Parent Tips – Long Term Athlete Development…
The tennis journey is a marathon not a sprint in which should always be fun, exciting and challenging. The journey for any player starts with the Fundamentals of Tennis and generic athletical skills to specialised tennis training on and off the court. Juniors are not mini adults and should train appropriately for their age, experience and ability.
The Long Term Athlete Development Model is widely recognised for all coaches, teachers and parents…
– Learn the FUNdamentals – learn basic motor skill patterns in a fun environment e.g. throwing a ball as far as you can and skipping. Parents should encourage to play different sports for skills development and socialisation with other kids. Little or no competition should be done a this age. Team challenge events are ideal
– Learn to TRAIN – Before ‘training’ players should be developing technical skills for tennis and general body weight exercises like squatting and putting it into fun games. Basic swing shapes learnt now can last a lifetime with tweaking over the years. Competition should increase with time spent 75 / 25 on training / competition i.e. compete once every 6 weeks with regular internal matches within lessons.
– Train to TRAIN – Once technique is becoming learnt and more automatic they can start to put into patterns of play and devloping a game style e.g. baseliner , net rusher or counter puncher. Physically they should be competent with the fundamentals of movement i.e. good at skipping, ladder work, medicine ball throws etc. At this stage players should compete 50 / 50 with emphasis on trying things out in competitions and going back to the training session and reviewing what they learnt from matches. Winning medals is great but emphasis on training and learning correct technique and shot selection.
-Train to COMPETE – A stage were many players start to drop out as they ‘don’t like competitions’ or socially can find it ‘boring’. Important to encourage team tennis and touring with friends. Otherwise this is where the fun begins and start to form a game style and a appetite for competition. Realistic goals should be set for each competition and how far they can get rather than assuming they can win every comp.
At this stage players should feel like they are competent at tactics and patterns such as a crosscourt rally and approaching the net at the right time. If they can not construct a pattern then there technique should be looked at. Emphasis should be 25 / 75 with the focus on entering comps with reminders of basic technique if required and reviewing wins and losses.
A lot more emphasis should be physical conditioning and getting players to understand how to reduce injury as well and developing strength and speed and suppleness on the court. Parents should be mindful that if they are losing more than they are winning they should go back to more training and choose the right competitions
– Train to WIN – To be honest a lot of players do not get to this phase and often drop at club level if to much emphasis is on winning. So coaches/parents/players have to realistic and say whether they want to play for fun or play and compete. If they want to compete then training is focused on peaking for competitions e.g. conuty champs , league tennis. THis is up to the players to decide if they do compete then they should be mentored or coached ideally with other players to help provide s social experience when touring around from club to club