Throughout my experience in the world of tennis I have come across many parents who tried to make their children tennis players, almost at any cost. The vast majority are unaware of the proper methods to advance that boy’s career and lead them down completely wrong paths. This article arises to shed light to these parents on what steps to take and that are still very different from those that in their day gave tennis players who later became great in the sport.
This can also be useful for those same children who dream of one day becoming professionals and who may be following the wrong plans that can cause them to end up frustrated. Be careful, this does not mean that by following these steps you will become the best in the world, but rather that they are the key points that every career must have when taking off and that it can also serve to realize if tennis is really the sport that more fits yourself.
To develop this article, we have consulted federated coaches of Spanish Tennis Clubs with many years of experience in teaching young children.
Attitude. Way of being. Character.
Tennis is a very different sport from all of them. The tennis player is going to compete alone and for this, he must have a very marked personality and attitude. We would dare to say that practically all the players in the Top 100 have a very strong way of being and character. This is something that is born with but it can also help the little ones to work on their attitude to form their personality and be better. Education is key.
Talent. Without talent, nothing is achieved.
Obviously, without having talent for tennis you cannot become a professional. Many parents try to get their child to play tennis when he may only have certain skills but that may not be enough to get to the top. Listening to the teachers can be a good way to understand if the boy will be able to make a living from it or simply use tennis as one of many sports to practice in his spare time.
Having fun without pressure.
At a young age, children should play tennis because they have fun doing sports. Pressuring the child from a young age will only create trauma and stress. In recent history there are many cases of parents who leave their jobs to travel with the child and force them to compete. The pressure that child receives is horrendous, knowing that all the livelihood of his family will go through what he does in tournaments. Let the children have fun with the sport and time will tell if the boy can become something more.
Adjust the workouts to the style of the boy.
In many Clubs they usually offer general training plans when a child arrives. This is a very common mistake since not all children are the same. Each one needs something different when it comes to training so receiving the same plan as another will prevent them from advancing. Federer does not train in the same way as Nadal, for example. The first thing to do is analyze the type of game you have and from there draw a specific plan, enhancing those parts that you do well and improving those that you do worst.
Make it count.
It is useless to spend four hours on the track if you are doing other things or not putting 100% into everything you do. With one hour to the fullest the objectives would be met. You have to put the desire.
Not everything is training with a tennis racket in hand. Tennis is a sport that is played on many surfaces with constant changes of direction, so the joints suffer a lot. The shoulders, elbow, wrist, back, hips, ankles, and knees are the parts of the body that are most affected by tennis. It is essential to work in the gym and do bodybuilding to strengthen the muscles so that these joints do not end up giving problems in a few years.
All professionals take care of their diet. Sodas with sugar, hamburgers, pizzas … all these types of foods affect the development of the body and the muscles themselves. Eating a poor diet will even make the athlete prone to injuring himself or getting more tired.
Everything we have mentioned above is useless if it is not worked. Even the greatest talent in the world will get nowhere without working. There are people who by winning the odd tournament believe that only with that everything is done and that is where the big problems begin. From a young age, children must be taught in the culture of work.
Surround yourself with a good team.
The mental stability of the athlete is key to perform on the track. It is essential that the equipment around you helps you maintain that calm in your daily life. Fighting and arguing must be avoided. There may be things that you do not agree with, but everyone has to reach a consensus and it is important that all team members row in the same direction. What does not help to advance will be slowing the progression of the boy.
Learning and adaptation.
There will be no week that the boy needs to learn. It doesn’t matter how old you are, 8, 10, 15 or 25 years old. You learn at all ages. Tennis is a sport of continuous learning and adaptation to all kinds of circumstances. Even 35-year-old Roger Federer learned to change his style of play to be competitive again.
You have to be very careful when working with children because at those ages everything affects differently than adults. I will always remember a phrase that Carlos Boluda said, that for those who do not know him is a boy who at the age of 12-13 won tournaments of all kinds, beating children older than him and everyone approached him to try to manage his career and they filled him the head of things unreal and unfit for someone his age. They ended up affecting him personally and even at 24 he continues to struggle to become a professional. Boluda confessed that at that age “what really excited me was that my father saw me play.” May many parents reflect upon reading this.