What IS A High Performance Coach?

Let us think of education as the means
of developing our greatest abilities,
because in each of us there is a private
hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be
translated into benefit for everyone and
greater strength for our nation.
– John F. Kennedy

As the new year begins I want to address the importance of selecting a coach for your child’s development in tennis.

The education of the high performance tennis coach requires years of training both formally and informally and this learning never ends. The quote above highlights the importance of continuing education for every individual, but are especially relevant for the tennis coach. To be a successful coach, a good overall understanding of tactics, technique, biomechanics, growth and development, strength and conditioning, mental skills training, coaching theory and many other disciplines are very important for the development of the player.

The USTA High Performance Coaching Education Department provides high quality resources to help the coach stay current with the most relevant and practical education materials to improve the quality of training of tennis players. The High Performance Coaching department provides a number of important resources for all coaches working with competitive players—from children playing with the red ball on a 36 foot court all the way up to ATP and WTA professionals.

Listed below are the major sections that a certified High Performance Coach possess in their skill set.

General Coaching for Tennis
10 and Under Tennis
High Performance Coaching
Sports Medicine & Injury Prevention
Strength & Conditioning for Tennis
Sport Science for Tennis

As tennis continues to advance with exciting opportunities for the coach, the ones who will continue to succeed are the coaches willing to stay current on the latest information. The USTA Coaching Education department provides these opportunities as one continues their education as a tennis coach in order to help your players succeed in tennis and in life. At Johnny Angel Tennis we are certified USTA High Performance Coaches who stay on the cutting edge of sports science and tennis. Your child deserves the best.


Eye On The Ball

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball Recently, researchers in England set out to determine whether weekend golfers could improve their game through one of two approaches. Some were coached on individual swing technique, while others were instructed to gaze fixedly at the ball before putting. The researchers hoped to learn not only whether looking at the ball affects performance, but also whether where we look changes how we think and feel while in action. Back in elementary school gym class, virtually all of us were taught to keep our eyes on the ball during sports. But a growing body of research suggests that, as adults, most of us have forgotten how to do this. When scientists in recent years have attached sophisticated, miniature gaze-tracking devices to the heads of golfers, soccer players, basketball free throw shooters, tennis players and even competitive sharpshooters, they have found that a majority are not actually looking where they believe they are looking or for as long as they think. It has been less clear, though, whether a slightly wandering gaze really matters that much to those of us who are decidedly recreational athletes. Which is in part why the British researchers had half of their group of 40 duffers practice putting technique, while the other half received instruction in a gaze-focusing technique known as “Quiet Eye” training. Quiet Eye training, as the name suggests, is an attempt to get people to stop flicking their focus around so much. But “Quiet Eye training is not just about looking at the ball,” says Mark Wilson, who led the study, published in Psychophysiology, and is a senior lecturer in human movement science at the University of Exeter in England. “It is about looking at the ball for long enough to process aiming information.” It involves reminding players to first briefly sight toward the exact spot where they wish to send the ball, and then settle their eyes onto the ball and hold them there.

Exercise and Appetite

Exercise may actually suppress your appetite, two new studies suggest When most people finish a hard workout, they want a reward ­ possibly a sandwich, or some pancakes, or maybe even a burger and fries. What they don’t want? To not eat anything. And yet, a few recent studies found that moderate intensity aerobic training could actually decrease your appetite or increase your feelings of fullness or satiety. Strange, right? Previous research has shown that people who exercise often reward themselves with food, increasing overall calorie consumption, and often sabotaging their weight loss goals. So, what gives? “Exercise can definitely suppress hunger,” says Barry Braun, director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who has co-authored multiple studies on the subject. How, why, and for how long afterward is something researchers are still working out. They do know that workouts trigger changes in the hunger hormone ghrelin and the satiety hormones, PYY and GLP-1 ­ though research has yet to establish the exact relationship. A recent study published in the journal Metabolism found that perceived fullness ­ both while fasting and after eating ­ was higher among participants after 12 weeks of aerobic training, but not after resistance training for the same amount of time. And another study out of Brigham Young University revealed that women appeared to be less interested in food on mornings when they walked on a treadmill for 45 minutes than on days they didn’t.


A change in perspective could be all it takes to succeed in school

Knowing the right way to handle stress in the classroom and on the sports field can make the difference between success and failure for the millions of students going back to school this fall, new University of Chicago research shows.

"We found that cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, can either be tied to a student's poor performance on a math test or contribute to success, depending on the frame of mind of the student going into the test," said Sian Beilock, associate professor in psychology at UChicago and one of the nation's leading experts on poor performance by otherwise talented people.

She is the author of "Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting it Right When You Have To," released this month in paperback.

In a new paper published in the current issue of the journal "Emotion," Beilock and her colleagues explore the topic of performance failure in math and show, for the first time, that there is a critical connection between working memory, math anxiety and salivary cortisol.

Working memory is the mental reserve that people use to process information and figure out solutions during tests. Math anxiety is fear or apprehension when just thinking about taking a math test. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland and associated with stress-related changes in the body; it is often referred to as the "stress hormone."

Tracking math anxiety in students

Beilock and her team tested 73 undergraduate students to determine their working memory capacities and their level of math anxiety. They also measured cortisol levels (via a saliva sample) before and after a stressful math test. They published the results in a paper titled "Choke or Thrive? The Relation between Salivary Cortisol and Math Performance Depends on Individual Differences in Working Memory and Math Anxiety."

Among students with low working memories, there was little difference in performance related to either cortisol production or math anxiety, the study found. Students with lower working memory exert relatively less mental effort to begin with, researchers found, so taking a stressful test didn't drastically compromise their performance.

Among people with large working memories, those who were typically the most talented, rising cortisol either led to a performance boost or a performance flop — depending on whether they were already anxious about math. For students without a fear of math, the more their cortisol increased during the test, the better they performed — for these confident students, the body's response to stress actually pushed them to greater heights. In contrast, for students with more anxiety about math, surging cortisol was tied to poor performance.

"Under stress, we have a variety of bodily reactions; how we interpret these reactions predicts whether we will choke or thrive under pressure," Beilock said. "If a student interprets their physiological response as a sign they are about to fail, they will. And, when taking a math test, students anxious about math are likely to do this. But the same physiological response can also be linked to success if a student's outlook is positive," she further explained.

In other words, a student's perspective can determine success or failure. Students can change their outlooks by writing about their anxieties before a test and "off-loading" their fears, or simply thinking about a time in the past when they have succeeded, her research has shown.

Taking an exam brings on a different kind of pressure than when a student recites a memorized speech before classmates or an athlete plays before a packed stadium, other research by Beilock and her team demonstrates.

Why people choke under pressure

In another paper published this month in the "Journal of Experimental Psychology," Beilock and her colleagues identify, for the first time, different ways in which people can fumble under pressure. They also suggest remedies. The work, which was based on a series of experiments with several hundred undergraduate students in varying stressful situations, is reported in the paper "Choking Under Pressure: Multiple Routes to Skill Failure."

The experiments explored two theories of why people choke: One holds that people are distracted by worries, and as a result, fail to access their talents; another conversely proposes that stress causes people to pay too much attention to their performance and become self-conscious.

"What we showed in these experiments is that the situation determines what kind of choking develops. Knowing this can help people choose the right strategy to overcome the problem," Beilock said.

In the case of test-taking, good test preparation and a writing exercise can boost performance by reducing anxiety and freeing up working memory. The kind of choking prompted by performing before others calls for a different remedy.

"When you're worried about doing well in a game, or giving a memorized speech in front of others, the best thing to do is to distract yourself with a little tune before you start so you don't become focused on all the details of what you've done so many times before," she said. "On the playing field, thinking too much can be a bad thing," she further explained.

Provided by University of Chicago

"A change in perspective could be all it takes to succeed in school."

Anxiety and Testing

Pre-test jitters might boost scores, study says October 12th, 2012 in Psychology & Psychiatry A little anxiety seemed to help kids with good working memory, research found. (HealthDay)-For students with a good memory, feeling anxious before taking an exam might actually lead to a higher test score, researchers have found. In the new study, researchers in England used computer tests to assess levels of anxiety and working memory in 96 students, aged 12 to 14. Good working memory is generally associated with better school performance. The students were then tested on their general thinking and math skills. The researchers found that in students with a good working memory, anxiety was associated with higher test scores. In students with a poor working memory, anxiety led to lower test results, according to the report published Oct. 12 in the British Journal of Psychology. "The research is exciting because it enhances our knowledge of when, specifically, anxiety can have a negative impact on taking tests. The findings also suggest that there are times when a little bit of anxiety can actually motivate you to succeed," study author Matthew Owens, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, said in a news release from the British Psychological Society. Owens was at the University of Southampton when the study took place. The findings could improve understanding of the impact that anxiety has on students, the researchers said. They estimated that between 10 percent and 40 percent of children have anxiety when taking tests, and suggested that those who are more likely to do poorly on tests could be given priority for receiving extra help in school. While the study found an association between anxiety levels and test scores, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. More information: The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has more about test anxiety. Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved. "Pre-test jitters might boost scores, study says." October 12th, 2012. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-10-pre-test-jitters-boost-scores.html