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Video is a key tool for master instructor

Jason Joseph is a teaching tennis professional at the Village Glen and South Towns tennis clubs. In February, he will be one of 30 teaching pros who will be designated as Masters of Tennis Performance by the Professional Tennis Registry, which consists of 14,000 members from around the world.

The ceremony will take place in Hilton Head Island, S.C., at the organization's annual meeting.

Joseph teaches about 45 hours a week and has national performance certification in the United States and Canada. He instructs players of all ages.

"Jason sets himself apart from other tennis professionals because of his dedication to constantly improve himself," said Steve Keller, director of player development for the Professional Tennis Registry. "His personal demeanor is outstanding and he makes his teaching very easy to learn."

Joseph was born to teach tennis. Even as a teenager he was always looking for ways to improve players' games.

"I firmly believe that every coach should have a methodology," he said. "They should know where they should begin teaching with each student. They must recognize what skills they are trying to improve and show ways that their students can improve those skills."

Whether teaching beginners or advanced players, Joseph has learned from coaches around the world that tennis pros must have great patience, must know the skills that they are trying to improve and how to do so.

"Two qualities really make a good coach," Joseph said. "They must have knowledge of the players' limitations and must know how to to change these limitations into success stories."

Joseph is a strong believer in videotaping his students. He feels that there is a big difference between what a player thinks he is doing and what he is actually accomplishing on his shots. Visualization is a tremendous asset in helping a player see things that he needs to improve upon.

"When a player watches a video of himself, especially advanced players, they are often shocked as to what they see," Joseph said. "The video gives players a whole new perspective as to what they are doing. Because, what they see on the video isn't what they expected."

Joseph uses a high-speed, slow motion video camera to analyze a player's movement during a stroke. A player who feels he is hitting the ball a certain way is often surprised when they see themselves on the video.

He cited a story about a local 4.0 men's tennis player with whom he was working. The player was pulling his head down at the impact on his serve. After seeing a video of himself he worked on his serve and showed great improvement.

Joseph feels that another great advantage of videotaping is that it is great for technical development. The video shows how a player sets up, starts his motion early, makes correct contact, and that the player is hitting through the ball properly.

Videotaping is also great for tactical purposes. When you tape a match you can see the tactics that work and shots that are being used in different situations. Joseph also shows his students videos of pros hitting various shots. He puts the video next to videos of his students hitting the same stroke.

"You just can't tell the student that he is improving," Joseph said. "You have to show him that he is improving by the quality of his shot, by charting aspects of their game, and further video analysis."

As for the secret of Joseph's popularity, Pam Almeter, a 4.0 player, says, "Jason has the innate ability to assess your needs and then translate his tennis instruction into a format that anyone can understand. He also is very intelligent and will sometimes use physics to explain various parts of your game."

"Jason listens to what the parents feel is missing," said Ramila Ghajar, whose two children are students of Joseph's. "He doesn't insist his way is the proper way and he evaluates his students very well. He is also excellent at setting up programs that are suited to the students' needs."

e-mail: thegreatgar@verizon.net

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