FIVE PRINCIPLES TO DEVELOP CHAMPIONS
In order to develop the potential of the player it is important to follow these principles:
1. Work Load
Gabe’s method is based on training players advancing towards their goals by increasing gradually the work loads, the volume, the intensity and the amount of information given to the student. Again every student is different. Courier, for example, needed more volume, while Agassi preferred shorter work-outs at a higher intensity. The coach and player work together to find a work load that is most efficient for the player’s optimum development and improvement.
Every practice and every shot should have a specific and distinctive purpose. Our job is to educate the students how to apply the information we give them. In Gabe’s words, the students should “work with a goal in mind.” Practices are expected to be as close to perfect as possible.
• It is important for tennis players at all levels to work on repetition, by repeating a stroke, movement or shot selection the students will create muscle memory, making the action mechanic.
• We need to make sure that the students fundamentals are solid, that is the only way they would not brake down during a match. As coaches we first work on fundamentals.
• Solid skills and strokes are obtain only through correct repetition and perfect practices.
• Our system is about building players trough reliable practices based on repetition, paying attention to errors and fixing them. It is about breaking down the skill into small components and practicing and repeating each action in the skill until it becomes automatic.
• Nothing beats repetition. Repeating a correct action over and over is invaluable and irreplaceable.
• The importance of repetition until the stroke or movement becomes automatic cannot be overstated. Proper repetition is the key to learning.
• Through repetition the students get the deep pleasure of executing the stroke effortless, with out thinking, with speed and accuracy. The entire stroke becomes automatic, the racquet becomes a part of the body.
• It is repetition that gives the players the sense of effortless, confidence, and knowledge.
To avoid the Adaptation Syndrome, and to keep students interested, motivated, and improving it is imperative that we be creative. We are constantly changing the work-outs, work loads, and volume. We often change sparring partners, play with music, switch our morning and afternoon schedules, train on different surfaces, etc. Agassi, for example, would sometimes like to train at 10 pm. This was his way of keeping things interesting and different. Courier, on the other hand, enjoyed routines.
Each student is an individual with different qualities and characteristics. The way they assimilate instruction is distinctive and personal. When you have two talented players it is important that they have their own personal time, not only they will feel important but also they will work on their individual needs. Agassi, used his personal time to develop his second serve, while Courier used his time to develop his put-away forehand. The method we used to motivate the two of them was also distinctly different. Agassi craved constant positive reinforcement, while Courier responded better to short, clear, straight information.
I travel all over the world speaking to players, coaches, and others who want to know the “secret formula” for developing champions. There is no secret formula or short cuts. These five principles are the closest blue print. These principles, in addition to hard work, sacrifice and passion, will develop champions.