I recently started teaching adult beginner tennis. I really don't consider myself a tennis pro, however, because I'm just teaching ladies who have never played the game before and I'm teaching them the most basic aspects of tennis. But I was thinking about these beginner tennis players when I was looking through my tennis books (as I do) and was wondering what book would I have liked to have read when I was starting to play the game. And that boook is, without a doubt, Tennis Beyond Big Shots: The New Power Game by Greg Moran, and that's the book I'm reviewing for you today. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link: tennisfixation.com/itunes.
If I could pick any tennis book that I wish I had read when I first started playing, it would have to be Tennis Beyond Big Shots: The New Power Game by Greg Moran. This is truly a great book about playing “real” tennis.
A Simple Tennis Philosophy
The philosophy of Tennis Beyond Big Shots is pretty simple:
The foundation of a winning tennis player is not power and aggression but consistency and control. From here on out, I want you to forget about the ‘hit-'em-as-hard-as-you-can mentality. It's a waste of time and a recipe for disaster.
This is a new way to look at tennis so that you can have a more powerful game – not a game where you hit harder or faster, but where you play smarter. As Moran points out,
Yes, at the professional level the game is extremely fast and power is an important element, but until Venus or Andre calls you for a match, build your game around consistency and control and you'll see an immediate improvement in your results.
He says Venus and Andre but I think we could substitute Serena and Novak in there and the conclusion would be the same – consistency and control are going to be more important for us recreational players than hitting hard.
Tennis Beyond Big Shots has a great mix of all aspects of the game. It explains how you can improve all of your tennis strokes. It gives you plenty of simple tactics and strategies you can put into effect to build a better winning game. And it also is packed with some inside tennis scoop that is often hard to come by – things like how to work with a pro, how to maintain good relations with your partners and pros, and even some basic tennis etiquette.
Perfect Tennis Tip – Listen to the Ball
Here's a perfect example of the type of insightful tips you can find in this book. This is one that can make a huge difference in how you play a ball coming toward you but, for some reason, no one really mentions:
Don't forget to listen to the ball. The importance of listening to the ball is seldom discussed but is a vital part of reading your opponent's shot. By paying attention to the sound as the ball strikes your opponent's racket, you can pick up how hard or soft it's been hit, if it's been hit with excessive spin or if it's been mis-hit. Each has its own distinctive sound.
I think that is such a good tip but you never hear anyone talk about it. You can definitely pick up this sound difference when someone is hitting a serve. Try listening for those sound differences on the serve in your next match. You'll be surprised what you can learn about someone's serve just by listening.
Playing “High Percentage” Tennis
As I said before, Tennis Beyond Big Shots also goes into strategies and gives some great advice on putting together a winning game plan. Often pros talk about playing “high percentage” shot and avoid the “low percentage” shot. And I myself often wonder just what the “high percentage” shot or series of shots is. Well, Moran gives some really concrete examples of how you can play the percentages:
When you step on the doubles court make a mental shift in your shot selection from thinking side to side, as you do in singles, to low or high. Hit the ball at your opponents' feet to force them to pop it up, or hit it high over their heads so you can take the net away from them. If your opponents have control of the net and you are not certain you can get the ball down low, put it up in the air. Force them to move back and hit another shot. Make your opponents hit the ball to beat you rather than beating yourself with an unnecessary error.
So that's what high percentage tennis is! It's playing the shots that can win the point surely and safely rather than playing the fancy shots that often just result in an error and a lost point.
The Do's and Don'ts of Tennis
Finally, towards the end of the book, there are some great sections on the do's and don'ts of the game. This is the kind of stuff that no one really tells you. You find out about it, usually, through a process of trial and error. And most of these, you just hope you don't insult someone or come off looking like a fool by violating them. In his “10 Commandments of Tennis,” Moran points out something that is so true but we often don't think about:
5. Accept your mistakes. No matter how badly you may be playing or losing, keep a positive attitude and your excuses to yourself. No one's interested, and you'll only sound foolish.
So true! How many times have we beaten the opponents who then attributes the loss not to our tennis skills but to all of their excuses for losing. It's a backhanded insult and is poor sportsmanship in my opinion.
I love this book and I'm only sorry that I didn't read it when I first started playing tennis as an adult. It is packed with information that would have helped me be a much better tennis player and some of it, sadly, I had to learn the hard way.
Let me know what tennis books you love and would recommend to all tennis players. Just leave me a comment below as I would love to hear from you.
RESOURCES AND LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE:
Here is a complete list of all of the tennis books I've reviewed on Tennis Quick Tips along with Amazon links to the books and links to the podcast episodes.
- Tennis Beyond Big Shots: The New Power Game
- Game, Set and Match: Secret Weapons of the World's Top Tennis Players – reviewed in Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 93
- Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis – reviewed in Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 83
- The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance – reviewed in Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 74
- Arthur Ashe On Tennis: Strokes, Strategy, Traditions, Players, Psychology, and Wisdom – reviewed in Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 64
- The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance – reviewed in Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 53
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Full disclosure – Some of the links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. I make a very small commission if you purchase any item using my Amazon affiliate links. Your cost is the same for these items whether or not you use these links. This does not influence my opinion of these items and I always tell the absolute truth about every item that I review. I usually do not review items that I don’t like.