It's now just a month since I got back from the U.S. Tennis Congress and the lessons I learned there are still helping my tennis game get better and better. As part of my experience, I was lucky enough to meet, work with and learn from some of the best and most well-known tennis instructors in the world. And the good news is – you can too! All of these guys have incredibly helpful websites offering lessons, videos and advice available to all of us tennis fanatics and a lot of it, a whole lot of it, is absolutely free.
Just so you know – all of these coaches were on the U.S. Tennis Congress faculty and, for most of them, I was able to take a class and really get to know what their teaching style if like. I've indicated in my comments what I learned from them and also what you can get out of visiting their sites.
Now, just to be clear, there's plenty of tennis instruction available in the on-line world, but in my opinion, this is some of the best. And why 7? Because I met and worked with almost all of these guys IN PERSON! So check out my list of the Top 7 On-Line Tennis Coaches:
- Will Hamilton and Fuzzy Yellow Balls – I am a long-time fan of Fuzzy Yellow Balls and its founder, Will Hamilton. Somehow, Will is able to convince top tennis pros like the Bryan Brothers and Pat Rafter that regular-old recreational players like us can learn something from them. Will then puts together incredible videos and courses with these guys and brings them to all of us. So I was very excited to meet Will and sit in on his class, “Add 10, 15, Even 20 MPH to Your Serve by Eliminating Your #1 Serve Killer” (love that name). So what can you get from Fuzzy Yellow Balls? Well, just check out the Tennis Lessons section of Fuzzy Yellow Balls. You will be absolutely blown away by the 100+ high-quality video lessons you can get for absolutely free.
- Ian Westermann and Essential Tennis – I have also been an Essential Tennis follower for several years. I'm sure I've mentioned the site, the courses, the podcast and just about anything else founder Ian Westermann puts out multiple times here on Tennis Fixation. So I'll confess – Ian was the one person I specifically requested to have a class with at the U.S. Tennis Congress. I was therefore overjoyed (ecstatic?) to be in a serve class with Ian and just three other students. We got 70 minutes of, in my opinion, very personalized instruction. The big takeaway for me? Relax! Ian has tons and tons of great free tennis instruction on his site and his Essential Tennis podcast has gotten me to and through more matches than I can count. Definitely give Essential Tennis a visit.
- Jorge Capestany and TennisDrills.TV – I had never heard of Jorge Capestany before I went to the U.S. Tennis Congress. But he ran the pro/am “King of the Court” game that we played on the first night and it was easy to tell from his easy-going manner what a great coach he was as he maintained complete control of a game involving two courts, ten pros and about thirty excited players. I went to his “Secrets to Practicing for Better Doubles” and learned probably ten new tips and at least seven fun drills to take to my next doubles practice. Jorge's site, TennisDrills.tv, is a membership site packed with incredibly helpful videos. Even if you don't join the site, however, there are several really good videos there for free so it's worth a visit.
- Florian Meier and Online Tennis Instruction – I was aware of Florian Meier before the USTC but hadn't spent much time on his onlinetennisinstruction.com site. So I wasn't sure what to expect from the “Serve Diagnostic” class I took from him. Well, what an eye opener that turned out to be! Florian videotaped each of the four participants in the class, quickly analyzed our serves, showing us the video to back up his recommendations, and then got us to work on those tips right then and there. He videotaped us throughout the class and kept showing us the video (yikes) and tweaking what we were doing. Talk about instantaneous feedback! If you haven't yet seen yourself serve on video, you've got to try it. Sure, you're going to cringe. But there is no quicker way to see what kinds of mistakes you're making that you have no idea you're making. Working with Florian for only an hour really changed my service motion, making me aware of the little hitch I had in my motion and teaching me how to relax (again) and serve more smoothly. Check out his site which is full of great tips for your entire game.
- Jeff Greenwald and JeffHGreenwald.com – I decided to go to Jeff Greenwald's “Fearless Performance: How to Create Your Optimal Performance State” class for several reasons: (1) how could I not go when I might actually learn how to create my optimal performance state? (2) I had been reading and re-reading his book, The Best Tennis Of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies For Fearless Performance, for years and was excited just to meet the author; (3) like most players, I knew I could use some real help getting mentally tougher on court; and (4) his class was the last USTC class I could fit in before heading to the airport and I thought it would be nice to take something that might actually relax and calm me before my flight back to Houston. Well, his class was, in a word, fantastic. Just so you know, Jeff is not just a licensed therapist who has worked with some incredible high-level tennis players on developing their mental games, he also happens to be a top-ranked USTA player, having won national titles in the 35s and 45s in the past. So he knows what he's talking about. Sometimes, its hard to understand what “mental toughness” on court is and how you can get it. But I left Jeff's class with a definite plan for gaining calm and focus between points. I highly recommend his book and a visit to his site where you'll get lots of great mental strategies and tips to take on court.
Joe Dinoffer and OnCourtOffCourt.com – On the first night of the USTC, I had dinner with a ladies' tennis team from Boston and a really fun guy named Joe Dinoffer who I thought looked vaguely familiar but I couldn't quite place. He was so interesting and laid back and seemed like someone I should know. Turns out he's the owner and tennis talent behind the OnCourtOffCourt site where you can get just about any piece of tennis training equipment you could ever want, many of them designed by Joe himself. I loved talking to him so much that I took his “Amping Up Power on Groundstrokes and Serves: It's Easier Than You Think” class. We got to use a lot of Joe's training aids in the class and had a great time hitting foam balls all over the hotel ball room while learning some really helpful tips for improving our strokes. Joe's web site has lots of these tips as well as all kinds of equipment you might be interested in trying out yourself so definitely check it out.
Jeff Salzenstein and jeffsalzensteintennis.com – So I really, really wanted to take a class from Jeff Salzenstein because I have been a long-time follower of his site and his TennisCoachTV YouTube channel. Like the rest of these guys, he puts out so much good stuff and so much of it is totally free. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get in to his class. It was absolutely PACKED with people (I guess I'm not the only one who had heard of him). But, turns out, he has worked with Jeff Greenwald before so he showed up in the class I was taking and had some great comments to add. And then, the big surprise was, he sat behind me on the shuttle to the airport! So I got to talk to him but not about tennis-instruction stuff. I mean, come on. I didn't want the guy to think I was some kind of stalker. He was extremely nice and I can tell you, he has TONS of good stuff on his site. Again, tons of good stuff for free. So be sure and check that out.
Well, that's my list of the Top 7 On-Line Tennis Coaches. They all offer plenty of super valuable instruction that is instantly available to you and costs absolutely nothing to access. I hope you'll visit their sites and let me know what you think in the comments below. I'd love to hear about your experience with on-line tennis instruction and your favorite tennis sites.