“The moment a player starts worrying about their ranking the is moment they stop improving” is a wise old tennis saying because it is true. As soon as a young athlete begins focusing on what they are ranked instead of improving 1% each time they train or compete they lose focus of the long-term process. They end up with a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset and development comes to a grinding halt.
Allow me to paint a picture about our current junior tennis landscape. The points per round and ranking system in USTA junior tennis looks really good on paper, after all it is exactly what the ATP and WTA tours are doing. The problem is children are smart and they know the most important thing is the points they earn and the ensuing ranking they get because it is ultimately what qualifies them for bigger tournaments. And like I said before this all looks good in theory but the problem is the players are not chasing improvement instead they are chasing points because that is what they are rewarded for. They start looking for ways to manipulate the system and a big disparity comes into play because some players simply have the means to travel and play lots of tournaments thus have more opportunity to earn points. I hope the bigger picture is starting to become clear. And I want to go on record as saying that I am not against rankings because they have their place and purpose but there is a much better way to measure just how good you are…
The best way to measure how good you are is with a rating. To be specific a Universal Tennis Rating (UTR). I have blogged in depth about the Universal Tennis Rating System before and its benefits. The biggest benefit is that the only way to improve your UTR is to chase improvement and prove those gains in competitive match play. If every player was focused on improving their own unique UTR they would have a growth mindset and look at every single time they take the court as a way to improve just 1%. And as Coach John Wooden says, “a bunch of small improvements eventually add up to be a big improvement.”
So players, parents and coaches out their stop chasing points and start focusing on improving your rating. And If you do that you will certainly be on the right track to truly becoming the best you can be.