We launched a new rubric “Ask a tennis expert.” Today, Jimmy Johnson, founder of Advantage Tennis Academy, answered questions from our readers.
Cilenta: “I’m creating a video about youth tennis (grades k-12) for one of my courses at the University of Minnesota. I was stuck on a question that was difficult for me to research about. In your opinions (and if any facts), what’s one contemporary issue present at the forefront affecting tennis among youth? Thank you!”
Hi Cilenta and great question! There are many issues that are affecting tennis among our youth but I would submit that a very important pressing issue is the lack of parental support. Our lifestyles are more and more requiring two incomes to support the ever increasing cost of raising a family. The late Vic Braden once told me, “great players come from great parents”. Our youth need moms and dads who can not only put the time in on the court but also to be there to have important conversations about dealing with adversity and helping them do things that aren’t easy.
Tawan: “I am currently in tennis academies. I am not improving as much as expected. Are tennis academies the best way to develop a strong tennis players? What are your thoughts on tennis academies? It is better to develop my own program specifically for me go to an academies?”
Hi Tawan, Tennis academies are wonderful and offer “one-stop-shop” for tennis players. While a tennis academy isn’t always the only solution, they can offer more than just tennis. Just because your child attends an academy however, don’t assume they are receiving the individual attention and mentoring they need to develop. Stay focused on goal setting and encourage your child’s coaching team to focus on performance goals as well as short term result oriented goals.
Gwendolyn: “I got a nephew from the Philippines. He just turned 8 years old. He is already 9th in the national tennis ranking all over the country for kids age 10 below. He wanted to train in the US to hone his skills further. Also, for the possibility of finding tennis scholarships here. Is there a way he can train in the US for free? I would appreciate any information you can impart to me to help him succeed in his budding tennis career.”
Tennis scholarships are sometimes available. Be leary of an academy that guarantees incredible results or offers young players full scholarships. Nick Bollettierri once told me, “never give too much scholarship to a player under 12, they gotta earn it!”