We discussed a lot about How much should a junior tennis player train? Now I want to discuss about how many private tennis lessons should a junior player have a week. I found an article “500 Sets a Year” about that. It was published on tennisrecruiting.net
There are some quotes from the article:
“I tell parents all the time: take one private a week, and go play matches. Sometimes I tell parents to take one private every two weeks. It’s just overkill to do anything more until you reach the higher stages of the game (i.e., professional tennis). Players need to be playing 8-10 sets a week – that’s where the real learning happens.
Tennis is a game of trial and error, not about feeding out of a basket and focusing on technique. Players need to learn how to compete and cope with stress. There is nothing stressful about doing crosscourts for an hour, it doesn’t get to the essence of what tennis is… a nasty contest between two people where there is a winner and loser. Black and white. You are judged by the bottom line.
Eight to ten sets a week is a great benchmark to set. Play with anyone who will play with you. I’m tired of players or parents saying “I won’t play with so-and-so because they push… because they cheat… because they aren’t good enough…”
All are poor excuses. All you are doing is saving the player from the realities of the world. You will play pushers who will make life miserable, do you want me to ask them to stop missing?
You will play cheaters who will cheat you on the biggest point of the match. You will play parents who cheer against your double faults. You will play hackers, net rushers, grinders, counterpunchers, flat hitters, dinkers, rabbits – you can’t simulate this through drilling or feeding. Simply impossible…
Imagine if you played ten sets a week for 50 weeks a year? 500 sets! Now compare that to the kid who maybe plays one set a week? 50 sets a year. No comparison. I wonder who will win. It doesn’t matter who your coach is. It doesn’t matter if you have a world class trainer – or use the best string. It just won’t matter. Get out there and compete – it’s what makes tennis fun.”
I asked a tennis coach to comment on that article. Here is his opinion.
The women in the Marine League play two matches a day, five days a week, and improve not at all. Match play is necessary to get better, but it is not sufficient.
I agree that the aspiring player should compete against everybody — good, bad, hard hitters, junk ball players, because you cannot control whom you will play in tournaments, and your success is measured solely how you perform in tournaments. So a tournament on weekends and matches several times a week makes sense.
I now refer to a throwaway magazine article I read on golf. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect. So every time you repeat an action, right or wrong, you will find it easier to repeat that same action, right or wrong.
Practicing a bad shot will give you a better bad shot, but you will never look like Roger Federer.
Every time you step on the tennis court, there should be a purpose, whether it be with a coach, a ball machine or an opponent. One purpose has to be better strokes, and for this you need a coach. No one deliberately hits incorrect shots, so there’s no point in the player trying to make the correction on his own. It is easier to learn anything — a new stroke, or a new language, when you are young. Waiting until you are in college or on the tour is foolhardy, since without good strokes, you won’t get your college scholarship.
How much time you spend with a coach depends on your financial situation plus academics. There are risks of physical injury and mental burnout. What the actual mix should be is a matter for the player, the coach, and the parent to work out. For someone aspiring to be a good high school player, a lesson every week or two should be fine. To achieve more, you have to put in more.