Why Tennis? Make a Decision Carefully

So you have decided that your kid needs to start playing sports. And for whatever reason, your choice is tennis. Remember the proverb “Measure twice and cut once”. For those who are on the way I offer the following advice. All my advice is based on my 9 years of experience as a tennis parent. Also I have read a lot of books and discussed all these things with people from tennis world.

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Tennis is a one man sport. It’s just like boxing, except for the straight up beating. Do not think that tennis is an aristocratic sport. It was like that many years ago. Now, tennis industry is a billion dollar show with its own rules. There are no draws. One player is the winner, while the other is the loser. Think hard about your abilities and the child’s natural gifts. Ask yourselves the following questions: Why tennis? Why not football, baseball, basketball, track and field, gymnastics, or dozens of other more accessible and equally popular sports? Do you have enough patience, nerves, and money needed for your child to be able to go through this long process? What exact goals are you setting when you are sending your kid to play this difficult and expensive sport? Are you even setting any goals at all?

Don’t hide behind the back of a little child, telling yourself that your kid likes the sport and made the commitment when he saw the neighbor’s kid practicing, or when he saw Maria Sharapova or Roger Federer on TV. Remember that tennis is like a swamp. Once you get in, it’s going to be very hard to get out.

But if you have decided that tennis is a right sport to your kid, be prepared for a long journey that is sometimes enjoyable, sometimes very tough.

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Interview with Taylor Dent, Dent Tennis Academy

I have known famous tennis player and now a tennis coach Taylor Dent at Dent Tennis Academy just for more than one year. I am happy to be his friend and here an interview with Taylor.

Taylor Dent and me

Q.: 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?

A.: Designing a program for a student is a very individual thing. Some kids thrive off of intense practice, while others shy away from it. I would say that if you can be intense for more hours of practice than your competitors, you will have the advantage.

Q.:  How pros choose racquets, string and shoes? How a quality of these things is different from those that are sold in stores? Can you give an example from your own experience please?

A.: Racquets are chosen for two different reasons. 1, a company will offer a player a lot of money to use their brand. I am not a fan of switching racquets for money. 2, the player feels that a certain racquet gives them a higher quality ball. The pros have their racquets modified slightly. Some do more than others. It all just depends what the player feels he needs.

Q.:  How many kinds of serve in tennis? Which serve is the most difficult to learn?

A.: How many kinds of serves there are in tennis depends how detailed you want to go. Let’s cover spins first. There are kick serves, flat serves, slice serves and a serve that has a little slice and some over spin on it.  Locations consist of wide, body forehand, body, body backhand, and down the tee.  I’m sure every pro has hit every combination at some stage in their career.  It’s never certain what serves are the toughest to learn. Every person is different and does different serves better than others.

Q.:  What is your opinion about Novak Djokovic play? How is it possible to win so many matches and be in good shape?

A.: Because Djokovic controls points so well he doesn’t have to rely on running side to side to win his points. This makes early round matches for him easier and less physically demanding. I believe Djokovic is too solid once the point starts. He can maintain control of the point whether he gets a forehand or backhand. Federer and Nadal can’t control the point off both sides with the same consistency.

Q.: Why Caroline Wozniacki does not have strong forehand? Is it possible to make her forehand more strong and aggressive? If “Yes” how? If “No” why?

A.: Wozniacki has a forehand that suits her game. It’s tough for me to criticize it because she is the most consistent winner on the WTA tour. I don’t think it would be too hard for her to generate more pace. All pace is, is more racquet head speed. I’m not sure she would want to change it though.

Q.: Why players with strongest serves like Roddick do not have the same strongest forehands?

A.: There could be many reasons. Tactics, game style, confidence, or a technical problem. With you example of Roddick, it’s a game style. When he won the US Open his forehand was arguably the biggest on tour. But defending looks to be the style he’s more comfortable with now.

Q.: Why Henin Justin who is the smallest among top players had the stronger strokes than many bigger players? What is the secret of strong and fast stroke?

A.: Power in tennis has little to do with muscle mass and a lot to do with timing all of the parts used in a shot. There are so many examples of this. Chances are, if you are lacking power in a shot, you are being too rigid with a body part. Most likely the wrist.

Thank you, Taylor and good luck to you and your tennis academy!

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Why Did American Tennis Players Lose Their Leadership in the World?

I asked some famous tennis coaches and tennis players that question. There are their thoughts and opinion.

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There is no one good answer to why American tennis has lost its dominance. My first thought is that everybody is in a hurry to turn pro, and they neglect the fundamentals. How many women can serve? How many men or women can volley or hit backhand slices? Everybody plays the same game. It’s like a rock throwing contest. Next, Americans tennis players are spoiled. They think they can buy strokes. It doesn’t work that way. Finally, the USTA has done a disastrous job of promoting grass roots tennis. They put all their emphasis and money in the 20 best 12 year olds and older tennis players, but the best athletes have been playing soccer for 8 years by then. In Europe, tennis has much less competition.

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.

What do you think about that? What is your opinion why is America not a leader in world tennis anymore?

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Let’s start talking about tennis

I glad to see you on my blog about tennis. Tennis parents, coaches and players can find a lot of useful information about how to develop a strong tennis player. You can ask a question about any aspect of tennis player development and get an answer from some really famous and high regarded tennis coaches and experts.