Hall of Fame coach Rick Macci joins us to share his wisdom and experience in our latest episode. His insights on maintaining composure, forgetting mistakes quickly, and converting them into determination for the next point are invaluable for any tennis player.
Rick was the legendary coach of Serena, Venus, and other #1 ranked players in the world and was featured in the movie King Richard.
Rick Macci has trained and worked with Serena and Venus Williams, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, Jennifer Capriati, and many more! Five of his players have reached number one in the world and he has coached eight Grand Slam Champions. His junior players have won 322 USTA National Championships and currently over 60 WTA and ATP players work with Rick regularly.
We were honored to record Mental Tips from Legendary Coach Rick Macci (Part Two).
If you haven’t heard our first conversation with Rick, listen here.
You can contact Rick at email@example.com or learn more about programs on his website here.
Here’s a complete transcript with Rick:
Carolyn Roach: 0:07
Hi, this is Carolyn and I’m here with Erin, and this is part two of our conversation with Hall of Fame tennis coach Rick Macci. He has coached some of the best players in the world and currently over 60 WTA and ATP players work with Rick on a regular basis. If you’d like to learn his tennis tips for adult recreational players, please check out part one, but here is part two.
Erin Conigliaro: 0:30
Can you give some mental tips when we get frustrated on the tennis court? And remember again adults, jobs, children. We aren’t just playing tennis 50 hours a week. We have a lot of other stuff to do, but we get super frustrated. So can you give us some advice on that?
Rick Macci: 0:47
Absolutely. This is as much in my wheelhouse as biomechanics or strategy or anything the mental part. Way back in the day, when I was at Greenleaf, I first kind of did a lot of things with Dr James Lair. He’s like a pioneer in sports psychology. Now there’s been a lot of people, but he was the leader in the clubhouse and we were so much on the same page the way I was brought up and how to flip things in your mind. But, to answer your question, the people at the top of the game they might not even be the best athlete or they might not have the best of all this stuff, but mentally they’re different. They remember to forget. They’ve mastered the art of forgetting. When you miss a shot, like you said, something’s going to go through your body. You got 20 seconds to flip it in your mind like it happened 20 years ago. It’s the hardest thing to do because we want to respond. Now, if you get mad, like when I had Roddy, he would get mad all the time. But the next point, he was like a little pipsqueak at 11. He got more determined. Serena was like that. So if you can turn in that direction, or something like Sharapova, a bomb went off next to her. She didn’t even know what happened. She was there and that’s why I went on the record. This kid could be number one in the world because she had the mental part. But having the ability to forget is the leader in the clubhouse and it’s a skill and it’s an art. But if you practice getting mad all the time, you’re getting better at getting mad, and I tell people this all the time. Watch people play singles and how they respond to their mistakes. Then watch them when they play doubles. Even the best juniors in the world when they make a mistake in doubles, they give a high five. The other person said it’s okay, everybody’s best friend, they’re in love again and they forgot about it. We’re in singles. You’re there by yourself. So you’ve got to be mentally so strong and I tell her by go back to the fence, take a deep breath, turn your back on your opponent, go to the towel. But you got to come back out and feel amazing about yourself, even if you’re down six-oh, five-oh. The only thing you got control over, maybe besides your ball toss, is your attitude. In the best of the best of all the rest in business or tennis, they’re the most positive creatures that ever walk the face of the earth. You have no idea about Joe Kovic, alcarez, serena Listen, I helped build it. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen people with amazing talent, great genetics, but they never got to number one, they never won Grand Slams. You know what I mean. We can talk about Curios or Monfies, it’s this. But even for the adult player, like I said earlier, they can smile every time they hit the ball and they go. Rick, how can I smile when I hit the ball? And I said, just smile. And if I’ve said that the 50,000 people they all said the same thing I felt more relaxed. I never felt that before. But you get so competitive, you want to be intense. It’s a corrective technique that changes the nervous system. So that’s what I would tell most people to have fun. But they’re saying well, how can I have fun if I keep making mistakes or I’m losing? And I just said you got control over one thing your attitude and the best are the most positive.
Carolyn Roach: 4:12
Should we smile and also breathe out at the same time?
Rick Macci: 4:15
Carolyn Roach: 4:17
I’m just trying to figure this out exactly how I was If you went out and smiled.
Rick Macci: 4:20
Every time you hit the ball, you’re going to say, oh my god, I’m going to send ricks of text this looks so good, but why would someone smile when you’re in combat? And this is what people do at every level. Navy seals, maybe they’re smiling, people that are under amazing stress. Fighter, fighter they have mind control and they flip it Because if you think about the moment, it’s going to kind of freak you out and at the club level where you got to work and you play and you’re playing in a league, it’s just, it’s like the most important thing and people never play to the best of their ability because they’re tight. But then you go out and hit it with the coach, who’s much better, and you feel amazing. But when you hit it in the net against another lady, you feel one way, but when you hit it in the net against your hitting partner, it doesn’t matter, but it went into the net the last time I checked. It’s all how you respond to it and it takes a lot of mental discipline and that’s one of the things I work with all the kids on and I’ve gotten some people become so mentally strong to flip it. The best part about their game is their head and they maximize their ability when that’s the number one thing.
Carolyn Roach: 5:26
So, rick, I go to a bad place when playing tennis in between points, mentally, mentally. So I know you gave some tips and I need to smile, but do you have anything I should say to myself between points?
Rick Macci: 5:39
Are you saying you have a temper?
Carolyn Roach: 5:41
Yeah, and I’m like I can’t believe I just did that. Why am I doing this? I’m not good at tennis. What am I wasting my time out on the tennis court?
Erin Conigliaro: 5:49
I’m going to quit.
Carolyn Roach: 5:50
I’m going to quit. Did that girl?
Rick Macci: 5:52
just make a few. You and I got a lot of work to do. Wow, no, listen, those are all choices. Do you feel you get mad off the court when things happen Easy?
Carolyn Roach: 6:01
Not as much. It’s on the court. It’s the tennis court. Yeah, you’re so competitive.
Rick Macci: 6:06
Look, your best strength is you’re a great competitor and your worst liability is you’re a great competitor. You compete against yourself and if you can’t take a deep breath, like I said, if you can’t forget about it, there’s no magic formula. But you’re making a choice. But I bet you anything. If someone said, if you get mad, OK, I’m going to shoot you in the foot with a gun. You would not do it.
Erin Conigliaro: 6:32
Rick Macci: 6:33
OK for this match. If you don’t get mad, ok, I’ll give you a million dollars. You wouldn’t do it.
Carolyn Roach: 6:40
That’s right. Here’s what it is.
Rick Macci: 6:41
You got it backwards. If you get your attitude better the way you handle mistakes you might win a million dollars. That’s what I say to people on the pro tour. It’s all backwards, it’s not helping you, but I’m glad you can identify it. I think that’s the first way to correct anything. And then your opponent. They think I got her mad. I can beat her. She’s not that good. She’s blown a gasket. So let’s see if you play singles that can really radiate to your opponent. So no, it’s a choice. You’re making a choice, but I think you should look Don’t listen to me Look at greatness. Look at Federer and Nadal and Djokovic when they miss and they’ve been playing at a much higher level than all of us. But look how they handle failure, whether they double fall or they make a mistake. They’re at the point. It never happened. It never happened. Listen, they’re human. They’re no one’s perfect. Everybody has a breaking point out Great. Everybody feels the same. That’s how you handle it. So if you want to improve your game, we need to work on your attitude a little bit.
Carolyn Roach: 7:47
Yeah, and it’s not outwardly. Outwardly, I find that it’s.
Rick Macci: 7:51
That would be better. Yeah, maybe I don’t know. I mean, you’re like a cat on a hot tin roof. You’re just oh no, it’s like percolating. You might let it go just scream.
Carolyn Roach: 8:02
Okay, yeah that’s gonna air is gonna be like what is going on with Carolyn.
Rick Macci: 8:07
If I ever screamed on the court, yeah but when you do something good, do you celebrate it? Do you say come on, let’s go. Do you pump up? No, I don’t like that at all either. You got to have it both ways. If you do something good, you got to feel good about yourself and celebrate it. You know what I mean, and you’ll do better. It’s like someone says something nice to you. You like that compliment. Give yourself a few when you do something good. On the court I like that.
Carolyn Roach: 8:32
Yeah, I like that, it’s very important.
Erin Conigliaro: 8:34
That’s great. So this is changing gears. But since you’re a world-class coach, I have actually enjoyed watch. I watch a ton of pro tennis. I play a lot of tennis but I watch a lot of pro tennis. I’ve actually enjoyed the Aspect of coaching. Now, how do you feel about a coaching the pros and be Carolyn? Well, I mostly stress and I think there’s a lot of like weird hitches that this won’t necessarily work for adult rec tennis. But how do you feel about the on court coaching now for pros and then maybe down the years from now? Could you see that happening in our, you know, recreational USTA matches?
Carolyn Roach: 9:08
That’s a great question.
Rick Macci: 9:09
Yeah no, it’s a great question, but I’d like to address the wreck. I think in the recreational part I think the coach should be involved and First thing it make the pro go and drive his car and watch you play. Okay, that’d be number one and number two. I think you you need more help, my opinion, and if you’re on the tour, I think they could give you different insight because you’re in the moment. You don’t get to practice all the time. So I think that should happen all the time. I think that should be automatic slam dunk. I really mean that now on the pro-port I’ve been asked that a lot. It’s here to stay, because before Everybody was cheating, everybody was doing it. So they said what the heck that’s let it happen. The only problem I have about it now a lot of the travel coaches. It gets to be sometimes more about them. Okay, I’m not saying it’s not beneficial what they’re saying or useful. It gets to be about them, whether they get on TV or whatever the case might be. I just think that’s the downside. I personally don’t know how much value there is to it. I think you do all the microscopic breakdown in practice. Then you go out there and you tee it up and let the chips fall where they fall. Because, on the flip side, what if you have a player who can’t even afford a coach? He doesn’t have anybody there except his dad and maybe his cat and his dog I don’t know who he has with them. So it’s not really fair if we’re gonna talk about that, and I think eventually for some players you become too dependent on someone else. You know, and I like your backbone better than your backhand. So, you know, I think all that should be done prior. But it’s here to stay. As long as it’s all about the player, I’m okay. Yeah if you remember, at the US Open Cocoa golf, when Gilbert was telling her what to do, whatever, whatever she went like zip it, I don’t want to hear it, I listen. I love that and that’s why she’s kind of here to stay. She’s so mentally strong to tell someone that’s kind of new, you know, to this. Like I got this Quit chirping at me. I love that. And to come from a female athlete at 19 years old, I mean that’s huge. Okay. So that’s kind of what I was saying. Let me, I got this.
Erin Conigliaro: 11:30
Yeah, and the announcers during that match were actually Saying that he needed to cool it. She was actually keeping her cool better than her coach was because he was good. Remember when that protest happened and he was like she’s to get off the court. She’s a coca’s. Like I got this. I’m good I.
Rick Macci: 11:45
Love that needs to coach the coach, you know so now another level. But no, you’re right, I just think that when you figured out on your own and just got to be careful, that I think you grow more mentally. You know brew, even failures, you know instead of a band-aid or whatever Then what happens if the coach decides to leave and you create a disbond or this connection. It can cut many different ways, but it’s here to stay. But the cocoa thing was epic, you know, and I think it helped a lot of people like sometimes you can over coach and you don’t want to say too much. You know some of my best coaching with Venus and Serena. When Richard was there, I just kept my mouth shut you know what I mean Because I knew where it was gonna go. Then I pick and choose my spots, cause I not only train the kids, I train the parents, so at the end of the day we all win.
Carolyn Roach: 12:35
Okay, Rick, also, can you tell us the best advice you’ve ever given and also received?
Rick Macci: 12:42
Best advice I’ve ever given, okay, and the best advice I’ve ever received, okay. The best advice I’ve ever given to anybody is try to make well. Try to get better every day. You know, try to make today your. It’s a couple of word answer. Try to make today your best day ever. Try to get better today. But I think the number one thing I would tell everybody if I had to put them in order you should always appreciate what you have instead of what you don’t have, because we get caught up in the insanity all of us, you know, but that is the hardest thing to do. But if you can think about that, it can keep you centered, you know. So that would be, that would probably be the best advice I can give anybody. And the best advice that I’ve probably ever gotten is when people say like, well, it’s not even maybe it’s a compliment. You’re just so genuine and down to earth and I appreciate all you’ve done. You know what I’m saying. That would probably it’s not really advice, but it just kind of meant I’m doing the things the way that I want to do it, the way I was brought up and I never lost those Midwest values and that’s been a big part of when I teach, because when people feel that that’s how you extract greatness, I get kids to jump over the fences. You have no idea. You have no idea how I can just get kids to do things or people to do things and build their confidence even if they don’t have any confidence. And it’s real. So I think that’s why I was really put on this earth and tennis has been my platform. So I guess just reinforcing the way I kind of do things is the best thing I’ve ever heard.
Carolyn Roach: 14:32
We really appreciate Rick coming on the podcast. We have another episode with Rick where he will discuss the most exciting tennis match he has ever watched and also his most memorable moment on the court as a player and as a coach. So we hope you listen. Thanks so much for listening and hope to see you on the court soon.