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Hi, I’m Jeff!
I am a former Stanford All-American and top 100 world ranked tennis player turned keynote speaker and performance coach. As you get to know me better, you’ll realize why I’m so committed to helping you take your business and life to the next level. Once you learn how to effectively decrease the stress in your life, you can optimize your performance and find that zone of excellence.
“Now is the time to access the zone of excellence and unleash the champion inside you.”
– Jeff Salzenstein
A Defining Moment Early
When I was 12 years old I was a national champion. Life was really good…
But it didn’t last long because when I was two months shy of my 16th birthday, I looked more like a prepubescent 11 year old.
I was 5’4’’ 102 lbs and losing to everyone I used to beat. I was embarrassed, frustrated, and stressed out, but I did have one thing going for me.
I had this beautifully manicured mullet that got me dates to all the high school dances, but, in all seriousness, it was a stressful time in my life.
This was a defining moment in my junior tennis career. I remember my stepfather, Miles, pulling me aside one day. As a Vietnam veteran who taught me many leadership lessons.
Miles reminded me to stop being so hard on my myself, to stop being so negative, and to get back to the fundamentals… focus on the basics once again.
I made a decision to refocus on the “basics” by taking small daily positive action steps towards my goals.
And with this new focus, I turned things around and got back to the top of the national rankings.
The Accidental Transformation
A year after this comeback, I accepted a college scholarship to attend my dream school at Stanford University playing for the legendary Dick Gould, the best college tennis coach of all time!I went 22-4 playing #5 singles my freshman year, but I was never going to be a college star let alone play on the pro tour someday if I had one of the worst serves in college tennis.
Between my freshman year and sophomore year. I played in several minor league pro tournaments and couldn’t even get through the qualifying rounds because of my crappy serve.
This was another defining moment in my tennis career, and I made a decision. Instead of getting beat up on the pro tour the rest of the summer, I ventured home to Denver desperate to find answers to my terrible serve.
While glued to the TV watching Wimbledon one morning, A famous Croatian player, Goran Ivanisevic, was crushing 125mph aces by his opponents, and the next day I hurried to the tennis court to tinker and experiment.
Within 10 minutes of modeling Goran’s serve, I added 20 MPH to my knees own serve. When I went back to Stanford for my sophomore year Coach Gould’s jaw dropped when he saw me crushing 120 MPH serves.
Because of my new weapon, I played #1 singles my junior and senior years, was the team captain, and won 2 national team titles, and after graduating from Stanford, I shot up the world tennis rankings like a rocketship.
In my first year on the pro tennis tour, I even battled against world number 2 Michael Chang in a captivating 2nd round U.S. Open night match, but shortly after that match my pro tennis career hit a major speed bump…
During an off season training session, I felt a sharp pain in the front of my ankle that persisted for 8 months before I finally had surgery.
And 6 months later, in my first pro tennis match after rehabbing my ankle, I felt a sharp pain in the back of my knee that led to knee surgery.
My body was falling apart by the age of 25. This was another defining moment in my career…And I made a decision. I became obsessed with all things high performance.
I went to my first yoga class. I ate organic food before it was considered cool…I worked with top experts in the areas of injury prevention, nutrition, mindset, spirituality, and more learning proven fundamentals that drive human performance.
By applying what I discovered, I broke into the top 100 in the world for the first time at the age of 30. True transformation. But just four years later, a sudden turn of events started to unfold that would change the course of my life forever…
A Brother’s Love
At 34 years old, I was burned out and stressed out from all the heartbreaking losses and setbacks during my 11 year pro tennis career.
None of my tennis setbacks matched the fear and stress that I experienced on December 30, 2007. I was visiting my father, my stepmother, and 3 siblings in Orlando, Florida.
I remember walking into my brother’s bedroom one morning. Sprawled out on the floor, passed out. a white foamy substance dribbling out of his mouth.
My brother, Erik, was overtaken by a cocktail of drugs. He had taken himself to the basement instead of the balcony with his thoughts, emotions, and habits.
Trapped in the prison of his mind, Erik was his own worst enemy. Seeing my brother lying helplessly on the bedroom floor. I made a decision to go “all-In” to support his recovery from addiction. in that moment.
I decided to retire from pro tennis for good, and go “all in” to help my beloved brother. Serving him powerfully trumped chasing wins on the ATP tour at a time when I was really doubting my purpose as a pro tennis player. My professional tennis career ended, and I found my true calling as a coach and mentor.
The Next Chapter
After retiring from pro tennis I started coaching players of all ages and ability levels.Teaching them the basic fundamentals of the game.
I also created an online tennis instruction platform helping millions of players around the world learn the basic fundamentals of tennis.
And for the last 6 years I’ve worked with leaders, CEOs, executives, and leadership teams as a performance coach asking questions, listening deeply, sharing perspectives, and teaching what I call the “balcony basics” as part of my Balcony Blueprint framework.
As an elite athlete turned performance coach, I’ve made it my mission to learn exactly how high performers can reduce stress and optimize performance.
I’m 100% aligned with passion to share my knowledge as a speaker and coach to those who want to live their best life. Remember that in any moment, YOU can make a decision to take yourself and others to the basement…or to the balcony with your thoughts, emotions, and habits. Now is the time to tap into the zone of excellence as much as you can and optimize your performance.
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