‘So what’s the ultimate purpose of TTB?‘
To promote tennis in the best possible way – by making a lifetime’s knowledge of technical excellence available to anyone who can afford racket and balls.
‘Why would anyone listen to you?’
If you want to see the technical depth and scope, made palatable for a general readership, go to The Forehand section… and keep reading until you’re an expert.
My situation is probably unique – I mean, how many writer/photographers do you know of, who ended up teaching tennis by chance (for almost 20 years), built up an archive of (tens of) thousands of hi-speed tournament sequence photos, wrote their own teaching manual based on (studies of) the strokes of the world’s best players, provided words/pictures/instruction for tennis magazines in Britain, the USA and Europe and developed still-image stroke animations as a teaching aid?
‘I now know of one! So what’s the format? Where do I start?’
There’s no one-route-suits-all path to technical tennis knowledge.
People come to tennis – and #thetennisbook – with varying degrees of skill, knowledge and opportunities to learn.
For this reason, I’ve made these pages entertaining, affordable, and I’ve shaped them into a sort of technical climbing frame, intended to (super) fast-track the reader to knowledge of advanced tennis techniques, in easy-to-understand stages, and to which they can return time-and-again.
If you are new to technical tennis, I advise you start at the beginning of The Forehand (which is free to access) and work your way through each section one-by-one – including both backhands, because knowledge of each will inform your understanding of the other.
‘What about those who aren’t new to tennis?’
They can jump in anywhere, really. But I advise they read from start-to-finish before doing so.
Because THE TENNIS BOOK is like no other sports manual I know of, in that the writer, photographer, digital artist and technical specialist are one-and-the-same person.
You’ll be familiarising yourself with the strokes of many of the world’s greatest ever players, as well as a very personal style of communicating, born of a marriage of sports technique and communicative art, which developed in tandem with my understanding of what happens on tennis courts at the highest and lowest levels.
‘So what’s with the animations?’
I made my first tennis GIF animation in 1999 and I’ve been trying to improve the formula ever since.
I originally shot tournament sequence photos to run the width of magazine pages – frame-by-frame – to illustrate my instructional tennis writing.
But digital imaging provided the opportunity to stack them up and make educationally enhanced stroke sequences, and the slightly jerky nature is perfect for highlighting each element within the full stroke: – in-depth tennis techniques can be served out in visually stimulating portions and made sense of by surrounding sentences.
There are currently two ways of seeing strokes in motion:
1: Click-Through or Swipe
By clicking-thru the stroke frame-by-frame, you can go at your own pace and I can highlight any given element within the full movement.
2: Free running
These can be enhanced to highlight any-and-every aspect of stroke play for easy absorption – and I’m working on some super-easy to follow animated lessons (below).
‘Is #TheTennisBook finished?’
Its an ongoing project, for which the potential is limitless.
‘So what’s your end-game?’
Tennis is dying as a mass-participation sport, which is precisely what it was in my youth.
So I suppose my end-game is to counteract the ‘money-means-everything’ philosophy that’s sucking the heart out of sport in general, by sharing the technical knowledge I’ve accumulated over decades.
To this end, I shall strive to:
- Make sure everyone has the knowledge to develop a world-class tennis forehand for free.
- Translate high altitude technical tennis into an accessible words-and-pictures art form,
- Do justice to the real beautiful game and the strokes of (as many as possible of) its gifted participants.
- Put in-depth technical knowledge, and the opportunity to learn, within reach of all who can afford racket and balls.
- Promote the joys of the learning process, active participation, a healthy pursuit of excellence, realistic expectations and a competitive spirit that accepts the outcome of every match point and stays the right side of egomania.
‘So no search for a champion, then?’
Nah. Already been down that myopic cul de sac, and the main lesson I learned is that tennis can be enjoyed by all, whereas ‘champion’ material is rarer than jackpot lottery tickets.
‘Would now be a good time to tell readers you’ve developed a habit of talking to yourself?’
Yes. But make it clear that its just a teaching aid.
‘’Why do you write all your notes in crayon instead of pen?’
Because Nurse Ratchet won’t allow us to use sharp objects in here.