Pro Tips – The Backhand Slice

As an instructor at Carmel Valley Tennis, Donald “Don” Gomsi assists players at all levels. Don Gomsi focuses on helping beginning and intermediate players to develop good technique and advanced players to work on their game strategy.

The backhand slice can help a player in a number of ways, including as a way to slow the ball down or as preparation for an approach shot. The technique creates backspin as the strings make contact underneath the ball, but it requires careful attention to mechanics. A proper backhand slice should have a subtle high-to-low path, which the player achieves through upper-body rotation and by turning the shoulder.

A well-executed backhand slice also involves bending the knees, which allows the player to swing through the ball. This helps the slice to take on a length and smoothness that, when combined with acceleration, puts power behind the ball. Power requires control to be effective, however, so a player employing the backhand slice should attempt to scoop under the outside edge of the ball as he or she sends it on its way.

Performance Anxiety on the Tennis Court

Donald “Don” Gomsi, an experienced tennis coach, currently serves as an instructor at Carmel Valley Tennis in San Diego, California. In this role, Don Gomsi helps his players to prepare mentally before playing a match and to develop coping techniques to decrease anxiety and improve on-court performance.

Anxiety on the tennis court is damaging to more than just a player’s psyche. It can cause muscles to tense, which negatively impacts coordination and causes more anxiety-producing mistakes. This cycle can be very difficult for a player to escape, as attempting to ignore the anxiety typically only leads the player to focus more on those same feelings.

Although one cannot simply tell oneself to “stay calm,” a number of mental strategies may have that same effect. Guided imagery and meditation can help to quiet the mind and to refocus it on elements unrelated to the anxiety. Players have a number of such techniques from which to choose, one of the most popular being breath control. This simple act of consciously breathing in and out helps not only focus the mind but decrease muscular tension.

Some tennis players also find that positive visualization is helpful. In this technique, the player imagines the result he or she desires from the experience, whether it’s playing with good technique or simply finishing the match without anxiety. This allows the player to reframe negative self-talk and gain control over his or her own thoughts.

Convention Activities of the USPTA San Diego Chapter

Don Gomsi has contributed to the success of tennis in California for many years. Working now at Carmel Valley Tennis in Del Mar, Don Gomsi provides clinics and lessons for rising stars.

Donald Gomsi also is a member of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). The USPTA’s San Diego Chapter recently held its third convention in March 2015, during which, a number of seminars covering various topics took place.

One winning coach described the methods he used in team practice. His practices have two objectives: reinforcing basic skills and increasing competitiveness. Sessions are organized into warming up, fundamental skills, competition, fun games, strengthening, and cooling off. Each activity has a goal. For instance, a drill might consist of hitting balls as much as possible.

Another speaker addressed factors affecting players over 40. According to the speaker, over-40 players often have plenty resources to help them improve their games, including extra time and disposable income. They can be motivated to like competitions and workouts and are capable of learning new skills. Pros should concentrate on skills the players still possess, rather than focus on weaknesses.