and not too high; a high toss will create friction on the downfall against your racquet resulting in more spin and less power.
4. The tossing arm should stay up longer (provides body balance).
5. Grip – must be continental (allows for more wrist action) and relaxed.
6. Loose strings – the lower the tension on your strings, the more of a “trampoline” effect you get, resulting in added pace to your serve.

Have fun on the tennis court!

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Teaching Professional

Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.