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February 29, 2008

G.O.A.T. Serve Drill

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Jerry Cape, USPTA, USRSA, Punahou School Tennis Professional, conducts the best serve drill in the world (according to Pete Sampras) with the Girls Varsity Tennis team at Punahou School.

February 27, 2008

Bump the Chump

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Lori LaFevre, USPTA explains a fun game called "Bump the Chump." Players are fed 3 balls and only the 3rd ball is played out against the two players on the opposing side. If the player makes all three balls over the net and wins the final point then he or she can "Bump the Chump." The first ball is a groundstroke, the second ball is a volley and the last ball is an over head smash.

February 23, 2008


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Lee Couillard, USPTA, Head Tennis Professional, Punahou School explains proprioception to the tennis class. A lost art in the game of tennis is the ability to volley, however, there are proprioceptive exercises that can help heighten volley awareness at the net.

There are five common senses that are discussed and learned from an early age: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. One overlooked sense, known as proprioception, is as important, if not more important as the other senses, for normal functioning. Proprioception is "the process by which the body can vary muscle contraction in immediate response to incoming information regarding external forces," by utilizing stretch receptors in the muscles to keep track of the joint position in the body.

Proprioception, also often referred to as the sixth sense, was developed by the nervous system as a means to keep track of and control the different parts of the body. An example that enables one to best understand this sensory system is one showing what happens if this sensory system is no longer there. Ian Waterman lost his sixth sense along with the ability to feel light touch when a virus killed the necessary nerves. The man still had all the nerves to control muscle movement but had no feedback from the outside world about where his limbs were except that obtained by sight. A normal person is able to move a finger, knowing where and what the finger is doing, with little effort. The normal person could just volunteer the finger to move back and forth and proprioception would make this an easy task. Without proprioception, the brain cannot feel what the finger is doing, and the process must be carried out in more conscious and calculated steps. The person must use vision to compensate for the lost feedback on the progress of the finger. Then the I-function must voluntarily and consciously tell the finger what to do while watching the feedback.

The eyes have to also be trained to judge weights and lengths of objects. As Waterman attempts to lift objects there is no feedback on how hard to flex the muscles except from what clues vision gives. Studies of Waterman support that through feedback from proprioception the brain is able to calculate angles of movement and command the limb to move exact distances. If vision is taken away, the lights are cut out, then Waterman will fall in a heap on the floor, with no ability to make successful voluntary movements. The examples of Waterman illustrate the type of information obtained because of proprioception and the great importance of this information. Without this sense humans would be forced to spend a great amount of their conscious energy moving around or would not be mobile at all.
The proprioception sensory system is carried out utilizing proprioceptors in the muscles that monitor length, tension, pressure, and noxious stimuli. The muscle spindles, the most complex and studied of the proprioceptors, informs other neurons of the length of the muscle and the velocity of the stretch. The density of muscle spindles within a muscle increases for muscles involved in fine movements, as opposed to those involved in larger course movements. The brain needs input from many of these spindles in order to register changes in angle and position that the muscle has accomplished. There is also more spindles found in the arms and legs, muscles that must maintain posture against gravity.

February 20, 2008

Myth: "Racket Back"

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Lee Couillard, USPTA, Head Tennis Professional, Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawaii explains the myth of taking the "Racket Back." You should really think "Racket Up" and concentrate on a setting up with a balanced unit turn. By imagining your racket is a stop sign and immediately placing the stop sign up and out you can develop the proper take back. By delaying the take back you will develop a more smooth loop backswing. Many players take the racket back too early and this develops into muscling the ball at contact.

February 16, 2008

Speed and Balance

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Lee Couillard, USPTA, Head Tennis Professional, Punahou School shows examples of players off balance. All tennis players have limitations on balance, therefore, getting your opponent "out of balance" should be the main goal on every point. Tactics such as hitting behind your opponent, volleying, serve and volley, dropshots and taking the ball early will help disrupt balance.

February 11, 2008


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Lee Couillard, USPTA, Head Tennis Professional, Punahou School uses ElastikNet to quickly transform 2 tennis courts into 12 tennis courts using the USTA's Quickstart program.

February 5, 2008

Role of the opposite arm

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Lee Couillard, USPTA, Head Tennis Professional, Punahou School, explains the use of the opposite arm on the take back of the forehand and backhand groundstroke. All great players use the opposite arm to initiate the "Unit Turn" on the groundstrokes.