Opinion of the Famous Tennis Coach Robert Lansdorp about American Tennis

There is an interesting opinion of Robert Lansdorp, a living tennis legend, about American tennis coaches, academies and USTA Player Development.

Robert Lansdorp

Most coaches in this country don’t know much at all about coaching. They are just horrible. They know how to talk a great game and people believe them. You don’t know who is great and who is not.

The USPTA is for quantity, not quality any more. Anybody is a coach these days. If you can poke a ball over the net and get a basket of balls, you are a coach. If you can talk a great game you must be great. So many times the parents are smarter than the ” PRO ” and know more. IT is not the PARENTS!

Another thing that is happening in this country is that every body has Academies!! Academies don’t create Champions. THEY DON’T !!!

But people don’t want to believe me. Every club in the US has “Academies” and if the coach has one pretty good player he will start an ” Academy “! It is more money in his pocket.  So the “One on One” has left this country.

Name me one top tenner that has come out of the Chris Evert Academy in the last 10 years? Name me one? Even top 30 player? I like Rick Macci, but who came out of his Academy in the last 10 years? And all these so, and so,  Academies in clubs don’t develop players. If in the past the kids were in Academies, it was always a family member running the show. They were in control.

I am at fault a little. My rates have gone up to $200 an hour.  Not outrageous, like some pro’s but too expensive for a lot a people. So, the “One on One” is disappearing!

“Academies” are popping up all over the place and now comes the second problem. Everybody and I mean everybody is in hitting lots of topspin and hitting “Academy” balls. High over the net with lots of topspin. Then you look at the top pro’s and they are all hitting the hell out of the ball. Very hard,  fairly low over the net, not much higher than 2 1/2 feet over the net, AND CONSISTENT! Consistent, because they have been doing it since they were young.

This Academy ball is a big problem in getting Champions. Because of the Academies, you are losing the “One on One” teaching and there goes the DISCIPLINE! Now you are in real trouble! No discipline…. No Champions!

Also, the attitude of people has changed after the Capriaty debacle. Let’s just go to college! Nothing wrong with that, but no Champion will develop with that attitude. And don’t bring up Isner!

Probably 99% of the world class players hardly went to high school and never went to college. Combining the two does not work. Going to a hard private High School is the death in becoming a great player,  forget becoming a Champion.

On top of all this you have a bunch of money hungry people running the USTA Junior “Development” Program. Nothing good will come out of the USTA Junior Development. They are just stealing players from other coaches and then messing them up and forgetting them. What a great organization!

There are hundreds and hundreds of very talented youngsters in this country, but they don’t get developed into Champions. Making of Champions is an art and a gift!

Dear readers, what do you think about the opinion of Robert Lansdorp? It also will be very interesting to hear opinions about  the article from owners, directors, and coaches of tennis academies and from USTA Player Development officials. I know, that many of them read the blog. Please express your thoughts and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!


Opinion of the Famous Tennis Coach Robert Lansdorp about American Tennis — 40 Comments

  1. Robert Lansdorp has helped develop some great champions. His drills stressing match play situations are legendary. He has my respect in that regard. But his comments here on coaches, academies and parents are too critical and too much of a generality. You need to be analytical, to examine case by case. I love academies, some of them have developed great champions and most of them give the young a chance to groove in a liking for the sport and to make friends.
    I’ll give you another generality, Mr. Lansdorp, and this one might work: if people only knew the precise basics of morals, ethics, communication, understanding, and those of tennis as a simple but very focussed game and applied it to coaching, parenting, and developing oneself as a complete person respecting others, fitting in society and in this wonderful sport, we will all win.

  2. The number one reason y kids go to academies is for the match play. I totally agree with Robert; there’s a lot of bad coaches out there and they should be selling cars instead don’t want to elaborate is a waisted of time American tennis is in trouble. I think we need more clay courts to begin that way you have to grinder out and work your tail !!!!!!!!!

  3. Rene, there are a lot of technical reasons why the coaching is not high quality, and the most important one is the prevalence of conventional tennis misconceptions that not only make tennis difficult to learn, but also affect players at the higher level. The best solution is to clear those, and unfortunately, the USPTA, PTTR and also the USTA have fallen for those trite, false tenets and keep promulgating them. Rather than facilitating player development, this scenario is suppressing it.

    • Well said I admire your point of view I worked for many years @ bollettierie academies and the inviroment it’s healthy and fun but theres no one on one like it use too! Anyway if you’re as a parent not there you’re kid it’s not going to get the attention that requires to developed a young mind . 🙂

  4. Oscar, you offer an intelligent perspective and bring up several excellent points. Tough for US coaching to improve with so many accepted false tenets.

  5. With all the respect to all the tennis coaches, academies, and readers, I have to agree with Mr. Lansdorp in about 80%. For several years I have been saying that the reason why American tennis is losing its hegemony in the world is because of its high cost. The average private tennis lesson is probably between $80 and $120 an hour (please correct me if I am wrong). This causes that only few people could afford one on one lessons; while probably a vast majority, with great talent, ability, aptitude, discipline, and desire are left out for not having the money (the most important?). I was surprised at the cost of tennis lessons when my son, at eight year old, started to play tennis in Europe. The price for group lessons was about 180€ for three months that included 12 sessions. The private lesson was 30€ and hour. These are very affordable rates for European parents. We all know what the rates are here in the US. It is true that there are too many academies/clubs only after the money where they never ask the tennis pros how the kids are progressing but instead they only check how are the dollar numbers for the academies. They do not supervise the pros’ performance or knowledge. At the best they demand the pros not to skip work (in case they have a private lesson somewhere else where the pro makes more than $20 or $30 and hour) but not real consideration to the kids’ progress. I have been a tennis coach for more than 30 years and have a Master in Sport Psychology and Movement of Science. I teach tennis in a “chain academy” I prefer not to mention its name and still today nobody, from the owners of the company to the Head Pro, have approached me to include a sport psychology in the program to better assist the tennis players (junior and adults). To make things worst, once I worked at a well worldwide know tennis academy where they have about 5 sport psychologies but I never saw them on the court. One day I heard one of them saying that they do not go out to observe the kids playing tennis because it is too hot. Unless this money philosophy changes, we will continue seen 81% of the top 100 player in the world from Europe and no American player in the top 20 like this last week.

    • I think there is a kernel of important info here. The cost of learning to play has become prohibitive…There needs to be more public money spent on developing champions. The USTA does a great job of getting more people involved but training at the local level requires more partnerships between the professionals and municipalities so that long-range planning can become more intensive. Everybody knows that it takes many years to train a tennis player, particularly a kid capable of becoming high-performance player.

  6. I agree with Robert in almost everything. First with what I don´t agree, I believe that kids need to learn correct grips and raquet speed to develop the spins, then like Robert Says, if there was more attention to players going thru the transitions they could put ALL that power but maintain the revolutions on that ball.

    Everything else I agree. It is sad how organizations are all about the money and not quality. Sad too to see coaches with no skill to teach but oh yes, friendly, outgoing and SORRY, no instruction at all. I have lost so many students to that type of person, because I can NOT even call them coaches. It takes years to develop into a quality development coach. I personally are at fault too, I have my ACADEMY, but luckily I have for over a year gone thru the transition of personal projects. All this changes have taken me from loosing some students but having the pleasure of traveling with a great player this year. He has gotten as high as 28th junior ITF. Have travel to many countries with him, watch him played two Grand Slam Juniors and let me tell you, i would not have changed that for anything else. Quality is Quality.

    As long as parents continue to chase a fantasy sold by people who don´t know much about tennis or have money priorities, this will continue in the same direction.

    Stay Strong and Loyal to your Believes!!!!

  7. With all respect to you, Pepe, I don’t think the involvement of a sports psychologist is necessary in tennis. It would just complicate matters. All that is needed is to make teaching simple and easy, and rely on the natural instincts of the child, their athleticism, their instinct and feel. I never heard a psychologist explain feel, instinct, nor the Zone, where you see the ball slower than usual, accurately and in simple terms.

    • Hi Oscar, thank you for your comment about sport psychology. I like to respond to your comment for the sharing of information which I believe makes us richer. Perhaps the main problem sport psychology is its name. Once during the Sony Erickson tournament in Miami I conducted a statistical research about how tennis players and their coaches perceive sport psychology. The main problem was its name and bad experiences with so called sport psychologies. I am talking about clinical psychologists who perform as sport psychologists causing a lot of damage. Those people are trained to find problems. Real sport psychologists are trained to make athletes mentally stronger. The brain usually gives up ten times more before the legs do. Most tennis players and coaches interviewed preferred the term “peak performance advisor” instead of sport psychology. There was a gap between young coaches and older ones. Young coaches were pro sport psychology use for their players, while the older ones (not part of their generation) rejected the idea of sport psychology. In sport psychology it is talked and taught about the ZONE, getting there and staying there. It is a state of physical relaxation and heightened mental alertness associated with peak optimal performance. Helps to stay relaxed (I do not like to use the word relaxed because it is impossible to be truly relaxed in a tennis match) I prefer to use the word “loose” which has a lot to do with “feel”. Feeling the sensation of been loose is easier than telling a tennis player, during a important match, to be relaxed. It is easier to make feel your arm or legs loose than relaxed. This zone makes the player be more focus, more confident, feeling performing effortless and automatically. When a tennis player is in the zone, alpha brainwave frequency is triggered producing this relaxed attentive awareness. In order to stay in the zone the tennis player needs to have routines performed before every serve and return as we see in Sharapova and Nadal constantly activating alpha brainwaves frequency. Routines is another topic. Instincts or killer instinct is basically the unquenchable will to win at all costs. It is a natural competitiveness which comes out in every match and even in training. Every tennis player has this instinct to some degree, but some more than others. The benefits of well implemented sport psychology are numerous and one I like the most is teaching young kids better coping skills for their game in their life after tennis. I understand the negative reputation sport psychology has. During that research in Miami I interviewed Marian Vajda (Djokovic’s coach)and he reported that Djokovic totally dislike the idea of sport psychology. Instead of forcing it to him, Marian for three years, used the help of sport psychology and learned form it to indirectly apply it to Djokovic. It took three years to make him more mature and mentally strong and reach the number one ranking. I believe that if Djokovic would had go directly to a sport psychology, it would have probably taken six to twelve months instead of three years. Thank you letting share this with you. After all, this is what the internet is about. It let us share.

  8. I totally agree with Pepe Huerta here. Tennis does need to become more affordable in the US. Clubs are just (understandably and unfortunately)) after the money. I did not like Roberts comments, it seems that he just complains about the way things are but has no solutions and I also think he is generalizing way too much. I mean how about Bollitieri, or Sanchez Casal? They have come out with some great players! maybe not Americans but great players nonetheless….I also disagree with the comments he makes regarding the USPTA and PTR. Also his comments on education. I think kids should definitely complete their education, I mean not everyone can be number one in the WORLD.
    I think the main thing is making tennis more affordable. I think that to succeed in any sport you have to have that hunger for success and I just don’t see that “hunger” in rich kids that never have to work hard for things (I know this is a generalization)–i just really don’t…..

  9. Thank you Robert Lansdorp. Excellent and needed comments. I have also raised my fees to the $200.00 plus range, not for greed but because in your mid seventies your legs can only take so much. Half of the time on the court is for much less or kids working for their lessons, I suspect the Great Robert Lansdorp does the same.

  10. Although I did not see Robert’s story. I am a former Robert student and pro player myself. Times were different back then. There was no academies but a lot of match play every week , which is sorely missing right now in my view. Robert was a great disciplinarian and I thank him everyday for pushing beyond limits I knew I had. We grew up in an environment that we were stretching to be the best we could be and didn’t worry about the pro tour because the tour was in its infancy. On my view, the kids are looking to be pros before they go through all the needed steps. I will defend the USTA. We are such a large country that is is almost impossible to get “one on one”. Player development is now on track in nationals and wild cards that they are earned rather than given. That just raises the bar for all. Lastly, the USTA is too maligned for not producing players. They don’t produce players. Players produce players by their work ethic and most important, their heart and desire

  11. “IT is not the PARENTS!”

    I don’t understand the paragraph where he concludes with “IT is not the PARENTS!” Is he saying that when parents were more involved it was better? Also, we know that many, many top players came out of academies: Agassi, Murray, Djokovic, etc., etc., etc. So what is he saying? I’m sure he’s not slamming all academies. Anyway, what’s the alternative? Kids need to be other kids and play lots of matches and practice, practice, practice…He admits that private lessons are unaffordable for the average parent. He just offers no solution beyond a long whine.

    • The first sentence is an answer for a statement that tennis parents are responsible for the bad situation with contemporary American tennis.

  12. Robert is spot on. I say that because with 350 million people in the United States, academies galore and we can barely get 2-3 American men or women into the quarters of any tournament. Is it getting better, mildly, yes, but only through tennis player attrition, not better coaching. Discipline, Dedication and Desire. Old school is old school, so bravo. Did Jimmy Conners, Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Stefie Graf, etc need a sports psychologist? My guess is no. Forgive me if I’m wrong. Great champions are born from extraordinary effort, dedication and commitment, regardless of the sport. I was a two sport professional and Olympian in another. I have spent 25 years working with the best in the world in 5 different sports, tennis included. Robert has illuminated the problem. The question now is how to fix it. Affordability for individual one on one is difficult yes, but it’s the price you pay for excellence. You know the expression, “you get what you pay for” well that’s one of the things I believe Robert is illuminating for us. There are no free lunches. No one sponsored me to go to the Olympics, no academy sponsored my athletic development. To achieve at a high level I had to pay the price, financially, emotionally , physically. Thats the cost of being great. Robert isnt whining, he is stating his truth and I concur as well.

    • Howard, you were so good in various sports. Are you really good in tennis as well?

  13. ——————————————————————————–

    I meant to say in a previous post that kids need to be around other kids to play matches and practice. That’s why academies are so popular. I don’t know what he proposes or what’s the solution. I guess parents and other famiy members should, if they can, offer one-on-one instruction. Today, we have videos, books, etc. A parent that has an understanding of the game and is willing to learn and pass on that knowledge, can do a lot by himself without spending a fortune in private lessons. I think it’s a fact that the vast majority of players were taught by family members, at least at the beginning. Often even well into adulthood. Kids don’t need lots of lessons. They need to practice a lot. But to admit this is not in the interest of coaches looking to make a buck out of well-meaning, but ignorant, parents. So instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on private lessons, it’s up to the parents to become students of the game and pass on that knowledge. Tennis is not a complicated sports, teach the proper fundamentals and let the kid adapt.

  14. The problem is that the too much good life in America,

    and as you know, “the actor should be hungry”

  15. John Austin – you make some simple but great points.

    1. PLAYERS PRODUCE PLAYERS. The challenge is creating or finding that environment, but it can and is being done all over the US. Proper instruction is critical but players pushing players is an extremely powerful development tool.

    2. NEED MORE MATCH PLAY IN THE WEEK. IMHO, we overlesson/overdrill and underplay (matches) in this country. We let “pay-to-play” tournaments dictate when kids compete. We need more arranged weekly scraps. We took the piano lesson approach with my son — take a lesson a week and then play, play, play. He played boys, girls, men, a 50-something retired professor from Carnegie Mellon, etc… loved it.

    Lansdorp loves to shake it up. I admire his passion but IMHO he’s off target in this latest blog. Keep in mind, he’s a “legend” and I have no coaching credentials whatsoever. With that said, here’s a few thoughts from just another tennis parent…

    ACADEMY BALL: There’s no question today’s professionals hit a bigger ball, but all the pros have this “academy ball” that Lansdorp speaks of in their repertoire. You have to be able to SPIN the ball and DRIVE the ball. The ball you receive dictates the response. In my mind, it’s that simple. High performance coaches all over the country teach SPIN and DRIVE. I saw plenty of SPIN and DRIVE in Kalamazoo.

    COACHES: I would not characterize most coaches as “horrible” in this country. I believe we have “enough” great coaches around the country. Some work out of their trunk, some out of a club, and some of them work in an academy setting. It can be a challenge to find the right fit and perhaps that’s why parents jump around so much. Last week Kriek mentioned parents moving juniors around is a large detriment to development, creates mixed messages. I’m not so sure. Besides, coaches move around too, including Kriek — that doesn’t make him bad, that’s just life. I happen to believe that sometimes a new voice, a new message is needed. And it can be a difficult to decision for the parent to actually pull the trigger. When I was wrestling with decision to change coaches once, a former player/coach reminded me that Joe Montana’s pee week football coach didn’t take him to the Super Bowl. I’ll never forget that comment. I believe it takes a village to develop a player and looking back, we learned something new from every coach along the way. Ultimately, it comes down to the player.

    1:1 COACH: You can get 1:1 coaching today, even in an “academy” setting and I believe it’s critical to get proper instruction. IMO, I don’t think kids need 1:1 coaching every day, unless you want robots.

    COLLEGE: Why can’t we bring up Isner? Kevin Anderson? Because they are in the minority and they went to college and used it as a springboard to the tour? This isn’t a new concept. McEnroe, Martin and Blake all started with college. The tour will tell a player when he/she is ready.

    For whatever it’s worth, my $.02


  16. What do you all think about the topic of “talent identification”? I am seeing programs promote seemingly harmless and fun events for kids 8 and under where they track the kids’ performance in running, jumping, etc. and then offer the best performers the chance to participate in follow up programs. While I understand the sentiment, if not the practical reality in getting kids with the most athletic ability involved in tennis, I believe the fact that a particular 8 year old can run through cones faster than some other 8 year olds tells us absolutely nothing.

  17. I loved Howard’s old school remark and John’s reference to not enough match play.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know Robert personally, but saw his pupil’s success. One thing I think is certain is there is no one formula. This is pretty obvious when you see the variations in both style and technique of all the top ten players. Other than providing an opportunity to play matches, academies and USTA training centers are not breeding grounds for future champions. Where Robert and coaches like him are important is they combine proper analysis of a player’s individual strengths and build a solid game around them. The intangible that Robert failed to mention that underlies a private coach’s true value is that they care about their students at a very intimate level. He takes on the role of a surrogate father on the court in this regard. His pupils trust him and know that it is not about the money, it is not about the results, it is about each one giving their all to be the best they can be and never stop trying to improve. Over the years I have heard on numerous occasions students of private coaches telling me they wanted to win for their coaches. I’ve never heard anyone ever win for an academy! When a player is out their giving it his all a coach like Robert, or Tony Nadal, or Gloria Connors, or Richard Williams, or Mike Agassi, or Tim Gullickson in your corner can make all the difference in continuing when most players give up.

    I think the biggest challenge we in the states face is that we are an evolving culture of quick and easy. We want answers, solutions, and results given to us and work is becoming a four letter word. Fewer and fewer players in the US are willing to do the work, much less figure out for themselves how to do it on their own if they don’t have the resources, at least not at the level that players in other countries are willing to do.

  18. Coach Lansdorp:
    There a few great coaches around;hence, they deserve some credit also.
    As you know the tennis industry, and as any others sports is infested of “thieves” and “impostors” and there is not rules. It is just free for all, and not one has the “secret formula”

  19. Juan, well said. There are a lot of marvelous coaches in the world. Tennis is much easier than it is thought to be. I wish there would be much more knowledge of the nature of human beings, how feel, instinct and simplicity work together, of what is “natural”, thereby really helping youth and adults alike to succeed to higher levels and enjoy immensely our great sport. That has been the thrust of my career, helping coaches and players alike. What is my background? Engineering and humanities, and 60 years into this wonderful sport, including 5 years on the tour, and more than 40 coaching. But I learn every day!

  20. I’m the one that said Lansdorp sounded like a bitter old man, and I did so because his comments did sound bitter. I was raised by my grandparents and I remember well how bitter old people sound. I also believe the youtube comment was aimed at me. Let me assure you, I will send vids to students to emphasis one point that comes up in conversation online, but on court is where the work is done. Now, i’m not impressed with how many pros one coach supposedly developed, most of these kids were going to be pros anyway, regardless of who their coach was. Show me coaches who take a kid who has failed at all other sports or activities they have tried then take up tennis and end up college players. There are the coaches who are really great and never get any credit. Reading between the lines of Mr Lansdorps comments, I get the feeling he things coaching in this country sucks because, We don’t listen to him the way he thinks we should. Other than that it was just a lot of rat a tat tat about what’s wrong with everything and everybody. let me end with this, I agree players develop players not coaches. If I ever take credit for anything a player of mine does on court, I want someone to slap me so hard I can’t see straight, because I will have earned the slap.

  21. Robert is brutally honest. Because he can be. He is 100% right on. Academies are only good for some match play and hitting. Thats about it. The champions developed at Academies were developed by a private coach. primarily. Not in a large group. Tennis academies are a cash cow. Im speaking from experience

  22. Adrin, I regret you had a bad experience in an academy or in various ones. I have seen many wonderful ones, providing much needed match practice as well. And making hours of practice much more affordable. We need to consider each situation analytically, seeing the differences, not just grouping by similarities. The coaches involved are a major difference between failure and success.

  23. Lansdorp is quite incendiary here which is really just a matter of style and form. Often times folks will dismiss things that are said in this way because of the way they are stated. What this really means is that they don’t want to hear the message and will use any excuse to avoid hearing it. The simple fact is that Lansdorp is quite correct.

    Simply go around the country and sit court side as one lesson after the other is being given or one “clinic” after the other is in progress. Take notes on the information being conveyed, the technique being “taught” if at all, the tactical advice being passed on, the physical discipline being demanded- you simply won’t see it in most cases in most places. The number of charlatans involved in teaching tennis is mind numbing.

    Everyone needs to scrutinize all coaches more thoroughly. Simply because someone has a USPTA or PTR card does not make them qualified to coach (almost anyone get these “licenses” if they are willing to shell out some money and take the worthless tests)and in many cases folks who know they aren’t really qualified gravitate towards these organizations as it lends them credibility.

    The message Robert has stated here is a fact and to anyone who is a tennis coach if you are confident you are not one of these charlatans then you should not be offended by how harshly he states this fact but rather be offended by the impact these charlatans are having on the game.

    The bottom line is that one needs to create an atmosphere where kids can thrive- they will improve and excel in such an atmosphere- and this is not being done in many places in this country in regards to tennis. There are several reasons for this with one of them being lack of quality coaches and the few quality coaches that are out there are way too expensive for most families- there are exceptions. This narrows the possibilities quite a bit- and here we are.

  24. Michael, do me a favor and go to tennisteacher.com and MTMCA.com. I made it easy and very affordable for players, parents and coaches to learn correct tech. How correct? It produces excellent results at all levels. Example: I helped Vicky Duval for three days two months ago to dispel misconceptions that were standing in her game’s way. Let me know your opinion. Perhaps you’ll find it too easy, which is the biggest complaint of most “experts” and coaches that have inspected these materials.

  25. Parenthetically, no coach who has used my methodology has ever said to me, since 1989, that it does not work. In fact, quite the contrary.

    • I have taught for 30+ years and Oscar Wegners methods are simple and effective. Children need immediate gratification, I agree with John Austin in the idea that players want to become professionals before they have done the work. Mr. Landsdorf has a great deal of success and can come across a bit cocky,give him some levity as he is proven champion developer. I miss the variety in the game, the technology has really changed the game I know and love. I am disgusted with the one dimensional baseline acute topspin game. I believe with the scaling down of the game for children will help. The variety in the game is what made it exciting. I watch children using acute western grips and cringe, they back away and then hit that topspin only stroke. I have worked in several Tennis Clubs in SoCal, I believe we as teachers must captivate the students and help them fall in love with the game the way many of us have. I believe the surfaces should have been left alone, Wimbledon’s grass was slowed down to accommodate the clay court specialists. I have used the sized down equipment and found it is a great introduction for children. I must say as I have taught in some affluent environments, it is true, if you are so well feed it is hard to be hungry. Let’s not point fingers, as there are a myriad of reasons for our concerns. I suggest we make it our job to get the children in the game before they get into soccer. My 0.02 I have learned from as variety of wonderful professionals in my life, I respect the time they gave to me and the care. We develop champion citizens not just players. One last comment. Oscar has been around the world promoting the game, he deserves respect for all his efforts. Let’s sneak the game on our students make them addicts and the rest will come.

  26. Australian Tennis is very much aligned with the success rate of the USTA. I truly think that the problem is not enough collaboration between the private coach and the Academy or Federation squads. Together they could work with a secure pathway where the player and their character dictate the ‘path’ to maximising the potential – thus allowing some creativity and inner feelings to express their game – Every single pro in the top 20 do their game differently and individually. Keep the emerging professional player in a ‘home’ environment working with experienced people and allow to grow as a person and then we will see modern versions of Pete, Agassi and Lleyton.

  27. I respect Mr. Lansdorp views and believe we all know him to be a shoot from the hip and tell it like he sees it kind of guy.

    I always find this discussion of what is wrong with American Tennis interesting. What is wrong could also be what is right; the growth of the sport over the pass 20 years in other parts of the world. When we look back at the successful years of American tennis you will find that many of the current top 20 player’s countries where no where to be found.

    While, I do believe that the American approach to developing players has not changed for the better, I do feel that there are many other factors at play here beyond the lack of quality coaches, academy tennis and leadership of the USTA.

    The focus of the USTA High Performance Jr Development program seems to be find kids that are standouts in the 12’s and 14’s bring them into the program and have them work with USTA coaches (most ex tour pros who need a job), leaving the current coach who developed them out of the mix. Then if the kids doesn’t show improvement, wins, then out they go.

    Also, their High Performance Coach certification seems to be a waste of time and money. (Sorry USTA, but I had to say it) The certification is not a program to develop coaches into better coaches but to give a current coach a piece of paper to put out for the parents to see, to make more money.

    Lots of coaches do develop Jr. Players with extreme grip strokes, lots of topspin and clear the net by 5 ft, if you go to Jr. tournaments you will see lots of kids hitting 20 ball rallies with big top and high over the net. Kids don’t try to develop a point just stay in the rally until someone misses from boredom. This makes the coach look great, kid can hit 20 times over, but will never develop a drive ball or all round game by 14 their game is going no where.

    Lastly, I blame the current culture of America for the lack of champions, after working with young players and Jr. Tournament players I have found their work ethic to be weak. I don’t blame the kid but the parents who don’t allow kids to fail. The Novice division is laughable, there are players who have been at that level for two years or more. The parents and/or coaches don’t move them up because they don’t want them to lose at the next level. Losing is part of the game and doing so will only make a better, stronger champion. We have lazy kids here in American, with parents that are happy to back them up.

    I’m just a coach, who loves tennis, I’m not important or well known. But I do hope that as a coach I can help kids make goals, then teach them what it is to work hard, believe in yourself to reach your goals.

  28. Numbers for thought for all involved
    Odds of winning a tennis tournament 1.5%
    Odds of becoming a top 100 pro 0.004%
    Odds of becoming a top 10 player 0.002%
    Odds of being able to afford $200.00 lessons 3 x week 1%
    Odds of having great parents that match players potential 1%
    Odds of living in a warm area to train affordably 15%
    Odds of finding a decent coach who does not charge $200.00 and is good 5%
    Odds of USTA helping the great coaches and great players who dont charge $200.00 and cant afoord to find great coaches 0.001%
    Odds of being able to afford $45K year academies 1%

    And you all wonder why we don’t have champions? get serious, everything is against the player? starting with the parents and ending with the USTA and high priced very knowledeable coaches who no one can afford.

  29. Doug, totally correct. Plus the fact that a player bounced around in between coaches is very likely subject to different data, perhaps false, and instruction that brings about thinking and complications. The young promising player, prior to this new experience, had settled already on a clean slate and little or no thinking, a new modus operandi and immersed now in the higher harmonics of feel and instinct. Tennis at the advanced level is very delicate. Would you agree that a change could lessen his ability? Isn’t this ability the inner feeling that you mention?

  30. Debi,
    Very well said. We need to stop teaching our juniors to spin balls over the net and start teaching them to play more aggressive tennis. I’ve always emphasize that whoever dictates the point will usually wins the point. One of the models in my competitive coaching is “we do not play to stay in the point, we play to finish the point”. I don’t belief in long rallies if possible. As a player, you must create your opportunities and cannot just wait for your opponent to make mistakes. If you are playing high level tennis opportunities are hard to come by, so, you must be able to force the issue. Also, please don’t get me going on the USTA certification.

  31. Robert is the greatest junior coach in history. He was more interested in developing great juniors than becoming famous or rich. I was lucky enough to work for him and saw the incredible level of coaching that he can do. His opinions should count. The USTA needs Robert. RESULTS speak for themselves.