Monday, May 4, 2020

Indian Wells Still in Mix for US Open? Hanfmann Wins German Tennis-Point Competition; Hossam Banned For Life for Match Fixing; USTA Webinar on Building a Junior Program

This article in yesterday's USA Today quotes USTA Executive Director Michael Dowse that nothing is off the table regarding the US Open, including a move to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. I had heard just a few days ago that this idea was off the table, not being considered, so I don't know what to think about this new development. I am probably better off proceeding as if there will be no significant tennis competition in 2020, but I still cling to hope that in the four months until the Open, accommodations can be made that will allow two more majors to be played. It won't be that long before we'll know however, as mid-June appears to be the go/no go decision date.

The first week of the Tennis-Point competition in Germany is complete, with former USC All-American Yannick Hanfmann taking first place with a 4-2, 4-0 win over Dustin Brown today. Hanfmann, the player with the best ATP ranking of the eight participants at 143, finished with a record of 5-2 in the round robin to advance to the final against Brown, who was also 5-2. This article shows Hanfmann with his toilet paper roll trophy.

Twenty-one-year-old Youssef Hossam of Egypt was banned for life today by the Tennis Integrity Unit for betting-related corruption. A former Top 10 ITF Junior, Hossam was recruited by Division I schools in the United States but after reaching the ATP Top 300 in 2017, he opted instead for the Pro Circuit. His older brother Karim, now 26, was also banned for life for match fixing back in 2018.  Stephanie Myles of Open Court has more background on the Hossams in this article.

The USTA Learning Series webinar today on the topic of Building a Great Junior Tennis Program featured head of men's tennis Kent Kinnear, Tracy Lawson of Limitless Performance Tennis Academy in Scottsdale Arizona, Vesa Ponkka of Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park Maryland, Ed Ryan, Director of Athletic Medicine at the National Campus and host Johnny Parkes.

Kinnear provided a look at how the USTA structures their camps and practices, and he expanded on each of the 12 concepts in the chart above. I was particularly interested in the common language (terminology) segment. From Kinnear:

"We found as a staff it is really important to have common language. We talk about taking ground and giving ground; we talk about looking for forehands. The idea for us was if the player was in Orlando training, or LA or New York, the coaches are using the same terminology, so that way it's clearer in the player's mind. We've learned over the years that that is really important, ...a big help for giving the players clarity."

That USTA's coaching philosophy glossary is available here.

Lawson focused on building a junior program from the youngest players, with her key recommendations below.

Ponka talked about the JTCC's commitment to developing the entire person, not just the tennis player as part of their holistic approach, which emphasizes giving back to the community. The JTCC's four pillars are given below.

The complete webinar can be viewed on-demand at the link on USTA's Player Development's Learning Series website.

Next week's webinar, again at 3 p.m. EDT Monday, will feature Billie Jean King and USTA head of women's tennis Kathy Rinaldi, as well as others, on the topic of The Future of Great Female Tennis Coaches and Players. Registration is open now here.


Long time coach said...

Goodness, the USTA is so out of touch. Thats why so many kids try tennis and quit. Common terminology and all that nonsense? All silly.

Every single coach, every single kid is different. Some do great with a parent as coach. Most just want to come to a group lesson and have fun and socialize. Most kids who try tennis quickly quit. The USPTA trained coaches just talk to darn much and give too much instruction.

2 types of tennis kids, hobby and serious. With hobby kids they just want to fool around and have fun. Play fun tennis based games. The serious kids want to be pros in their minds. they watch Tennis Channel, have favorite players. A good technical coach who they get along with, maybe a parent, maybe not is what they need.

For the vast majority of kids tennis is just something they try. A coach with a very good personality keeps them coming back, not speaking the same terminology like Kinear says. I have seen a group of 20 kids go down to 3 kids in 3-4 weeks because a coach over instructs and has a rigid program.

Coach McKenzie said...

Having a "common language" never works. Having a structured approach never works. Being set in your ways never works. Kids have vastly different personalities, goals, confidence levels, family situation and cultural backgrounds. Some kids learn by doing, others by copying, a few like lots of technical instruction. A coach and a program have to be very flexible. I do not know how many times over the years where a coach sits the kids down and lectures on all these things. Or gives every kid detailed instructions until the kids eyes are rolling. Throw away the structured approach. Learn to recognize that every kid is different and every area of the country is different. Sometimes you have to break a forehand down the technical details for one kid whose mind works that way, other times you just say "grip it and rip it" and the kid develops an amazing forehand with little other instruction.

u guys always complain said...

If you have coached, you know one of the biggest issues in junior tennis is kids hearing different things from different people. Conflicting messages, too many chefs in the kitchen, etc. The messages may not even actually conflict, but they may sound different in the child's mind. A common language is so that a child doesn't hear one thing at one place and then another from their coach and then another from another place. All of whom likely are addressing the same thing but maybe using different words. There is nothing about talking a lot of lecturing. Literally common language means using common terms. I'm all for criticizing things but at least know what you're talking about.

Jon King said...

Just not true. Both coaches are correct. I have coached 20 years and enen had a player top 350 ATP. The very last problem with junior tennis is lack of common language. The biggest problem are coaches that are not adaptable to kids as individuals. Kids quit tennis for many reasons and lack of common language is never one of them.

Boca tennis Mom said...

As a mom of 3 tennis kids with plenty of tennis friends, I have seen my share of kids and tennis lessons of all sorts. Academies, USTA clinics, private coaches, all variations. These kids have ranged from tennis crazy to just tennis casual. I have seen kids quit tennis for good, others fall in love with tennis, some quit and come back again and again.

I must say in all my experience I have never heard one kid say they do not like tennis or lost interest because they got different messages from different coaches. They have never mentioned that coaches did not use the same words or have the same lesson structure. In fact its the opposite. Boring teachers or too much talking by coaches is the reason kids do not like tennis.

The times I can remember of kids being excited about tennis were when they encountered a new coach with a new way of teaching or their existing coach tried something new. "Hey mom, the coach played music today and we all moved our feet to the beat". "Hey mom, a new coach came to the clinic today who is visiting from Portugal and she taught us a different way to get ready for overheads".

Like some other people have said, kids are so different. The best coaches know this and change things up, invite guest teachers, and never allow for monotony to set in. Using a sort of rigid program where all coaches need to speak the same is a sure fire way to chase kids away.

Fred McNair Jr. said...

One of the most successful junior coaches ever is Rick Macci. Rick uses 100s of different terms and saying for teaching the same thing to different kids. Pat the dog, run on lava, butter the bread, and so many more. It does not seem like using the same language to teach kids is what the most successful coaches do.