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August 29, 2010

Doubles reflex volley game

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Rusty Komori, USPTA, Head Boys Varsity Coach, demonstrates the "Doubles Reflex Volley Game."


After 20 straight state titles, 17 under tennis coach Rusty Komori, Punahou is the most dominant prep team in U.S. history.

Forget the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers and the footballers from Brazil. If you want to see real dominance, go visit the hard courts of Manoa, where the Punahou Buffanblu have held sway on the rest of the Hawaii tennis world for the past two decades.

That's right, in May they won their 20th straight state title. And counting.

The advent of the Internet and cell phones for everyone, and a pair of Bushes in the White House, and still every school year ends the same: another state tennis championship for the Punahou boys.

Trivia: What was the last other team to win the state title? Lahainaluna, in 1990. Before that, Punahou won the previous seven, meaning it's won 27 of the past 28 titles, and since 1969, 35 of 42. Michael Gearen started the current streak as coach in 1991-92, and then Bernard Gusman coached one year before Komori took over for the past 17 - and counting.

Komori is a 1987 Damien graduate who didn't take up tennis seriously until his sophomore year. But once he began his love affair with that fuzzy little yellow ball, he hasn't looked back.

"The reason I went to tennis, I really liked the team sports, but with tennis, if you want to be good, it all depends on you," says Komori, who started out playing baseball and soccer. "If you want to be bad, it only depends on you as well! That's a good thing. You just have to hit it in one more time than your opponent."

He graduated high school ranked fourth in the state and went on to accept one of the first tennis scholarships offered by Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., where he earned a degree in communications with the intention of continuing on to law school.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the courthouse. He began working as a pro at Waialae Country Club where, as you might imagine, a lot of members are lawyers. As he helped them with their ground strokes, he began to notice many of them were wearing thick glasses, so he asked them what they did all day as lawyers.

"They said, 'Read,'" says Komori. "I knew I didn't want to read things. I didn't want to read all day, so I stuck with tennis and so far, no glasses!"

As a leader of young men, Komori maintains his own style: He is neither bombastic nor authoritarian, but rather exudes a cool, quiet confidence that his players respect. He leads with his actions. Stressing the importance of fitness, he often runs laps with his boys before they ever take to the court.

"I always tell my captains, 'You need to lead by example,'" says Komori, a confirmed bachelor who keeps in shape by running with a 2-year-old Maltese named, wait for it, Ace. "And if they need to, then I need to as well. You can do 99 things right, but if we do one thing wrong, everyone will remember that one thing. So we cannot allow ourselves to do any one thing wrong. That's why I stress self-discipline."

By keeping his rules simple, there is little confusion on what he expects from his players.

"I have two rules for varsity: listening and lateness," says Komori. "Parents like my rules because that's something they want instilled in their kids. I instill self-discipline, respect for the opponent, I try to have them be the best representative of themselves, the program and Punahou School.

"I want them to become really good people beyond high school. Tennis and the adversities they face in it prepares them for life outside of high school."

Komori has a keen awareness that most of his students will not follow his lead and make a career out of tennis. For some, it will lead to college scholarships, but for the majority it will become a recreational diversion and as the years pile on, a way to keep off unwanted pounds and keep the ticker strong.

He understands that he is not shaping their lives, but enriching them. This is a lesson he learned from his old mentor and current colleague Rick Aquino at Mililani Recreational Center.

"Rick once told me, 'You are going to need more than I can give,'" recalls Komori. "What he meant by that was he didn't want to just keep me for himself, but rather he was looking at me developing as a person, and he was adding to me.

"If there were other coaches or tennis clinics that would add to me, then that would be fine. So I look at my players not as my players, but rather how can I add to that player's development? How can other pros add to it? It's hard for one pro to be there all the time. If we all share this philosophy then all the players can flourish."

Once the physical work-out for the day is done, he likes to leave players with championship thoughts such as "Challenges make life interesting, overcoming them makes life meaningful." And this one from Arthur Ashe: "You never play an opponent, you are playing yourself and your own highest standards."

Ashe's words ring especially true with Komori as he has to remotivate himself every year to stay hungry and keep the streak alive.

"Every year it seems like someone is saying, 'You have to beat this record or that record,'" says Komori, who passed Cal Lee's record two years ago for the most consecutive state championships. "It's a lot of pressure, but only you can give yourself pressure and you can feed on it, channel it - and suddenly it becomes exciting."

August 20, 2010

Squats do's & don'ts

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Troy Hotz, Punahou Strength and Conditioning Coach, Punahou School, explains some do's and don'ts when attempting squats.

Keith Wassung writes: The barbell front squat is a phenomenal, yet seldom performed version of the regular barbell squat. This exercise directs a great deal of focus onto the front part of the thigh, especially the vastus medalis, which is the part of the lower thigh above the knee that looks like a teardrop, the rectus femoris, or center thigh, and the hamstrings. There is also an effect on the hips, lower back and to some extent, the abdominal wall. The front squat is not a replacement for the back squat, but if done effectively, can be a tremendous boost to overall lower body strength, development and flexibility. Here's the rest of his excellent write-up.

Front squats are tricky to get used to-but its important that you develop the technical skills needed to become comfortable with this movement. In the majority of cases, people feel awkward when first attempting this exercise, which often results in them failing to include it in their routine.

August 12, 2010

The Jerk

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Troy Hotz, Punahou Strength and Conditioning Coach demonstrates the Clean and Jerk.


Olympic weight lifting is likely the best kept secret when it comes to fitness. Walk into any gym these days and you will be hard pressed to find anyone doing a clean or a snatch. I have read several books on the topic and even purchased a "how to video" on performing the lifts correctly. Now I do not have any dreams of being a professional Olympic weightlifter but I do understand its value in developing my fitness level. Nothing compares to Olympic lifts in terms of speed development, flexibility, total body strength and muscle gains.

Actually, there are really only two Olympic lifts, the snatch and the clean and jerk. A snatch is a combination of a dead lift, barbell shrug, and an over head squat performed in one fluid movement. The clean and jerk is a combination of a dead lift, upright row, front squat and a push press.

How effective are Olympic lifts; the vertical leap is a very basic measure of athletic ability - Olympic weightlifters surpass everyone. Michael Stone, PhD and currently professor of exercise science at Eastern State University talks about a test he performed when working at the Olympic Training Center. "We measured vertical jumps of athletes in nearly every sport and Olympic weightlifters had higher average jumps than all other groups - basketball players, gymnast, sprinters, everybody". Even the bulkiest lifters are capable of incredible lifts.

So what is it about these lifts that have mystical effects on the body? They engage nearly all of your muscles to move the weight faster and farther than traditional bodybuilding movements. Actually, each repetition only takes a couple of seconds from start to finish targeting fast twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscles offer the greatest potential for size and strength gains. These are also the muscles that are most often overlooked in the typical weight lifting routine.
If Olympic weightlifting is so superior, why is it you seldom see anyone performing these lifts in the local gyms? The primary reason is they are technically difficult to perform. A bicep curl or a triceps press are relatively easy movements and require very little instruction. A snatch or clean and jerk require a qualified instructor to teach the movements, otherwise, you risk injury or at the very least, incorrect execution.
Luckily there is a shortcut to experience the benefits of Olympic weightlifting. With these lifts there are two phases: the pull and the catch. During the pull you explode upward pulling the barbell off the floor and in front of your thighs as if you were trying to jump to the ceiling. During the catch phase you quickly move your body under the bar and catch the weight on your shoulders or above your head.
lwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S, a certified weightlifting coach says "In my experience, 95 percent of the benefits of Olympic lifts come from the pull phase", which is the simplest and safest movement. "Almost all of the technical difficulties occur during the catch phase". That is why he has eliminated the catch phase from nearly all of his training programs and probably a pretty good reason why you should too. He went on to say "Most men need to worry about the catch only if they are interested in competing in the sport".
There are many resources to learn Olympic weight lifting, I would suggest you learn the moves and watch your athletic performance take off.

Mike Conley is an accomplished Webmaster and publisher of www.healthy-diet-weightloss-and-exercise.com [http://www.healthy-diet-weightloss-and-exercise.com] where he provides information on healthy eating,weightloss and exercise [http://www.healthy-diet-weightloss-and-exercise.com/eating_healthy_and_exercising_equal_weight_loss.php]. We encourage you to crab a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage and see what Mike has to say on the subject.

August 2, 2010

Double Bend or Straight Arm?

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Lee Couillard, USPTA, Head Tennis Professional, Punahou School, explains the differences between the bent and straight arm forehand technique.