Why Women Can’t Serve… (except Serena)

Why Women Can’t Serve…

…except for one woman.

Boys are taught by their coaches and dads, that the tennis serve is like “throwing a ball”. But for  some crazy, inexplicable reason, girls are taught “down (with your arms) together, up together and hit!” Next they’re told to “bend your knees after you toss, and then push up into the hit.” Seriously? Does that sound like throwing a ball? Throwing a ball has everything to do with the proper coil, fluid hip rotation and precise release point. Watch here how flawed service motions of Wozniaki, Cibulkova and others keep this, the single worst stroke on the women’s tour today. And remember no amount of fitness or mental toughness can overcome a flawed stroke, especially since any extra torque on a player’s body only weakens that player physically with constant repetition.

Weak Backhands Keep Americans Out Of Tennis’ Top 10

Weak Backhands Keep Americans Out Of Tennis’ Top 10

American men have fallen woefully behind the rest of the tennis world… Everybody knows that Jack

But did you know that they all have much weaker backhands than forehands?

While players like Nadal and Djokovic continue to dominate on both sides, Isner, Querrey, Harrison and countless other Americans are constantly running (way) around their backhands, mostly slicing and when the pressure is on, their two-handers aren’t holding up. And it’s nothing personal – just fact. Courrier and Roddick made the lopsided game en vogue in America and now the current American’s are paying the price. “You just gotta have one big weapon!” has been the cry of American coaches for over twenty years, and that’s now coming around to bite them in the – you know where.

Primarily there are two reasons, and a possible third, as to why the American men have weaker backhands. 1. The Europeans play much more on clay (sliding around) and therefore their legs, dynamic balance and stability are just better than ours. 2. Poor coaching here in the US, ie “point your butt cap at the oncoming ball…get your racket back early…rotate your shoulders… (and my favorite) get more racket head speed!” There’s a third possible reason, and it’s just a hunch, but the Spaniards, French and the like are brought up playing soccer, so they are used to being in their lower body (that is, their legs) since birth.

Watch this video analysis of some top Americans versus the top 10, and you tell me, if you don’t see these major differences in their strokes. This should help your two handed backhand too 

(Please remember, this is not personal. I know, have worked with, and personally like a couple of these guys.)

How to go from GOOD to GREAT… in any sport (part 3)

As seen in the second article, the figure-8 body motion is undeniably what separates the great or natural athletes from the good ones. But, more importantly, anyone can learn this “magic move” and easily apply it to their sport or activity.So how is it done – this figure-8?

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Most of us need some help when it comes to learning how to ingrain this figure-8 motion in our bodies. The 8 Board is the only training device that trains the body to make this figure-8 motion and it is invaluable for anyone wanting to be a great athlete.

Begin by first adjusting the 8 Board to the proper height, which is, for most sports, hips to shoulders width apart: for baseball slightly wider, for skiing slightly narrower. Place the 8 Board on the flat ground, be it a tennis court, golf driving range or on your living room floor. Then carefully, holding onto something if necessary, stand with your two feet in the center of the two swivels.

Start with the proper posture, standing in a neutral position “zero point”: facing forward with your hands in front of you, feet parallel to one another shoulders width apart, toes forward, back straight, eyes looking straight ahead, knees very slightly bent. You should feel relaxed and balanced before you begin. Now clasp your hands together, all except the thumbs and index fingers, which form a “pointer” by pressing them together, index fingers now pointing the same direction as your toes. To complete this initial stage, attach your two elbows to your sides (ribs), locking your arms and fingers, creating a triangle, with your chest completing the form(far left diagram). Now move the two swivels of the 8 Board from side to side, slowly. Focus on moving continuously with balance and comfort.

Next, imagine there is a chalkboard directly in front of you. Using your imagination draw an infinity sign, approximately two feet in size, on this chalkboard in front of you. Move your index fingers, your “pointer”, and begin by raising them up and to the right. Continue drawing the infinity form by next rounding the corner with your “pointer” and then rising again up and to the left. Complete the infinity sign and continue slowly and continuously, without stopping to follow in this form.

Now, it is imperative to remember two things. 1. Keep your elbows attached to your hips. This assures that your feet and hips move with the movement of your fingers. And 2. As you come from “zero point” (which is the center point of the infinity sign, or the “X” directly in front of you) make sure that you rise into each turn. So you rise into each turn coming from your center, and then fall as you round the corner. Now you should be moving your entire body, like a moving statue in this continuous infinity sign, or sideways figure-8 path of motion, driven by your index fingers. You’ll notice as your hands swing from side to side in this continuous motion that your weight will alternately shift slightly from one foot to the other. Simultaneously you’ll begin to feel the muscles in your abdomen working to bend and straighten while your body twists and straightens throughout the movement.

Once you can perform this sideways figure-8 motion, or infinity sign, begin to initiate the motion from your core, centered in your hips and abdomen. Feel how it’s your “center” that “pulls” at the arms and legs, dragging them behind. It’s this flow emanating from the hips to your extremities that is the magic move of a natural athlete. The core starts the motion, which is then transferred, or “ripples out” to your arms and legs. You are now doing the figure-8!

This feeling of a “natural throwing motion” once learned, can be applied to every sport’s motion, from hitting a tennis or golf ball to the spinning of a figure skater.

Watch a short-stop in baseball in action. He catches and throws all in one fluid and continuous motion, as natural as a fish in water.

All sports, activities and general well-being can be enhanced by understanding how the entire body interacts as a “human web”, whereby when one part of the body moves, every part of the body moves, in relationship. Once a person develops this balanced fluidity through practice, it becomes “muscle memory” and applicable to sports.

Now, let’s use the 8 Board and figure-8 motion for sports.

For both “throwing and “swinging” sports’ motions, including but not limited to swinging a tennis racket, baseball bat, serving a volleyball, throwing a baseball or football, even kicking a soccer ball – the 8 Board is placed at a 45º angle to the target or oncoming ball. It is at this 45º angle that you have the most balanced and optimal hitting point. By swiveling back and forth on the 8 Board your entire body creates a wave, going out to the throw or hit, like cracking a whip.

Golfers have two great ways to use the 8 Board.

  1. Practice (at home or on the driving range) your swing with or without a club. Place the 8 Board parallel to the ball, just as if you’re just going to drive the ball normally. Keep swinging and try to remain balanced while you swivel in and out of the stroke. It helps prevent “sway” dramatically. When you get off the 8 Board your feet now feel “rooted” in the ground and “centered.” You will hit effortless and controlled long balls, like never before!
  2. To improve putting and the short game, golfers use the 8 Board in a very special way. Stand on the 8 Board and try NOT to move the swivels at all. There are a multitude of muscles from the knee to the foot, and all too often a golfer moves too much of their lower body on putts and chips. All golf pros will tell you that you only want a “pendulum” swing from the shoulders – and no legs or hips! The 8 Board trains a “quiet lower body” for more precision putting.

Surfers, skiers, snowboarders, skaters, basketball players use the 8 Board to improve balance, flexibility and coordination. Along with doing the basic figure-8 motion, practicing spins is an excellent way to develop perfect dynamic balance. While doing the figure-8 motion on the 8 Board, as you turn to one side, lift up the opposite foot and spin around in a circle on one foot – then spin the opposite way. You must be in your center of gravity to perform this move with poise.

All sports, at their highest levels, require fluid, balanced and explosive movements. All athletes can enhance their performance training with the 8 Board, and “living into” the philosophy of “non-linear”, figure-8 motion. Athletes have begun to use the 8 Board with other fitness aids such as weights, elastic straps and the medicine ball. The 8 Board ensures that you use your entire body in balance, while performing in your sport. Don’t strive to be good, get on an 8 Board and learn to be great!

(Jack Broudy and Paul Mayberry are co-developers of the ‘Infinity 8-Board’. A training device designed to enhance learning and using the non-linear figure-eight motion.)

How to go from GOOD to GREAT… in any sport (part 2)

As we saw in our previous article there is a particular ‘non-linear’ dynamic motion that is existent, and which can be seen, in all top athletes, and in every sport.

It’s a motion that, when done properly, can create tremendous speed and power with minimal effort. It’s also a motion that creates amazing balance, grace, and fluidity that make tops athletes appear to be smooth and natural.

To put it as simply as possible, just think of this non-linear motion as a figure-8, or the infinity symbol – with which we’re all familiar. And think of it on both a horizontal and vertical plane. Now, think of that figure-8 motion as the ‘engine’ or source of energy that creates centrifugal force and a resulting sine wave emanating out from it, in concentric waves.

With very little investigation, you’ll find that this ‘figure-8’ motion, or a variant of it, is actually at the core, and is the mother-form, of all types of natural movement and motion. In fact, it can be found throughout natural science – starting with the analemma of the earth.

But do a little research and look up the lemniscates of Bernoulli and Gerono. Then look up the Cassini oval, the Watt’s curve, or the harmonics of the Lissajous or Bowditch curve, I think you’ll quickly see what we’re referring to.

Now, go back and look closer at the effortless form of a top tennis pro like Roger Federer. And in particular, watch the motion and rotation of his hips and core – on every one of his strokes. Or, look at the hips and core of an Olympic downhill skier, or a professional baseball player throwing or batting, even a belly dancer.

Still not convinced?

Consider the world’s smallest bird – the hummingbird. It’s the only bird in existence that can actually hover and even fly backwards. And even at its minute size, it can reach speeds up to 60 mph (96.56 kp/h). Those are incredible feats, requiring an incredible amount of power and speed from their tiny paper-thin wings. How do they do it? You guessed it. Their wings actually beat in a continuous non-linear figure-8 motion.

This same figure-8 motion, done properly, and in one continuous motion, will elevate any person’s level of performance in any sport. And any person can learn it. You don’t have to be a so-called natural athlete.

We’ll say it again. ANY person can elevate their performance in ANY sport by simply learning to do the figure-8 properly.

That may seem like a bold statement to make, but the figure-8 is the entry point to an all-encompassing form of movement. It provides more balance, more power and effortless control. It takes the centrifugal force of a simple pivot to the next level. And it ties everything together in one fluid motion.

One of the keys to the figure-8 is a slow, continuous movement, starting in the hips and emanating out to the entire body. This, in turn, furls and unravels the arms and/or legs in a non-linear fashion, producing immense speed and power, with complete control – all with very little effort.

Another key is that this motion is equally represented in both the horizontal and vertical axis, left and right sides, and concentrically moves through the entire body like a human sine wave, connecting everything into one motion.

We can’t stress enough that everything becomes connected with this single motion. Fully understanding this will lead you deeper into what the best athletes do so naturally.

People have become one-side dominant, linear thinkers, but the non-linear figure-8 can free them to perform beyond their personal limitations. It is a complete connection that will synchronize the entire body. And in our next article we will get into exactly how that’s done. How to unlock the power of the figure-8.

How to go from GOOD to GREAT… in any sport (part 1)

How to go from GOOD to GREAT… in any sport (part 1)

There is a particular body motion in almost every sport or physical activity that a gifted athlete performs intuitively. They know it by ‘feel’, or as being ‘in the zone’. People call them a ‘natural athlete’. But this specific body motion goes completely unseen by those of us watching. Even many coaches, trainers, and instructors can’t identify it.

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