Tennis Prose



Inspiration Academy In Bradenton Is Special

By Scoop Malinowski

To see a tennis academy in operation is in some ways more impressive than watching a match at an ATP or WTA tournament. I went to Inspiration Academy for a couple of days this month and the combination of talent, energy, hard work is an unforgettable experience to witness.

I arrived in the afternoon and was overwhelmed by every court. Practice matches between boys and girls or varying ages and sizes… three kids with a coach doing various ball feed drills … younger beginner kids also doing different high intensity ball feed drills… hearing the coach not just feed balls until the clock stops but seeing areas to fix like “try to stay on balance” and words spoken with a gentle but inspiring tone…

After a few minutes of seeing all this tennis excellence in different forms, the realization is made, this place is different, this place is special with it’s own detailed philosophy…

Inspiration Academy’s 7-Stage Blueprint for Development:
Mind and the heart first. Performance is a behavior. From the right behavior will come the right outcome. Compete from the INSIDE-OUT.
Develop the athletic potential of a player. This includes spatial awareness, balance, agility, proprioception, ball tracking, anticipation, running, jumping, and throwing skills.
Perfect footwork, stances, stroke technique. Grow your understanding of the game with “PAS and 5 dimensions” and “4 errors” .
Repetition with innovative and overload drills. Push players to the edge of their abilities. Make sure all strokes have offense, defense, and neutral capabilities.
Improve strategy and tactics. Know the tactical court, player match ups, and personalized patterns.
Develop mental toughness. Understand the importance of routines and rituals, matchflow, momentum, stages of a match, and problem solving.
Point play with coaching. Be challenged with experience scheduling, competition, then evaluation and re –planning.

Ashley Hobson is the Inspiration Academy tennis director and coach and his background in the sport exceeds some of the bigger name academy figures you all have heard of.

“In December 2014 I came to IA to practice with some players while in Bradenton for Eddie Herr. Driving out of the car park I had a feeling that this would be a great place to be. In April of 2015, I got a call from Inspiration . . . the rest is history.”

Professional Background:

Thirty three year coaching experience in 60 + countries
Worked with some of the worlds best coaches starting out: Dennis Van Der Meer, Peter Burwash
Coaching wins over no. 1 player on ATP and WTA tours – Sampras and Capriati
Worked with many top 100 players on men’s and women’s tours
Developed 15- 20 US National champions
Developed two players boy and 1 girl – 2017/2020 who played at “La Petit As” for the USA (Top 3 in USA)
Grand Slam junior champion 1996 – developed from age 6
National Coach for Hong Kong, China 1996-2001
Hong Kong – Davis Cup Coach and Captain – 5 years
Federation Cup Coach and Captain – 5 years
Developed two teams (6 boys) to world group of Junior Davis Cup and World junior Tennis in 2001 for Hong Kong, China
Coaching seminar speaker – Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Hong Kong, US High Schools Assoc, GA High Schools Assoc, Florida Coaches Association
Speaker ITF regional coaches conference Guangzhou China, 2016
Produced videos – “Movement for Tennis” and “Tennis Technique – Player Development”
Educated as a lawyer with BA and LLB degrees
Tennis education: PTR – 1989 National Tester, USTA High Performance coach 2002, ITF Worldwide coaches conferences – 1997 – Mexico, 1999 – Morocco, 2002 –
Thailand, 2004 – Portugal
NSCA – strength and conditioning coach – CSCS
AIS – Active Isolated Stretching – certified coach
Completed 5 Ironman triathlons, multiple marathons and 2 ultra marathons
Married with two children

I was lucky to get on the court and play with three of the Inspiration Academy players, all teenagers ranging from age 11 to 16. All three were excellent players with professional auras and raw abilities. The one girl I hit with Zoe, could blast a forehand and serve harder than some pros I’ve seen at Grand Slams! Another kid came up to a little past my belt but he hit harder than me (he just won a Little Mo doubles title).

We all see a lot of tennis matches on TV with the best players in the world but to see these striving juniors – several competed at Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl – being taught the right way to play and compete is in some ways more entertaining and edifying than some of the professional sports.

Indian Wells is going to stage an ITF junior event in conjunction with it’s pro tournament next March which will be the first time junior tennis is exposed and promoted on a major platform stage.

Inspiration Academy of Bradenton, Florida may not be a household name yet in the tennis universe but don’t be surprised if it is one day.

“IA is a holistic tennis academy that builds players from the inside out. Character is often second fiddle to tennis in other academies, but Inspiration encompasses both aspects within the development of the COMPLETE tennis player. Their adept philosophy has produced many tremendous players and individuals throughout the years and will continue to do so,” said former Inspiration Academy tennis coach Aquille Trotman.

The lasting image I had of Inspiration Academy yesterday before departing was a stunning sight I have never seen before. Every player and coach went on a half of the tennis court and they all played a game of … HOCKEY! Well, it was more like trying to play hockey with all 42 players inside a racquetball court, there was not much skill, passing and shooting but it was a frenzy of energy, excitement, smiles, laughing, pure joy – and even a few lucky goals.

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