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If you are attending the 2016 USPTA World Conference in Indian Wells, please drop by our booth and say hi!   We’ll be there Monday night, September 26th from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.  Not going to the World Conference?  Drop us a line if you are in Southern California and maybe we can arrange to do a demonstration, as we’ll be visiting a variety of locations between Sept. 29th and October 2nd, before heading back to Denver, Colorado.

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I thought this exchange from a customer might be useful to others.  This is a summary of some questions I r day and the answer.

  1.  How should the angle be set?
  2. Did the wide angle give the curve and should it be set to medium angle?
  3. Also what is the best way to delete videos and clear the SD card?
  4. Finally, what editing software for compiling the best shots and transferring them to YouTube do you recommend? Many thanks for your suggestions and website. Leianna

 

Hi XXXXX, hope I can help out!

a.)  The angle looking down into the court can be a personal preference.  Use the marks on the camera bracket to line up with the marks on the base and experiment from there.   As far as the fish-eye effect, the further away from the center of the picture, the more pronounced the affect.  There’s just no getting around it completely. As you angle the camera more downwards, the near baseline will be straighter and straighter as it nears the center of the picture, so you might want to experiment a little with what you like.   I find that using a medium field of view and a normal angle gets rid of most of the “fisheye”.  There are also in-expensive software programs that remove fisheye that work fairly well.

There are two recommended ways to delete videos, and what I do is generally is at the end of the day to download the video files to my computer, then format the card. You MUST delete or format the sd card while it’s in the camera, NOT with your computer. While in the camera, you can use either the app or just do it manually.   I have gotten in the habit of doing it manually and once you get the hang of it, it’s much faster.

As far as editing software, it depends on what computer operating system you have. I have a Macbook Pro laptop and use FinalCut X, although iMovie which is free is just about as good. I also use Quicktime to scroll through videos and look for certain points, then trim out those points. I haven’t tried it myself, but GoPro puts out a very basic software editing program that allows you to grab scenes. If for a Windows based system, I believe they have a free software package (Windows Movie Maker??) that works great from what I hear. I’ve also used Cyber

But what’s your goal with the videos? This guy Cizr is pretty popular with folks for editing out dead time from a video, but there’s a fee. http://www.cizr.com

Let me know if that doesn’t do the trick!

Thanks,

Mike

Ran across this article in the ITF files about why you might want to consider using video.  No, you don’t have to be a coach to follow this, but any coach or parent can use these ideas as a starting point as to why you should use video in your development of a tennis player.

Video Analysis for the Tennis Coach

Introduction

Video is an extremely useful tool (and underrated!) for tennis coaching. It can be applied to skill acquisition, technique refinement, visualization, injury prevention, and coach education. Although video has been around for many years, it is only now becoming a common tool for the tennis coach and player. This is somewhat surprising, given the numerous benefits of using video and the relatively low cost of this technology.

Some of the benefits of using video technology in your coaching include:

  • Slow motion replay Tennis is a dynamic sport and most skills in the game are performed at speed. Given this, the ability of a coach to analyse these skills in detail using the naked eye is limited. Video allows you to view various skills in slow motion, again and again, and from different angles, which means you have an opportunity to analyse motion in great detail.
  • Developing models After a time, you can begin to see certain patterns of motion that are common among elite performers. Tennis strokes, for example, have a fundamental pattern that forms the basis of good technique. Using video, you can categorise these patterns, and form the basis of a model, in which to compare other performances. Video-based models are a very powerful tool in which to coach different tennis strokes, particularly when you are dealing with novice performers. Children, for example, will often try to emulate their favourite players from what they can see on television.
  • Tracking performance changes As a coach, you are required to analyse a player’s performance, and make alterations to technique based upon your knowledge of what you think is appropriate. Video can be a very useful tool for tracking any changes that occur as a result of your coaching. Filming a player’s technique several times during a session or season can reinforce the changes you are trying to make and give you and your player quality information. Keeping video records of players can provide positive feedback to you as a coach, as well as to the player, who can see that their hard work is paying off. It should also be noted that sometimes this video feedback can show that what you have been trying to achieve with your intervention is not working as well as you had hoped. This is also valuable information and can form the basis of different interventions for your player. So much of coaching and video analysis involves experimenting with different ideas. Video is therefore a valuable tool to help quantify your experiments.
  • Self reflection Many athletes believe that they are in a certain position when performing a skill, yet when they see themselves on video, it becomes clear that perhaps they are not quite where they thought they were! There is a ‘mismatch’ between what the player feels and the position they are actually in. Video is an excellent tool for correcting this ‘kinaesthetic-mismatch’. It is important for an athlete to ‘feel’ what it is like to perform the correct technique and seeing themselves performing a skill on video can be the first step to achieving a new movement pattern. Historically speaking, video analysis has been a tool for sport scientists and biomechanists, which immediately brings forth bad memories in some coaches minds…numbers, tables, graphs, and equations that seem impossible to understand, and are somehow supposed to be related to coaching tennis! Although some aspects of biomechanics may involve complicated physics and mathematical concepts, this should not serve as a deterrent to the tennis coach who wants to apply biomechanics to their everyday coaching.

Is it better to lose than to win? Sometimes. I’m just coming off my worst loss in a long time, having been destroyed by Bob Litwin in the semi’s of the Men’s 65’s at the Boulder Open. 6-0, 6-1. Never could get any traction. I do feel better knowing that I had eight game points on my serve and one break point on his, but that doesn’t pay the bills. Luckily, I recorded the match and will be reviewing it with my coach and making up a game plan for improvement over the next year. Nothing like a good thrashing to motivate one!!

By the way, Mr. Litwin has about 17 national championships and I belive a World Championship in singles.  So, I really do feel good having been as competitive as I was, coming so close to winning as many games as I did.

Just wrapped up playing a tournament in Aspen, Colorado where I entered my first Open Men’s Doubles competition. My partner (whom I picked out of the crowd as the semi-final match was beginning, was a 4.0 rated player who didn’t like to play doubles). And we won the tournament. Okay, okay, there were extenuating circumstances……as in only four teams in the draw so we only had to win two matches. And okay, if you must know, one of our opponents in the final was a woman. No, I still don’t know the whole story behind that, but they beat a decent team to get to the finals, so she was a good small-college player. Seriously, the competition was not that easy, and in both our matches we had to outsmart our opponents as they were younger, quicker, and had more polished strokes. As in they could hit the heck out of the ball. So, how did we do it?

First, let me say that my partner and I had never met previous to this tournament. Heck, we didn’t meet until the third game of the first set of the first match. Seriously! My partner that I signed up with pulled a hamstring and had to quit. Our opponents, a couple of real gentlemen, were open to me getting another partner as they had come to play and didn’t want a forfeit. Pleading to the crowd (yes, there was a small crowd gathered, for what reason I can’t say), I finally got Genaro to volunteer. Genaro is a solid 4.0 singles player….with a great serve and the ability to camp on top of the net and swat balls away! Just what you want for a doubles partner, although I wish he wouldn’t have kept saying he didn’t like doubles!

So, our opponents in this resumed first match were very generous, and I’m pretty sure that the thought never occurred to them that they could possibly lose under any circumstance.

Anyway, to make a long story short (ha ha, that never happens), here’s what we did for strategy in both our matches:

  1. Geno camped on top of the net whenever possible and I would try to hit the ball to any spot in front of him, mainly crosscourt. That was Plan B.

  2. We kept up a positive attitude no matter what. Cause heck, we were lucky to be out there playing anyway, so what was to lose? We did our share of fist bumps and high fives throughout the match, especially if one of us missed a shot. This helped keep us loose.

  3. Our opponents had big serves, so we both played back when returning.

  4. Our opponents had great crosscourt returns of serve from the ad side, so we went Aussie on the ad side. On the deuce side we both crowded the net when serving, as they NEVER LOBBED US!!

They had no answer for these strategies! Here are some of the videos and [embedplusvideo height=”283″ width=”450″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/29PIKX8″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/C42XDrThnUA?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=C42XDrThnUA&width=450&height=283&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep2110″ /]

HOW TO TRANSFER VIDEO FILES

Many times you may want to share your files with someone else, perhaps a practice or doubles partner. You have several choices and these are my solutions as of May, 2016.

Small files can be handled as follows:

Simply upload to YouTube. You might have to create an account, but that’s easy, and once the file is uploaded, it’s always there. Make it unlisted for privacy, or public if you don’t care who sees it.

For medium size files I’d suggest one of the following:

WeTransfer.com. A free and very easy way to transfer files under 2 gb in size. Just set up an account on WeTransfer and upload the files to their site. Whoever you are transferring will be notified and then they just have to download.

DropBox. This has been around a long time so just follow their instructions at dropbox.com

For very large files, here’s my recommendation – simply copy them onto an sd card and mail them. Yes, it’s low tech but in the long run you’ll find it very simple. Have the recipient mail back the sd card. Total cost – $1.00.

If you have other suggestions, please share!!

How Good Are Online Teachers?

I subscribe to quite a few of the online teachers that sell their lessons on the internet, and have come to some conclusions about how useful they are. As an active USPTA teaching pro and avid tennis player, here’s my two cents on how useful it is. (Disclaimer: I have no commercial interest in any sites mentioned).

First, there is a lot of stuff out there, and it’s aimed at entirely different audiences. For example, Fuzzy Yellow Balls seems to be oriented more towards beginners, while Jeff Salzenstein seems to be oriented more towards intermediate and advanced players. Look around and you’ll find the right level for you. For myself, I find that just subscribing to many of the online instruction services and getting the small tips that are free gives me plenty to work on, just by itself.

But are the paid lessons worth it for the average player? I mean, it’s one thing to see an online lesson, but another to go out there on your own and apply what you learn, and that’s what it’s all about, right? When learning strokes, one of the many values of a live coach, on the court with you, is that you get immediate feedback. Not to mention someone who is feeding you endless balls in an appropriate manner, thus giving you valuable repititions. But, as you know if you’ve read this far, it’s hard to get your opponent or even your regular practice partner, to feed you balls and give you feedback (as if he/she could in the first place!). Unless you are lucky enough to have a practice partner that is willing to work on your game, what’s a person to do?

Here’s an example from my own game: While attending a USPTA conference, I volunteered to return serves and have my technique discussed. The presenter was making the case that a backswing on the return of serve was not necessary. This was right up my alley, as I try to return high-velocity serves almost like a volley, meaning no backswing. Much to my chagrin it was pointed out that my racquet actually pointed to the back fence. Okay, so I made up my mind not to do that, to have no backswing at all. Well, I felt that I had no backswing. But it was pointed out by several hundred people, that I was still taking the racquet back. Arrrgh, I would have sworn that I didn’t . I tried again, even consciously resisting taking it back. And same result – my racquet was still pointing back to the fence. Without feedback, I would not have changed a thing!!

In my experience, the only way I know to get the technical feedback I want (if no one is around to give it to me) is to film it myself and then review it. Not a perfect solution, but maybe the best and easiest under most circumstances. Reviewing can be done on court if you have your laptop, or afterwards in the comfort of your home. Either way, you get good visual feedback if you know what you are looking for.

So, in the end, to answer the question “are online tennis instructors worth the money?”, I’d have to say a definite yes. And if you can figure out a way to get feedback on what you are trying to do, it’s worth twice as much and you can make some real progress. By the way, it’s really interesting to review and see how your strokes improve (or don’t!) on a yearly basis.

If you have an opinion on online teaching and/or anything else in the blog, feel free to leave a comment below.

When you are traveling, it’s always nice to take a break, pick up the racquet and hit a few. It seems to me that wherever I go, there’s always someone to hit with. With that in mind, while traveling through Lafayette, Louisiana on the way to Florida for some clay court tournaments, I stopped by the local public courts at Acadiana Park. I heard about the groups that meet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 a.m. and decided to show up the next morning. Sure enough, when I got there at 9:30, about 12 ladies were already there drying off the courts. The men, typical of men everywhere I was told, didn’t show up until the courts were dry, and yes, the women did take note!

See the accompanying video for some of the highlights.

[embedplusvideo height=”283″ width=”450″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1X1c7Jp” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/RjIl23ojX6U?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=RjIl23ojX6U&width=450&height=283&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep8350″ /]

Why Should a Junior Tennis Player Use Video to Improve

Can the average junior tennis player improve by taking and looking at videos of himself/herself ? How much does it help? I think any good coach will answer a resounding “yes”! For the typical junior tennis player, I think it is invaluable that he receive accurate, blunt feedback. It is so easy to think that your strokes are picture perfect, or your footwork is okay, because they feel that way, when in reality, they are not at all what you think they are.

Early in his career, one can make changes without having to first break down ingrained habits. As a tennis coach, one of the biggest (and most dreaded) challenges I face is trying to correct a stroke of someone who has been playing a certain way for a number of years. It’s nearly impossible, and it’s only possible if the client is extremely motivated. Very few are.

So for any junior out there I say, look at yourself truthfully with video and make any corrections now. Sure, your coach might be telling you something, but I contend (and many coaches will back me up on this one) that seeing yourself doing the behavior is worth a thousand times having someone tell you you’re doing a certain behavior. What I hear from coaches and parents all the time is that they are tired of repeating themselves over and over to seemingly deaf ears, so they finally avail themselves of video. Problem solved.