If only we all had a chance to sit down with the greatest tennis players of all time to ask them how it is that they do what they do. Just how do they play such incredible tennis? Imagine Pete Sampras telling you how to get a great second serve. Or Andy Murray revealing how to hit a drop shot. Or doubles great Max Mirnyi explaining just how to hit someone at the net and not live to regret it. In his book, Game, Set and Match: Secret Weapons of the World's Top Tennis Players, tennis journalist Mark Hodginson gives us all of these "secrets" and a whole lot more.
The author, tennis journalist Mark Hodgkinson, is no tennis slouch. He is a former tennis correspondent for the U.K.'s The Daily Telegraph, has written for British GQ, The New York Times and ESPN, penned biographies of both Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl, and has even played doubles with John McEnroe. His experience has given him access to top level tennis players for years.
And this access has produced a book jammed with actionable tips from virtually every tennis player you've ever heard of. Want to know how to attack with your one-handed backhand? Stan Wawrinka tells you. Want to know how to hit an ace? Milos Raonic gives you his advice. Want to know how to run around your backhand to attack with your forehand? Steffi Graf has a few tips. Want to know how to stay fit all year? Caroline Wozniacki lets you know exactly how to do it.
My own copy of the book is covered in post-it notes, marking the really good tips I know I will put to work right away. Here are just a few of my favorites. Mats Wilander, a former World No. 1, says this about "How to Have Strong Body Language on Court":
“Body language is important, because it sends messages to your opponent. Would players like Marat Safin and Andy Murray have been better players if their body language was better? Maybe not. But you can be sure that their opponents would have played worse tennis, because they would have looked down the court and seen that the guy was up for it. You don't want to give your opponent anything for free. Show them that you're out there to fight.”
Andrea Petkovic, a WTA player who has been in the top 10, explains how to properly warm up for matches:
Warming up is boring, but don't skip it. “Even though I hate warming up-it's the worst part of my job-it's so important to do it. I hate it because it's so boring, because I've been doing the same routine for years. But I zone out, and maybe do things automatically because I've done them so many times before. Warming up helps you to avoid injuries, especially when you're tight and you really want to win, as then the muscles get a little smaller so you have to make sure each muscle in your body is ready to go.”
And what about that tip on how to hit someone at the net? Here's what Max Mirnyi has to say:
You're trying to win the point whichever way possible-there's nothing wrong with powering the ball down at an opponent: "Sometimes hitting the ball straight at your opponent is the only option. Your opponent's at the net and there's no time to react. Playing on the professional tour is not like playing at a country club. In men's doubles, hitting an opponent is common practice."
I have a few tennis books that I read over and over because the advice and instruction they give makes sense, is truly actionable and can make a huge positive impact on my game. I'm definitely adding Game, Set and Match: Secret Weapons of the World's Top Tennis Players to that list of books and can't wait to read it again.
**Wristpect Sport would like to thank Kim Selzman owner/founder of Tennis Fixation. We've included her bio below but you may also find more information and/or to follow her tennis journey here: Tennis Fixation
Kim Selzman Bio
Kim Selzman took up tennis because it looked like a fun sport with cute clothes. She started as an unathletically-inclined beginner who didn’t know her volley from her kick serve, but quickly became fixated on the sport. She now plays on three tennis teams, continues to take lessons and attend drills, and works as a USPTA recreational coach teaching tennis to children. Kim is also certified as a Tennis Performance Trainer by the International Tennis Performance Association and is currently working on a tennis fitness course just for women. She chronicles all of her on-court adventures over at Tennis Fixation.com and hosts the weekly iTunes podcast Tennis Quick Tips.
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