I often look at the way in which tennis is perceived now days particularly with the younger generation and many kids simply do not own the ability to win a game of tennis yet in practice they look like World beaters. I put that down to possibly the biggest factor in the sport itself, an old saying that speaks volumes : ANYONE CAN HIT A TENNIS BALL, NOT MANY CAN PLAY TENNIS.
If you look carefully into that statement you will realise that it is probably the number one reason why a kid in particular will lose a tennis match.
Most kids who are new to the tournament scene in tennis think that they have to beat their opponent with winners and a flashy style yet it couldn't be further from the truth. You simply have to find a way to let the opponent beat themselves. Sounds all too simple ? Well it's actually not that hard to implement.
Most junior tennis players will come off after a loss and say 'He was just too good', yet in most cases the player who lost in fact handed the match to their opponent on a silver platter. On most occasions it was by attempting stupid shots and not understanding when to play the rally ball to keep themselves in a point.
I look at three areas on a tennis court which I liken to a traffic light.
Red is stop, green is go, amber, think carefully. This type of coaching is practical and it creates a sense of thinking from a student rather than heading on to a tennis court with no game plan. Tennis is won and lost in the mind, not necessarily from technical deficiencies though becoming technically sound can give you an edge without a doubt.
Tennis through the years I believe is a sport which has rewarded the thinkers because if you look at a budding professional who is ranked say 300 and compare their practice form to that of a player inside the top 100 who makes a handy living you won't actually see much of a difference. When those two players commence point play that's when you will see a huge difference in the thinking side of the game.
So is there a secret to tennis success at all levels of play ? I believe there is and it all gets back to what the coach is teaching a student. If only the technical side of tennis is taught how on earth is a player supposed to win a match against a player who has an extra 30 matches behind them ? A less experienced tournament player can however match it with any player if they are taught the tactical side of the game early on because often tactics will win over technical prowess.
How often have you read a junior tournament result where a kid got beaten 6-0, 6-0 ? I can guarantee you that a result such as that can quite easily be turned into a 6-2, 6-3 loss that will in fact give the student some heart to persevere rather than think of themselves as no good. Sometimes you are simply no match for certain opponents but you can still make them earn the win.
It all starts with the mind but you don't have to be a scholar to take in the information. There is more to teaching tennis than striking a tennis ball and there is more to the game than looking a million bucks on a practice court or against a ball machine. The latter doesn't own a brain, you won't play too many opponents like that in your tennis career.
Teaching tennis can be likened to helping someone think their way through a situation, like an argument and finding the best answer because that's what tennis is. The sport is an argument between two people that will only ever be resolved with a series of better answers......