Why playing on clay is great

Clay is great for tennis players.

I wish I (Peter) would have played more on clay even if that had meant that I would have lost more matches.

Because when you go to hard court, from clay it’s so much easier to play tennis.

When you go from grass to hard court.

You are so bad afterwards on hard courts.

So as much as you can play on clay because it’s good for you.

What to remember as a tennis coach if you are a former player

First of all, if you have been a player, you have to cut the string, you’re done, it’s over. Your tennis career is over. I think a lot of coaches have a problem with that. They cannot see, “OK, it’s over”.

…but it is.

Use all the experiences and all the mistakes you did. That’s a good start. If you haven’t been a player, if you have another background to be a coach, then it’s totally different.

In my (Peter) case, I tried to listen a lot to the players. It’s an advantage having been a player at a certain level, because you can you think a little bit like them and that’s a good thing.

When that is said, when I (Peter) work with somebody, I don’t have a line that this is the way it should be. You always have to see who you work with. Some players need more practice, some need more quality and less practice.

How being a father has changed Peter Lundgren’s view on parents in tennis

Q: Have your viewpoint changed on how parents should be involved in their kid’s tennis journey after you’ve become a parent yourself?

Yeah, of course.

I get reminded every single day as a coach. It doesn’t matter what level it is.

I lived in the states 10 years and I worked with decent players, bad players, and then you see parents who want it more than the kids and that is very sad for me to see. It’s a problem that the parents want too much and want to get involved and tell the coach. I had so many times a parent come up to me and say: “My son needs to work on this and this.”

I said, “Listen, sit down and I’ll have a look and see what I think.”

Then the parents became quieter. But that’s how you have to act. You just have to say, hey. You took a lesson from me, so sit down. You know, it’s very common around the world that the parents are too involved.

Q: Have you found that changing over the years that the parents have become more involved or at least wanting to be more involved?

Yes, definitely. I believe a big reason is the money involved, which then makes the parents getting involved, too. They want their kid to be good and be making money. And, that’s the way it is. And it doesn’t matter what sport it is. Some money is always involved in the big sports, like tennis. So, parents are more involved. That’s just way it is.

Being a traveling coach as a father

It’s very hard. That was the hard part for me (Peter), especially with Roger (red. Federer), because we did so many weeks together. We did 40 weeks. So basically, I had a relationship with him because I spent so much time with him. Further he was a kid when I worked with him. He was going from being kind of young in his mind outside the court growing into a man. So, it was a lot of work outside the court and also on court of course.

It was easy with Marat (Red. Safin) because by then he was more a man, so I didn’t have to focus so much on him as a person. It was strictly business. I didn’t travel as extensively with him as I did with Roger, so I had some time with my family.

Q: If you could provide yourself with an advice with what you know now, what would that be?

Don’t do too many weeks in a row. It’s hard to be away from the family for 5-6 weeks. It’s very, very hard. I prefer going away for 3 weeks and then have a block of 2 weeks at home and then go away again. Leading up to Grand Slam, you have to do a month. But in between the slams you have to have some breaks. 1 week is not enough as you come home, and you land. You feel all right. It’s nice to be home and then you have to go again. If you have 2 or 3 weeks at home, then you feel more like you can relax a little bit and take care of the family and do things together, because 1 week it’s simply too little.

#99: Peter Lundgren – The good, bad & ugly part of being a traveling Tennis Coach


Hi guys, In this episode you are going to listen to Peter Lundgren. Peter might be best known for coaching 3 world number ones in Marcello Rios, Roger Federer and Marat Safin, but he was a great player himself with a ranking high of #25 ATP and 3 ATP titles to his name. Besides the previously mentioned players Peter has had coaching stints with the likes of Marcos Baghdatis, Francesca Schiavone, Grigor Dimitrov and Stanislas Wawrinka.

You’ll get to know:

  • How it is being a traveling tennis coach and a father
  • The differences between Federer and Safin
  • Why balls are good for spectators, but bad for players

Enjoy the show!


01:30 Dealing with different tennis players
03:00 The difference between Federer and Safin
05:30 Dealing with being a traveling tennis coach and a father
07:30 Deciding on the size of your entourage as a player
09:30 Dealing with tennis parents
11:00 Peter’s lessons from coaching in Houston for 10 years
13:30 The Francesca Schiavone story
16:40 Why you should play on clay
18:30 Why new balls are good for spectators and bad for players
19:30 The player-coach employment
21:00 The good bad and ugly part of being a traveling coach
23:00 Biggest lesson in tennis; be humble
23:15 Tribute to Bjorn Borg
24:30 Peter Lundgren’s tennis advice

2 Lessons for Tennis Players from the Royal Marine Commandos

One of my (Howard) key mentors, Keith Reynolds from the first day I met him he wanted me to use my military background. It’s taken a little bit of time for me (Howard) to come full circle and become comfortable with my military past on how I might use it in tennis. The main thing now that I believe is totally transferable to tennis and it’s the concept of…

From a military standpoint, in terms of your own weapon handling skills, regardless of the situation, condition weather all the way through to how you operate with the guy next to you, how you operate as a section troop, all these things would be rehearsed in varying levels of intensity and situation. I (Howard) believe that could be brought into tennis because I’d love to be able to ask at all times:

“How is that session, whether it be 30 minutes, two hours, how close from a tactical standpoint, physical standpoint, a mental standpoint, rehearse and practice what they’ll need in matchplay?”

I (Howard) think a lot of the time, if we’re truly honest, it’s a little bit too far from what’s going to be required. That starts with the engagement with the player themselves. Making them aware of the effort that you play for this next two hours session can have a real big impact on your next match. Or it could have a detrimental effect, because when we come to a position where the bullets start flying at you, you’re only going to drop to your worst level. For me, that was bullets. For the tennis players that’s to serve. If they’re not fully prepared, then that’s going to show up in the most stressful situations. Be it a breakpoint, tiebreaker, set point or match point.

What else can tennis players learn from the military?

One of the key things that is done in the military is what we call battle preparation. There would be specific camouflage linked to the specific scenario. So,imagine that you’re in the desert and you’ve got loads of grass hanging at the top of you, you’ve not really prepared. For an tennis player that might be, traveling to Country X. Having a look a what the weather’s like over there. Oh, wow. It’s freezing or it’s super humid. Right. Do I think I need to take some kind of electrolytes with me, so on and so forth. If it’s hot weather, I’ve got my son cream and my cap. We would check that our radio signals are all in line so we know we can speak to each other. That will be a little bit like a tennis player being very, very clear on his/her game plan with their coach before going into a tournament. Ammunition we would make sure that we were stocked. Have you got enough rackets, extra strings, grips etc.

The list goes on and on and they’re a so many simple things tennis players can do on a daily basis to have a bigger impact on their performance.

The rocky road of talent

I (Howard) do see in the tennis world some people dealing with adversity much better than others. There are many players that would have started and had kind of a meteoric rise. Then when they come up against adversity, they just fall off the edge of the cliff. So, they’ve not prepared themselves. On the way up the mountain, there’s a journal called The Rocky Road of Talent in which if you’ve got a player, that is doing great, beating everybody and every tournament is very easy to the player. That’s a red flag. That’s a big red flag. You have to do something about that.

So, one of the things you might do is within training put constraints in terms of drills with the players to make it harder for them to win and get them to train with or from time to time compete with the older players. You may even sign them up for a tournament ill prepared. You want to create what they in the journal would call talent trauma. A straight line up is danger. It needs to be a little more up and down. Players needs to both be great players but also have robustness and the resilience alongside that. That’s important and it needs to be trained.

Iga Swiatek who won French Open is working with a sports psychologist. Some commented that it was strange that she’s working with a sports psychologist, but Sport psych is a huge component. It’s a lonely place on the tennis court. It’s not like any other sport, where when you make an error. Your teammates can get around you or you can go missing for five minutes while you get your thoughts together. On the tennis court it’s all on you. So, the resilience, robustness and the whole psychological side alongside being a great tennis player is very important.

What not to do when working on coordination with Tennis Players

This is what sometimes worries me (Howard) when I see coaches working on coordination with tennis players.

I (Howard) see coaches go “Okay, I have got my session in 10 minutes”. They have a quick scroll on Instagram. Find a drill and decides it looks cool. That is then what they will do on the court.


…but it’s not fine because when the coach applies the random drill from Instagram, he/she doesn’t really understand the context of drill. So, the coach tries the drill. It’s going well initially and then it starts breaking down for one player. He just cannot achieve it. For another player it’s far too easy and a few players where it’s just about right. The coach will have a tough time make it easier or harder if they are not understanding the main purpose of the drill.

Further it becomes difficult to give effective coaching cues to the players as different kids prefer different information. The players ask the coach “What is it you really want me to do, Coach?” and if the coach doesn’t know it will become difficult to even carry on the drill. The drill continues until it deteriorates even more, or the coach just pulls the plug. Either way, an intelligent little player is going to pick up on that. And the coach just lost a little bit of respect and buy in because it became a little bit too much of a circus trick.

What S&C Coaches are trying to achieve when working with Tennis Players

My (Howard) main driver as a physical coach is to make the player as efficient as possible. By that, I (Howard) mean to use the lowest amount of energy even at the highest impact or highest speed actions. The more efficient we can make tennis players, the less energy they’re going to use and therefore the less impact on the body.

So, for example, the technology on Andy Murray, and a young British kid, similar situations. The younger kid shows higher impact forces, higher slowing down forces. Is that because he’s moving quicker or is it that Andy is moving more efficiently? It’s probably Andy’s moving more efficiently.

We’’re trying to really make this efficient athlete, doing the least amount of toll on the body as possible, because we know, tennis is becoming faster, quicker and more explosive. I (Howard) see it going more and more like Basketball, bigger players, stronger players, more athletic players.

Tennis Players are smart – Give them a chance

During this pandemic time I (Howard) have learned how young tennis players can be quite independent and we as coaches shouldn’t undermine that.

I (Howard) think we assume a lot we might over coach. We probably should give them a bit more kudos that they can work things out and find their own answers.

When I went to Switzerland, Benn Linder’s number 2 said his brother’s a teacher and he said: “The minute you give the child the answer, it takes away their opportunity to learn.“.

I (Howard) think that if just give them a little bit more chance to discover it might look messier from the balcony or through the window, but just give them a chance.