Category Archives: Tennis Parents

2018 Summer Camp

Assuming the end of the school year does not change through the rest of the winter, tennis camp will tentatively run for 8 weeks this summer, Monday-Friday June 18th – August 10th.

Click Here to View the 2018 Camp Flyer

Register Online By Clicking Here

Tennis camp has grown tremendously over the past few years.  I thank you for that because it you who took the time to share your experiences with your friends and family.  Last summer we reached full or near full capacity especially in the intermediate and advanced groups.  If you plan on attending please register your son or child early to avoid any conflicts and allow me to best plan for an excellent experience.

Tennis Scoring Abbreviations – The Hidden Consequences Will Impact Everyone

Chuck KrieseI have a guest post from a man I am honored to call a friend and mentor, Coach Chuck Kriese.  

With all the changes going on to the scoring system in collegiate and the junior tennis this is a MUST read.  We need to think long and hard about how changing the scoring system changes the game of tennis itself, and the lasting impact those changes will have.


For 141 years, the consistent barometer for marking levels of playing abilities, determining the rites-of-passage to new levels and the measuring of every competitor’s achievement has been the fascinating and challenging scoring system of tennis.  Traditional Tennis Scoring is now under assault as there is an attempt to change or abbreviate it at nearly every level.   The stated motive by the ITA and the USTA has been to attract more participation and the building of larger fan-bases at collegiate events.

As the 10-pt Tie-Breaker is now being used regularly instead of a learning-packed 3rd set for matches in junior tennis, No-ad Tennis is being bled into our youngster’s events as well.   In the college ranks, strong opposition by coaches and players was not enough to prevent the ITA from finally forcing it through.  Regardless of an ugly 4-year battle, the ITA made it a rule anyway for 2016.  Players and coaches complained in unison, but the end result was for coaches to do-it-or-else.   Multiple junior events are following suit this year with a narrative by USTA that suspiciously states, “Our kids need to play no-ad to get ready for college tennis.”  REALLY!!!    It is time to take notice!

The unintended consequences of such changes to the fundamental structure of tennis does much greater harm than is noticed on the surface.  Youngsters and Collegians are getting skewed and random results.  More harmful is that they don’t learn the depths of the game.  Seemingly, the path is being paved for abbreviated tennis to go into other levels of tennis. Since experimentations are already commonplace at the junior and collegiate levels, it might not be a stretch to assume that it soon becomes experimental at Grand-Slam and Davis Cup events.  The plan seems to be that in a few short years our youngsters and collegians to be integrated into acceptance of abbreviators.  Unfortunately, making things ‘easier to pick-up also makes them easier to put down!’

The fall-out of trying to make tennis easier could be far reaching and be impossible to reverse.  The following list shows 10 reasons why ‘Hard to pick up has also been proved as hard to put down’ and why Traditional Tennis Scoring and this great game have survived the many up’s and downs since 1874.  Other sport’s scoring systems have never been able to compare in depth nor in genius.  The scoring system of tennis is the game’s ‘most precious heirloom.’  It must be protected as such.  The following list represents the brilliance of our game’s wonderful scoring system.  Maybe it is not too late to let our tennis voices be heard.

  “Honor our Game – Protect Traditional Scoring!!!”    

Like many aspects of tennis that seem simplistic on the outside, the depth and intrigue of its scoring system have inspired and challenged players for 132 years.  Successes or non-successes have been benchmarked and gauged by its accuracy of measurement.  Its’ genius has presented the ultimate challenges to the body, mind and spirit of the competitor.  It is a most precious heirloom and should be respected as such.  Consider the following:

Traditional scoring is a fair, accurate and time-tested barometer for the many skill-sets that it takes to win in tennis. Skills to overcome ‘pecking orders’ and to go through the normal ‘rites-of-passages,’ for tennis levels have been assessed by consistent measurement for over a hundred years.  These give critical guidelines for player development.  Randomness and skewed results greatly harm developmental process.

Tennis is a game of simultaneous scoring opportunity for both offense and defensive postures. Thus, the need to win by 2 points instead of one per-game is paramount!! The 7th point of no-ad is of double-jeopardy value and is actually worth two games instead of one.  (eg. This overloaded value is easily understood when the set-score is 4-2 and one point makes it either 5-2 or 4-3;   however, the same weight is true every time a player loses the 7thSadly, the benefits gained from dishonest line-calls are enhanced because such weight is given to the 7th point of the game.

Fitness is a Corner-stone for Success in Tennis. Abbreviations to traditional scoring dilute and minimize the elements of conditioning and endurance of mind, body and spirit; therefore, results are often skewed.  Best USA athletes will not be inspired by dumbing down the physicality of the great sport of tennis!!!

Conversion Point (3-in-a-row) mastery is a critical skill-set for success in traditional scoring – The length of every game in no-ad scoring is 4-7 points. Also, no-ad requires the winning of only 1 point in a row for success. Those multiple situations that require very disciplined skill-sets to solve are minimized by no-ad. The skill of ‘War-Zone Endurance’ or the ability to carry and defend a lead is critical for success in tennis.

Abbreviated scoring promotes random momentum swings and neutralizes the small differences in the better player’s skill base.  Traditional scoring is designed for small differences of skill to become a big advantage as a match unfolds. This is where separation of players takes place. Early war-zones that are won usually set the tone for the match; however, no-ad diminishes that hard-earned separation earned by the stronger player.  Momentum that is well-earned by the better player is usually minimized.

Point Construction and a well-rounded game are highlighted by Traditional Scoring. No-ad accelerates false parity between levels without the deeper mastery of skill-sets usually required for advancement.   Abbreviated scoring rewards Ball-striking skill more than Point-construction skills.

Traditional Scoring produces great drama in the closing out of each game, set and match. The bi-product is usually heightened excitement. No-ad and abbreviated scoring dilute these opportunities for drama as one false crescendo after another is manipulated by the scoring system and not by skill-sets.

Players and Coaches want to play regulation tennis! They want to play the same system that professionals have used for 132 years.  They do not want to mark improvements nor important rites-of-passage that are manipulated by hybrid scoring methods.

No-Ad is not a rule of tennis – No-ad was originally invented as a novelty experiment during the tennis boom of the 1970s. There was no research done before its implementation into competitive arena. It has always been marketed as a ‘Time-Saver.’ Research in the 1980s prove that is causes more 3-set matches.

When we use traditional scoring, we are ‘Honoring of the game’ and protecting a precious Heirloom. Abbreviated forms of scoring will not sustain interest nor do they inspire players for the long-run.

Please  Do Your Part to Protect and to Promote Traditional Scoring….Ask our tennis leaders to do the Same!!!

Chuck Kriese was the coach at Clemson for 33 years and retired as a hall-of-fame coach in 2008. He has returned to collegiate coaching ranks at ‘The Citadel.’  During Kriese has been named to 4 national-coach-of-the-year awards.  He has coached 5 players to Junior Grand-Slam titles and 4 other second place finishes.  11 of Chuck’s players have risen to top 100 spots in the ATP and WTA.  He has authored four published Tennis books and has co-authored 2 others on Clemson sports history.  His 36 years of collegiate coaching produced 34 All-Americans, 4 national sr. Players of the year, 16 top 10 teams.  He is a former USA national Coach; Junior Davis Cup Coach and technical Director for SE Asia Tennis. He continues to teach, coach, to write and to give motivational speeches for coaches and young people.  To learn more about Coach Kriese visit his website www.ChuckKriese.Net.

Ending The Early Specialization Debate

I was just talking to the parents of a fairly elite 10 year old swimmer in how to deal with the issue of early sport specialization. They were concerned their son is spending too much time in the pool but at the same time worried he will lose his edge if he does not swim enough.  I immediately saw the parallels to what tennis parents and coaches experience and it inspired me to write this post to help those of you out there going through the same issues.

In tennis it is without a doubt true that early sport specialization is linked to overuse injuries, prematurely peaking careers, and plateaus in player development.  It is fairly common to see the best tennis players at the age of 10 go on to later be plagued by injury, hit a roadblock in development, and burn out.  While at the same time it is also true that you must be a fairly decent player at younger ages and regularly play tournaments if you want a shot at doing something special.  If you understand tennis you know how important technique is and that players must hit a countless number of balls to lock in their strokes.  The end result is that we end up at the paradox of “how do I hit a lot of tennis balls and not specialize early on?”

Being both a tennis and physical preparation coach I have a unique perspective because I see both sides of the argument.  I am actually not against deciding on one main sport early on provided a long-term athletic development approach is taken from the beginning.  I believe the odds are good that you can specialize in making tennis your main sport at a young age, remain injury free, and continue to break through to new levels of physical and tournament performance.  The key to doing this is to understand the role strength and conditioning plays in tennis player development.

As I said before tennis is a sport that requires a lot of time spent hitting tennis balls.  If you spend a lot of time on the court you will get very good at tennis specific skills.  The goal of a tennis player is to then accumulate as much tennis-specific volume as possible on an annual and multi-year basis.  To clarify, by tennis-specific volume I mean hitting tennis balls or playing matches because being on the court is as specific as it gets.

This would lead one to conclude that specializing early and spending as much time on the court as possible is the way to go.  However, you must understand that in order to accumulate as much tennis-specific volume as possible a player’s body must have the fitness to support such a high volume of training.  This is where most people miss the boat.  They have juniors accumulating a ton of volume hitting balls and playing matches but their bodies cannot handle it.  The high levels of specific volume lead to better and better tennis but at the same time all the stress slowly but surely accumulates, wears down the body, and injury occurs and/or performance suffers.  This is why strength and conditioning or general physical preparation is so important.

The ultimate goal of strength and conditioning in tennis is to achieve a high enough level of fitness to support all the necessary specific training volume and recovery from it.  Sure strength and conditioning will make a player bigger, faster, stronger, and allow them to express their strokes at a higher level.  However, in a technical sport like tennis the best way to improve your skills is to hit tennis balls and lots of them.  The trap people fall into is that they think if they keep hitting more and more tennis balls they’ll continue to improve and they will but without a strong base of fitness to support that amount of specific volume, and the ability to recover from it, it is only a matter of time before injury or burnout occurs.  Achieving this level of fitness takes a long time and it is only achieved through a variety of movement patterns and training methods.

So to answer the paradoxical question of “how do I hit a ton of tennis balls without specializing in tennis” is to take a long-term athletic development approach from the very beginning.  Begin with the idea that tennis is going to be the main sport and hit a lot of tennis balls while at the same time working on all aspects of fitness (coordination, balance, strength, conditioning, etc.).  Over time you will gradually build up the fitness to support hitting more and more tennis balls and the ability to recover properly from doing so in order to stay injury and burnout free.

If you really want to do this right you have to educate yourselves or get with a coach who truly knows what they are doing because strength and conditioning looks very different at different ages and the process is unique to each child.  For example, strength and conditioning in general for an 8-year-old involves playing tag, crab walking, climbing, and free play to improve conditioning, agility, coordination and strength.  While strength and conditioning for a high school junior will involve running to develop the aerobic energy system, lifting weights to develop strength, or doing more of what comes to mind when you think of traditional fitness.  But making an 8 year old run hill sprints or hit the weight room isn’t going to get the job done.  In fact, inappropriate training will only increase the odds something bad will happen.

Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below and if you have any questions add them as well, I’ll be happy to answer them.

For those coaches and parents out there who are looking for more information the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) is launching a product this week called Long-Term Athletic Development.  It is a darn good resource to have if you are working with kids and thinking long-term in developing them.  It also happens to be on sale this week for $99.

Stop Chasing Points & Start Chasing Ratings

“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.

What You Can Learn From Charley Lau

Often times coaches promote their playing background as credentials to prove their worthiness.  It is as if being the #1 player in the world instantly qualifies them to be the #1 coach in the world.

"Charlie Lau" by From collection of User:JGHowes for Wikipedia - Detroit Tigers Official Profile, Photo and Data Book. Published by the Detroit Tigers without any copyright notice in 1957.. Via Wikipedia -

“Charlie Lau” by From collection of User:JGHowes for Wikipedia – Detroit Tigers Official Profile, Photo and Data Book. Published by the Detroit Tigers without any copyright notice in 1957.. Via Wikipedia –

I think playing a sport is a critical part of becoming a great coach.  However, in my sporting experiences the most naturally gifted athletes tend not make the best coaches.  Instead, it is those coaches that had to struggle, fail, learn and work extremely hard just to succeed in their sport who make the best coaches.  It is almost as if since they have made so many mistakes and failed so many times along the way those failures actually become assets.  You see when you have failed so many times and in so many different ways it makes it easy to spot the exact mistake an athlete is making.  It is the accumulation of failures that serves as education for a future hall of fame coach.

For example, take perhaps the greatest baseball hitting coach you never heard of, Charley Lau.  Charley had an average career in the major leagues and certainly did not set any records for hitting.  After his playing career was over he went on to become one of the greatest and most sought after hitting coaches of all time.  I guarantee Coach Lau would not have been so great had he not learned so much from so many of his failures.  In fact, it was all his failures and struggles that allowed him to see things about hitting in a way no one else could.

Coach Slezak On American Tennis Radio

I had the honor to be the featured guest on American Tennis Radio today.  My coaching friend and mentor Chuck Kriese hosts this weekly podcast on the UR10s Radio Network.

We spent the hour talking about coaching, high school tennis, and principles of good coaching. You can listen to the recording below.


New Sports Internet Radio with UR10s on BlogTalkRadio

Why Top Juniors Should Play High School Tennis

JV Tennis 2014High School Tennis gets a bad wrap in the world of junior tennis.  For top players it is looked at more of an activity as opposed to being a legitimate competitive sport.  It is often viewed as a waste of time for a variety of reasons.  For instance, the training is not rigorous, competition is weak, matches do not count towards rankings, and it is “a factor” but not “the factor” in getting recruited by a collegiate team.  Each school, coach, and situation is different so these generalizations are not always true however often times this is the viewpoint players and their parents have.

Whether you are a top player or not, there is much to be learned by taking the time to understanding what I am about to say.  By the end I hope you will see what high level players have to gain by competing in high school tennis.

Before I digress into the topic I want you to understand this is not going to be your typical sales pitch for high school tennis.  Certainly being a part of a team, socializing, competing while representing you school, etc. are all wonderful reasons to be a part of your tennis team.  But what I am about to tell you is much deeper and valuable in terms of developing a tennis champion.

IMG_1876I look at high school tennis, and for that matter all of junior tennis, as developmental.  Players should be learning and growing all the time.  They should learn from big wins, easy wins, bad losses, and tough losses.  The bottom line is they should be developing and growing constantly.  Everything should be approached with the mindset that it is as an opportunity for growth.  I believe we often lose sight of that and think this win or that loss is the end-all and be-all because we get so emotionally invested.  Keeping the big picture in mind and looking at everything as a developmental opportunity is a much more productive and healthy paradigm for the long haul.

The general rule of thumb for scheduling a player’s competitive year is The Rule of Thirds.  In a nutshell this means a third of the matches should be above a player’s current ability level, a third at their level, and a third below.  This allows players to assume all three roles (underdog, even, and the favorite) and associated balances of pressures in match play.

One of the BIGGEST mistakes made in the career of a junior player happens when they start winning and begin “playing up.”  The natural instinct is to keep moving them forward and playing them “up” in tournaments.  When they win it makes sense to want to quickly advance on to higher levels, and they should, but only a third of the time.  The mistake happens by forgetting to still play down a third of the time.  You see when a player “plays up” there is no real pressure because they are not expected to win, they get to assume the role of the underdog.  And always assuming the role of the lesser player is dangerous and detrimental to development.  Playing up provides the opportunity to grow but it does so without the burden of pressure.  Playing down below your level may not always be physically challenging but it most definitely is mentally challenging.  As the favorite player there is a tremendous burden because they should win and there is a big difference between “should win” and pulling off an “upset win.”

When playing down the athlete is placed in a “nothing to gain, everything to lose” situation.  They have the burden of pressure and must learn how to work through it in order to win.  In other words they must learn how to live up to expectations.  The idea that the player can gain nothing from this type of match is absolutely false because what they do gain is real lasting confidence.  When a player assumes the role of the favorite and wins, they cement lasting confidence and practice the routine of winning.  As the saying goes, “There is no better way to learn how to win than to actually win.”  These memories are critical to being able to hit the recall buttons in future tight match situations.  In essence, competing while playing the role of the favorite player practices how to win in pressure filled situations.  This is actually the little known secret to avoid choking in big time matches.

So where does high school tennis fit in for a high performing junior?  If the player is truly high performing, high school tennis is most likely in the bottom third of their competitive level and would be considered playing down.  Those high level players would enter each and every high school match knowing they are the favorite and their opponents are gunning for them with nothing to lose.  They know the local newspaper and everyone watching is expecting them to win each and every time they take the court.  They know the pressure of expectation lies completely on them.  That is a tremendous amount of pressure that you just don’t get from playing better players and assuming the underdog role all the time.  And being the favorite is a role top players must learn to fulfill to continue to develop as a player.

A high performing junior might go an entire season winning most matches 6-1, 6-2 but I guarantee there will be some moments where they are tested.  And in that handful of trying times throughout the season players learn how to win and get comfortable assuming the uncomfortable role of the favorite.  Nothing builds lasting confidence like coming through when expectations are high.  That lasting confidence will lead to big developmental gains and breakthroughs in future tight matches.  You see when that player is in a big match down the road they will have something to draw on mentally where they know, that they know, that they know, they can come through when the pressure is on.

Knowing that do you see how high school tennis can be a tremendous developmental tool for high performing junior players?


The Power of Consistency

I have been writing posts with valuable information about how to develop tennis players this week.  I want to round it out by talking about the power of consistency.

The first thing that comes to most people’s mind when I say consistency is keeping the ball in play.  Be clear that is not what I am talking about here.  What I mean by “consistency” is the consistency in coaching and the messages the player is receiving over a long period of time.

Algebra 101Imagine yourself in a high school algebra class.  On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you have Mr. Smith as your teacher and on Tuesdays and Thursdays you have Mrs. Jones.  Mr. Smith and Mrs. Jones are both award winning teachers but they never talk to one another, never plan anything together, and have different proven methods and progressions for teaching algebra.  As a student you get confused very quickly because there is no consistency from day to day.  In fact, you never end up learning algebra from either one of the world-class teachers because you never get to practice the same concepts consistently over the course of time.

All too often the same exact thing happens in the world of developing tennis players.  There are many great and proven coaches.  All good coaches have, over time, developed their own teaching methods and progressions.  I personally do not agree with many things other coaches do and I am sure many do not agree with me either.  The truth is neither is probably right or wrong.  The only time it becomes wrong is when a player is trying to learn from both coaches at the same time.  The messages are not consistent and it is a disaster and real shame for the player’s development.

This inconsistency often happens within junior tennis programs as well.  If all of the coaches are not on the same page with what they are teaching, the methods, progression, and terminology it is inconsistent and works against maximizing player development.  Even though everything is housed in one location the message is still inconsistent.  This is exactly why schools have curriculums and invest heavily in educating their staff.  The secret is not one magic curriculum or algebra teacher.  Instead, the secret is consistency and progression in the messages being sent over the course of weeks, months, and years.

I have been to visit some of the greatest tennis programs in the country, such as the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC).  In my time spent there the thing that sets JTCC apart from so many other programs is consistency.  All of the coaches are on the same page and are working towards the same goal.  Much like a school, the JTCC heavily invests in educating their own coaches.  The messages the players receive on a daily basis are consistent and that is the real secret to the work they do.

JTCC's Outdoor Courts

JTCC’s Outdoor Courts

To prove my point about how important consistency is look at some of the best tennis players in the world.  Think about players like Andre Agassi, Martina Hingis, Serena Williams.  They were all coached by their parents for most of their lives.  Their parents were not world-class tennis coaches or players but their parents were consistent.  Some of them consistently crazy but none the less consistent.  Even Rafael Nadal was coached and still is consistently by his Uncle Tony who taught him to use his left hand, even though he was right handed!

So please if you are reading this blog post understand the importance of consistency in working with a coach.  Not everything will always go smoothly when developing a tennis player.  There will be times of struggle and there will also be triumph.  The good and bad times are what make a relationship strong.  Even though at times finding a new coach when things are hard may seem like the right thing to do be wise in sticking with a coach consistently.

The power of consistency is invaluable over the long-term climb up the mountain of player development.

The Secret 80% of People Do Not Know

I am going to let you in on a little secret.  It may be the most actionable piece of information you ever hear for developing a champion athlete.  And if you really use the secret you’ll be doing things different than 80% of the people in youth sports.

The secret is to think in terms of Long-Term Development.  You see I would venture to say that 80% of people think about things in the short-term.  They think about doing well in the tournament next week or cramming in lessons and training right before the varsity tennis season starts.  They want results “right now” and are constantly looking for the short-term fix.  This is the reason you see junior players bounce from program to program and pro to pro.  When something is not working “right now” they think the answer is to make a short-term change.  This is the mentality of about 80% of people out there.

Long-Term Development

Now contrast that with a mindset of Long-Term Development.  This mindset is nothing more than planning from the very beginning for the long haul and mindfully aligning everything in an effort to reach that goal far off on the horizon.  It is characterized by a growth mindset, slow and steady progress, making little improvements each day, and not getting caught up in short-term successes and setbacks.

Planning for the long-term is not easy because it takes a great deal of wisdom and foresight.  In the world of tennis this would be taking a 7-year-old and developing him or her to become the best they can be at 20+ years of age.  Along the way taking no shortcuts and committing to believe and trust in the plan.  In my experiences those who have had the most success were also those who committed to the idea of long-term development from the very beginning.

If you think about it, regardless of the sport, you are really only competing against 20% of everyone involved.  Right off the bat, about 80% of the people are only focused on the short-term and that means in the long-term they really have no chance to do something special.  If you have the mindset of long-term development, you are only competing against the other 20% of people who are thinking the same way as you.

Having the mindset of long-term development will give you the edge when it matters most in an athletes career.

Mountain of Player Development

I just recently sat down with two parents and a young man to discuss moving into the world of tournament tennis.  In that conversation I compared climbing a mountain to developing a tennis player and I am going to share the same analogy with you.

Player Development Mountain

At first climbing a mountain is easy,  the slope is not very great and you can cover a lot of ground quickly.  The same is true in tennis,  when you first begin your journey the concept is simple, play a lot of tennis.  The more balls you hit, lesson you take, clinics do, and matches you play the better you become.  There is a direct relationship between the time invested and rate improvement.  Tennis is a repetition sport and you cannot skip past putting in the time no matter how good the instruction.  Quantity is important but I should make a point to say in moderation.  If a 7-year-old is playing 80 hours of tennis a week that is not good for their long-term development.

As a climber makes his way further up the mountain it becomes more and more difficult to make progress.  The same is true for tennis players.  Eventually there comes a point where hitting more and more tennis balls has a rate of diminishing returns.  This is a big sticking point in a player’s development.  At this point in time the level of instruction a player is getting is of paramount importance.  In order to continue to climb and improve mental and emotional skills must be developed.

Mental skills are concepts like shot-selection, routines between points, and momentum management.  Emotional skills revolve around understanding match-ups, balancing respect for an opponent, and overcoming the pecking order.  Players at this level must work both incredibly hard and smart.  Working hard alone is not enough to continue climbing the mountain of improvement.  At this stage progress is slow and as Coach Chuck Kriese says,  “The work a player does here pays off 6 months or a year from now.”

If a player makes it this far up the mountain they are better than 80% of the people in the world who play tennis and continued improvement is just as difficult as getting past an overhanging ledge right before you reach the summit of the mountain.

When someone climbs Mt.Everest they hire a guide because the guide has been to the summit and know the best path to get there.  The same is true for a tennis player in the last leg of his or her development, they need a guide.  Getting past that overhang is incredibly difficult and it takes good coaching, mentoring, and role-models who know the way.  Certainly a player could go out and make it on their own with no guidance just as someone could summit Everest without a guide.  However, having a knowledgeable mentor at this difficult to navigate pass saves a tremendous amount of time and costly mistakes.

Let me know what you think about this analogy in the comments below and if you are looking for a place to get in the repetitions early in your journey or develop mental and emotional skills to continue your progress consider my Summer Tennis Camp.  If you are at the overhang send me an email and I’ll put you in touch with a world-class mentor.