After working with many junior players in their development years (7 to 12 years) through my regular coaching, super 10’s team manager, Talent Development Coach (TDC) workshops and more, I have found that there is one certainty; no individual players development or pathway will ever be the same.
One thing that is the same, is that Rome was not build in a day, and the journey is long with plenty of speed bumps. One of the key considerations is staying the course based on your (the coach & parent) plan, not based on results. Many label results of a junior player as either good or bad, but the result is irrelevant. The key is the learning taken from the result and the players ability to develop a competitive mindset, irrespective of the score.
The following article was written by Allistair McCaw on www.tennisconsult.com Whist I do not agree with everything that is written, there is much for everyone to take on board.
Another interesting article which links to the below was written by Vida Tennis Director Kane Dewhurst
Vida Tennis Essendon
5 rules for developing a sports kid under 12 years
The biggest mistake made in developing an elite tennis player is that the fundamental and development years (8-12 years) are rushed the minute the kids gets a result or two.
In these years, competition can actually be more of a course than a blessing. Parents (and tennis coaches) get carried away that their kid is winning. It seems that patience and ego takes over the actual goal of the plan.
Let’s not forget that more than 70% of kids give up their sport before the age 13, mostly because of burnout and pressure – and without apology, I blame the parents for this.
Remember for junior tennis players under 12, they should:
1. Stay the course, follow the long term development plan. If you don’t have one, then find a tennis coach who does.
2. Focus on developing the athlete. They should be spending at least 40%-50% on other athletic skills and games.
3. Compete, but the goal must be focused on working on the game (technique, tactics, mindset), not results.
4. Limit competitions (no more than 30% per year)
5. Best monitor of progression is what I like to call the ‘fun-o-meter’. Keep developing technique skills, as well as their athletic development for progress – and not a tennis ranking sheet.