We have known Brent for 12 years and have taken lessons from
him for 10 years. When we first started with Brent we played
at approximately a 2.5 USTA rating, even though we had been playing
for nearly 15 years. Although we had taken lessons from various
tennis professionals prior to starting with Brent, we were at
a point in our tennis game where our improvements were coming
at a very slow pace.
Brent introduced us to Effortless Tennis. The transition
from a competitive game to a relaxed, cooperative and joyful
game of tennis has not been easily obtained, however the methods
have proven correct.
Over the last several years Brent has taught us how to breathe
properly, allowing us to stay relaxed and focused under the most
adverse conditions. He has taught us how not to be intimidated
when playing the game with other players. We have applied these
philosophies to many other aspects of our lives. They have benefited
us both professionally as well as personally.
My wife and I are currently playing with a USTA rating of
4.0 . We believe our ratings would be higher if we had started
with Brent from the beginning.
We support and recommend Brents style of teaching for
everyone. We especially think that if a child were to begin lessons
from Brent at an early age, that child could be as good as he
or she chooses to be. Brent is not only our tennis professional,
we also consider him a very special friend. He maintains a high
level of professionalism and has high values. We think any person,
especially children, will benefit immensely from the teaching
of Brent, not only from the sport of tennis but more importantly
in the sportsmanship of all games.
Rick & Kim Clark
San Anselmo, CA
Im writing to express my appreciation for your enjoyable
and productive tennis instruction. Not only did I enjoy it; you
clearly did, too. I find it rare to encounter a teacher who combines
the head, heart, and skills with an expanded perspective.
Your Effortless Tennis addresses the practical
realities of learning the skills and principles of tennis; but
more than that, it bridges tennis and life. In other words, like
the old martial arts master, Zen teachers, and the Greek sages,
you teach not only an effort-less approach to sport, but to living
Whether someone wishes to learn tennis as a recreational activity
or seeks the highest reaches of professional ranks, I believe
that you rise above most teachers with your emphasis on skill
mastery before competitive focus. I know, from our conversations,
that your cooperative mind-set not only enhances the joy of the
game, but helps one to achieve true victory.
I thank you, congratulate you, admire you, and encourage you
to continue your mission to show how to combine breath, relaxation
and a sense of joy, turning tennis into an art as well as a path
of personal discovery.
author, "Way of the Peaceful Warrior", "Body Mind
Mastery", and many other enlightening books,
San Rafael, CA
I have been playing tennis for 14 years. I played for my high
school team and had planned to play for a college team. I ended
up helping coach intermediate and advance players in college,
but not playing. The reason, winning was always what I was thinking
about, but I didnt know how to do it. When I didnt
win, I felt that I was a failurethis only increased my
self-esteem problem on court and I kept losing. It was a vicious
circle. Up until now this has been my problem, and I am just
beginning to resolve it.
During my whole tennis career, everyone told me what a great
player I was, how I should win and there was a great deal of
pressure put on my by myself and coaches etc. No one told me
how to win or what the real reason for playing tennis was. I
ended up just playing friends and making it a hobby when I had
planned to do a lot more with it. I just couldnt figure
out why I couldnt win on a consistent basis. The reasonI
was putting too much emphasis from the beginning on winning,
not concentrating on the fundamentals and not realizing that
tennis is supposed to be fun. I had started almost immediately
in competition after learning the game and this did not help.
This year I started working with Brent and his Effortless
Tennis program. Although we are changing some things in my game
(almost everyone needs to do that since we all fall into bad
habits) we are mostly changing my attitude towards tennis. When
I start getting angry at myself for missing a shot or losing
a point, Brent asks Hows the fun factor? which
always makes me laugh and loosens me up. This then makes me play
better because I really start to relax. Tennis is fun and that
is the reason we play it, isnt it? Unfortunately, when
it isnt fun it is because you are putting too much pressure
on yourself to win. When you do this it is only a losing battle
and I have found this out the hard way. Effortless Tennis is
changing my game and my mind for the better and I wish that this
program and Brent had been around when I was learning tennismaybe
then I would have lived up to my dreams in the game.
I began playing tennis in junior high school about 22 years ago.
I was certainly enthusiastic and enjoyed the sport, but always
experienced my efforts as fighting an uphill battle against clumsiness
and sloth. I wanted to play tennis better and more often, but
actual reality was that I found it a lot easier to succeed at
academics and give up sports. Some people have math anxietyI
had "athletic anxiety;" I could not visualize myself
as succeeding at any sport consistently. There was some fundamental
component of being physically adroit that I had not gotten. The
difficult, irregular and awkward way I played confirmed my belief
that I was not cut-out for sports.
Nonetheless, I persisted, and continued to play tennis intermittently
over the years, picking it up, dropping it again, never quite
willing to give up yet never developing any real skill nor enjoying
the game much. However, about 21/2 years ago I found a tennis
instructor with a different approach to teaching: Brent Zeller.
In effect, Brent has a system which starts back at the beginning
of tennis training recognizing that Iand apparently many
peopledo not miraculously grasp all the fundamentals of
a sport at once. Physical skills build atop previously acquired
physical skills, and if we miss a step we may be able to compensate,
yet we will have inhibited our ability to make much progress.
Rather than allowing steps in learning to be missed, Brent
emphasizes what he calls Effortless Tennis, in which he breaks
the complex moves of each stroke into a series of fundamental
actions which we can practice until the correct way to make each
motion is automatic. And the process proceeds very slowlywith
a great emphasis on learning the proper form, and a sharp de-emphasis
on competitive pressure.
So, bottom line, what are the results? Have I become a tennis
robot executing a repertoire of boring, mechanical moves? Actually,
no. The slow, steady concentration on fundamentals has given
me a base that I never had before. Now, when I play, I have the
freedom that comes from not having to think consciously about
each motion I make. And this is very interesting, because it
has allowed me to discover a part of myself that I could not
see before. I no longer judge my athletic abilities on the basis
of quick successes or instant failuresbut I know from my
own experience that I can develop a skill, and ability to remain
calm and concentrated.
The benefits are persistent. Ive learned a new way to
learn and a new respect for my athletic abilities. Though I moved
about 6 months ago to Seattle, I have continued to apply the
principles of slow, observant learningand I no play tennis
several times each week. Relentlessly I keep getting better.
What is most important to me is that I am enjoying the sportIve
gone from athletic anxiety to athletic enthusiasm.
As the father of one of Brents students, I have
had ample opportunity, over the last two years, to observe my
sixteen year old daughters remarkable growth both as a
tennis player and as an athlete. Ashley took up tennis during
the summer just prior to her freshman year by attending a two
week beginners tennis camp. Then, on a dare, she went out
for the high school girls tennis team. Ashley had neither the
skills nor the athletic background to begin competing but, being
a member of a weak team, she was able to earn a varsity letter.
Ashley began working with Brent and his cooperative tennis
system the following summer. It was a good match because it was
based entirely on skills development and the mental aspects of
the game rather than competition. Brent is an excellent communicator
and works very well with teenagers. He kept Ashley motivated
during those early days by teaching her the principles of Effortless
Tennis. He explained to Ashley that she could become a competitive
tennis player but she would have to build a foundation of skills
Ashley agreed and what followed has been extraordinary to
observe. After only one summer with Brent, Ashley was named the
most improved player on the varsity team. This year as a singles
player the quality of her entire game is elevated. Further, she
is mentally stronger and more prepared for competition than ever
What is important to note is that Brent has taught Ashley,
and his other students, much more than basic tennis skills and
the mental aspects of the game, he has instilled important life
skills such as patience, perseverance, self-motivation, and personal
responsibility. I firmly believe that Ashleys success in
tennis is due in great measure to Brent and his method of teaching.
If it takes a village to raise a child, I feel fortunate that
Brent is a part of our village. For the good of the kids, I strongly
urge you to support his program.
San Rafael, CA
I have been a participant in Brent Zellers tennis program,
Effortless Tennis, since March of 1996. I have been an active
tennis player since 1989. Brents program has been extremely
helpful to me. Brent has taught tennis skills in a cooperative
environment, while removing the pressure of competitive situations.
It has provided a much better learning experience than other
programs that I have participated in, where the emphasis is on
winning and beating the other players. I have found, through
Brents program, that it is best to first acquire tennis
skills before jumping blindly into competitive situations.
A large part of Brents instruction is on the
mental aspect of the game, how to breathe, how to mentally approach
the game so as to hit the ball solidly and in control with every
stroke, Once you take the aspect of winning and losing out of
the equation, you can learn more about yourself and your game
and how to improve both.
I have invested 2 hours most every Sunday with Brent since
1996, and his program has been very valuable to me and has greatly
increased my abilities as a tennis player. I doubt I will ever
outgrow this program as these is so much to learn of this aspect
in the game of tennis.
Corte Madera, CA
I just wanted to let you know that your Effortless Tennis approach
works! Ive shied away from competitive sports since I was
a little girl. Far too often I was thrown into a sporting situation
without the essential skills. Whether from a lack of time or
knowledge on the part of my teachers and coaches, I developed
a fear of participating. While in high school I wanted to play
tennis, but by then I had sufficient negative programming that
I didnt even try. From my first lesson with you almost
four years ago, you taught non-competitive tennis, stressing
the idea that all of us can learn sports and be successful with
a positive approach.
Well, your patient non-competitive coaching and belief
in muscle memory has withstood my two-year absence
from your program. You said that the muscles would remember what
to do and eventually the movements would come without thinking.
I recently returned to you clinic and much to my amazement, my
first strokes and serves were as if there had been no time lapse.
Indeed, my muscles remembered.
Effortless Tennis builds life-long skills. Your non-competitive
approach should be taught in schools so that our youth may experience
the joy of learning and playing sports from an early age. Not
only would they be better athletes, but the confidence and self-esteem
gained can only have a positive effect on their lives.
Mill Valley, CA
In January of 1993 I was introduced to a new concept of training
to become a more accomplished tennis player. The Effortless Tennis
concept developed by Brent Zeller has helped my game beyond my
wildest dreams. I have played tennis for close to thirty years
and all of a sudden realized that I very rarely look at the ball.
The 10 steps to improve your tennis listed on the Effortless
Test List have had an enormous impact on me. First of all, I
now see the ball most of the time - my court coverage has improved
to a degree that often baffles my opponents - my footwork improved
(I no longer grow roots while waiting for the ball!!) and above
all my enjoyment of the sport is exactly where it should be.
Believe me, Brent Zellers philosophy works.
I wish this concept would be employed by all tennis professionals,
especially when instructing children. The results would be astounding.
Marin Open Singles League
My experience with Effortless Tennis was extremely positive.
Not only did this evolutionary approach to the game of tennis
help me become a stronger player, it helped me manifest a deep
appreciation for playing the game. Effortless Tennis taught me
to relax and enjoy each shot, to breathe and focus mentally as
I honed solid physical skills. By simultaneously learning the
mental and physical components of the game, my ability to play
continually transcended itself.
As a member of the victorious 1991 Sir Francis Drake High
varsity tennis team, I feel confident in speaking about the success
of Effortless Tennis. Our large and eager, yet under skilled
freshman class was introduced to this method of coaching in 1988.
During our freshman season we lost every match except for one.
However, through Effortless Tennis we learned to forget about
defeat, even to forget about victory, and to concentrate on each
ball as it came. Over the course of the ensuing years we underwent
an incredible transformation. Our skills improved, our attitudes
improved, our ability to enjoy ourselves on the court became
natural, and the outcome took care of itself. As seniors we were
undefeated, beating a team that hadn't lost a championship in
at least a decade.
For me, this approach to the game has extended well beyond
the tennis court. It has enabled me to deal with the game of
life in a profound way. I breathe, I meditate, I focus on tasks
at hand, I improve my skills, I enjoy it. Although it may get
difficult at times, I am not worried about its outcome.
1991 Drake High Tennis team
I have been a student of Brent Zellers Effortless Tennis
program since 1988 when I started playing for Drake High. The
Effortless Tennis program not only drastically helped my game,
it turned our loosing team into MCAL undefeated champions. In
addition, Brents program made tennis more enjoyable, which
is by far the most valuable gift that I received.
Brent worked closely with our team starting in 1988. Our practices
were immediately transformed from monotonous and sometimes frustrating
to fun and challenging. The effortless philosophy helped us to
develop our game, without feeling the overwhelming pressure to
win. Winning became the natural outcome of doing something that
we truly enjoyed. Our team was young, mostly freshman, which
meant that we had tremendous potential to pull together by our
senior year. We lost most of our matches that first year but
we never got too down on ourselves. Brent continually raised
our morale by imparting his effortless philosophy. He would sit
us down and just talk to us about the game. He would tell us
how important it is to put our emphasis on having fun and to
take the game one ball at a time. These words of wisdom got us
through many matches, especially tough matches. Most players
give up on a game if they are down 40-love, even at 30-love theyd
already be thinking about the next game. When you are playing
effortlessly, the score doesnt intimidate you and cause
you to self-destruct, you just play one ball at a time, with
your complete focus on the present moment.
By our senior year we were a force to be reckoned with. It
was like we had gone through a major growth spurt, the once tiny
Drake High tennis team was standing tall and proud. We glided
into the finals where we faced Redwood High, a team that had
won the MCAL championship for the last 13 years. The match was
close, it came down to the final doubles team, but the victory
was ours. The 4 years of practice under Brents mastery
and committed guidance to our team bestowed us with the physical,
mental, and emotional strength to pull off the upset.
I highly recommend Brent Zeller, he is an exceptional coach
and teacher who has created a philosophy that has the potential
to revolutionize tennis.
Drake High tennis team 1991
I started the Sir Francis Drake High Tennis team during my sophomore
year. That year I was placed number eighteen on the roster, dead
last. Prior to this I had played sparingly with a couple of friends,
always in the form of sets, never practicing the fundamentals.
Brent Zeller with his Effortless Tennis program taught me the
fundamentals I never learned. A lot of people shy away from drills
and prefer to play sets. Those people dont ingrain a solid
foundation to their game. Brent helped me understand that the
energy I was putting into playing sets, while good for match
experience, could be more gratifying if I used it to practice
and hone my skills.
Brent emphasized having fun and made me realize that enjoyment
wasnt something that one felt just because he/she won a
match. He taught me to appreciate the learning process and find
my joy of the game while I was playing, not in the result. If
I didnt play to my potential, I found that I was less self-critical
and could forgive myself easier and move on. I learned to find
or maintain a freedom in myself to grow and not stagnate myself
through shoulda, coulda, wouldas.
In my 3 years working with Brent and his Effortless program
I grew tremendously as well as the whole team. Brent really helped
the team turn around its attitude and behavior. Match play became
much more fun. The team became much more consistent on the court
and it really showed in our recordduring my senior year
the team went undefeated and beat perennial power Redwood. Personally
I experienced much growthI went from number 18 to number
3 in just 3 short years, with only a few graduations during those
years. I had a win-loss record of 12-3 and was voted most improved
player and co-captain of the team.
Effortless Tennis taught me to use the power of my playing
partner off my racquet with timing, weight transfer and use of
breath. This saved my own energy, put my body at less risk for
injury and took me out of a position of engaging in a power struggle
to see who could slug it out. I was using way less
energy than my partner, yet I was hitting just as hard and usually
The Effortless program is powerful, because it transcends
the succeed or fail mind set. In Effortless Tennis there is no
option to fail. It does not exist. The mind of an Effortless
player is not looking for ways to beat oneself, as so many people
unconsciously do with self-deprecating thoughts, but to look
for ways to get out of ones way and create a healthy, encouraging,
stable mind set.
This more harmonious way of thinking also helped me in daily
life off the court. It challenged me with new ideas and ways
of approaching life. Rather than letting stressful moments get
the best of me, I apply Effortless ways of thinking to work with
them. My patience and focus has grown since I worked with Brent.
Effortless Tennis is about balance on the court and it can carry
into your daily actions off the court.
I am grateful and owe a big thanks to Brent Zeller and his
Effortless program for helping me realize my potential.
Drake High team 1991
Santa Barbara, CA
I started to work with the Effortless Tennis approach in 1994.
I had played tennis on and off for years but without very good
instruction. I also had a bad case of John McEnroe
disease. I would become angry and throw my racquet when I could
not hit the ball properly which was pretty often.
We started by hitting the ball softly at short distances until
I felt comfortable with the basic forehand and backhand stroke.
The emphasis on relaxation and letting the smooth motion of the
stroke provide all the momentum for the ball allowed me to relax
and really enjoy playing. I learned how to enjoy the learning
process and move onto the next step only after feeling
very comfortable with the current strokes. I also learned to
play cooperatively with my tennis partner. Hitting the ball to
a point that would stretch their tennis game instead of trying
to hit it past them has immeasurably improved my consistency,
accuracy and my love of the game.
After 1994, I moved to New York for 3 years and then to Los
Angeles. I periodically go to the Bay Area to take lessons with
Brent. Because the basic approach to tennis strokes is so relaxed
and easy, Im able to take the lessons home and work with
them easily. I cant wait to get up in the morning and go
out and play tennis, usually with a smile on my face.
Los Angeles, CA
Some years ago I decided to learn a new sport. I had been a long
distance runner for many years and was looking for something
which required technical skill and was mentally challenging.
In high school I had played football, basketball and run track.
I had experienced the excitement of victory and the frustration
of defeat. What I most enjoyed about sport was the participation
and having fun with my teammates. Over the years I had thought
about tennis but never got into it. I believed I was too old
to ever become good at the game. Deciding to try tennis anyway,
I knew that I would require some instruction. A friend introduced
me to Brent Zeller and I took my first lesson. I was 29.
I approached the lesson with a total beginners attitude,
being completely open and ready to learn. From the beginning,
Brent systematically and methodically instructed me in the fundamentals
of the game. In his relaxed and supportive learning environment
I progressed at a steady and gradual rate. Though I wanted quicker
results, I got a lesson in patience and perseverance.
Over the years I continued my commitment to the long-term
learning process with continuous improvement in my strokes and
footwork. It was this commitment to learning more than to winning
that really held my interest in the sport. My interest with the
learning process inspired me to want to become a tennis instructor
in 1987, only a year after I began to play. I realized that with
Brents information, I could become an instructor of Effortless
I began to assist Brent with his workshops and entered into
a whole new learning experience-that of becoming a tennis instructor-as
well as learning to play the game myself. Since the method focused
on the basics and fundamentals of the sport, learning to teach
progressed in the same gradual and steady manner as playing.
For years we taught group lessons locally, statewide, and in
Mexico. The opportunity to teach others as well as play improved
my game dramatically. I also witnessed excellent results in all
of our students while having a lot of fun playing cooperatively.
My competitive game has had its usual ups and downs. I have
spent much time exploring my psychological relationship to winning
and losing. Through Brents guidance, I have seen that winning
is not the most important thing in sport. For me, competition
is now a choice rather than a requirement for success. This freedom
to choose has made all the difference in my enjoyment of the
I joined Brent Zellers Effortless Tennis program four years
ago as a beginning 3.5 level player. I had played for over ten
years with occasional lessons and a lot of practice but without
a clear sense of how or why to improve. Nor did I believe that
I could improve in some reasonable amount of time given the difficulty
of the sport.
I am a 42 year-old architect and a serious club
player. I spend as much time as I can either practicing, playing
matches or competing in USTA tournaments. The four years of work
in Brents program have helped me to rethink
the game that I thought I knew. Intense practice two or three
times a month in a cooperative, though challenging, non-competitive
environment has in turn actually improved my play in competitive
matches. During the stress of match play I can draw upon my real
experience of those many hours of hitting many, many balls in
a relaxed way and transfer that feeling and that focus to the
match with usually positive results. As a result, I have since
significantly raised my level of play to that of a 4.5 level
While at this point I may sometimes lack the consistency needed
to play at still higher levels, my experience in the Effortless
Tennis program gives me confidence in my ability to stay focused
and relaxed during both practice and matches and to realize that
the power, consistency and better game will naturally
As a USPTA teaching pro, I decided to take a lesson from a fellow
USPTA pro. No easy task, mind you, as ego always makes one think
twicetalk about an attitude!
What I discovered was another approach to teaching tennis
beyond any of my expectations. It is called Effortless Tennis
and is pioneered by Brent Zeller. Since I describe myself as
intense, you can well imagine my feelings about the word effortless,
especially in connection to tennis. Well, as the lesson progressed
I found the effortless approach to be fun and full
of merit for both the teacher and the student. In short, the
effortless method de-emphasizes competition and focuses on fundamentals,
(with the emphasis on fun)! With this method you improve the
fun factor and are, and really feel you are, a winner
at any level.
My husband Leo and I have been participating in Brent Zellers
Effortless Tennis classes for approximately 9 months.
Wed had a few prior experiences with the game. Leo took
tennis in junior college 25 years ago and while he liked the
activity, he didnt care for the rigid, rigorous method
of instruction. I attended a few adult ed classes 15 years ago,
and once a friend tried to teach me, both were frustrating failures.
Together Leo and I had a few lessons with a local pro about 5
years ago. For whatever reasons, none of these attempts worked
for us and I, at least, came away certain I just didnt
have it in me to become any kind of tennis player at all.
Then we discover Brent and his Effortless Tennis.
After only a few lessons (with 3 to 5 others in the class), we
knew wed finally found a teacher whose gentle, non-competitive
approach, impeccable technique, and consistently patient and
inspiring manner is producing no less than miraculous results
for me, and has allowed Leo to at last enjoy playing tennis.
What I appreciate most about Brents teaching philosophyaside
from the fact that it works!is how much FUN it makes tennis.
In his class you get to play a lot, and the feel and sound of
your racquet hitting that ball right is extremely satisfying.
You come away feeling good and accomplished and like you want
to go out and play again.
Barbara den Ouden
I want to lend my wholehearted support to Brent Zeller
and his Effortless Tennis program. I have known Brent for many
years. He has been my tennis coach and friend, as well. I have
had several coaches over the years, but I can say that Brent
is one of the best.
Through the years, when I had injuries, I went to Brent because
I knew that he would work with me through the injury. His patience
and good humor went a long way in helping me to heal.
It is not only his tennis skills that make him exceptional,
but it is also his philosophy of life. He has strong opinions
and his heart is always in the right place.
San Rafael, CA
Mission | Background | Benefits
| Keys | Weekly
| Products | Testimonials | Readings
| Contact | Home
©2004 Brent Zeller. All rights reserved.
Site maintained by Alan Babbitt Websites