Let Kid’s Fail

Let kid’s fail

Let kid’s fail

This is something I’m big on when it comes to training young kids, and that’s allowing them to make mistakes, take risks and FAIL.
In fact, before I start a training session with young kids, one of my main requests besides great effort is that I see ‘good mistakes’.

Let me start by saying this: I LOVE FAILURE. BECAUSE IT TEACHES ME MORE THAN SUCCESS.

To many want to play it safe. If you are continually practicing and playing like this you end up playing in fear, in other words you are afraid of failing.
My message for coaches is stop aiming for ‘pretty practices’, practices that may look good on the outside, but are not presenting problems for kids to solve.
Messy is good, but structured messy is even better.

One of my favorite sayings is: There is no such thing as perfect practice, only perfect effort.

Remember that your habits in practice visit you when you are under pressure (like in a match). Do you tighten up afraid to make a mistake? Or do you keep swinging freely and sticking to the process, knowing you will make mistakes, but are doing the right thing in the longer term?

I tell my kids before they compete, win or lose, my assessment is on the good mistakes you make, and that takes the pressure right away from them.

So parents and coaches, allow your kids to make mistakes, allow them to learn how to fail. Let them figure out how to solve their own problems.
Stop jumping to their aid every time a challenge arises.
Help them develop a growth mindset of learning how to deal with difficulty and challenges.

It’s the choices we make along the way that make the journey so rich, so don’t rob yourself of that experience.

To me, structured and purposeful messy is better than perfect and unproductive safety.

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Inside Saviano High Performance Tennis

Inside Saviano High Performance Tennis 

Take a sneak peek inside the program and the method that drives world-class results at Coach Saviano’s high performance tennis academy for juniors, college players and tour-level pros.

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Top 3 Potential Future Wimbledon Champions

Top 3 Potential Future Wimbledon Champions

The big four in the men’s game are not yet on their last legs, but this year’s Wimbledon offers a glimpse into the future and the potential to see a new champion.

Roger Federer will turn 34 in August and is entering the autumn, maybe even the winter, of his career, while the 29-year-old Rafa Nadal is yet to rediscover his best form after suffering with injury and illness in the second half of 2014. Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, meanwhile, are both aged 28, and that means there will soon be a Grand Slam gap for the younger brigade to fill.

Here, we take a look at three players who are in the best position to eventually succeed the old guard and shake up the betting odds to become Wimbledon champion:

Grigor Dimitrov

One half of tennis’ apparent golden couple with Maria Sharapova, Dimitrov is in danger of seeing his off-court activities overshadow what happens on court. However, there is no doubting that Dimitrov has the talent and all-round game to become a Wimbledon champion. Indeed, he was the junior champion at the All England Club in 2008 and seven-time winner Pete Sampras is his idol. 2014 showcased just why Dimitrov can make the transition from junior to men’s champion at Wimbledon. He won at Queen’s in the build-up to Wimbledon after beating Feliciano Lopez in three sets in the final, with each set going to a tie-break. At Wimbledon, he destroyed defending champion Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6, 6-2 in the quarter-finals. The way Dimitrov overpowered Murray that day was one of the best performances in the tournament in recent years. In the semi-finals, Dimitrov lost in four to Novak Djokovic, with the last two sets both going to tie-breaks. Consistency is Dimitrov’s biggest issue at present and he suffered a surprise defeat by Gilles Muller in the last 16 in defence of his Queen’s Club title. At 24, he is getting to the point where he needs to be a regular contender at Grand Slams.

Nick Kyrgios

The star of the 2014 tournament, Kyrgios made full use of his wild card entry to reach the quarter-finals. He beat Richard Gasquet in a five-set thriller in the second round and then his booming serve dismantled Nadal in the fourth round. He subsequently lost in four sets to Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals. Having risen 200 places in the rankings in the past 15 months, Kyrgios has made rapid progress and he reached his first ATP Tour final in May at the Estoril Open. He has lost to Murray at both the Australian and French Opens this year, and he fell at the first hurdle at Queen’s when beaten in straight sets by Stanislas Wawrinka. He has shown his win over Nadal last year was no flash in the pan as he also beat Federer in Madrid earlier this year. He has struggled with an elbow injury and has picked up something of a reputation as a ‘bad boy’. But it’s refreshing to have a livewire character in tennis and, at just 20, he has time on his side to fulfil his undoubted potential.

Milos Raonic

Like Dimitrov, Raonic is 24 and also had grass-court king Sampras as an idol growing up. At 6ft 5ins tall, Raonic has the size and stature to make a real impact on grass, even if all six of his career titles to date have been on hard courts. He reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year having previously not gone beyond the second round in three attempts. But, following his win over Kyrgios, he was beaten in straight sets by Federer in the last four. He then lost in a record-breaking marathon five-setter to Kei Nishikori in the US Open before being beaten by Djokovic in the quarter-finals at this year’s Australian Open. At Queen’s this year, Raonic lost in three sets to Gilles Simon, again at the quarter-final stage. He missed the French Open after undergoing a minor operation on a pinched nerve in his foot. Raonic has also struggled with thigh and ankle injuries over the past 12 months. He has a very similar profile to Dimitrov in terms of having the talent to win a Grand Slam, but he has yet to attain the consistency of the top players and he also needs to stay fit. If he does that, then he can become the first Canadian to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon.

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Interview with Todd Widom, Tennis Coach and Owner of TW Tennis

Here is an interview with Todd Widom. He is a former Top 200 ATP Professional in both singles and doubles. Coach Widom is TennisConsult.com expert and Owner of TW Tennis.

Widom

Todd Widom

When did you start to play tennis?

I started at the age of six at the country club of Coral Springs, Florida with Shawn Craig.

Do you remember your first tennis tournament?

The first tournament I played was in Coral Springs and I forgot the score. This taught me a quick lesson in score keeping!

How did you start coaching tennis?

I started coaching at a local academy in Florida after the 2010 Australian Open. I coached at the academy for a couple of months and then started working with one player privately which turned into a very small system of high-level players. I believe the system, which I have now, is the best way to maximize the players’ time to achieve their goals and dreams.

What are your goals as a professional tennis coach?

The goals I have for each student I train is to come up with a plan and work towards achieving the students’ goals and dreams whether it is college tennis or professional tennis.

There are literally hundreds of tennis academies in the US. But only a few good world class juniors are developed at these academies. Why do you think that is?

From a tennis development perspective, I believe that when a coach takes on many students and tries to mesh the players with different objectives, there will be problems. In addition, I believe that the students are a product of their society so the parents need to be very aware of who their child is surrounded by. The business plan of these academies is quite simple, the owner is trying to maximize profits and there are the assistants who are simply there to follow instructions and take home a paycheck. So what type of effort are they going to put in? I am not sure how you have top notch quality with this business plan.

Can the USTA Player Development program produce the next Sampras or Agassi?

From the interviews I have read about the USTA, they understand what it takes to develop high level players. However, knowing and doing are two very different things. The private tennis sector in the United States has always produced top notch professionals and I believe this is true because it is imperative to have a very close relationship with your coach. It is a true bond and that is what all the top players have. You essentially cannot have multiple coaches throughout the year and expect to have steady and consistent progress. I definitely do not believe in taking the junior player out of their comfort zone at home and with their coach which has worked for that particular player for them to reach a high level. Why change something that works? This plan for the USTA backfired and this country lost many top level juniors that could have gone on to do some special things with their talents. I continually make very clear to the parents that the window is very small to maximize the players’ talents. If not managed properly, the goals and dreams of the player will not be a reality.

What are the main reasons for the loss of dominance of US tennis players on the world stage?

There are many reasons for the loss of dominance in this country. I have heard and read things like our top athletes do not choose tennis. That is true but we have great athletes in tennis even though it takes a backseat to other sports. It all starts at the entry level. Many of the children and parents have not done their research in where to put their children in terms of their tennis development. There are a lot of great marketing schemes out there and the parents many times are sold a Ferrari and they get a Kia. Tennis is a big business and it all depends what you want for your child. If you look at the major sports, college is a pathway to becoming a professional. We need more tennis players coming out of college tennis and becoming successful professional players. Although, this is easier said than done. Coaches like myself in the private tennis sector are working with players and obtaining great results. The private sector coaches need funding from the USTA. I see plenty of talented players that go the college route and getting a job after college is their job. They do not have professional aspirations which is tough to see cause maybe someone has not supported them in trying to be the best they can be. From my perspective, going to college and getting a job is easy compared to testing yourself weekly against the world’s best tennis players and athletes, but you have to have the will and desire to do that knowing that it is a very difficult avenue to take. What I am saying is that too many of our athletes are taking the easy way out, and I think if they had the proper support emotionally and financially, they would put their best foot forward towards a professional career in tennis.

Many tennis academies offer 25 hours of tennis and fitness a week, plus players spend the weekend competing in tournaments. What do you think about this schedule for 12-16 year-olds?

With children at academies from ages 12-16 years old, I am not sure how you train 25 hours a week at an extremely high quality plus play tournaments on the weekends. If the intensity is high the vast majority of kids will not be able to get through this week. In my five years of coaching, I have only had one or two kids that could get through this type of week with this amount of hours with the intensity and focus that I demand. The players I train have had to build up to being able to handle this type of workload. I went to normal public middle school and high school in Coral Springs, FL and my day consisted of a three mile run, very physical tennis training for 2-3 hours, plus a session of fitness for about another hour. There were days where I had to just relax on the bench for twenty minutes after the workout due to exhaustion before I got up to go home. I do not see that with many of the kids, as they have not been given an education into what it is going to take to play high-level college tennis or professional tennis. My goal as a coach is to also make sure that the students are not surprised about the workload when they go to play high level college tennis. In my opinion, I would have not done my job properly if they cannot handle workouts in college or training with other professionals.

What should be the ratio between the time spent on the court and the time spent on fitness for pro players? What about for juniors?

The time spent on the court compared to the time spent on fitness whether you are a professional or amateur all depends on where you are at in your tennis career and what you need to be working on. Juniors need many different things based upon each and every person, and each and every person is different and this is why I cringe when I see many of the juniors all being taught the same thing in a cookie cutter mold. Since professionals are more produced players then juniors, they need to spend a great deal of time on fitness but it also depends on that individual as well.

What are your tips for young tennis players who dream about a professional career in tennis?

My tips for young tennis players who aspire to be professionals is to find a tennis professional who cares for you and your development first and foremost, and develop that bond. If you think you are working hard, work harder. There are kids all around the world who are absolutely working their tails off to have a professional career in tennis. Their single focus is tennis and not education so you need to maximize your time each and every moment you’re on the court or doing physical training. If you see anyone working harder then you in your area, state, or in the US, you better work harder cause that is the only way to make a living at this game and it’s only going to get more physical. Study the game. Most importantly, enjoy the process and smile on the court cause tennis does not last forever.

What can you advise to tennis parents and coaches?

My advice to parents is to pay very close attention to what is going on in your child’s development. This does not mean that because your child is not having great results, they are going nowhere in their development. They should have a balance of winning and losing. If you’re winning too much, that’s not good and if you’re losing a lot, that’s not good either. There is a lot of great marketing out there so from a parental perspective, you need to look past that. You should be able to tell if the coach is doing a great job or not. Many of the players I train wish they started with me earlier and I wish they did as well. You cannot recover the time lost in your child’s development.

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Wimbledon 2015: Rafael Nadal upset by Dustin Brown

Nadal-Brown

What a sad day for Nadal-lovers like me. He is so completely honest!
But against Dustin Brown today he was obviously playing without confidence. And it showed in his forehand and serve. Again and again, on important points, his forehand went awry, usually long. This is a sign of lack of looseness in his arm/hand, where it was just a little late getting over the ball, so it had a tendency to sail.

And his serve came and went. For periods of time he missed streaks of first serves and looked shaky on his second. Very scary.

And Dustin Brown didn’t make Rafael Nadal’s job any easier. He was going for the lowest percentage, weirdest shot he could think of, and making too many for Nadal’s (or my) comfort. Nadal got no rhythm from Brown, and this was especially debilitating to him because he came into the match with low confidence to start with.

To Nadal’s great credit, he handled himself like the great champion he is – playing terribly, yet not a wince or whine out of him. Admirable character!!

Brown, it must be noted, is a super-talent, capable of the most astounding shot-making. He could have been a very high-ranking player if he had learned and employed the middle game. (at least a few rally-balls to set up points) He plays like the football team that just goes for touchdown passes or trick plays on every play and forgets all the basics. He makes Monfils look, by comparison, like David Ferrer.

Dr. Allen Fox wrote the tennis best sellers, “If I’m the Better Player, Why Can’t I Win?” and “Think to Win,” and most recently, “Tennis: Winning the Mental Match.”  His website is  http://www.allenfoxtennis.net/

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