Alienpros Overgrips Review

I have been extremely fortunate to have caught the attention of Alienpros, a company that produces designer overgrips for sports such as Tennis, Badminton, Baseball and Golf.

I was asked to consider becoming an ambassador for the company in April 2018, and was so impressed by their vision and product that I accepted the offer.

 

 

As part of my position as a Solar Ambassador, I will complete a product review for any tennis fans who are interested to know more about this product.

For more reviews, visit the Alien Pros Official Website.

ALIENPROS OVERGRIPS REVIEW 

UNIQUE DESIGNS + DURABLE + QUALITY PERFORMANCE

The X-Dry overgrip is a non-tacky grip. This type of grip is perfect for a player that wants their overgrip to absorb sweat during play. I would say that this grip is a great option for players who are training/competing in humid climates, such as what is experienced in Australia, South America and Asia. I found the X-Dry overgrip allowing the fingers to have the breathing room desired throughout rallies, in addition to absorbing sweat. The grip itself also didn’t tear or become loose on the handle, meaning that it’s a high quality product and is very durable. The designs of these overgrips are based on themes, such as ‘love’ and ‘food’ (which are my personal favourites) allowing for individual expression.

The X-Tac overgrip is a tacky grip. This type of grip is perfect for a player that wants their overgrip to absorb less sweat during play. I would say that this grip is a great option for players who are training/competing in cooler climates, such as what is experienced in Europe and North America. It is also a great option when playing in the evening where temperataures are lower. I found the X-Tac overgrip to be extremely tacky and provided plenty of absorption to feel as though the handle was glued to your fingers. The grip also didn’t tear or become loose on the handle and most importantly, the tackiness of the grip didn’t wear out with a lot of use. The designs of these overgrips are also themed, such as ‘clouds’ and ‘dragon’ which once again allow for meaning and individual expression.

I truly believe in this product as it combines unique designs, durability and performance. I highly recommend that you try an Alienpros overgrip! You will not be disappointed 🙂

 

 

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The Truth About Sport

I was keen to learn more about a woman who came from very humble beginnings to becoming an Olympian figure skater. Three of my biggest inspirations growing up came from watching athletics, gymnastics and figure skating as a child. The men and women were powerful, strong, intense, yet graceful and it was so fascinating to see what their bodies were capable of doing. It was absolutely breathtaking.

I followed my passion of wanting to represent my country at the Olympics, as a professional tennis player. I did not reach that pinnacle but I do find the journey of an athlete that does very intriguing.

What kind of person do you need to be? What are the characteristics that you need to possess? How do you overcome challenges or adversity? Is there ever an element of luck and timing? Can you truly be in control of your destiny?

I decided to watch the trailer for I,Tonya, a film about a US figure skater and the story behind representing her country at the Olympics and creating history in that sport. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. It was all very unfathomable and almost unbelievable. I won’t give anything away for those who have not seen the film, but I decided to not do any research into Tonya Harding and simply let the film speak for itself. The trailer was that impactful. See for yourself.

I,Tonya Trailer

I watched the film and indeed, there were a few themes that strongly resonated with me.

Tonya’s Expectations

In Tonya Harding’s case, figure skating was her entire life, where performing the jumps and perfecting the choreography in the routine meant everything. After all, that’s what figure skating is, right? Her mother worked multiple jobs to pay for Tonya’s lessons and Tonya herself worked part-time alongside her 8 hour training days at the ice rink in order to make end meet. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being that focused on your goals. How else do you think Tonya became the first woman to land a triple axel in competition? A feat that only one other woman has accomplished to date. But something was missing. The judges scores didn’t seem to suffice in Tonya’s eyes. She didn’t understand what was missing from her performances. She didn’t understand what the judges were penalising her for. Tonya did not know what else she needed to do for the scores she expected. Here lies the truth about sport at the highest level…

The Industry’s Expectations

There really isn’t a rule anywhere in the world of sport that says “an athlete that represents our nation must possess the technical ability and results in their sport, in addition to portraying a standardised image that the industry deems acceptable for prime time viewing”. If anyone knows of such a rule, I’d love to see it because as a coach and mentor, I would advise my students and their parents that this is a hard and fast rule of sport at the highest level. After 20 years within the sports industry, I have not come across a rule with that subject matter however something tells me that sport at the highest level is all smoke and mirrors.

If you ask any child what they love about their favourite sport or athlete, they will tell you it is all about what they feel when they watch that performance. It is never about where that athlete came from or who their parents are or how much money the athlete earns.

Alison’s Expectations

My expectation of both men and women that govern sporting bodies and associations across the globe is to understand and realise that the attraction to an athlete for a child is always about how they feel when they watch their performances. It is all about what they see and hear that makes that child want to emulate the athlete that inspires them. That is the ultimate draw card in every sport.

The concepts of branding, image and status are all made for the consumption of adults. Sport at the highest level should never serve the purpose of adult consumption because it’s core market is children. It is about every child who catches a glimpse of a performance by an athlete and subsequently that sparks a desire, a dream, an ambition to become a professional athlete and/or Olympian themselves. It is time that we become driven by empathy, truth and reality because that is what will inspire and empower a generation.

Back To The Beginning Again

Tennis is one of the toughest sports in my opinion, not just because it is an individual sport, but also due to the fact that there is no set criteria to follow in order to achieve success. If anyone has tried to play tennis at a high level or even a recreational level, it soon becomes evident just how much you dont know about the sport and how little credible information is available to you.

If you are interested and passionate about a specific job, you will be provided with a job description, which assists you in considering your chances of landing the role. If you want to purchase a product, the price, brand and description of the product is given to you prior to purchase. If you want to travel to a certain country, it just takes one online search to find out everything you need to know to proceed. In a way, there is some form of expectation and so working towards meeting that expectation seems plausible. What about tennis? Where are the ‘trip advisors’ or ‘expedias’ in relation to tennis? It’s non existent. You may be wondering why this is the case. I know I have on many occasions.

The biggest reason for that in my opinion is because becoming a professional tennis player is like wanting to be a successful actor/actress, singer, performer, artist etc. Nobody really knows whether or not someone will excel, even though the potential is evident. There are no two individuals who will have the same journey either. Take Venus and Serena Williams for example, who were born to the same parents, raised in the same household, had the same upbringing, but have had very different careers as tennis players both on and off the court. There is no certainty that being taught at a prestigious school, academy or anywhere else and by whom for that matter will result in success either. It’s a matter of trial and error, drawing to a halt and then starting back at the beginning again in order to find what brings out the best in you or your player. The trigger for this process is when you begin to see your results plateau over a period of 6 to 12 months. Flexibility is just the start. Being open to new ideas, innovation and changing routines/processes is what this is all about.

In sport, your biggest rivals are your competition. The key is to be on your toes so to speak, keeping your eyes and ears open, continually studying your competition to understand their strengths and weaknesses. All the while to ensure you HAVE and SUSTAIN a competitive advantage. Differentiating yourself is the greatest asset of all!

 

What Is Your Legacy?

What is my legacy? What will people remember me for? I have asked myself these questions every now and then. Many people have told me that I’m too young to be thinking about my legacy, as a 27 year old, but I beg to differ. It’s important to let things fall into place in life and to follow your heart, but we also need to think about how our decisions will impact others. As a member of society, we have a duty to not only ourselves and immediate family, but to those around us as well. How will our decisions impact our own life and the lives of others? Will it be positive or negative? Are we empowering or disempowering those around us? I find that the impact we have on others shapes our legacy and inspires those around us to become the best version of themselves.

As you all know, I was a professional tennis player for five years. There were so many players that inspired me because of their on court ability and achievements. However, there was one particular player who stood out from the rest. He had a powerful forehand and serve, was charismatic, had a wonderful personality, was highly competitive, fun to watch and had great sportsmanship. He also happened to be my childhood heartthob 😉

This man was the one and only Andy Roddick. He was the US men’s number 1 tennis player for many years, won the US Open in 2003 and reached world 1 on the ATP tour that same year. He also won 32 other career singles titles and held a 74.18% career win/loss record over his 12 year career as a professional. It’s an exceptional record that should be celebrated and applauded. However, many people aren’t aware that Andy did not only have an exceptional on court record, but the decisons he made off court are what helped shape his character and legacy beyond his playing career. It was during the same year that Andy turned professional, in 2000, he established the Andy Roddick Foundation. His foundation sought to provide opportunities to low-income communities through education and sports mentoring. So many tennis players got behind Andy and purchased his ‘no compromise’ blue bracelets (including myself), among other items, with all proceeds from purchases went to his foundation. It is worthy of pointing out that this was prior to Lance Armstrong’s ‘live strong’ brand explosion, which also featured the bracelet but in a yellow colour instead. Throughout his career he was actively involved in various charity events, including hosting an annual gala for his foundation.

Andy’s actions became the benchmark for me as a tennis player and many others as well. It was quite ironic that later on in my career I would begin to use the same racket as Andy, his signature Babolat Pure Drive Plus frame, and a rubber band as a vibration dampener. I also decided to work with one of his former coaches Tarik Benhabiles in the US, who played a huge role in the development of Andy’s game. I should’ve contemplated wearing Lacoste clothing at that time. Now, that would’ve been a dead giveaway that I really wanted to be just like Andy Roddick 🙂

Remember to think about your legacy and how the decisions you make today will impact others. Your actions today will shape your character, be a part of your legacy and inspire those around you to become the best version of themselves.

Andy’s Career Stats

 

Lessons from the French Open

  1. Be cool – Playing the big points well can get you across the line, i.e. Garbine Muguruza during the second week of tennis, particularly against Samantha Stosur and Serena Williams.
  2. Work the crowd – The French crowd loves showmanship and they support the player who is entertaining. Remember that tennis is a form of entertainment and people are paying money and/or giving up their time to watch you compete.
  3. Sliding is an art form – I noticed many athletes losing their footing at times throughout the tournament, so as a tip to juniors or anyone out there playing on clay courts, not every ball requires you to slide into it to make your strike. Balance is key.
  4. Tennis player by day, tourist by night – One thing I can assure you is that you don’t get the opportunity to travel a great deal in your life time, so when you have the chance, make the most of it! Go into the city or town, meet with the locals, enjoy their cuisine and way of life, even try to communicate in the local language too. You’ll have a blast.
  5. Be patient – This is so crucial when playing on the clay, because this is the slowest surface in the game and naturally, your opponent will run more tennis balls down so you cannot expect the usual ‘one-two-three’ strike combo you love to play. It’s all about hitting multiple strokes per point, so be creative and expect another ball at all times.
  6. Black always works – How good does the black tennis apparel look against the red clay? I think it looks amazing! 😉

I believe that the clay court tennis season is the most physically demanding season of them all. If you practice on the clay courts frequently, you will not only learnt to be more patient, but you will become a fitter player. It’s important to vary your training from clay court to hard court and find a balance that suits you. Have fun out there!

 

Are Certain Age Groups Essential?

I remember growing up and competing in so many tournaments all over NSW. It was important to compete against a variety of players so we often ventured out to the regional events as well. The one thing I can recall vividly is that coaches, tournament directors, referees, parents etc would often comment on the reduced size of the draws within the older age groups. They would often be at a loss as to why this was occuring.

Fast forward over 10 years and I see the same thing happening. If you take note of the amount of entries in the under 12 and 14 events, the figures are healthy. In contrast, the under 16 and 18 events are more than often struggling to fill a draw of 32 players (elimination). There doesn’t seem to be a difference in the singles and doubles events either. Now, I don’t have the statistics to back up my comments however if you have competed in any NSW sanctioned event or frequented tournaments held within NSW, I am confident you will agree that there is a direct correlation between age and participation. I believe that there is enough statistical data for Tennis Australia to analyse and perhaps acknowledge the fact that there is definitely a correlation between age and participation.

Tennis is a unique sport, because you can play tennis for your entire life, no matter your level. It is a very challenging sport, so naturally the more time and effort you put into developing your game, the better you will become. This leaves the question, why are the entries into the under 16 and 18 events dropping off? There are so many reasons for this, for example it could be education, social life, work, friends, family, loss of interest, moved onto another sport etc.

If you are a serious athlete, it is important to compete against players within your age group, otherwise it is irrelevant. Here is my potential solution to this issue:

The Potential Solution

  • Introduce a ‘kids circuit’ of events which incorporates the hot shots stages of tennis*. There is a lot of potential here at this stage, whereby tennis clubs, coaches and facilitators can really engage families and their children by the philosophy that tennis is ‘more than a game’. The club culture and atmosphere can set the tone for the crucial developmental years ahead. It can help boost participation at a club level, which is the springboard to competitive tennis. A special ‘Australian Open’ prize for the entire family could be one of the many offers available to competitors.

image

  • No change to the under 12 and 14 event categories. Why change something that has a proven track record?
  • No change to the under 12, 14 and 18 national championships. Perhaps the under 16 national championships should be revised as relevant or not and ultimately scrapped if the latter is decided upon. The reason for this is that there is no ‘reward’ or ‘incentive’ for the players who excel here. For the under 12 and 14 category there is the potential for exposure, selection into national academies and other touring programs and for under 18 category there is the Australian Open wildcard, AIS scholarship program opportunities etc.
  • Scrap the under 16 and 18 junior category and introduce a new category named ‘Open Teens’, with a minimum age, ranking and number of events played per calendar year criteria for younger players (this should align with the current ITF junior circuit age and eligibility rules and regulations). In terms of the draw types, there are many options here, such as having players compete in various pools, leading to a main draw play off, a compass draw or round robin with a play off, or main draw and qualification. Of course, the rankings will play a part in terms of the seeded and unseeded players as per normal. The positives of this change is that the draw will fill up with better competition due to the variety in age and ability. As a coach, I can tell you that the amalgamation of two age groups within a 4-5 year range will be the best thing for the development of a junior player. If the ITF are doing that, then why can’t we do the same in Australia? There will also be a reduction in administrative and labour expenses for clubs and most importantly, improve the culture of tennis so that players are encouraged to compete as adolescents and not discouraged due to the lack of entries. This can lead to further participation at a higher level and a better transition into professional tennis.
  • No change to the Australian Money Tournament and Pro Circuit.
  • No change to other events not mentioned.

This may seem like quite a revolutionary ‘idea’ however something needs to be done. There is no use to continue using a structure that is not working, so there really isn’t any risk with implementing a new structure in my opinion. If nothing is done, then we need a miracle.

 

 

*Hot shots tennis events are currently being held across Australia, however to my knowledge there is no ‘circuit’.

Be Proactive About Your Career!

When it comes to your career, nobody will open doors for you just for the sake of it. We have all heard of the saying “when one door closes, another opens”. Well, I don’t want to be pessimistic, but this rarely happens unless you are mentally prepared to accept other opportunities and challenges. No matter where you are or who you are interacting with, try to be memorable. If you are able to leave a positive impression on others, then you are well on your way to success. In my opinion, that is what opens doors in your career.

This leads me to the topic of sponsorship and endorsements. It’s all about making the company believe in you and your story. The “pitch” is very important, perhaps more important than your skills at that point. It’s very much like show business. If you have an amazing idea for a TV show, you will need to sell the ‘idea’ to a boardroom of executives at a television network. At that point, you have a rough outline of the shows’ premise, characters, target audience etc but nobody can guarantee it will be a hit. All of our favourite shows were created in this way, by selling an ‘idea’. It all comes down to making the company believe in you and your story.

Here are a few questions that you can expect to hear when you approach a company for sponsorship or endorsement;

– Why should XYZ sponsor you?
– What can you offer XYZ?
– Why do you want to be sponsored particularly by XYZ?
– What connection do you have with XYZ?
– Does anybody who is promoting XYZ inspire you?
– What are your personal goals and how can XYZ help you achieve them?

If you are prepared, your responses will be clearer and executed with confidence. This is extremely important when it comes to closing the deal. Good luck!

 

It’s All About Knowing When To Pull The Plug

I heard a very intelligent business woman once say “you’ve got to know when to pull the plug”. For some reason that statement resonated with me.

It should be said that any decision you make has to be based on the principle that you either see potential or you don’t. There is nothing worse than waiting for a miracle whilst other opportunities pass you by. It’s like not being able to board a moving train that carries all of your hopes and dreams aboard. It doesn’t wait for you. I learnt this lesson early on in my life and it is a very important one.

I have made mistakes, not taking an opportunity when perhaps I should have. One of those mistakes occurred quite recently. I reached a certain point where I had outgrown a particular environment and the people around me, but I didn’t make a move soon enough. I feel as though that was an error on my part. As a big fan of Oprah Winfrey, I will mention that when she began her own television network, there was a lot of negative criticism coming from many sources. Even Oprah Winfrey needed to use that important life lesson of knowing when to pull the plug (re The Oprah Winfrey Show and OWN). I personally thought she made the right decision, particularly if long-term success was her intention.

It’s important to take risks, even though not all of them will pay off. We only learn from experience.

 

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