Paul Pisani

a tennis coach. Paul Pisani has trained many of the top American tennis players today; including Ginepri, Delic, Harkleroad, and Kendrick. Currently he is the Strength Coach for the GW University and has worked with Pepperdine and Princeton and owns and operates Tennis Fitness Solutions.

Using your core

medballbasement-002You use your Core when you hit every single tennis shot. I’d like to show you how you use your core when hitting a two handed backhand, and how to strengthen it in the gym.

I chose pictures of Ashley Harkleroad training in the gym. Ash is using the cable machine to mimic the actual stroke. Training with the cable machines is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your game. This along with Medicine Ball training will help you control the ball more and add zip to your groundies.

This type of training should be done 2 to 3 times per week. When you start, start off with a light weight to ensure proper form and to prevent injury. If you are too loaded up with weight, you can strain your lower back and injure yourself.

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I chose Maria’s backhand to demonstrate this. As you can see from these two pictures, the starting positions are similar.

To get more “underneath” the full follow through, lower the cable machine handle and sweep through the hitting zone in a low to high fashion. This exercise continues to be one of the favorites of many of my clients. It’s different than your traditional weight lifting exercises and can be a lot of fun. Don’t be surprised if you see your heart rate spike up here!

To view the rest of the picture pictorial, click on the link below.
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The X-Factor

71642847MC039_2006_U_S_Open What seperates the top coaches from the rest is in what I like to call the “X Factor”. The great ones have it; Brad Gilbert (Andre Agassi), Vince Lombardi (Green Bay Packers), Johan Brunyeel (Lance Armstrong), Michael Joyce (Maria Sharapova), and Phil Jackson (Chicago Bulls), have all been great athletes and top performers in their respective sports. After hanging up their sports shoes, they have taken their talent, and have injected into the players. Yes these coaches have knowledge when it comes to:

– Psychology
– Physical Training
– Strategy
– Technical Advice

But they also have what I call THE X FACTOR!

_41426311_agassi_initialsuccessWhat is the X Factor? In my opinion it is all the non tangible attributes the coach brings to the table. It is the ability to crawl into the athlete’s skin and head, and bring out the absolute best in them. Their charisma draws the attention and respect out of their players and they get them to listen. Their approach to practice is meticulous and they make the training sessions harder and tougher than the actual competitions.

The X Factor also refers to the coaches understanding of what their player goes through physically and mentally. Because these coaches have experienced the ups and downs from their previous careers and endeavors, they know when to be tough on their player and when to back way off.johanb

The top coaches can make considerable impact on the career of the athletes that are so fortunate to come across them. I know I was lucky. Without my coach Lenny Preheim, I would have never done as well as I did in cycling. His words of wisdom and coaching techniques made a significant contribution to my success.


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Give him 50 mountain climbers

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Remember back in the day when you were in PE class, and your gym teacher told you to get down and give him 50 Mountain Climbers?  Well, I am bringing this one back in full force. I love this one! I like to throw it in after a series of exercises that have already gotten your heart rate back up to 70% of its max. This exercise will burn major calories and will strengthen your core. Every time you bring your knee to your chest, you activate your core and fire up the glutes.

For someone Robert’s size, 6 ft 4, it’s important for him to remain flexible and maintain smoothness within specific movement patterns. By bringing the knee up and alternating the extension of your legs, allows the body to limber up and stretch out the lower extremities.

Try a few sets of mountain climbers next time you are in the gym. You’ll be surprised of how much fun they are and how beneficial they can be.

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Interview with “The Big Bozz”, Amer Delic and Core Training

Last week I got to spend a couple days with “The Big Bozz” at beautiful Amelia National Country Club in Amelia Island, FL.  A couple days of training, golf, and family time, helped the big guy recharge the batteries and get the body to a higher tennis fitness level.

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7  Questions with The Big Bozz

Hello and thanks for spending some time to answer a few questions for me!  Last week we were able to have some fun playing some golf and training on the court and in the gym.  This week you find yourself in Dallas to defend.

1.  How is the body and mind feeling?

Mind and body are both feeling fresh. It helps to have a week off once in a while in between tournaments to recharge the batteries.

2. Having gotten off to a good start this season, does it take any pressure off of you to do well?

I would like to say it does take some pressure off, but with the way tennis rankings work and new players always coming up, it’s really hard to say that. It’s such a long year and there is plenty of tennis left to be played.

3.  You’ve reached 3rd round in a grand slam for the first time.  What are your goals for this season?

Primarily, my goal is to stay healthy and fit to compete. If I am healthy, I can train hard, which leads to better results, and so on… Again, if I am healthy, I can enjoy the whole process and all the results will be there.

4.  Last year you had some shoulder issues that stopped you from finishing the year strong. This year you have spent considerable time in the gym.  Do you feel that the strength training and core work that you do, helps in keeping your 6 ft 6 body in shape and help in injury prevention?

As previously mentioned, main goal is to be healthy. Last few months I have been more deliberate with my training; mostly focusing on injured areas such as shoulder and knee.

This type of training has helped me regain my elasticity and strenght in my shoulder while I have regained full range of motion in my knee.

5. You are a Jacksonville Jags fan. Would you like to see Tim Tebow play for them and what do you think about him staying one extra year in college?

Definitely a big fan of the Jaguars and David Garrard. He is still our quarterback and a very good one at that.  Nothing against Tim Teabow, but what we need is lot more pieces to fit this puzzle and not just one player.

6.  You are from Jacksonville which is the home of the new WTA event that use to be on Amelia Island.  Can you list 3 of your favorite restaurants that tennis fans might like to go, and maybe even use your name? You know, “Hey Amer sent me!”

That’s an easy one…

1. Larry’s Giant Subs

2. Al’s Pizza

3. Chizu (sushi)

Obvioustly , Ruth’s Chris, Roy’s, Bonefish, etc. are just few chains that are good anywhere. Howeve, these are local flavors some of the players might enjoy.

7. If you could win one tournament, which one would it be?

Wimbledon… Even though I am not the biggest fast of playing on grass, I am a fan of tradition.

I chose the Swiss Ball Med Ball Crunch to show one of the exercises that we did to strengthen his upper core region. As you can see it is quite simple but requires proper form in order to hit the upper core region effectively.

swissballmedball1del

Key Points to Look at:

1.  Back is flat on the ball.

2.  Hug the med ball comfortably near your chin to provide resistance.

3.  Squeeze or Brace your Core on he way up and on the way down.

4.  Work your way up the med ball weights slowly and progress smartly

Hope you liked this weeks blog!

Pauly P

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Somdev!!!!! , Part 4 – Cycling to Tennis – Technical Advantage, Golfing with the Americans

Hello Everyone! Hope everyone is enjoying the kick off to the tennis season like I am.

SOMDEV!!!!

It wasn’t too long ago that I was writing about a new Indian number 1 that had recently finished college at the University of Virginia.  His name? Somdev Devarrman, nicknamed The Chilly Indian. You have to love it when your fun predictions come true so quickly.

Last week at the Chennai Open, Somdev was given a wildcard into the main draw. As I went to one of my favorite sites, www.atptennis.com , the screen read,”Moya loses to Indian Wildcard”. “Hmmm”, I thought to myself, did Prakrash Armitraj finally break through?  Let me read here…” Low and behold, world number 200, Somdev Devarrman upset Spanish Veteran, Carlos Moya. This was great news because now I could follow one of my new favorite players on the tour during the week. For me, the tournament loses some of my attention when some of my players that I like to follow are out.  It was like this for me when I was a Pete Sampras fanatic.  I would watch every single match of his and then if he was to lose, I could care less about the tourney.  Side note:  Years later I would be stretching him out at his house next to his court. 🙂

So back to Somdev.  Although he beat lowly ranked American Kevin Kim in the first round, and Schuettler withdrew from a wrist injury, I knew Somdev would be too consistant for Karlovic and would advance to the semis. Great Job Sommy! Said Somdev after the final, “”This was a great week for me and I hope to play more tour events in the upcoming months,” said Devvarman. “It is my goal to move up further in the rankings and to become a better player.”

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Cycling to Tennis – Technical Advantages

Coming from cycling ( I was a State Champ Road Race Champ) , I always tried to compare my sport, to the new sport that I was in love was.  As you read above I was Sampras fanatic.  My friends were amazed of how many times I could watch Sampras vcr tapes in slow motion.  I guess one of the reasons I like watching him play so much was because of his gorgeous strokes. Every single shot looked so smooth and effortless.

As a tennis teacher I have always believed in learning sound fundamentals and have studied similarities in all of the good strokes.  There are some great websites out there for this and with the new video features of small handheld cameras, it is very easy to shoot video of strokes, download them on the computer and compare them to your favorite pros.

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Everyone knows that everyone starts together in the bike race. But what that don’t know is how difficult it is to move up through the pack once the pace of the race starts getting faster. This takes unreal cornering ability and bike handling skills that a good cyclist must learn in order to win bike races.

There was no one better than this then my buddy, Jonas Carney.  His ability to FLY through corners on his bicycle was second to none.  I remember way back when Lance and Jonas were teamates for Subaru – Montgomery team, it was at the US National Championships that Lance attacked on the final lap. The only person that could stay on Lance’s wheel through the corners was Jonas, who then when on to win that race.

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GOLF!!!!

It is no secret that a lot of tennis players are obsessed with golf.  After having some of the American boys over at my home course of Amelia National, I was very impressed at their skills!

As my friend Erik Brumme said, “I’ve been playing golf for 40 years and I really can’t recall anyone striking the ball like this Kendrick kid does.”  It was not a rare to see Kendrick, Oudsema or Kuznetsov go driver , 9 iron into the greens of our long Par 5’s. Birdies were not too uncommon and greens were hit with regularity. I have to say it was a lot of fun golfing with the boys but I better get my skills up or I am going to go broke playing with them!

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Part 3 – Cycling to Tennis – The Attack – More about Tennis Fitness

Hello Everyone,

Hope all are staying warm and fit as the tennis season is put on whole for the next couple of weeks. All of the pros are diligently working hard on the court and even harder off it.  Many of them see this as a new opportunity to up their levels of fitness and start the year ahead of the rest.

Americans Amer Delic, James Blake, Alex Kuznetsov and Brendan Evans are all hard at work in Tampa, Fl. Robert Kendrick is in Orlando working the 2 on 1’s, and Sam Querry and Robby Ginepri are hard at work on the West Coast.

ameroffcourttraining1

Part 3 – Cycling to Tennis – The Attack – More about Tennis Fitness

In a bike race if you want to be a contender, you need to be at the front of the pack and ready for a rider, or a group of riders to make a getaway from the rest. This is known as a break away.  In order to break away from the pack, the cyclist needs to “time” his attack, when the peloton (a large group of riders) is either sleeping or is at a vulnerable position.

In a tennis point, there is a moment where your opponent will be most vulnerable to an attack at the net.  If the tennis player knows how to make the transition to the net in a quick, clean, and complete manner, he very often will have the opportunity to win the point by hitting a volley or an overhead for a winner.

So, as you can see, both sports have the element of “The Attack”.  So many times when I have watched the pros play, it is easy to see when, in my eyes, he has lost the point because he did not take advantage of the first moment of vulnerability of his opponent.  In the pros, you get one shot generally to win the point. If you don’t take it, your opponent very often will get the next opportunity and most likely will seize the offensive moment.

fedattack1

Both Cycling and Tennis have elements of strategical offense that can be intuitively developed over the years.  This is what I call the 8th Sense.  The high level Jeti’s , like Roger Federer, and cyclist Jonas Carney, have, that many people lack.  Being able to know what options your opponent has on a particular shot can win you more points each set and game you play.

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If you tennis fitness is lacking, you will have a hard time executing the play. Work hard off the court like the top Americans are doing now!

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On the Rise: Andre Begeman and Part 2 Cycling to Tennis Comparison – Short Sprints

Greetings Everyone,  Now that Thanksgiving is over, the relatives are gone, and there are no more leftovers or alcholol, it is time to get back to work!  I am sure this goes for pretty much everyone in the tennis world.  It is crazy to thing that in less than a month, many of the world’s top pros will be getting on Kwantas airlines and heading Down Under to start the 09 season.  In my opinion, the season is way too long.  Most of the pros finish up in end of November, take a few weeks off and start training on Dec 1, which is appropriate for today’s blog!

Like last week, I would like to have two components to the blog.  The focus switches now to a new kid on the block, not the old veteran…Enter: Andre Begeman

I first met Andre on my first trip out to Pepperdine over a year and a half ago. He was just finishing up his senior year and I was just beginning to start Pepperdine’s strength and conditioning program.  Within a couple hours, I had Andre labeled, “My Boy” because of his passion, charm, and over all off the charts physical talent.

I had an email from him a few weeks ago, asking if I could coach him.  Although I still help out some of the top Americans periodically, I have not been traveling and working with any professionals since pretty much last year and I have been getting the itch to compete again at the highest level. In order to beat the best, you have to train smarter and more effectively than the competition, and also have the goods to deliver and execute.  Let me tell you this right now, with the right combination of things to come together, Andre will be a household name on the pro tennis circuit in no time.  Like Somdev Devvarman, Andre has shown early signs of greatness on the ATP Tour.

I, like most of you reading this,  probably look at other sites on the web like tennisnews, atptennis, and stevegtennis to look up what is happening on the tour. After checking the profile of Andre’s activity this morning, I noticed that he had lost 7-6 in the third last week in the semis of a future.  After 7 future events, Andre had won 5 of them and this semis brings him now to 450.  This is important because now Andre will be able to play the Challenger circuit in 09 and right around the corner of that are the Tour events…look out Rafa!!!! 🙂

Before switching Part 2 of why I have always compared Cycling to Tennis, I would like to talk about one other intangilble that I feel will help Andre out in his quest to win titles on the Tour, and that is; heart and compassion (or passion).  When I first started hanging out with “Dre” I was taken a back about how many questions and comments he would make to me about my daughter Isabella.  To me that was interesting because I really didn’t know him that well, yet , here was this college kid, that could tell I had a situation with my daughter, and he was very eager to help lend support in an area that is was outside of tennis, and most importantly, outside of HIS world.

In last years Round of 16 clash with Stanford, Pepperdine had to play a higher ranked team with the number 1 player in the country, Alex Clayton.  I had met Alex a couple of years ago in DC when I was with Ginepri, and knew he had huge game.  It was no surprise to me that he was doing so well in college and had his Stanford team on track to win a National Championship. If Pepperdine was to win another National title, they would have to take out Stanford to do so.

So, after beating Hawaii in the round of 32 on Saturday afternoon, Andre got a call from back home in Germany.  His mother had passed away from a long bought with cancer.  His long time supporter, the one that cared more about his tennis than anyone else, was gone.

Like a true champion, Andre laced his shoes up for 1 more college match on the hills of Malibu, CA and proceeded to put on an all out clinic on focus and destruction, beating Alex, 6-1, 6-2. Afterwards, Andre boarded the plane to go back home to say goodbye.  My point is here, when Andre walks out on the court, he won’t be alone, and his competition will have to face two Begeman’s , not one! So folks, sit back and watch this great story unravel before our eyes. With Somdev and Andre, we will be witnessing one hell of ascent up the rankings!

Part 2: Comparison of Cycling to Tennis – Short Sprints and Accelerations

When looking at tennis fitness, you need to have quick, speedy movement to get to the ball in a well balanced manner as quickly as possible.  In other words, you need to get to point A,then to point B, on to point C, and so on….If you are a step slow, you may miss the shot, or not be able to get your feet in position to hit it with authority or direction.  This is what makes guys like Roger and Rafa so good; they move better and QUICKER than anyone else.

In cycling you need short quick bursts of speed for various times during a race, For instance, when an attack is made, you need to jump on the cyclists wheel as quickly as possible, otherwise you will be stuck in the wind, doing all the work while the break away is moving away from you.  Or say it is the end of the race, and the cyclists have 200 meters to go. After 4 hours of hard racing, it now comes down to who is faster in the sprint.  A good jump or sprint can make all the difference in the world to winning or losing.

So, when I train tennis players, I make sure that they can close the gap to that ball as quickly as possible and for hours at a time (See Part 1, Endurance).  Some players can do this naturally, while others need daily attention to this vital component.

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The Return of Taylor Dent and Part 1 of 7 Part Series: Why I have always compared Road Cycling to Tennis

Hello everyone!  Off to a little late start here this week with the blog. I’ve had a junior fly in from Louisiana to train for the week, had a visit from a friend and old client, Amer Delic, and of course non stop management of my 1 year old, Maximus.

Let me get right down to business because there is an awful lot to talk about! As you saw in my headline, I will be talking about the very badly missed Taylor Dent, and the first part of a 7 series , “Why I have always  Tennis to Professional Road Cycling.”

Taylor Dent happens to be one of my favorite players to watch and to be around.  He’s very laid back, extremely talented, and his game is like a venomous cobra, it’s starts very slow and still, but in less that a blink of an eye, it can attack and bite you!

The only time that I have ever had to coach against him was back in 2005 at the Indianapolis RCA Finals.  I was working with Ginepri and I remembered waking up in the morning and getting on my computer and looking at www.drudgreport.com, and seeing a huge black headline in the middle of the page, “Chicago 111 degrees!”

You have to know that it was hot pretty much all week in Indy…REALLY hot, and this was going to be the hottest day.  This is one of the things that I will point out in Part 2.  In order to win a tennis tournament, or even go deep in a tourny, you need to win many matches, in a row.  And that takes stamina, that takes endurance, and that takes the ability to not have a bad day.

In cycling, there is an event known as a Stage Race. All of you have heard of the Stage Race called Le Tour de France. Well, a Stage Race, is where you have to race day in and day out, and if you have 1 bad day, you are done.  This was the end of the week in Indy, and if one of the boy’s was going to have a bad day, it would be today.

So I read the DrudgeReport, and quickly I develop an ear to ear grin, and then proceed to do  few  back flips in the middle of our hotel room. Ok, that may sound mean and sadistic, but the bottom line is, tennis in the heat, especially THAT kind of heat, is much more of a physical battle, and I knew that would favor Robby in a very big, and shall I say, EVIL way….MUHAUHAUHAUHAUHAUH!!!!!!!


Ok, I have to write about this now, because it is all coming back to me…get this!!!…get this, ok, so Taylor wins the first set, 6-4.  Not a routine 6-4 by any means. It was a hard fought 6-4…Robby begins the second set and just starts steam rolling over T, 6-0 …like in NO time! I think it was the beginning of the 3rd set and Taylor looks up at his coach and starts asking for some candy bars! 🙂  I’m not going to say that I couldn’t believe it, because I know these kids were just naive, but I was definitely a little shocked.

So after scurrying all over the stadium, Tommy Floyd, manages to wrangle T up a snickers bar or something. Ok folks, it’s not rocket science to know that you don’t want anything like that when it’s that hot and humid and you have another set to play!  I would go into details as to WHY but I will say this, and this is something that I would even tell my players, “Do you think Lance Armstrong would eat a cookie before he attacked Alp D’Huez in the Tour de France!?!?!?!?!?!!”

Ok so back to the title, The RETURN of TD. I was very excited to see that Taylor was back in action at the Challenger last week in Champaign, IL.  Ironically enough, it was Taylor who beat last weeks cover boy, Robert Kendrick, 7-6, 7-6 in a second round thriller.  Boy, I tell you, that Challenger should really appreciate the talent they have in it, because that could be a great night match at the USOpen baby!

Unfortunately, Taylor had to retire from his next match with an injury.  Hopefully Taylor can find someone that can really take care of that body for him and get him in really “Taylor Dent specific shape” because we desperately need him back in the game….

Part 1 : Tennis to Cycling: A comparison

Endurance – There are a few parts to Endurance that I will cover
1. Length of time during a match endurance
2. Day in and Day out recovery

In cycling, everyone starts the race together, but not everyone finishes together!  Sometimes you have to play a 3 hour match and you don’t want to fatigue late in the last set.  You have to train for time.  A good way to do this is to schedule your off court training immediately after your tennis match or practice.  For instance, say you have a match that takes you 90 mins, have a small snack, like a Powerbar, not a Snickers Bar, and go into the gym, for a interval workout on the bike and then hit the weights hard.

Ok, Maximus is now awake and it is time for Gladiator training! VAMOS!

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A New Indian Number 1 And Kendrick Continues to Sizzle

Just a year ago, Somdev Devarman was graduating from the University of Virginia and was claiming his second NCAA Championship. Now, still in his virgin year on the ATP Tour, Somdev finds himself the number 1 ranked player in Indian and is this weeks number 201 on the ATP Rankings.

Last week in Nashville, Deverman took out super talented and feisty, Jesse Levine.  A convincing 7-6, 6-2 win showed that Somdev will certainly be a force to reckon with no matter who he plays.  Using a “never miss a ball” type of strategy, the chilly Indian, can give guys on the other side of the net fits.

Winning his second Challenger in as many weeks was Robert Kendrick.  Robert continues to roll and show the country that he is the best on the Challenger circuit this year and is now the 8th ranked American.  “Kendo” finally took out Deverman, 7-5 , 6-2 .  This was his first win against the NCAA Champ in 3 tries.  One more week in Illinois and Kendrick will be training for the Australian Open in January.

I am looking forward to working with a long time client and friend in Orlando.  Some time on the bike and on the golf course will keep Robert fresh and body healthy.  I plan on a solid strength training program which will incorporate a lot of cable machines and dumbells. The goal will be to get the big guy to crank out a dozen pullups in a row by the time January 1 comes along,  Due to persistant knee problems, Robert will have to the agility training on level grass, and incorporate massage and stretching in his everyday routine.  Kendrick has a very live arm and a tenacious fighting spirit that is a privledge to be around.

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My First Blog For TennisGrandstand

Hello everyone and welcome to my new blog here at TennisGrandstand.com.  I’d like to talk about a couple different items this week and that is the American Challenger Circuit and Off Season training for College Tennis.

Firstly, I’d like to point out that American Robert Kendrick continues to show week in and week out that he is knocking on the door of joining some of the other elite Americans in the top 50.  With a 1 and 1 dismantling of extremely talented Donald Young, in the Louisville, KT, $50,000 Challenger, Robert jumped to 91 in the ATP Race and should secure a spot in the main draw of the Australian Open.

Other Americans looking to make a run in the upcoming Fall Challengers are Amer Delic, Jesse Levine, Donald Young, Michael Russell and Bobby Reynolds.  New comer to the “hot players to watch” group is Brendan Evans who is in Europe, trying to test his big serve and aggressive game in the indoor circuit.

As the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Men’s Tennis Team at George Washington University, I have been having the boys put in some solid work over the last 10 days. The goal is to lay a good foundation of power, strength, agility, flexibility, and endurance over the next couple of months.  Luckily I have Alex Parr, one of the head trainers at GW watching over the boys and implementing the workouts that I generate using www.pegasustrainer.com .  I am having a blast with these boys and am looking forward to the spring season.

Paul Pisani has trained many of the top American tennis players today; including Ginepri, Delic, Harkleroad, and Kendrick.  Currently he is the Strength Coach for the GW University and has worked with Pepperdine and Princeton and owns and operates Tennis Fitness Solutions.

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