School and Junior Tennis Players

School and Junior Tennis Players

Steve JohnsonNever gives up school, even if your kid plays US Open at 15 years old, like Michael Chang. The chance that your kid will reach TOP 50 and begin to make money playing professional tennis is slim, a bit more than 0%. The probability to become a good lawyer, medical doctor or some other good professional is so much higher.

Sometimes I hear from tennis parents something like “…it doesn’t matter, if my kid does not reach professional level, he can work as a tennis coach…” I think that belief comes from a misunderstanding that a good tennis coach and a good tennis player are the same thing. Not all good tennis players succeed while working as tennis coaches.

We’ll never know how many junior tennis players quit school because they wanted to become pro players, but never succeeded.  But it is a very clear fact that the quantity of those who failed is a hundred times more than of those who were able to make money as a pro.

Sam Querrey graduated high school before making a decision to become a pro. James Blake went to Harvard for two years, while John Isner went to University of Georgia. They were very responsible in making their decision.

USTA recommends, and I completely support this recommendation, that kids do not give up education and become a pro until they are able to compete with TOP 100 tennis players.

Good education and good tennis skills are a better start for adult life than only tennis skills. If you have your own interesting experience about how to combine tennis and school for a good tennis player share it on the blog.

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The Health of Your Kid Is More Important Than Their Tennis Ranking

Does everybody agree on that? Theoretically – yes, in reality, not always.

I often meet kids who play tennis tournaments with a running nose, cold or other health issues.  When I ask the parent “Why do you allow your kid play today? He needs to stay home and recover” The answer sounds like “My kid is a fighter; he (she) wants to play today. Nothing is bad about this”.

Martina_ Hingis

I think that tennis parents make a big mistake in many cases. Any organism has its own limits and when you allow your sick kid to keep playing or training, his immune system becomes worse. I’ve seen a couple of situations when a kid continues to train taking antibiotics. It is absurd and is very dangerous for the kid’s health. During my childhood at school, a student had to miss physical education for two weeks after coming back to school after a sickness.

Another aspect of this problem is the tennis players who train with injured limbs, having strains, and sprains. Players and parents sometimes do not take seriously the fact that these small (may be not small) traumas can lead to chronic traumatism.  As a result, the player may need to leave the sport forever.

Unfortunately, many parents (and some coaches) have never learnt anything about sports science and sports medicine and they have never read recommendations from sports scientists. Last week, I talked to a parent and his top ranked 17 year old junior. They have no idea what a player development plan is, why a player needs to have active rest for two weeks from tennis at least two times a year, what periodization is, why going to Carl’s Junior after a workout is a bad idea, and so on.

I am going to publish some scientific articles and recommendations for junior tennis players’ development on my blog soon. You may ask questions about that and I will try to find answers from experts.

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Slow but Sure When Developing Strong Tennis Players

There is advice for tennis parents who want their kids to become tour professionals as soon as possible. Parents and tennis players need to remember that the real success in tennis not how kids play in age 6-14. Times when 12 years old tennis players won Junior Grand Slam (Martina Hingis), 16 years old Olympic Games (Jennifer Capriati) and 17 years old Grand Slams (Michael Chang, Maria Sharapova and Boris Becker), that times are gone forever. Today average age to reach top 100 is 25-26 years old for men and 23-24 for women.

Martina_Hingis

The very big problem for many good junior tennis players is overtraining. When I look at advertisement of many tennis academies and see offered schedule like 25 hours a week plus tournaments on weekend, I feel no good.  When we came to America almost four year ago from Minsk, my son began to attend a summer camp at a tennis academy. I was very surprised that kids played on the courts for six hours a day. Then I knew better a system of work of many academies, and understood that in many cases that extensive schedule is developed for high price determination only.  It is easier to charge a parent $800 a week if a business (tennis academy) provides 25 hours of training a week.  But wait, for that money you can have 12 hours or more of private lessons with a very good tennis coach. And a result will be much better.  So remember that 12 hours of individual training with a coach is more valuable than 25 hours of playing in group.

My advice for tennis parents who send their kids for six hours a day for training. Take a racquet at your hand and go to the court playing during six hours tennis session.

Quality over quantity.  Periodization. Player development plan. Tennis parents and players have to learn what all these definitions mean. The foundations of modern periodized principles were developed in the former Soviet Union.  In common words, periodization includes periods of intensity training, competition, and rest. It is very important to understand that rest is a part of whole training cycle. It helps to prevent the injury, burnout and fatigue that lead to impaired performance.

In your next meeting with a tennis coach of your kid, ask him about a development plan with periodization for a player for one year period.

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Interview with John Evert, Evert Tennis Academy

My interview with John Evert, internationally renowned tennis coach and Evert Tennis Academy Director.

John Evert

What is the most important thing in Roger Federer play? Why he was able to win 16 Grand Slams? If someone can overreach it in future?

First and foremost, Roger Federer has been able to avoid injury. One of Roger Federer’s biggest weapons in his mind. Federer’s mental toughness provides him the edge that the majority of players do not have. Combined with his world-class talent, Federer’s mental approach, discipline and shot making ability make him among the world’s elite. It will be a tough task for someone to overcome Federer’s records, but only time will tell.

Why US tennis players lost their leadership in world tennis? What are main reasons for that?

American culture has changed – too many distractions for young kids. Global competition has become stronger. Tennis is the #2 or #3 sport in most countries, but for the USA it is much farther down the list.

Many juniors from 12 years old train from 20 and more hours a week. Many tennis academies in the world as well as in USA offer schedule for juniors like 20-25 hours a week + tournaments almost every weekend. What do you think about that?

Quality over quantity. It is very difficult to train 5 hours a day, 5 days in a row. Periodization is very important.

What is the best way to find a sponsor for a junior player?

There is no method or formula in finding a sponsor – a lot of it is luck. Of course, you can always send a player to us!

Where is the most optimal contact point, what factors affect it, and what is required in order to hit the ball with that contact point?

A player’s contact point is only as good as his movement. If the athlete’s feet and legs are not behind the ball, the contact point will be too far in front, to the side, or behind the player. Every player may have a different contact point based on their grip. Players with a western grip must be more precise with a contact point out in front.

What are your three advice to junior tennis players?

Tunnel vision, especially once that player experiences success. Trust that your hard work will pay off. Set goals that are achievable… once achieved, set the bar higher.

Thank you John for the interview and good luck to you and your tennis players!

Tennis ladder for recreational and competitive tennis player

I hope this information can be useful for recreational and competitive tennis player. I found it at http://www.tennisladders.net  The website is free to join and a terrific way to meet new players and improve your game.

Most tennis players have heard of a tennis ladder, but a lot of players still do not know exactly what a tennis ladder is, or how it works.  The concept of a tennis ladder is simple.  Players are arranged much like the rungs of a ladder.  The idea is to be at the top of the tennis ladder.  It is a lot like king of the mountain.  As you win, you move up the ladder.  Winning players take the place of their higher ranked opponents, thus “leap-frogging” them.

Ladder matches can either be pre-arranged, or can be done using challenges.  If the players choose to use challenges to arrange tennis matches, then players simply challenge each other to a match via this website.  Players then play when and where they would like.  At TennisLadders.NET, players submit their own scores online.  The website then updates the ladder positions automatically.  The site will send an email to both players letting them know they have a pending challenge that needs to be accepted or declined.

TennisLadders.NET started its first ladder in Santa Monica, California, and has recently been launching new ladders in cities across the U.S.  When you sign up, you can see the closest ladder to you based on your zip code.  The site is also willing to accommodate players who wish to launch a ladder for their company or private tennis club.  Considering that it is free to join, and will really help you with your competitive game play, it’s certainly worth checking out.

Ladders are a blast. They are a great way to meet new players and improve your game.  If you haven’t played in a tennis ladder, you may try to do.