Johan’s Blog

Roland Garros men's final : Stan Wawrinka beat Novak Djokovic 4-6, 6-4,6-3,6-4. The French Open finals at Roland Garros between Stanislav Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic was a fantastic match. It had drama, amazing shotmaking, momentum swings with very high quality shots and rallies constantly from both players throughout the match. As a former pro I "live" through these guys all the same emotions they feel, definitely not as strong but nevertheless we can "feel" those emotions to some degree. I come away from this match [...]

The ABC's in Tennis As I grew up as a junior tennis player in South-Africa in the 60's and 70's, the glaring gap in my formative years was the fact that there never was any official "mental training" session as we now know it today. I was 100% focused training on the court and basically zero % of actual classroom, sit down and listen to that very essential part of a junior's "mental" training. It was basically "learning on the job"... hopefully. Looking back it [...]

Result: Djokovic beat Murray 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, 6-0… The Australian Open has a very special meaning for me. I won it twice on grass when most TV's were made by Sony and you had to crank the dial to find about 30 channels.... ;) Having played on every center court of the world and winning many 5 set matches (18-4) I think I have a pretty good idea of what happens with your body, your game, your mind at different times of the match. We [...]

Serena Williams, world number 1 and reigning French Open champion was severely trounced today by a fairly unknown Spaniard Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza played almost the same type of tennis Ana Ivanovic played against Williams at the Australian Open, where Ana trounced Williams as well. These two matches should be on every WTA player's I-Pad to see how it is done. And these two losses in majors should be a lesson for Serena on how to combat such situations that she rarely faced and now will [...]

PROGRESS AND REGRESS IN TENNIS Junior tennis mentoring is very challenging even in the best of times. The kids brains are not yet fully developed yet and we as coaches are trying to instill beliefs and knowledge that require "high level" thinking. But it has to be done from an early age. I am going to touch on a subject that I think is important for coaches, kids and parents to understand. Every kid is different and some mature early and some not. Everyone is [...]

CONFIDENCE What is it and how does one become confident and keep it when competing in tennis? As a former top ten player now coaching kids in my academy in Charlotte NC from ages 6-24, I deal with this "factor" every day. We are all born with character traits. These are inherited from our parents and fore bearers. Some people just have "it", whatever "it" is. I can quickly spot a kid who has confidence and a kid who is not. Kids who are always [...]

The Underdog - Australian Open men's final preview by Johan Kriek @johankriek The 2014 Australian Open has been a very interesting one. We saw good players make a big push and reached higher levels with their games and their results show. Players like Cibulkova and Wawrinka have been near the very top of the rankings but with hard work, some new direction with new coaches and focus on mental training, they have pushed themselves very hard and reached new levels for themselves. I find it [...]

My television will be on virtually 24 hours of the day for the 2014 Australian Open. On the men's side a number of rivalries will continue for that coveted trophy not to mention to aim for that number 1 ranking. Nadal is right on track with a win in the Middle East right before the major and has done nothing to disrupt his plans in any way. Business as usual for Rafa. He has not hired a "former great" as a coach like some of [...]

It is with lots of interest in all media especially social media that we read of the new additions on the men's side. What is striking is the fact that all of the coaches that are hired were superstars from the 80's and 90's. It started with Murray hiring Ivan Lendl and we can clearly see the improvement since Lendl joined the Murray camp. Now Roger Federer has hired Stefan Edberg, former number 1 serve and volley expert from Sweden and Boris Becker is hired [...]

My coaching philosophy... If one thinks there is just "one right way" to hit a shot, a serve or he/she is playing too flat, too much topspin or he/she is playing too defensively or too aggressively, etc. I say it is short sighted. If a coach wants kids to play like he/she did, I say it is short sighted and will shortchange the student's tennis development. I was very aggressive as a player, and it showed in my fines!... Lol! Although that is what I [...]