Ever wonder why your forehand doesn’t look like the pros? What has made legendary tennis coach Rick Macci such a successful coach? Listen to our conversation with Legendary Coach Rick Macci (Part Four) as we discuss this and more. Rick even helps us with our issues (and we have many!)

We had the absolute pleasure of talking with Rick Macci, who enlightened us on the biomechanics of tennis. Rick’s insights on the technical aspects of the game will help you understand how a deeper comprehension of the game can expedite your learning curve. The conversation goes beyond just the technicalities, as Rick shares his unique approach to coaching. He believes in tailoring a player’s game to their unique body type and muscle memory. This episode is packed with wisdom from a true tennis savant!

If you haven’t heard our previous episodes with Rick, listen to them here:

Contact Rick

You can contact Rick at info@rickmacci.com or learn more about programs on his website here.

Here’s a complete transcript with Rick:

Carolyn Roach: 0:04

Hi, this is Carolyn and I’m here with Erin, and this is our final episode with Hall of Fame tennis coach Rick Macy. Rick has coached some of the best players in the world, but he also helps everyday players like Erin and me. If you’d like to learn the tennis tips and mental tips he recommends for adult recreational players, as well as listen to the most exciting tennis match he has ever watched, please check out parts 1 through 3, but here’s the final part.Erin Conigliaro: 0:29

What got you so much into the bio mechanics of the mental we’ve talked about. But what is it that you do? You just see it in people. Is it just your elbows in the wrong place, or you’re doing this with your racket, or your grip? Is I get this? Your grip is wrong. What is it? Did you study that? So, because there was no YouTube back there. Even when you were saying you learned without coaching, you got all the way from 12s to 18s with no coaching at all. Now a lot of us can sit on YouTube and watch hundreds of hours of video, but how did you get into that?Rick Macci: 1:01

specifically, First off great question, the thing about YouTube. I got to be careful what you watch, because now everybody has a platform and they can kind of put their own spin on it and regurgitate it, even if they’re famous. They’re not even in the neighborhood. But I’m not going to go down that. That’s a whole other podcast. But I was always intrigued, even as a kid, to figure things out. Always I go to the movies. This is a great story. I go to the movies of my friends. We sit down there and five minutes in I’m telling them how it’s going to end and I’m there by myself eating popcorn somewhere else. No one wanted to go with me anymore because I’m always trying to figure out how this was. So I was always like that and then I played point guard and basketball. So that may be why I like to help others. I was good at passing the ball, but I always wanted to figure things out and I was never satisfied. And I tell people if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse, because I want to get better tomorrow. I got better before I came to talk to you guys this morning with everybody. I had to teach, but I got intrigued. I always was intrigued by the technical part. But unless you’re around someone who maybe has their PhD in this or did their thesis on this. And that’s when I collaborated with Dr Brian Gordon. He came to me with all this 3D technology because he knew I kind of had the platform and could lay it out there. When we collaborated, like 15 years ago, it took it to a whole other level because a lot of the things that I knew or I said he’d go, how’d you know that? How’d you know that? And it wasn’t. I just kind of figured it out by being an athlete and trial and error and he was kind of blown away that I was already doing things, backed up by science that were spot on. But even with Brian, 90% of what we were going over I didn’t even understand. Okay, now I know it inside out, but more importantly, I know how to expedite the learning curve that there’s a problem. I always tell people there’s not a wrong way or a right way or a better way. So I wouldn’t change your grip and stuff like that. That’s brutal, that could take two months, but I would change something and you’d feel something. You’d go, rick, I’m hitting harder, I’m hitting faster, I’m getting more spin. This is unbelievable, but I’ve always been intrigued by it. So then, when that was kind of another cornerstone of Rick Macy or Rick Macy Academy before, it was like there’s amazing motivation, inspiration, dedication, very good strategy, technical. Look at all these players. Now we’re putting Humpty, dumpty together for younger kids and the people that don’t understand it. They’re going to say oh, they’re too little, they can’t learn it. Listen, I got seven year olds that look amazing. That doesn’t mean they’re going to be great players, but they’re going to have strokes that will last a lifetime and they’re just rock solid, better than some of the girls I work with on the tour. But if you do 10 million of anything, it’s going to get better. But that doesn’t mean it’s optimal. And especially with the serve, see, the serve’s the easiest to learn and I know you said something about your serve because there’s no movement. A lot of people think it’s more difficult because there’s a lot of movement. To me it’s the easiest and that’s why there’s it’s not in the water when you back the truck up. Serena Roddy, you know Opelpke. He’s out there saying Rick told me to step on the bug, his weight. I could get real deep into this but I won’t. The serve’s the easiest. You understand the science part and I probably helped a lot of people that just come in on the tour just on that Cause the groundies are kind of baked in double crispy, you know, but the serve can be. I do a lot with that. So, to answer your question, I gotta get better. I’m always learning, always talking to Brian, I mean he could write something and you could read it. You could say that’s the most amazing thing I ever read. But I don’t understand any of it. You know that’s how this guy is so smart on this part and he’s so into it. Every little fiber in your body, okay, of how this goes and how this is better or whatever. And the one thing I do I’m not so cookie cutter that I won’t deviate a little bit, cause the game’s always evolving. You know it’s not like cloning, I mean, that’s like silly, cause we all got different body types and you’re coming with muscle memories, especially people that have, you know, adult players. But to modify and tweak, we can do that better than anybody in the world.Carolyn Roach: 5:33

So there’s hope for us.Erin Conigliaro: 5:34

I was gonna say you have so much work to do and we have a lot more especially with our serve.Carolyn Roach: 5:39

Can we get it up to a hundred miles per hour? No, can we get it up to 40?Rick Macci: 5:44

Where are you at now? Wait a minute. Is it on the radar? Does it even register on the gun?Carolyn Roach: 5:49

Not really. It does it no listen, I can make you 25. No, it’s.Rick Macci: 5:55

There’s more than that, Much better. But see, I got to see it Like both of you have different problems cause you’re bringing different issues. That’s why you can’t read a book any coaches or anybody. You can’t read a book and be a good coach. So I certify guys also. I’ve certified probably over a thousand people around the world. They come on the court three, four hours a day, three days, and they’re freaked out. They see this medley, this smorgasbord of biomechanics, technical, strategic, mental, dealing with the crazy parent on the sideline, the kid mood swing, okay, and how I it’s like a medley of all this stuff. And a lot of these people played on the tour. A lot of these people are directors, okay, and they’re just like, they’re in shock. But it’s not just like, oh, this is what to do. You know I’m constantly moving the pieces around and everybody when they walk off the court, they feel great and they win, you know, and they’re all blown away. So you can’t watch YouTube, you can, that can help. Or read a book to become a better coach If you see it live and in color and you see how this is done, if you can pick up some of those things which everybody has. They all say the same thing. I’ve never knew anything like this, and they were pop 50 in the world and they’re a director at a club. It’s not just like what. And they get you get locked in to the same thing. And I’m always evolving, like tomorrow I’ll experiment and I’ll get better. I’m always like doing that and that’s why Brian and I were way ahead of the curve with the ATP forehand and the backhand, but, more importantly, how to correct things. So I put it out there for free, you know, on the internet, and people will rewrap it and say it differently, which is great. That’s to me, that’s the best compliment in the world.Carolyn Roach: 7:43

Is that on YouTube that you have it out there for free, Rick?Rick Macci: 7:46

The YouTube channel. Everybody can go there and. But once again, I got to see what you’re doing and what you’re doing and then I would know how to attack. You know what I mean. It’s not like, oh, you got to use your legs more. You know, if you’re, if you’re, like the Tin man, I might have to make you the scarecrow. You know what I mean. Like Capriotti was really tight so I had to make her loose. Then I might have the neck first, and they’re already like Gumby and I got to put it together differently from the ground up, so it’s not like boom. You know what I mean. It’s they got to be flexible as a coach and that’s a sign of a great teacher. If you had 30 kids in a classroom, you can’t teach them all the same. You got to know how to. You know bop and weave and figure that out.Erin Conigliaro: 8:29

Yeah, what is the ATP forehand? I’ve heard you say that a couple times on the podcast. I don’t know what that is. I don’t have that. What is the ATP forehand?Rick Macci: 8:37

Okay, that’s. That’s back up a little bit. If you watch and there’s a lot of the women that do this they’re in, they’re in the neighborhood. What I mean by that? They’re close. Okay, if you watch the men hit the ball, let’s just say, let’s take Federer, him hit the forehand. Or Alcares if you look at his forehand, I think you’ll agree it looks different than, say, madison Keys, federer and all these guys, almost all the guys, when they take the racket back. The racket, when they come out of the backswing, it’s on the right side of the body. Okay, it’s on the right side. So someone like Madison Keys, with a great forehand, she can kill the ball. Her racket goes the other way, it goes the other side of the body, so her swing will be a semi circular movement where, I think you agree, don’t you agree the guy stroke looks different, not because they’re bigger, stronger, but I think. I think you see, the guy stroke looks different. It’s shorter and it’s faster. The way that it’s set up. When they pull the racket, it flips a racket this isn’t gonna make sense down and back and creates more racket head speed. So you have a shorter, quicker stroke and your elbow to actually turn the racket over and get more spin instead of coming around the body and this kind of evolved because the speed of the game is changed. If you look at the stroke, even in the 70s you wouldn’t see this. Okay, agassi was starting to get in the neighborhood, roddy was one of the firsts of Mohicans. Okay, where you keep it on this side and if it’s had an angle and you pull the racket, it flips it. What I mean by flips it? It goes down and back and then it comes too faster. So that’s the ATP forehand, because a lot of the girls when they grow up this is why the girl, a lot of girls, don’t do it a, they’re not taught it, which is wrong in my opinion, and they’re maybe not as strong, so they want strength. So they kind of make a loop, an arc, a rainbow, a banana, a candy cane, a fairish wheel and the racket, you know, goes back to Miami. I’m in Boca, that’s why I said my dog goes back to Miami. And then here’s what happens when they’re 14. It’s the same correction your elbows too close, shorten your backswing, hit it more in front. I already tell them what the person at home is correcting. Before I’ve seen them hit a ball they’re going. Oh my God, how’d you know that? Because I know what’s gonna happen. When the ball’s faster, you can shorten your stroke when it’s faster, but you’re not gonna make it go faster when the guys, even though it comes faster, it’s shorter and faster already. So it’s a different. It’s a different. Well, I did so many things on this and got like five million views. When I did this for you as PTA in like 2014 or whatever. People were like that’s too much information. Well, I wasn’t. That didn’t how I teach it. I was generalizing. This is how this works and it’s all based on science and that’s kind of hard to argue with.Erin Conigliaro: 11:38

Yeah, we’re gonna look at that and link it to our show notes because I’ve been wondering what that means. But that makes sense to me now that you say it.Rick Macci: 11:45

I might not teach you that I might make what you got even better, which I know I could. Here’s what I want you to do If both of you just take a video of your forehand and you send it to my.Erin Conigliaro: 11:55

No, no, no, no, don’t shake it, you don’t wanna see it.Rick Macci: 11:58

I’m gonna think about it. Send me a video of your forehand. I’m gonna do it for you. Send me a video of your forehand and I will tell you like two or three things to try. Okay, and either one or two things gonna happen. It’s gonna help you a lot, or you’re gonna quit playing tennis, what? No, I’m just kidding. No, you’re gonna. You’ll try something because you’re not feeling something different. You’re just hit it in front, bend your knees, prepare early. I’m not saying those won’t help, but those are symptoms. I will diagnose the culprit and I’ll be able to make it a little better.Carolyn Roach: 12:30

Okay, I’m excited about that Me too, but I do need to tell you, rick, I mainly slice or I use a two-handed forehand, so it’s a little crazy for me.Rick Macci: 12:41

So you slice your forehand.Carolyn Roach: 12:42

Yes.Rick Macci: 12:43

What about the backhand?Carolyn Roach: 12:45

No, just regular Regular.Rick Macci: 12:47

Okay, but see, I like you already because all the ladies you play with they hate that. No, they hate that because there’s no rhythm. It stays low. You’re like the butcher. You’re not giving them top spin right in your wheelhouse. Listen, and I would optimize that. This little girl from Ukraine I have her slicing the ball every time she’s wide. Listen, in today’s game the slice is more prominent than ever before because it goes faster. But the reason why you do it? Because you never probably were taught or learned that, but it’s so effective. Here’s why it’s shorter. You go forward, you’re confident and you hit it in front. Know anything about it. When you need to, maybe hit it harder and someone’s at the net, you might need the other, but listen, that’s a great shot. No one said this is how you gotta do it. That’s all about do the best you can, have the most fun and try to get the W Okay let’s talk through my problem real quick.Carolyn Roach: 13:43

Okay, now to Erin. That’s my problem, rick, now Erin.Erin Conigliaro: 13:46

It’s gone from podcasting to free coaching. So I hit very hard, right, Carolyn? Yes, very hard, I hit very hard. I can keep it in the, I do keep it in the court, but I have a chicken arm. I have like a little tiny, so I guess I have a good contact point, but my stroke production is beyond bad. So, and I can feel it when I do it right, when I have a long, nice, like I’ve gotten space away from the ball, but I just keep doing this little chicken arm. Have you seen some? I’m sure you’ve seen other people with that problem.Rick Macci: 14:18

Over a million times. I mean I would prefer, I really like chicken, but I don’t like a chicken wing, I prefer a chicken leg where your arm would extend. But listen, I’d have to see it. I mean I’m gonna give you a pointer right now, because when it goes in, no one says a word, but when you miss it, they go your elbow’s too close. I mean that’s silly, you can’t have it both ways. You know what I mean. So I would change your take back, okay, and I’d have to see how you take it back and I would have the elbow away. Then I would do corrective techniques about how to control the follow through and stop it. See, I do things in progression. It’s like building a house. You know, I put the foundation, then I put the floor, then I do that, I build the house. You know what I mean. So, but I understand what you’re saying, but I can’t even tell you what to do until I see exactly how you take the racket back. See, this is what people don’t understand when you take the racket back. That’s the origin. See, people are looking at this, but how you take it back, once I change that, then your brain is gonna go. I never did this before. And then it’s like at this stage of the game, would you say you were 32? That’s what you said. Okay, you’re 32 years old. I’m gonna change it so there’s no muscle memory. There’s no muscle memory. So I change the take back and it changes the whole landscape. A lot of people don’t understand. See, I gotta confuse the brain, you know, or you’re gonna do the same thing. And then when you go out of the basket, you’re okay. Hand feed, you’re okay. Then you get in competition, it goes right back. So you gotta go through this progression of development. So I would change your take back. I could correct your forehand easily, because you know I like your aggressive and you like to hit the ball hard, all right, and this maybe gives it some stability. But it also could be your footwork, people say. And then people say you’re too close to ball. Duh, of course you’re too close, but it goes in a lot because this can stabilize. Jeannie Bouchard did that a little bit. You know it was all like in there. But if you do enough of anything like you have, it’s gotten better. If I can make it better, just send me a video. Just send me a video. I’ll go bang, bang, bang and you’re gonna try it.Erin Conigliaro: 16:29

I know you said capriati was a wizard, but I think you’re wizard with all the stuff that you’ve done, I agree, I agree, I think it’s amazing.Rick Macci: 16:36

No, thank you. No, it’s all good, We’ll do it again.Carolyn Roach: 16:39

We greatly appreciate Rick taking time out of his busy day to speak with us and we’ve included his contact information in our show notes. We will let everyone know if our forehands get better after receiving Rick’s advice or if Rick tells us we should consider quitting tennis. We hope you check out our website, which is secondserpodcastcom. Thanks so much for listening and hope to see you on the courts soon. I’ll see you next time.