Travelling around the world and being a coach on the ITF Junior Circuit is a great possibility to learn and increase tennis knowledge. Looking at own player’s development, results, and responses are all steps important in the process of athletic career so coaches who go to the tournaments have much bigger opportunities to help players achieve their dreams.
One of the crucial areas in my coaching is learning from others and by watching top players compete I can easily transform this knowledge into my coaching sessions to make it more effective and transfer the work into results.
There are some really significant differences between male’s game and female’s game even at the junior level. Boys are solid and stable so that is why it is not surprising that player ranked #250 is able to beat the guy who is constantly playing junior Grand Slam tournaments. All boys have great serves, good footwork and consistent baseline game so the final result depends on a given day performance.
Girls’ game is completely different. There are some critical areas that differ top 50 juniors from players who are only 40 or 100 places behind. Even the ranking position is pretty close between 2 players the reality is that top 50 females have skills that let them win 9 of 10 matches against rivals ranked 50-200 ITF.
If you want to improve your game and achieve better results you have to make sure that you are better every day than you were before. Only long-term vision with conscious daily work will guarantee that you walk the right way and even when you lose it doesn’t mean that you step back. Being able to watch players compete at various highest-grade ITF Junior tournaments in Morocco, Osaka, Cairo, Prague, Porto Alegre, Barranquilla and many more interesting places I was able to see the reasons why top ITF females stay on the top.
Most of the athletes included in this group are there because of their good results during the whole year. Of course there are few players who achieved great results only in 1 or 2 tournaments but these ones won’t stay there for a long time. So how can we get our player to become top 50 junior girl in the world? How to make her stay there for a long time? Here are the areas that you can learn from athletes who are already there:
Stable and solid performance
Do top 50 players play their best match of life every time they step on the court? Absolutely not. Do they have skills at much higher level than players ranked 50-100 ITF? Definitely not. The secret is in their ability to play at solid level for the whole course of the match. That is the difference. Top players play well for the long time without any significant ups and downs. They don’t play spectacular – they play solid but it is enough.
Players who are not in the top are able to get the lead 2:0 or 4:1 while playing against top female junior but they are not able to close the set or the match. They get the lead because of extraordinary performance that they can’t maintain for more time than that. If you want to get into top 50 you have to be able to find your level of play that you are able to maintain for more than few gems.
Opportunities don’t change anything
Great champions look for opportunities and try to give their best when facing crucial times in match. Top juniors do it too. When they face the break point they don’t slow down the racquet, won’t change the strategy or move few steps back behind the baseline. They are in the top because they have courage to trust their shots when it really counts.
Completely different story we can observe while watching players who are ranked outside the top. When facing a pressure moment they change strategy „from winning the point” to strategy „not losing the point”. Only brave athletes achieve great results so if you want to join this group you can’t doubt your abilities in crucial moments.
Fitness side is not a weakness
Looking at lower ranked players we can spot some weaknesses in physical preparation. Player A has lazy footwork. Player B needs some air after 20 shots rally. Player C can’t ace rivals because the speed of the serve is really slow. All these factors are related to poor fitness abilities. When you look at top 50 ITF juniors you won’t see these weaknesses. All players are well-prepared physically so that is why they don’t have down times during the whole match. If you take care of your base you can build a great game on it.