Wednesday, 21 September 2016

'PRODUCING A CHAMPION'

If ever I get hit by a bus (which will make some people happy) I would like the following part of my book to be forever aligned with my good self. I never really had aspirations to make champion tennis players because I am aware of the process involved and I find it totally uncomfortable.
What I do however feel happy about particularly locally here in sleepy hollow down south is the fact that I kept a tennis club going in more ways than one. The most important factor as a tennis coach I believe is that you have a vision to keep a club going.
It's a necessity to look further than your wallet because in the long run a club will always look back on the times when Saturday afternoons were pumping with members, particularly the younger ones.
It's all very well to run a program with plenty of kids walking through the gate for lessons but did you really gain memberships at the end of it all and put kids on court against the adults when it mattered ?
Keeping a kid in the sport of tennis is the most difficult thing to do as a coach or a parent. I would much rather keep a tennis club running than burn a kid out for personal and financial gain before they could enjoy court time as a club member.
That's where the Industry fails, allowing an $80 tennis 'lesson' to take place does nothing to keep people in the game for long periods of time. All it does is show the public that certain 'people' in tennis are full of their own self importance........

 'PRODUCING A CHAMPION' ( Part of Chapter 15 )
Did I ever produce a player who will forever be known as a 'Champion Tennis Player' ? Absolutely not. In my time on a tennis court coaching students of all ages I can honestly say that the success rate was minimal as far as tournament victories were concerned.
What I did do though was make it affordable to learn and I never once burned a player out through the actions of too many lessons to either try to speed up the improvement process or for financial gain.
A coach with any clue on the sport of tennis will look at things realistically when it comes to training and court time.
There are many examples of kids burning out at a young age due to coaches offering too many sessions and not looking at the big picture. It isn't entirely the fault of the coach though as parents can often push their 'prodigy' too much, too soon.
I once played the final of my local Doubles Championship with a 16 year old kid who I taught as a seven year old and we played two older kids in the final who I also used to coach. Just being on court in a local tennis tournament final in front of a big crowd with three former students was an absolute thrill although we lost the match.
To me that was a win for my early tuition of those players. Sure they had grown up, been elsewhere, had another coach, given up the game, taken it up again, the usual story with kids however I had an impact into their tennis ability.
My partner that tournament also lost in the final of a City tournament when he was around 13, no big wins yet he was competitive with the best in the State in his age group, same as I was. That sort of thing I suppose gives you heart that your tuition is of substance and not just hype.
To produce a player that goes beyond those type of results and regularly beats the best in the City requires a whole different type of attention, something that never really appealed to me to offer a player. As always, I was wary of the process involved and the mind set of the student required to implement it.
Producing champion tennis players is a tough gig but some put all sorts of pressure on to achieve it, as a coach or a student who believes they have the goods. Some coaches will swear by their process of training a kid five days a week but probably what is happening will not really be doing the kid any favours or their parents' credit card any good. Tennis I believe is a sport where quality will usually prevail against quantity and it needs to be treated with that type of philosophy to keep kids in the game for longer periods of time. If you look at the average age of a tennis professional now days who is making a handy living it is not someone who is in their teen's, it's 25 plus.
Grinding a kid into the ground at age 13, 14 or 15 is not how you create champions, that's how you put a kid off tennis altogether.
Parents also need to be realistic. It's the type of sport which requires all round thinking and not a '5 minute' program which will make the coach rich and the kid worn out.
As the saying goes, 'Patience Grasshopper'.......

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