Sunday, 15 April 2012

Coffee with tennis - useful

Quite a few internet articles out there advise against taking coffee before tennis.

I disagree.
I use it when I play tennis.

Coffee, or the active ingredient caffeine, used to be banned in competitive sports up until 2004.

A word of caution
I have been taking coffee for a while now, so I have some immunity to the adverse side effects. 
If you are new or are a light coffee drinker, do take or use what I say with caution.
On the other hand, those folks that are heavy coffee drinkers, this might not work for you.

Benefits to my game
1) Personally, it makes me react faster and concentrate better.

2) If you like playing at the net, it works splendid.

3) Towards the later stages of a long session, I find myself having more concentration and energy than the other folks.

How I use coffee
Bear in mind that I take coffee during tennis for the benefits to my game, not to enjoy the drink.
So the way I prepare or consume it may be slightly offensive to the coffee connoisseurs out there.

I prepare a mug, around the size of a cup.
I usually use the cheap 3-in-1 coffee mixes (as warned, I am in this for the benefits to my game!!), add a bit of hot water to dissolve then fill up the cup with ... chocolate milk.

Why chocolate milk? Here are some articles on it helping recovery after exercise. Another.

And yes, if you do it correctly, you, my dear sir, are going to be bringing a cafe mocha to tennis !!!
If you don't have the chocolate milk, not to worry, a regular coffee works as well.

I also bring some isotonic sports drinks to tennis. I prefer un-carbonated ones such as H-TWO-O.

Ok so far?
Now here's the slightly tricky part.

1) Before the game starts, I take a big gulp of coffee.

2) Then during breaks, I take a mouthful of coffee and a mouthful of the sports drink.
Ok, so anyone of you out there that aren't disgusted, can read on.

Ok, the reason I'm doing what I'm doing is as follows - 
I want the level of coffee in my body to be enough to give me the benefits but not the adverse side effects.

Slightly Technical bits starts: 
The following are the technical explanation which some of you might want to skip.

If one considers caffeine a drug, then the technical explanation is as follows.
Page 2 and 3 will explain what I hope to achieve. 

The big gulp in the beginning is similar to what pharmackinetics call a "Loading Dose".
This brings the coffee in my body to what I hope to be above the "Minimum Effective Concentration", but not high enough (I hope) to be above the "Minimum Toxic Concentration".

To mitigate against the side effects, I prefer to sip in small quantities during breaks etc.

The sips during breaks are basically me trying to get the graph on page 3, "LD (oral) followed by oral maintenance dosing".
Technical bits ends.

More precautions
Each person will eliminate (the technical term for getting coffee out of your system) at different rates.

I would advise any of you out there if you are planning to try this out to be careful and do in moderation first.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Help for Tennis elbow, also Golfer's elbow too!

Just for Tennis elbow sufferers.
Quoted from the 2009 NYTimes article "After less than two months of treatment, the researchers terminated the experiment. The early results had been too unfair. The control group had showed little or no improvement. But the rubber-bar-using group effectively had been cured. Those patients reported an 81 percent improvement in their elbow pain and a 72 percent improvement in strength. "

This is the product

Here's the exercise:

I got it, I used it and now I'm pain-free.

Another tennis friend used it, and is now also pain-free.
He had previously had at least 2 pain injections which only gave temporary relief.

I also discovered that I had Golfer's elbow, not Tennis elbow.
It still worked, though you will need to do a "reverse twist", as follows:

Tennis Gear

I'm using the Dunlop Aerogel 200.
Check it out at

It's a 'tour' type of racket. Meaning that you will need a fuller swing for groundstrokes.

I feel that with this racket, if I hit harder, my groundstrokes seem to have a better margin of error.
The control and feel is excellent.

As a rightie with a 'functional' slice backhand, its control has given me an added dimension in terms of some interesting angles cross-court to my opponent's ad court.

It's not light. Close to 12 ounces or 337 grams.
Despite that it's been great at the net for reaction volleys.

For the serve, I feel that it needs more swing and flatter motion to get any power on the 1st serve.
But this is a very consistent racket on serve, you won't be getting many double faults if you already have a consistent 2nd serve.

Overall, I am really pleased with it especially with the improvement on my groundstrokes.

I would recommend it to anyone that has been playing for a while using the bigger frames that want to try to go to the next level and develop a fuller swing and also add better control on their groundstrokes. Its good control will be extra forgiving for this type of transitional player.

Tennis Plan A not working?

One of the guys that I've been playing with for a long time told an interesting tennis tale:

"I remember a player at X's session that, other than serving, would just stand near the net to play volley and smashing. He is good at that. But smart opponents would hit balls to bypass him. Lobs and hitting only to his partner all the time to avoid him.
I happened to partner him a few times. In the last one, which I promised myself never to partner him again, the opponents did just that and I have to return all the balls all the time. I had tried to hit the ball hard enough so that the opponents have a little more difficulty to handle the return.
At one point, he actually shouted to me that I need not hit the ball hard all the time. WTH? OK, I hit them softer. This actually gave the opponents more time and accuracy for their shots. All the more that none of the balls go to this guy. We lost 6-0 and he didn't want to talk to me nor shake hands after the set. Me neither.
It made me very moody after that set.
For many other partners, most of them would give advice on how to counter the opponents, who to attack and how to. You learn new tricks with them. With that guy, you learnt not to partner him."

My own thinking is that sometimes, if something is not working (I define not working in the most quantifiable way in that if you keep losing points), you need to change your plan.

This guy that we are talking about, not only is his team losing, people are not hitting to him ... why does he still want to stick to the same plan of waiting at the net until his team gets beaten 0-6?
One has to ask if he cannot even think of doing something different?
How about just staying back at baseline and go to "2 back" instead of one at the net and one at baseline?
I can understand where he is coming from, in terms of varying pace. 
Sometimes varying pace can get you points with opponent making errors, but it really is a personal thing.

Varying spin is easier for me than varying pace. But it's easier said than done.
It is a very good point made that other partners will offer advice on the opponent and overall approach.

In my playing together with other partners and from my personal experience, I have found that talking to your partner or another guy to change his game has almost never worked.

Let's be realistic.

The only way people can change their game at our level is to observe and learn and also try new things. 
We don't have coaches. 
Among the folks I play with, we talk more about the ATP pros' games, their strengths and weaknesses compared to analysing our own or our other friend's games.

Sometimes a good way to learn is to lose.

If your weakness is very obvious, and your opponent has enough sense, he will exploit your weakness.
If a lot of your opponents do it enough, you will get a lot of practise on your weakness until it may become less of a weakness ... 

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Playing Tennis with Glasses

I have been wearing glasses most of my life.

If I play tennis, I do the following things to cope with the spectacles.

1) Wear spectacle hooks.
They keep the glasses secured cos you don't want them to drop on the hard tennis court and break your lenses.
Happened to me once. Never again.

Here's a link link to a cheap online merchant that sells in Singapore.
SGD$1.50 per pair, but you got to pay a bit more for the shipping.
I always bring an extra pair in the tennis bag. They are pretty light, anyways.

2) Bring a clean and dry towel.
The glasses could get blurry with oil and sweat.
In the tropical climate I play, it happens. Frequently.

Towel them during changeovers.

3) Fitover sunglasses for mid-day games.
I usually play in the late afternoon to evening.
I wouldn't recommend games in the Singapore mid-day sun cos of the sun exposure.

When I was younger, I played too many times in early afternoon sun, and well ... I reckon I look a lot older than my age as a result of it. Folks I know, tell me too. Too late for me.

But ... recently, I got invited to play with an old classmate that was came back to Singapore for a short visit, and the only time our host could get a court was at 1-3pm.

I used a fitover sunglasses I got from ebay and it was working very well.
I even forgot I was wearing one until the game was over.
The link looks expired, but you can still search for "fitover sunglasses" in ebay or amazon.
ebay seems to have cheaper ones.

So from my experience, this product will not only shield your eyes from the bright sun, it also allows you to see the ball.
The price as of writing this is USD$13 with shipping.


Monday, 16 January 2012

Read up - A tennis classic

Obviously, a blog like this should have a reference to the master pusher himself.

It's great reading for the recreational player.
For folks just picking up the game, it's helpful in terms of understanding this deceptively simple yet complex game we all love.

Cement walls for tennis fences?

This must only happen in Singapore ...

Why do so many condominium developers put concrete walls to fence their tennis courts?

I mean, don't these guys know that the balls are just gonna rebound back into the middle of the court or bounce them out of court into the bushes or carpark?

C'mon guys, please just put the regular chain fence.
The chain fences absorb the impact and land the balls usually nicely into the sides of the court.

Your tennis playing residents and guests will thank you for it.