When you look at older and more accomplished tennis players, it is logical to believe that the best tennis players start out training from very young ages with great coaches. That could not be further from the truth. In fact, if you look at world-class performers they actually begin their journey with what many people believe to be average coaches.
Let me explain in a little more detail. I believe there are two types of coaches (sometimes 3, but that is for another blog post) a player needs to achieve high levels of performance. The first coach ignites the passion for tennis and the second coach builds the necessary skills consistently pushing the player to new heights.
The later coach is the one who is working with older athletes and reaps all the credit for developing the player. The truth is they deserve a great deal of credit because their skill set of being able to maintain motivation and develop training that pushes players to new heights is no easy task. It takes a tremendous amount of knowledge, careful planning, and years of practice mastering their coaching skills. However, I want to focus on the coach who lays the foundation because their role in a player’s development is just as important.
Tennis is not an easy sport to become really good at. It takes years of practicing and refining technique, learning shot selection, and lots of losses that cause bumps and bruises along the way. So knowing this why would a child want to put in all this effort and work, because it certainly is not always easy or enjoyable. The reason is someone has ignited a passion for the game of tennis. That passion gives the children the motivation and energy to relentlessly purse their dreams. Now think about what the first coach really does. A kid may come into a tennis lesson or class and the coach greets them with excitement and enthusiasm. Then teaches them some basics and praises them for their effort. The children learn a valuable lesson equating effort with success. They may even look up to that coach and aspire to be like them. This coach has ignited a passion in the child and it is that passion that sets the stage for all the years ahead and for the second coach to eventually take over. I hope you can see how necessary that first experience for a child is.
I have realized this in my coaching and is the exact reason my approach to teaching young kids and beginners is more about fun, excitement, and praising effort than getting good at tennis. My goal is to ignite a passion. It is only after that “fire in the belly” is burning strong I know I can very carefully and methodically shift to the role as the second coach.
As parents you may not know a ton about tennis but that does not mean you cannot help coach. You can be a major part of the process by helping to ignite the passion by playing tennis with your son or daughter, showing the greats of the game on TV, and above all praising them not for their successes but for their effort.
See for yourself how myself and my staff, who I mentor at length on these concepts, this summer at tennis camp. Maybe we’ll ignite that spark of passion in your son or daughter. CLICK HERE to learn more.