Monday, December 31, 2018

4 Ways To Calm Your Nerves When Watching Your Child Compete

"Don't worry about winning and losing.  Just have fun." -- a parent

It is a mantra that is outdated.  It is ill-adviced.  Or maybe it was meant for the parent's ears, to play the anxiety down a bit.  

Competition is uncomfortable; it is nerve-wracking for the players and their parents respectively.  Just as we preach to our kids about preparing for their matches, it will serve parents well to do the same for themselves.  Get mentally ready for a marathon match filled with a roller coaster of emotions.

Listed here are 4 things that you can do:
1) Ask the coach what they are working on.  Keep notes.
2) Look for progress.  Look at the big picture.
3) Hydration.  Drink on your child's changeovers.  This will make you breathe.
4) Let it go.  Your child made a dumb error?  Don't dwell on it.  Count backward 5,4,3,2,1 and let it go!

You are your child's biggest fan and influencer.   You are their biggest role model.

Yours Truly...


Monday, December 24, 2018

How to Identify the Right Coach for Your Child

There is a notion that if you want to be good at something, to be successful, you look for the best person to work with and that person is usually of an authoritarian position.

But is that always true though?  Is the best coach always the right coach for your child?  Coaches are a dime a dozen in the coaching profession.  Just like any profession, there are the master coaches who have a reputation of consistently developing champions; there are the seasoned coaches who are experts in their field; and then there are the rookie coaches.  

So, how do you find a coach who is the right fit for your child?  How do you find a coach who is not just singing a good song?  How do you know if the coach is not just tickling your ears saying what you want to hear?  

Here are a few simple guidelines:
  1. Accreditation.  Teaching tennis is a profession that is available to just about anybody owning a tennis racquet.  You want to make sure the coach you're recruiting for your child has the knowledge beyond the current level of your child.  At the minimum, there are stepping stones in the program to accommodate your child's tennis development.
  2. Know their philosophy.  Every good coach has their own philosophy stemmed from years of experiences.  It's their belief system.  There mission statement.
  3. Relational.  At the end of the day, it's about human connections.  Communications.  You'd want to make sure the coach understands you're included in this three-way relationship.  It's a package deal.  It's teamwork.
  4. Chemistry.  The best coach for your child is someone who can build good chemistry with your child; not just by their status.  The best coach in the world is not necessarily the best fit for your child.  Your child's enthusiasm working with the coach is a sure sign of good chemistry.
  5. Has high expectations.  There is no substitution to setting the bar high in pursuit of excellence.  Coaches with high expectations are usually demanding and brutally honest.  No one said to be good is easy.
  6. Accountable.  While students are responsible and made accountable for their own growth, coaches are responsible to get the most out of them.  Within each coach is the pride of seeing their students succeed.  They are diligently looking for ways to help your child improve.
  7. Goals oriented.  Burnt out is a word that is used by the mushy individual who prefers to throw in the towel than plunging through tough times.   Good coaches know the importance of resetting goals throughout the development and performance journey.  The level doesn't stay linear.  It's a metric measure of getting better or getting worse.
  8. Congruency.  Avoid the trap from coaches telling you what you want to hear.  Watch if they are delivering their words.  That is not to say you question every single thing when they don't follow the plan.  Look at the big picture.  Is what they're doing with your child moving in the right direction.

Finding the right coach takes hard work, dedication, and due diligence from you.  Remember, the best coach does not inevitably mean it is the right coach for your child. The importance lies in finding a coach who has the necessary tools to empower him or her for the future ahead.  

See you next week.

Yours Truly...

Monday, December 17, 2018

How to Build Champions Inside Out

Research showed that the most common New Year's resolutions are to exercise more, to make healthier food choices, to lose weight, to save more money, to quit smoking, etc, etc...The desire to make a resolution is with the hope to transition from a bad habit into a positive one.  

If you have a child in a high-performance sport or striving to be in one, you have probably heard of the different components to doing well: physical skills, tactical and technical skills, weapons, mental strength, etc, etc.  Without a doubt, mental strength is the hardest skill to develop but once acquired, it separates the elite from the high performers.    

So, what do the New Year's resolutions have to do with building champions inside out?  Most programs and coaches work on developing playing skills because the window of improvements is obvious to the eyes.  It's measurable.  But working on developing mental strength is immeasurable.  It takes energy and hard work and it takes time, a very long time. And progress is slow and not so obvious to the sight.

However, once the mental strength comes into fruition it can lift the level of performance to different heights and there appears an athlete totally transformed.  If having a good mental strength is the key to success and that it is a skill that can be learned, won't it be worthwhile to make it our New Year's resolutions to help our kids build that mental strength from a young age?

As Michelle Obama puts it "Practice who you wanna be.  You don't wake up one morning and suddenly you are who think you want to be.  You have to put some energy into it every day starting as early as 3, 4, 5 years old."

The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.  It starts with you.

See you next week.

Yours Truly...


Monday, December 10, 2018

4 Ways To Train Like An Elite Athlete Over the Holiday Season

Like many people, I adore December. It is my favorite time of the year. The anticipation leading up to the big day is exuberating. My mother-in-law's famous pumpkin pie and mince tarts and my favorite holiday foods that taste good to the lips but oh not so good for the hips are worth the pain to be dealt with later. The family reunion that is both blissful and anxiety filled but one I've come to appreciate with age is welcome with open arms.

Looking back, it was not always like that for me as an elite athlete. Back in the day, December was an extremely tough month. The tennis season normally started at the end of December which brings me out of my off-season hibernation in mid-November into a pre-season training mode. We would fly on Christmas Eve crossing the timeline to another continent that by the time we arrived at our destination we know not what day we were in.

Because of the buzz of the holiday season (the shopping, family gatherings, the foods, the parties), it was the only time of year that caused havoc in my training regimen. Not only was it hard to focus on the preparation for the up and coming tournament, but I also could not let myself completely relax to enjoy the festivities. 

Over the course of my career on the tennis tour though, I learned a strategy consisting of 4 steps to getting the most out of my pre-season preparation and the enjoyment of the holiday season.  

1. Reflect

I used this time to sit with my coach to reflect on my performances of the year.  While there may be some painful events and/ or performances that I did not care to revisit, it was an essential step to moving forward.   

2. Reset & Rebuild

Once the tears were dried and the ego was put to rest, we reset for the up and coming year with goals and objectives; tournament schedule; things to work on to improve; performance goals; fitness goals; health goals. This was probably the most important step for me in helping me push myself to work on things; to be a better version of myself from the year before. 

3. Abiding by a training schedule

This time of year is easy to get sidetracked with all the buzz and excitement of the holiday season. It is super important to show up mentally and in person. We would map out certain days of shorter practices so I could enjoy the festivities. 

4. Indulge with pleasure

I grew up in Asia where food is the center of every event and discussions. So, naturally I love food and I have never deprived myself of any food groups as long as it is done with moderation. 

Beware.  Be Safe.  See you next week.

Yours Truly.

Monday, December 3, 2018

V- 5 Simple Strategies To Get The Most Out of A Coach - Strategy #5: Job Description

Here is a quick recap for the last four weeks.

We now arrived in the fifth strategy of the 5 Simple Strategies To Get The Most Out of A Coach: Job Description

Tennis in itself is a game.  But the programs are run as a business.  And parents need to learn to take their child's tennis development as a business.  

I know this may sound strange but think about it.  Is it not true that in the workplace, every position is held by a person with his/ her expertise and the responsibilities are clearly defined for that position?

So, why should your child's tennis journey be any different?  You, the parents need to know what your position and responsibilities are.  And the coach needs to know his/ hers as well.  

Have a plan.  Put everything on the table.  Do not assume anything.  So, when the storm comes you are both equipped to handle the situation.  The mistake I see parents do is they leave all the responsibilities to the coach and when the child underperforms, parents interject with their own thoughts and ideas which may be in conflict with the learning process and slows down the child's progress.

“Do today what others won’t so tomorrow you can do what others can’t.” – Jerry Rice

Parents, I urge you to be pro-active in meeting with the coach and spell out each other's roles and responsibilities.  Why you?  Because in my opinion, you are the leader on the hierarchy to the success of your child's tennis journey.  Knowing each other's precise role and responsibilities will save you both a lot of disconcerting arguments and aggravations.  

The coach might be apprehensive with your approach but one they will respect knowing you are making yourself accountable for your responsibilities which will build a tremendous trust in the coach.

This concludes the 5 Simple Strategies To Get The Most Out of A Coach.  Thus far, I was speaking from a coach's perspective.  The next batch of posts, I will be speaking from a different perspective.  

I hope my insights help you in some ways.  I encourage you to help me on my quest to spread the words if you could pass my blog on to just one parent.  

I would love to hear from you.  Please drop me an email at

Until next week.  

Yours Truly...

Monday, November 26, 2018

IV- 5 Simple Strategies To Get The Most Out of A Coach - Strategy #4: Set Up The Coach for Success

A paradoxical strategy to acquiring success for your child's tennis.  After all, isn't it the coach's job to help your child to be the best player he/ she can be?

The answer is, it depends.  It depends on the strategy how you manage the team.  In my opinion, this is how the hierarchy to the success of your child's tennis journey looks like:
  1. Parents
  2. Coach
  3. Player (our child)
  4. Results
Results, positively or negatively, are a tease to building confidence and to developing a growth mindset.  It is a myth to think confidence depends on just by having positive results.   If that was true, there should be no problem for the number one ranked junior in the world to transition onto the pro tour.  I can tell you for certain that is not the case.  

On the contrary, it is shortsighted to judge the future of success based on the negative results that have not come into fruition early on.   And these same individuals through their perseverance of hard work made great strides when the physical and maturity aligned together.

Yet, I see parents spending way too much of their time going from one program to another or mix and match coaches and programs because their player is not producing the results that they're expecting.  A misplaced of energy and focus.

Players are responsible for their own growth: mental, emotional, physical, and tennis skills.  They should be made accountable for their tennis journey.  They need to learn to go through all the unpleasantries of obstacles and pain in order to come out ahead at the end of the fight.  However, the player is only as good as what they are taught and learned from the coach.  

The coach understandably is the expert who has the expertise in tennis development.  They are the tennis doctor.  They prescribe drills and plans as they see fit to help the player reach their goal.  

But what good is it to enroll your player in a program and working with a coach if you don't trust them?  You are the one who hired them, right?  Then, you must take the leadership role just as a business manager would.  

You cannot possibly run a successful business if you have to do everything yourself: a one man/ woman show.  You need helpers.  The coaches are your helpers.  They are your helpers in helping your child to be the best version of him/ herself.  

When coaches feel they are well taken care of and that you care about their well being and that you have their back.    Let me tell you.  There is nothing this coach will not do for your child.  

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Anthony Robbins

Good luck this week.
Yours Truly...

See other strategies here to the 5 Simple Strategies To Get The Most Out of A Coach.

Monday, November 19, 2018

III - 5 Simple Strategies To Get The Most Out of A Coach - Strategy #3: Attitude Is A Skill

By Allistair McCaw

One of the questions that get circulated and speculated often is whether a champion is born or is learned.  While there are contradicting opinions, there lies an undeniable agreement by all regardless of nature or nurture is a good ATTITUDE.  A positive ATTITUDE.

Champions understand the importance of having a good attitude and work on it every single day.  They understand it is a skill to be practiced and sharpened just like all their tennis skills.

Staying positive, having a good attitude is important in our daily life.  It gives us hope and optimism and opportunities.  Just like going to the gym is a choice, so is building a good attitude. It is a skill that can be learned.  It is available to everyone if you want it. 

“I firmly believe that the only disability in life is a bad attitude.” - Schott Hamilton

Most kids don't have that skill.  They don't consciously want to practice building a good attitude because it is hard work.  The hard work of controlling their emotions when things are not going their way.  The hard work of figuring things out when they are down.  The hard work of what if I tried but still lose.  The hard work of having to be courageous when they are nervous.  They don't understand by having this skill, it can help turn their hard days into opportunities and victories. 

Since having a good attitude is crucial to the success in life and that it is a choice, it makes sense to encourage our kids to practice building this awesome skill we call ATTITUDE, don't you think?

Coaches will help those who help themselves.  They will go beyond their call of duty for your child, if he/ she works on building a good attitude.

Good luck this week.  

Yours Truly...

See other strategies here to the 5 Simple Strategies To Get The Most Out of A Coach:

Monday, November 12, 2018

II. 5 Simple Strategies To Get The Most Out of A Coach - Strategy #2: Training Environment

Welcome back!  In this post, we will cover Strategy #2 of the 5 Simple Strategies To Get The Most Out of A Coach.  Here is a link to Strategy #1 for easy referencing.

Tennis by and large is an individual sport.  A self-centered sport.  A family sport.  A sport that is considered by scientists and physicians all over the world to bring the most health benefits.  A sport that is often used by coaches to teach life lessons.  A sport that can provide excellent academic and build massive network opportunities.  And yes, a sport that can generate a very, very large payday for the elite.

Indeed tennis is a magnificent sport.  It is worth every ounce of effort and energy to protect and to nurture the environment to allow the same benefits and opportunities to those interested to play in this sport.

Every parent seeks a healthy and productive environment for their child to grow.  In order to make that happen, it would need every individual to contribute to the training field.  You can't just keep taking from the environment and expect it to be healthy and productive.  It is not a self-generating machine.  

More often than not, I see players attend their training sessions carrying the weight from their day.  Maybe they're tired from a lack of sleep having to finish up their school project or studying for their tests.  Or maybe physically they're exhausted from all the training.  Or maybe they feel overwhelmed because they can't keep up with the level.  Or they're frustrated because they feel rusty recovering from an injury.  Or they're feeling vulnerable because they lost their confidence.

“Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.” - John Wooden

The reasons may vary but one thing is for sure.  If everyone attends their practice with their negative emotions thus negative attitude, they're sucking the life out of the training environment.  There is only so much coaches can do to pump up the player, to help the player out of their mental funk.  It is the responsibility of each player to add to their training atmosphere with the right mindset, the positive attitude, the work ethic, the perseverance, the resiliency, no matter how hard their day was.

The next time you check in with your child to see how their day went, pay close attention to how they sound.  If negative emotions are detected try to find solutions together what they will do differently, if they were to redo their day.  In essence, you are helping them to build a better version of themself from the previous day.  More often than not, they will approach the next training session with more optimism which in turn will add to their training environment.  And that puts you on the driver's seat because you are being proactive in making the training ground healthy for your kid.

Coaches value effort from players who take pride in giving their all day in and day out.

Good luck this week.  Will see you at my next post - Strategy #3: Attitude Is A Skill

Yours Truly...

Monday, November 5, 2018

I. 5 Simple Strategies To Get The Most Out of A Coach - Strategy #1: Player Accountability

Have you ever had this feeling that your child is not receiving the attention that he/she is not getting in a class or a program?  Or that your child constantly complains that coach doesn't care about him/her?  Or that the coach only cares about a certain player?
OK, I'm not going to lie.  Yes, favoritism does exist.  It is in every sport and in non-sport events aka life.  Favoritism exists everywhere in the world.  The question is not IF there is favoritism but to explore strategies to help put your child on the pedestal.
Here is the good news.  There are things that you can do to put you in the driver's seat.  The reason I say "you" is because I have seen the mistakes parents made in their method of finding solutions for this predicament.  There are more productive ways which I am going to share with you over the next several weeks with one strategy per week.

There are 5 simple strategies that when implemented regularly is a life-changing experience for your child in his/her tennis journey.  These strategies are the results accumulated from my 40 plus years experience in tennis.  

"Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can." - Arthur Ashe

Strategy #1 - Player Accountability

At the beginning of the player/coach relationship, emotions are high with excitement.  The program is great.  Coach is a miracle worker.  Kid is smiling from ear to ear.  The line of communication is usually free-flowing.  As time goes on though, when the "honeymoon" phase fades aways, judging and criticisms creep in: the coach was mean to me today; or the coach didn't help me today; or I had to play with the little kids; or I was put on the lowest court today...

Whether the coach is going to take your child wholeheartedly going the extra mile OR keeping a distance just doing their job, depends on how you, the parent, react when your child gives you the report from his/her perception.  It is important to remember that the recalling of their day is based on their perception.  Whether it was accurate or dramatized, it's irrelevant.  What's important here is how you react.

If you guide your child with strengths and grit to overcome obstacles they will learn to fight to be at their rightful place because mom and dad are not fighting their battles for them.  You are helping them to be accountable for their own effort in their training.  

Coaches value strength and the player's willingness to fight for their rights.  It takes courage and strength to take responsibility for one's action.  

Good luck this week.  Will see you at my next post - Strategy #2: The Training Environment

Yours Truly...

Monday, October 29, 2018

Commit To Exceed

“Do today what others won’t so tomorrow you can do what others can’t.” – Jerry Rice
We want to provide opportunities for our children.  We want to give them the best that money can buy.  The best schools to enroll them.  The best programs to sign them up. 
We have to constantly make choices for them.  Find opportunities to teach them life lessons.  Be their mentor.  
Tennis is a fantastic sport with an open book full of opportunities for us to mentor and to help our kids to foster values and strong characters.  One important trait to learn is commitment.  For when we commit, it builds a strong bond within those involved which turns into trust.
I once spotted this little player who at the time was about nine years old.  Everyday at the end of the day around 6:30pm she was serving from a basket of balls.  Her dad was the ball pickerupper and her mom just sat quietly on the side watching.  Neither parent said a word and this little girl just went about doing her thing.  It went on like that for several weeks.
I was so impressed by her dedication that I couldn't help but introduced myself to the family and we soon started working together.  My working hours at the club were long and exhausting but I always looked forward to our lessons.  She was so eager to learn and so committed to her tennis that you can't help but extend that extra mile for her.
At the end of our lessons, we'd say our good nights and I'd head home.  There was this one time I'd left my jacket on the court and who did I find on the court serving?  She'd played two hours in the program, one hour with me, and was serving for another forty-five minutes.  
Thinking it was the dad making her stay behind to do more work, I marched over to him and protested that it was too many hours on a young body.   The dad looked at me and said: "Can you please tell her because she won't listen to me."  
Then, by chance, I came to learn that they lived 1.5 hours each way from the club.  It didn't matter if it rained or snowed they showed up.
She was committed to her tennis.  The parents were committed to meeting her needs.  Their commitment showed me, the coach, I can trust them to value my time and effort put forth.
--- THE END---

Yours Truly.  
Please leave a comment below.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Walk the Talk

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tzu

When people hear of my name, they naturally associate me with a former professional tennis player.  While that is true for I have been in tennis for almost five decades - geez, that sounds so old, there is a lot to me than just a former athlete.  For the latter part of my coaching career, I decided to step down from on-court teaching to doing something completely outside of my comfort zone.

Before I let you in on it though, I have a confession to make.  I am absolutely, positively, scared out of my wits because I am about to enter an unknown territory.  But the biggest fear of all is that I am afraid that I will be judged.  You see, I am a perfectionist.  And perfectionist is their own worst enemy because everything has to be perfect.  Every time I tried to type something my mind would play this ongoing negative dialog with self-defeating talks on an endless loop.

No more.  I am done procrastinating.  I am totally on it.  I need to get this book out to you.  A book with insights on tennis parenting that I'd gathered over the last five decades as a professional athlete, as an entrepreneur, as a high-performance coach, as a conference speaker, as a tennis parent.

So, why am I doing this?  Firstly, it is rare that an individual has the experiences from so many different perspectives and I feel I am equipped to help.  Secondly, the concerns that I hear from parents and frustrations from coaches today are almost identical from five, ten years ago.  And the crazy thing is these concerns are shared from different parts of the world.  Hence, YOU motivated me to take action so that I can help bridge the gap between parents and coaches because y'all have the same common interest in getting "the athlete" to reach his/her highest potential.

Here is an excerpt from WTCA.  I thank you for giving me the courage.  In order to keep my writing nerves under control, I will write a weekly blog that will consist of tennis brain teasers and my travels. 

Please subscribe to my weekly blog by entering your email address on the right column. 
Then, you will need to check your email to confirm.
Then, you're on your way!

See you next week...