By this time I expect those reading this to be aware of multiple benefits The Eye Coach has as an instructional tool for both tennis athletes and coaches. We all know how it has helped us acutely address body mechanic issues with students both with positioning and swing concepts. Students today have cleaner points of contact because of better use of their balance from their head stillness and correct use of their eyes. We certainly all see how students are improving quicker because they’re getting higher quality repetitions and higher quantity repetitions with  use of The Eye Coach, meaning they’re registering for more lessons, learning more, wanting more and playing more because they see and feel improvement. These are excellent selling points you and I have discovered in our years with The Eye Coach, so now let me share with you something you didn’t know.

I was a good high-school tennis, and regional junior tournament player. I was fortunate enough to play for two years at a Division III college and feel lucky to have grown through this game we share. But it wasn’t until I began coaching that I saw all the short-comings in my game and in my habits.  I always struggled with focus, both in academics and athletics. Such is the case with so many of us of course but rather than pushing through those lapses of focus while training or playing I often flaked out and consequently made errors, lost points and lost heart.  I was only diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) when I went to my school counselor in the winter of 1994 with a 1.8 GPA, having been kicked off both my college soccer and tennis teams.  I met my doctor and I was given the standard prescription at the time (Ritalin) and sent on my way. Not much to speak of in terms of long-term strategies for dealing with my challenges focusing. So when I eventually left college I stopped my medication and continued to struggle both academically and athletically.

Here’s why this matters to you… The Eye Coach was the instrument which helped me the most with my challenges focusing, as a player, student of the game and most rewarding as a coach.  As a coach it gave me the ability to structure lesson plans as rotations, giving each student a specific job to do on court and a specific focus when making contact. It was the anchor and foundation for these “rotations”. If the student wasn’t perfect on The Eye Coach they didn’t get a live ball. They had to harness their focus on The Eye Coach before being thrown to the live ball scenario. After all, it’s the live ball which lends itself to so many distractions. So for me and students like me who struggle with focus, the correct installation on The Eye Coach was pivotal for everything that followed.  Each student learned how it felt to use their eyes both correctly and incorrectly, once they felt the difference they were hooked. Emphasizing on head stillness at contact led to cleaner hits and less miss-hits. Students are hitting cleaner with better power, speed and body-control than I have ever witnessed.

My colleagues and I were the first test dummies of The Eye Coach nearly a quarter century ago in Baltimore. We had little idea then how incredible it would be as a teaching tool. I certainly had no idea it would lead to a fulfilling 23 year career helping grow this game we love. My two daughters have been raised using The Eye Coach in their lessons, camps and in our home.  I’ve taken The Eye Coach and installed it in countless classrooms, gymnasiums and athletic courts at schools across Maryland. My colleagues and I have spread the benefits of The Eye Coach to thousands of junior and adult students in our teaching academy and camps in group and individual lessons.  I feel so very lucky to have shared in the growth of their games and their confidence. I know in my heart that if they weren’t improving or feeling good about themselves they wouldn’t keep training with us or coming back for more.  But most rewarding is this feeling inside that the player I was the student I was, that struggled with focus and became so very frustrated with training and learning tennis has evolved into a master teacher of focus. It is my use and mastery of The Eye Coach now that gives students what I never had, the patience and willingness to self-correct, the ability to stay in control of my thoughts and my body while flying around the court.  I’m only guessing that all teachers, coaches, and instructors feel selfishly gratified when they see a little bit of themselves embodied in their students. So when I have a student who is working on The Eye Coach, then goes to a live ball and makes an error, I take great pride when rather than becoming discouraged they know with confidence where the breakdown was and why it was. Without my use of The Eye Coach that student would just have their head filled with random thoughts and coaching commands and their confidence would plummet just as mine had as a student athlete so many years ago.  Better coaching will help grow this game we love and The Eye Coach will play a big role in this, I’m proud to be part.

– Chris Shultz, Director of Operations & J.E.T.T. Program Director

To learn more about Baltimore Fitness and Tennis, click here.