Improve your game with James' Top Coaching Tips

Do you have an area of your game you wish to improve?
Coach James Grindell has suggested a few key areas for you to work on:

  1. Do some pre-tennis exercises at home - see Jennifer Smith's  Preparing for your return to play video for some expert physio advice.
  2. Don't try to go straight back into the cut and thrust of a match - first arrange a hitting session  with a friend.
  3. Make sure your first tennis outing involves: muscle preparation, extensive hitting warm up, gentle matchplay,  socially distanced socialising and enjoyment. 
  4. Technique will be rusty - make sure you have the mantra "over and in".  Make two shots every rally every point.
  5. Rotate the shoulder and practice the throw up . Serve the ball at 3/4 pace. Rhythm and routine is paramount for a successful serve. Keep it simple.
  6.  Utilise court time to hit quantities of shots instead of the need to always play points.
  7. Practice every shot. Make sure you hit volleys, overheads etc.
  8. Keep on moving. Don't stand still. The ball never bounces in the same place twice. Increase your heart rate. Keep healthy.
  9. Enjoy the privilege of outdoor tennis with friends.

The one shot in tennis that you have 100% control over is the serve, and yet it's possibly the least practiced shot. How many times do club players warm up for a match and hit half a dozen serves then spin and start the match. Below are some practice serve tips.

1. Always practice the serve in quantity. The serve is based on coordination throughout, using all the body (feet, legs, hips, shoulders etc).

2. Create routines - bouncing of ball, focus, concentration and rhythm.

3. Serve at targets, split the service into two. Work at aiming to both sides. For more advanced practice, aim at a smaller target.

4. Work on a different pace for 1st and 2nd serve.

5. In doubles, communicate with your partner on direction. Tactical situations begin with the serve.

Technical tips we can all use from Novak.

  1. Left and right arms pointing to the sky
  2. Drive from legs to the hip
  3. Elbow leading the racket
  4. Shoulder over shoulder, left to right
  5. Racket continues through the journey of the ball
  6. Back leg rises to anchor momentum from the hip and shoulder


  1.  Communication - always talk to your partner, always encourage and always congratulate.
  2.  Doubles is a team sport. When your partner is serving, stand just inside the service line, listen for ball contact and move in. This creates dynamic movement  towards the ball, creates time and takes away the static position at the net.
  3.  When your partner is receiving, look for where their return bounces. If the ball goes beyond the service line and is deep, move forward; if it bounces within   the service box, stand your ground and watch the line.
  4. Doubles is about forcing errors. Few winners are hit due to lack of space, so force errors, make your opponents play shots.


  1. Warm up before any tennis activity. This can be stretching or tennis related movements across the court, e.g. side steps, jogging or shadow tennis.
  2. The courts can be damp for most of the winter, use this to your advantage. Mix your shots and introduce slice a little more to keep the ball low.
  3. If windy, always make your opponents smash or play shots overhead if you're under pressure.
  4. Don't go for the perfect lob everytime. Try to dominate the net in bad conditions, although this is the number one tactic in doubles, it becomes necessary in wet and swirly conditions.
  5. The balls will become heavier due to the damp conditions and, in turn, will be slower. Don't try and hit too hard - use placement and touch shots.
  6. Communication is key in doubles, especially in bad conditions. Call every shot even if it's obvious.



  • Bend your knees for the lower bounce.
  • Communicate with your partner when serving. It's a team game. Discuss where your partner is going to serve.
  •  Slice is a good shot to use on grass keeps the ball low and makes your opponent play up.
  • Always practice serving and returning. On fast courts these are the shots that are important within the game.
  • Doubles is more often a game of mistakes due to 4 people being on court.
  • Both players to hold their postions forcing opponents to make difficult shots.
  • Server to serve to opponents weakness to create possible interception for net player.
  • Serve down the middle to cut out angles.
  • Follow the return off a short serve to the net.
  • Net players to watch opponents. Do not turn round. Helps anticipation.Learn to read what the opponents


When did you last change your racquet grip?

Thanks to our friends at PDH Sports who have liaised with leading grip provider Technifibre to produce some interesting research from their 'Playlab' research facility. Their  most startling finding is that the performance of a grip is reduced by 70% after just 10 hours of play.  Put that into context, if you play for 2 to 3 hours a week that means the grip may need replacing on average around every 2 months.

Why is it important?

Well of course we would expect an equipment manufacturer to make this claim, but anyone who has just changed their grip will vouch for the big difference it makes.  So why is this important?  Even the most hardened of hackers will not hold the racket by the strings or by the frame,  the only contact with the racket is through the grip.  Therefore, the grip needs to be 'tacky' enough to ensure the racket does not slip, supple enough to allow feel on the shots, yet provide comfort from vibrations and sores/blisters which can be caused sometimes by the bevel wearing through.

So let’s assume we want to replace our decaying grips currently wrapped around the end of the rackets in our bags.  The good news is this will not cause you to remortgage the house – think of it as an equivalent cost of buying a nice coffee (a couple of quid for those not familiar with the coffee house culture). 

What type of grip should I get?

Grips can be split into two main categories:

 (1)   Over grips.  These are thin layered grips that sit over the top of the main grip. They can be used to build up the size of your grip.  Some players don’t use an over grip, whereas others use them to adjust the grip size and/or feel of the racket.

(2)   Main grip. This is the main grip that attaches to the bevel on the racket which is much thicker.

A word of caution here though before we get too excited regarding grips.  It is crucially important to get the grip size correct, especially for any junior players who are still growing.  An incorrect grip size can cause injury which sometimes can become significant.  A grip too small or too large will place extra strain on the tendons and muscles in the lower arm and elbow and, often, the infamous 'tennis elbow' can be caused by an incorrect grip size.  If in doubt, it is best to seek the advice of a coach or equivalent equipment expert before installing a grip.

How do you choose the correct grip size? 

When we're talking about the correct grip size we mean the outline or thickness of the handle. The outline of the handle of a tennis racket can be expressed in inches or millimeters, which then corresponds with a certain grip size.  The US and Europe use different size measurements: - in Europe the grip sizes 0 through 5 are used, while in the USA the grip sizes go from 4 inches to 4 5/8 inches.

  • The most accurate method to determine the correct grip size of a tennis racket is by measuring the distance between the top of the ring finger of your playing hand and the second handline (see picture below). This length in millimeters then corresponds with the outline of the tennis racket and determines your ideal grip size.
  • If there is doubt about the correct grip size to choose for a tennis racket, you are better to pick one grip size too small instead of one too big, since you can always increase a grip size which is too small by one grip size via an overgrip. Decreasing a grip size which is too big is impossible.
  • In general you will find the grip size at the bottom of the tennis racket, in the racket butt but bear in mind if there is an overgrip over the standard grip of a tennis racket, the grip size becomes thicker and the original grip size is no longer correct.

Outline in  mm Outline in inches (USA) Grip size in Europe 100 – 102 mm 4 0 103 – 105 mm 4 1/8 1 106 – 108 mm 4 2/8 = 4 1/4 2 109 – 111 mm 4 3/8 3 112 – 114 mm 4 4/8 = 4 1/2 4 115 – 117 mm 4 5/8 5

 How do I put my new grip on my racquet?

 You will recall most likely seeing the pro’s re-grip their racket’s in the change of ends during a match (so in less than 90 seconds) and it really is that simple.  Check out this very handy You Tube video clip courtesy of PDH Sports that shows how it is done.