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  • Secrets of Spanish Tennis: Culture and Infrastructure

    Let's hear your thoughts on Chris Lewit's article, "Secrets of Spanish Tennis: Culture and Infrastructure"

  • #2
    Spanish Tennis Success. Teamwork, mentoring, passing on tools, ideas and encouragement. I hope folks at USTA are reading this. Sharing success and not protecting and hiding it. Isn't that what makes tennisplayer.net so great? Coaches and players from around the world that contribute to this site and shares their insights and opinions. I always enjoy Chris' articles as he brings a perspective from his interest and experience in the Iberian peninsula and how the players are trained. We don't have a Spanish tennis voice on tennisplayer.net besides Chris. There is one Jose Higueras article on the website but I'll tend to side with Chris due to his willingness to share his vast amount of info.

    Questions for Chris:

    Based on the typical baseline playing style and ideology of "receiving the ball" of the Spaniards, how did they coordinate and develop a player with the attacking style of Feliciano Lopez. Was there an urge to keep Lopez on the same path as others or could they see his physical size and encourage and accept an attacking style?

    Outside of Nadal, who do the Spanish consider their best player of the more modern era Ferrero, Moya, Corretja (no grand slams, but long and successful career)? Just curious as they were all exceptional.

    When talking about the Spanish system, how much did Nadal use or benefit from it. I always had the impression that Nadal (from island of Mallorca) was coached and brought up by one guy, Uncle Toni. How much input and influence did Spanish tennis have on him or is he the exception in that he was trained away from academies? If Nadal was trained privately outside of Academy vision, has his success threatened the idea of the "system" and given other players and coaches the impetus for going private?

    Thank you.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton

    Comment


    • #3
      I really get the "generations" thing. I think it's one of the keys to perpetuating success. Sadly, all too often over here (UK), once the better players break free of the pack they tend to be somewhat aloof towards other up and coming players. I think this is a big weakness in a system. The Spanish are known to support one another across all their sports. I know for sure this is the case with their soccer. I feel this a terribly important aspect in perpetuating success.
      Last edited by stotty; 11-07-2014, 01:57 PM.
      Stotty

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      • #4
        I agree. The importance of older established players mentoring younger juniors is huge factor in Spain's rise.

        It is an issue here in the US as well, where top players are not always eager to give back and help develop the next wave

        It's an important lesson for all Federations to learn, and relates back to the humility of the players

        Chris

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by klacr View Post
          Spanish Tennis Success. Teamwork, mentoring, passing on tools, ideas and encouragement. I hope folks at USTA are reading this. Sharing success and not protecting and hiding it. Isn't that what makes tennisplayer.net so great? Coaches and players from around the world that contribute to this site and shares their insights and opinions. I always enjoy Chris' articles as he brings a perspective from his interest and experience in the Iberian peninsula and how the players are trained. We don't have a Spanish tennis voice on tennisplayer.net besides Chris. There is one Jose Higueras article on the website but I'll tend to side with Chris due to his willingness to share his vast amount of info.

          Questions for Chris:

          Based on the typical baseline playing style and ideology of "receiving the ball" of the Spaniards, how did they coordinate and develop a player with the attacking style of Feliciano Lopez. Was there an urge to keep Lopez on the same path as others or could they see his physical size and encourage and accept an attacking style?

          Outside of Nadal, who do the Spanish consider their best player of the more modern era Ferrero, Moya, Corretja (no grand slams, but long and successful career)? Just curious as they were all exceptional.

          When talking about the Spanish system, how much did Nadal use or benefit from it. I always had the impression that Nadal (from island of Mallorca) was coached and brought up by one guy, Uncle Toni. How much input and influence did Spanish tennis have on him or is he the exception in that he was trained away from academies? If Nadal was trained privately outside of Academy vision, has his success threatened the idea of the "system" and given other players and coaches the impetus for going private?

          Thank you.

          Kyle LaCroix USPTA
          Boca Raton
          Hi Kyle

          Thanks for always supporting my work.

          1. Feliciano Lopez is a good example of a Spanish style player with a good serve and all court game. Unfortunately, I have not interviewed his junior coaches. I believe he was recruited to train at the National training center, which is called the CAR.

          My assumption is that he had an open minded team of coaches and they let him develop a good style that fit his personality and ability. It is unusual for a Spaniard to be tall and with a huge serve. He is perhaps a good example of a future Spanish prototype--more aggressive. Sergio Casal had a similar game in the eighties, so it's not unprecedented.

          However, Lopez shows good patience and baseline play on slow courts. He has perhaps the ideal hybrid game--can attack and defend.

          2. Moya is a hero because he was the first Spanish number #1. Then Ferrero. Bruguera is a hero because he broke the 18 year Grand Slam drought--1975-1993

          3. Nadal plays a classic Spanish style and it's inconceivable that Uncle Toni was not influenced by the legendary coaches who preceded him--like Bruguera and Alvarez. While Mallorca is an island to itself, it is closely connected with Barcelona and Catalonia, so I assume Nadal received a very classical Spanish tennis education. Many of his philosophies and approaches are classically Spanish, as discussed in his book Rafa.

          All across the country the academies and coaches generally have very similar coaching parameters. Nadal was mentored by Uncle Toni, Jofre Porta, and Carlos Moya had a huge impact on him

          I call it a "system" for lack of a better word, but it's not a completely top down approach. It just seems all the coaches and top private schools have agreed on some fundamental parameters, despite smaller differences in drills etc

          Best Chris

          Comment


          • #6
            By the way, traditionally private training is generally frowned upon in Spain.

            Most top coaches believe group training in a good school is key. Mr Bruguera even goes so far as to refuse to allow privates at his school, with rare exception

            This is an interesting cultural contrast to the US, where we have leading coaches like Lansdorp who are big believers in private training, as opposed to groups, or Rick Macci, who also really believes in the private lesson

            Just an example of how there is more than one way to becoming a champion. Some kids respond to privates, others flourish in small groups
            Last edited by chrislewit; 11-08-2014, 03:43 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thank you Chris.

              Great answers. Keep up the good work.

              Kyle LaCroix USPTA
              Boca Raton

              Comment


              • #8
                If Rafael Nadal did not exist would there still be Spanish secrets?

                Comment


                • #9
                  One thing I have always been curious about is whether Borg was an influence on Uncle Toni in the making of Nadal. I know Toni has been very complimentary about Borg's achievements in pressers from time to time. Although Borg is not Spanish, he seems more the model for Nadal than previous Spaniards. The footwork, the fitness, the mental toughness, the relentless gruelling style of play...all have Borg roots. Maybe it's all coincidence...

                  I know the men are 30 years apart, but I wonder if Toni ever said "Borg would have done this"...or "Borg would have done that."

                  It's something I have been curious about for a long time.
                  Stotty

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by licensedcoach View Post
                    One thing I have always been curious about is whether Borg was an influence on Uncle Toni in the making of Nadal. I know Toni has been very complimentary about Borg's achievements in pressers from time to time. Although Borg is not Spanish, he seems more the model for Nadal than previous Spaniards. The footwork, the fitness, the mental toughness, the relentless gruelling style of play...all have Borg roots. Maybe it's all coincidence...

                    I know the men are 30 years apart, but I wonder if Toni ever said "Borg would have done this"...or "Borg would have done that."

                    It's something I have been curious about for a long time.
                    Great connection. Luis Bruguera has modeled much of his Spanish system based on not only Borg's technique, but also his philosophy. If you read Borg's autobiography, many of his approaches and philosophies mirror the Spanish style of training to follow in the coming decades.

                    There is a major link between Borg's game and the Spanish method. I would say Sergi Bruguera's game was modeled after Borg and then Nadal is a model of Bruguera and Borg too.

                    The roots of the Spanish system in Borg is an article that I have contemplated writing about--and may do so in the future.

                    Best
                    Chris

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by captnemo View Post
                      If Rafael Nadal did not exist would there still be Spanish secrets?
                      Yes--absolutely.

                      Historically, the Spanish revolution began in the late 1980's and through the 1990's, well before Nadal. Spain has consistently produced a high percentage of the world's top 100 men since the 1990's, before Nadal.

                      Nadal coming along, perhaps by luck, just cemented the reputation of Spain.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        How about the doctor whose records were sealed, when it was revealed Nadal was a client, and the doc was doling out peds to soccer, bikers, bood doping, platelet enrichment to tennis players? That could explain one of the spanish secrets. They may be ped cheaters.

                        If exposed to be a ped abuser, Nadal would become the Lance armstrong of tennis.

                        http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blog...ael-nadal.html
                        Last edited by GeoffWilliams; 11-08-2014, 08:32 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Inaccurate blog?

                          Originally posted by GeoffWilliams View Post
                          How about the doctor whose records were sealed, when it was revealed Nadal was a client, and the doc was doling out peds to soccer, bikers, bood doping, platelet enrichment to tennis players? That could explain one of the spanish secrets. They may be ped cheaters.

                          If exposed to be a ped abuser, Nadal would become the Lance armstrong of tennis.

                          http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blog...ael-nadal.html

                          The blog looks to be written by a Nadal hater. Often we subjectively involve our feelings and look for evidence. So some things in the article are circumstantial.

                          That doesn't mean the blog may lack truth or not. There are facts and allegations… But there were several inaccuracies in the blog accusing at least one other player of something that is simply untrue. It also questions PRP therapy but it's not blood doping and can't be. The author needs to check his facts. Rather than assume something and seek to prove it.

                          On the other hand, things are possible. We saw Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, etc. Lance isn't alone in the Tour de France which along with baseball and football have the worst records of cheating. Often in the most lucrative sports with something to lose and where physical (rather than learned skills) ability is a premium, athletes will cheat.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            http://www.tennisnow.com/News/Doping...nnection-.aspx

                            Tennis is a combination of physical and learned skills, more so than some pro sports. I remember when I suggested (before Lance admitted lying) that he was on peds, and my lawyer (a biker) hung up on me in disgust and indignation. They also give exemptions (ie, for knee injuries, etc.) for ped use. That should stop.
                            http://www.itftennis.com/antidoping/...n-process.aspx

                            Regardless, a look at the WADA statistics between 2007 and 2011 paints a puzzling picture. The ITF reported 53 positive tests (or Adverse Analytical Findings) but only 21 Anti-Doping Rule Violations during that time. As the anonymous writer and curator of the widely read blog Tennis Has a Steroid Problem points out, this raises a number of questions. - See more at: http://www.tennisnow.com/News/Doping....wCzypTNt.dpuf:

                            It is indeed unfortunate that the current anti-doping system allows for rampant speculation regarding players’ integrity. But it’s also unfortunate that Lance Armstrong took over 500 drug tests without failing one. It’s no wonder even casual observers doubt the ITF’s ability to stay ahead of the doping technology being used throughout the sports world.

                            As thrilling as it is to watch the seemingly inhuman athleticism of so many in pro tennis, it’s naïve not to ask questions of an extended absence from the tour in a world where performance enhancing drugs and blood doping run rampant. With wisps of smoke in the air, perhaps there is more fire than some would like to admit.
                            - See more at: http://www.tennisnow.com/News/Doping....RLv3oP2l.dpuf
                            Last edited by GeoffWilliams; 11-10-2014, 07:16 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by chrislewit View Post
                              By the way, traditionally private training is generally frowned upon in Spain.

                              Most top coaches believe group training in a good school is key. Mr Bruguera even goes so far as to refuse to allow privates at his school, with rare exception

                              This is an interesting cultural contrast to the US, where we have leading coaches like Lansdorp who are big believers in private training, as opposed to groups, or Rick Macci, who also really believes in the private lesson

                              Just an example of how there is more than one way to becoming a champion. Some kids respond to privates, others flourish in small groups
                              Over here (UK), at performance level, coaches often reach for squad training as one way of training their players. But it often amounts to little more than players practicing together and not really developing. Individual lessons are generally seen as the norm and the best way to develop players.

                              I think if a coach can get things right, developing players through a squad may be the better way to go. It frees the coach up from playing for a start. Not having to play means he is free to view players from every angle, film strokes, or give verbal instruction from just feet away. These are big pluses over individual coaching.

                              That said, when I squad train I am not so comfortable with process. It's not the culture over here. I've spent years rolling my sleeves up and playing with students on a one-to-one basis. I find it easy to create intensity in individual lessons yet much difficult in a squad. Creating intensity in a squad would seem a more difficult skill. The human dynamics are sometimes tricky.

                              I would love to know more about the Spanish method and how they pull this off. Does the coach work on a common theme or does he manage to work with players on their independent problems?

                              Some ten years ago four players from here went to Spain to be trained. They struck a deal with a Spanish coach and paid him 10,000 euros a year to provide all their training. Is this a familiar scenario?

                              I attended a course last year ran by Sergio Casal and his team. He was really big on building the cardio vascular system of players. He reduced a really good player to nothing inside about five minutes with his basket drills.

                              Coaches over there seem to enjoy greater status than us, but are paid far less, which I found odd.
                              Last edited by stotty; 11-09-2014, 10:17 AM.
                              Stotty

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