Lots of people have been asking about what I am doing and I would like to update you on my current activities. I have learned many valuable lessons since taking a step away from the tour and I will now share some of my experiences, in the hope that it can help others in some way.
Over the last 9 months, I have put my focus and energy into coaching, mindset consulting (via Skype), workshops, travel, yoga and meditation. I am also helping my good friend and USTA High Performance coach Jeff Salzenstein produce video content for his online tennis instruction business, Tennis Evolution, which I would encourage you to check out. We recently connected on a YouTube Live event together, shared stories and got chatting about all things tennis.
Coaching, Mindset Consulting and Workshops
I am now enjoying on court coaching here in Atlanta, Georgia along with mindset consulting. Sharing my experience and knowledge from competing at all levels (Junior tennis, Division 1 College tennis, ITF Futures, ATP Challengers, ATP 250/500, Masters 1000, Grand Slams and Davis Cup) allows me to help a wide range of people. I am asked regularly by parents of young juniors and competitive club players about the strategies, performance habits and training techniques needed to become a world-class tennis player and I realize that so many players are in need of guidance in navigating their way through each level of the game. A large degree of my approach is centered around building a strong mindset but it also includes:
- Video Analysis
- Practice Drills
- Footwork Drills
- Breathing Techniques
- Recovery Techniques
- Motivational and Inspirational Material
- Out of the box approaches to excelling in competition
I’ve had the great fortune to work with some excellent mental performance coaches throughout my career and I believe there is huge value in this. My mindset consulting will keep you accountable, focused and challenged consistently. I am currently working remotely with juniors, recreational players and professionals. For those interested in learning more about mindset consulting and the approach I use, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
During the last year, I delivered workshops to a number of clubs. The goal of these workshops is to increase the exposure of professional tennis to young players, teach others about purposeful practice and share tools and techniques used by the best players in the world. In the current workshop, I go through a full 2 hour practice session with my Irish compatriot and Davis Cup professional player Julian Bradley. Much of the session is based around my practices with top players like Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios etc. If your club is interested in arranging a workshop in the future, please email me at email@example.com
In 2017, I accomplished quite a bit. I played the qualifying of all 4 Grand Slams, helped Ireland get promoted to Group 2 in Davis Cup, won rounds in the qualifying of the Australian Open, Wimbledon, ATP 500, Masters 1000 events and I had some good victories over some excellent players, notably rising-star Denis Shapovalov at a U.S. Challenger and Sergei Stakhovsky at Dubai ATP 500.
As the year progressed into the summer months last year, I travelled without a coach to every event including Wimbledon Qualifying, Newport ATP, two U.S. Challengers, Montreal Masters Series and the U.S. Open. I couldn’t afford a full-time coach to travel with me and the stress I was under combined with the physical demands of competing, eventually started to wear me down. The quality of my performances began to drop considerably and for the first time in my life, I stopped enjoying myself out on the tennis court. How could I stop enjoying a sport I love so much?
With the U.S. Open around the corner and all the opportunity it presented, I chose to focus on pushing myself in order to prepare and disregarded the warning signs from my body, mind and emotions. Needless to say, I was running on empty and burnt out. My body would eventually rebel and force me to stop, whether I liked it or not. I had no option but to retire first round in the U.S. Open Qualifying event due to a bulging disc in my back, which was impinging on a nerve. It was excruciatingly painful but thankfully I made a full recovery just a few months later thanks to the team at Santry Sports Injury clinic and my physical therapist Gerard Hartmann.
A New Perspective
Part of my decision for taking time off the tour has been to view life through a different lens. As an athlete, one eye is always on the countdown timer to the next event and I reached the stage where I inherently knew it was more important to ditch the timer, take a step back and try to view life from an aerial view. Purpose and meaning have always been driving forces in my life but I felt compelled more than ever to get outside my comfort zone and examine what my true purpose really is. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when living in an echo chamber and I knew time away from professional tennis would help me to rediscover my inner compass and gain more clarity within myself.
Throughout this time away from professional tennis, I had a series of unforgettable experiences, many of which happened on a trip to South-East Asia at the end of last year. I had spontaneously decided to backpack around South-East Asia as it has always been a part of the world that has enchanted me due to its rich culture, diversity, nature and spirituality. It’s hard to articulate how impactful some of the experiences were but they left me with a much greater appreciation for the beauty of our world, clearer on my own values and more driven than ever to make a difference to others.
I feel motivated to keep improving as a person in order to help others and influence them as positively as possible. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support, friendship and mentorship of some amazing people in my life and I am eager to share my experience and knowledge. Coincidentally, I even had the opportunity to visit a number of tennis clubs in Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and share my tips with some upcoming junior players. I almost died with the heat and humidity in Singapore but I just about survived!
There are so many factors that would need to come together to give myself a chance of competing at the highest level on tour again. I am keeping an open mind to it as anything is possible. For now, my focus is to continue helping players of all levels through my coaching, consulting, workshops and videos with Tennis Evolution. I have a lot to give and a lot to share and am looking forward to this new stage of the journey. I am always open to new ideas so please contact me if you would like to collaborate in some way. To anyone looking for mindset consulting remotely, workshops or tennis lessons here in Atlanta, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, Thank you for your support and Best Wishes!
P.S. You can also connect with me on Facebook HERE and Twitter HERE.
Hi James~ Thank you for the up date on your career change. I’m happy that you connected with Jeff. He has a unique coaching set up on line, etc.
He’s one of my favorite players from the Seascape Challenger & the only player 2 win back 2 back challenger finals in the 30 years of the event.
Blessing on your coaching career Joyce & Rob