In Professional Tennis Tournaments Do You See What I See?

Living in South Florida is a great thing, fabulous weather year round and a Master 1000 tournament and a smaller ATP 250 event. The other night I had the pleasure of taking a few kids to the Delray open in Delray beach. Two top players were the event of the night, Ivo Karlovic #29 and Dustin Brown (#95). Of the two there is much to learn from both, in Brown’s case he can beat the worlds number one any day, problem is he can also lose with the worlds 800 any day. Though his unpredictability is unique and a trait so very hard to teach and communicate. Ivo Karlovic is a veteran who is top thirty and has a very good record and serve that is more like a guided missile.

Federer_Miami

The first impression I always get when I go to tennis tournaments (last year Indian Wells, Sony Open, Now Miami Open, Delray Open, Orange Bowl, UM college matches) is that the vast majority of the attendees or fans are over 55 years of age. The last tournament we saw a week ago was the Delray open. I kid you not, there were at best 100 fans in a 3500 stadium and 80 of the 100 fans were seniors. My son even asked me where are the kids? When I started to think about it, indeed my 10 year old is right! Where are the kids? Why don’t we see a coaches with loads of kids learning from the very best? Seeing a match, criticizing a serve, talking to the pros? Bus loads of kids everywhere, It is a kid sport after all, that we adults also enjoy.

In fact last year I even wrote to the Tournament Director of the Miami Open and asked him why is not every high school kid, tennis enthusiast here filling the stands? I never got a response. From my perspective, the problem is that tennis has a limited audience and it is not the audience that is young, loud and can make a tennis tournament fun. Weather we like it or not, tennis is a very expensive sport that is cost prohibitive for the majority of people and takes too long to develop the skill at a very steep price. This is a recipe for failure. Considering that the right attitude to play it well is to have the work ethic of a blue collar person. But, it is a white collar sport.? Where is the new Jimmy Connors? The new Williams’s sisters. What can we do? How can we help? What should our governing body do?

When I see the stands, I feel guilty of not doing enough for other kids, happy to be there, but overall truly worried that it just does not look right, feel right or seem to have a long positive outlook.

I know some readers will say, that there are kids days, and disagree with me. It just seems like we can all do more for our sport. So, next week when you are at Indian Wells, study the audience and when the week after you go to Miami and study the audience. Maybe you get some ideas as to what we can do as parents, coaches, and Americans. You may get that feeling I get, it just does not feel or look right.

We have to do something about it. We have to. Our kids and our country is losing out.

Discuss the post and Like TennisConsult.com on Facebook. Thank you! 

LoveOne Tennis Scoreboards. Little Company, Big Heart

It all started back in 1998, in an 80 degree, dust filled garage in Naples, Florida. This is when my grandfather first realized that tennis scoreboards demanded innovation. On it’s inception, LoveOne tennis scoreboards was the first of its kind. No longer did people have to deal with soggy tennis balls, broken clips, or missing flip cards to keep score. There was a better way.

loveone

Since LoveOne’s inception the objective has been to set the standard for the quality and functionality of tennis and bocce scoreboards. Over the past sixteen years, the company has accomplished that objective, and continues to raise the bar. We have never had to replace a board, and we are proud to say that LoveOne is widely recognized for excellence. LoveOne is a family business, and each scoreboard is made in America, using American materials, and the direct oversight of a family member. Even as we have grown, we have maintained a personal approach to production and quality control.

loveone2

Today, in 2015, LoveOne tennis scoreboards are sold in six different countries including Europe, and it has expanded its product line to include bocce boards as well as a variety of accessories and is still all family run. We are excited to showcase our new color options to match your tennis club or neighborhood as well for the upcoming Spring season. You can find out more information and purchase on our website: http://tennisscoreboards.com/

Keeping Safe in Youth Sports: Child Protection Training for Coaches and Volunteers

This article “Keeping Safe in Youth Sports: Child protection training for coaches and volunteers” was written by Keir McDonald.

Tennis player

Safeguarding the welfare of all children and young people participating in youth sports by providing a safe and fun environment is critical for sports organisations, coaches and volunteers everywhere.

The most effective child protection training programmes for coaches and volunteers incorporate four critical elements, including; concussion training, antibullying policies, criminal records checks, and recognising signs of abuse.

All youth sports leagues and teams should consider implementing training on the following topics to keep youth athletes as safe as possible.

Concussion Training and Pre-Season Screening

During a sport-related concussion incident, the first responders are often coaches, volunteers and athletic trainers. As a first responder, knowing your athletes before the season is very important. At the beginning of each season, coaches, volunteers and athletic trainers should assess the athlete’s concussion history and administer baseline concussion testing.

Not only can this can greatly help manage a concussion if it ever occurs, but the very act of getting tested will raise concussion awareness for athletes, parents and coaches.

However, this isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds because studies have shown that many athletes do not report concussion symptoms to coaches, parents and trainers because they do not know what the symptoms feel like. For this reason training athletes about concussions and concussion symptoms is equally important to staff and volunteer training.

Implement Anti-bullying Policies and Training

It’s no secret that bullying is prevalent in schools, but it’s also an issue on the tennis court. Bullying significantly impacts the emotional functioning of children, therefore it is critical that youth sports leagues take clear steps to tackle this problem head on.

One solution is to effectively train and support all coaches, volunteers, and parents on bullying. One way is to use an online training program so training is standardized and self-paced. Experts at Bullying UK and Family Lives have endorsed a number of professionally authored online learning programmes focusing on duty of care issues.

These type of training programmes help you to promote a culture of vigilance in your youth sports organisation, which can make all the difference in safeguarding children. These programmes also explain how to identify bullying behaviour, what to do about it, and how to ensure best practices in your sports organization. By taking these steps towards a more educated community, bullying can be minimised, if not eradicated, making your youth sports team a happy, secure and productive environment.

Finally, it’s worth noting that although most coaches use positive and affirming coaching styles, bullying behaviour such as demeaning, shaming, and name-calling remains a concerningly common aspect of coaching in sports at any level. Anti-bullying policies and education play a role in eliminating any and all negative behaviour.

Make Criminal Records Checks Mandatory

Today, youth sports organisations often screen coaches and volunteers for criminal history. While background investigation is not required for all youth sports teams, any time numerous volunteers are lined up it’s wise to have an evaluation process for volunteers at which the background checks can be done to reduce liability.

Youth-based sports programmes should be sure to screen out people with a criminal past that makes them unsuitable for working with children. There are a number of organisations worldwide who offer simple and cost-effective background checks online. At a minimum, violent and sex offenders or anyone with an extensive criminal past could cause irreparable damage to a sports organisation and the individual athletes and should be screened out from the beginning.

How to Recognise Signs of Abuse

Youth sports coaches are in a unique position to help recognise symptoms of child abuse. Child abuse is an all too common problem and most frequently occurs in the home. The perpetrator is typically a member of the family and the vast majority of abuse goes unreported.

Unfortunately, the majority of abuse warning signs in children are emotional and difficult to detect. Physical warning signs are rare, but if observed they should be reported immediately. The presence of signs such as depression, anxiety, sudden changes in eating habits or self-mutilation should be taken seriously and the child should be closely monitored. Again, training here is critical because when coaches and volunteers know what to look for, they are better able to step in and help when necessary.

About the Author
Keir McDonald MBE is founder and Director of EduCare, an online training solutions company that specialise in child protection, exploitation and online safety, and bullying and child neglect. EduCare is associated with both Kidscape and Family Lives and customers include over 4000 schools and colleges and 12000 pre-schools as well as councils, NHS, charities and more.

Discuss the post and Like TennisConsult.com on Facebook. Thank you!

Top Four Reasons Why Kids Quit Sport

4 reasons

Top four reasons why almost 70% of kids quit sport by the time they’re 13.

1. They’re not having fun

Team sports offer a unique place for kids to learn about co-operation, winning and losing, and all that other good ‘moral fibre’ stuff. But kids don’t play sports for the fibre. When asked why they play, the number one answer kids give is ‘to have fun’. For them, having fun during a game is even more important than winning the game. So while their team may be doing well in its inter-city league, if your kids aren’t enjoying themselves, they won’t stick with the sport.

2. They feel awkward, because they lack physical literacy

Nobody likes to feel they’re all elbows and thumbs, especially when they’re around their peers. Kids want to feel reasonably skilled when they play a sport, and if they feel awkward or klutzy, they give up. Confidence and competence come from physical literacy, and your kids develop physical literacy by getting a good grounding in basic movement skills like throwing, running and kicking before they’re asked to dribble a soccer ball in a competitive match or shoot a free throw in basketball game. Sports organizations – Hockey Canada is a great example – are now hip to the importance of physical literacy and have created programs to develop a child’s physical literacy and keep building on it as they grow older in sport.

3. You’re being too ‘enthusiastic’

You love your kids. You want to be there for them, to root and cheer for them and so you – and all the other parents – come out to watch the games. And this is great. Unless you’re one of those parents who takes the game too personally. Most of us are pretty decent people but often there is that one ‘enthusiast’ who is all aggression and noise. Unfortunately, it only takes one to wreck the game for everyone else, kids included. FYI, kids notice these things and while it’s worse when it’s their parent, kids do not groove on any parent being obnoxious from the sidelines. Fortunately, there are ways you can help to change this behavior and keep your kids in the game.

4. They’re dreading the post-game car ride home

According to Peter Gahan, head of player and coach development for Australia Baseball, kids know whether or not they played well. Going over the game again or getting into what they could or should have done differently really won’t help them, and it’s more likely to turn them off playing again. The car ride home is an important time for kids to just sit and let the game sink in. If you want to be supportive, ask them to tell you one thing that was fun about the game (especially if they lost) or, better yet, try: “I loved watching you play out there.” The things we say make a difference!

Credit: With thanks to Stephanie Rogers.

Discuss the post and Like TennisConsult.com on Facebook. Thank you! 

How to Create a Perfect Tennis Club

John Cavill

Participation, participation, participation!

We now have a new focus for British Tennis…Participation! Although I laugh when making that statement as it seems obvious that this is something a governing body should be doing but it is a serious direction that I believe should be the number one on the tennis agenda.

Over the 14 years that I have been developing the coaching element of Tennis Works, my focus has been on getting as many people as possible to try the game and give them opportunities to continue playing. I established a Charity called MK Ace, which allowed us to get funding to help cover the large costs of hiring public facilities, staff, marketing etc and make tennis very affordable for all. The network I created in and around my town in Milton Keynes, Bucks, was huge and the operation had over 18 venues, 12 coaches, 20 schools and 1000 people a week playing tennis.

Then…we hit a recession! Funding dried up, the Schools Sports Partnership network lost its budget to provide coaches into schools during curriculum time and the whole operation shrank as the increase in costs to the customers prohibit them from playing and companies were not dishing out the sponsorship money due to tough times.

I live and learn that you can’t build a house on sand and when your model is funding / sponsorship reliant, then at any point the wind can change and you have to act accordingly. I also felt a passion to take tennis to the masses and not only offer it to wealthier people who could afford the high prices. I hope this article can highlight the importance of solid exit routes to retain players, which is where I believe that Tennis Clubs are the jewels of British Tennis.

A perfect tennis club should be more than just a place to play tennis but a welcoming hub of activity that has something for everyone. A good coach / coaching team and forward thinking committee are essential. While working in public access facilities, my operation was relatively simple as I would pay for the court or hall usage and get the numbers in. In a club there is a lot of politics, committee meetings, demands from members and other duties which if you cost out the time, is very expensive. The important thing about being at a club is what you can offer people that they can’t get at a public facility and these things are essential to keeping people playing. I have listed a few below:

• Good court surfaces (no broken nets, hedges growing through the fences, glass on the courts etc)
• Floodlights – More courts available under lights
• Facilities – Changing, toilets, kitchen, lounge area all near the courts
• Court access – as a member you can use the courts whenever you wish, where as in a public facility you have to hire the courts on an hourly basis or share the facility with other sports which is more expensive when you play regularly
• Community – Clubs have a community of players for socialising and getting different people together e.g. club nights etc
• Coaching – Usually more flexible when a coach can teach people within a club especially if a public facility is shared with a school so it can’t be accessed during the day

With participation falling over the years and tennis clubs recording lower memberships, there is a lot of support that the governing body should be giving the clubs…after all, they pay the governing body every year for affiliation fees, so they should be getting support for this.
So what could the governing body do to help support clubs? Here are three elements that would definitely help my business which is now ran at a club:

• Representatives to support
• Resources
• Funding

Like I mentioned, my business started and flourished from using Public facilities but in order to keep people playing the game, people need to filter from these facilities into a club. More work is needed on setting up Public facility programmes, supporting the costs of delivery and making sure every person is given the opportunity to play in the local club. I know of public programmes in my area that have no club links and there is only so far someone can go in a public facility, so I feel strongly that all the hard work getting these people playing will be wasted long term. Also, in order for the clubs to thrive and continue to support the affiliation fees, they need new members coming in.

You are not allowed to charge the children directly for coaching in curriculum time and school budgets are sometimes restricted, it would be great if there was a bursary that coaches could apply for to send them into schools during the day. From my experience, this will increase participation massively.

As clubs and tennis coaches we shouldn’t rely on the governing body but be able to stand on our own two feet. The governing body should be the centre pin between all the clubs and initiatives, ensuring that clubs are regularly communicated to and offered support. I have haven’t my development officer for well over a year and that may be because they don’t think we need the help, but to ensure that everything in an area is coordinated well, these officers should be in regular contact.

In recent years, with the focus on Performance Tennis, I feel has done tennis no favours. It’s simple…more people playing, more chance of people going on to play to a higher level. Hopefully the new era in British Tennis will be one that will save our sport and bring many people enjoyment.

Discuss the post and Like TennisConsult.com on Facebook. Thank you!