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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Coaches Q and A: What is the difference in players successful at ages 12 & 14 and those who excel at 18?

In today's edition, Andy Brandi of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida responds to this inquiry from a reader:

What is the difference in players successful at ages 12 & 14 and those who excel at 18?

That is a great question. We as Americans live in an instant society. We want everything to be done yesterday. Tennis is like a marathon. It takes time to learn and develop the finished product.

The necessary steps to fully develop a tennis player are:

1-Technical Phase

2-Game Style Phase

3-Competitive Phase

In the technical phase, the focus is the development of a good foundation. In the game style phase, the players style of play is identified and formulated. Lastly, in the competitive phase, the player focuses on taking that game style and learning to play and win with it.

Players who are successful at 12 and 14 achieve this for many reasons. They may be better athletes. They may be more physically developed. They may have been playing tennis longer. They could be more consistent or powerful. They could be better competitors. They may be more emotionally mature. They may have more competitive playing experience.

Players who are successful at 18 are winning because they successfully passed the three steps of development mentioned earlier. They are the finished product. They have a good foundation with no glaring weaknesses. They know their game style and can play and defend according to that style. Lastly, they have gone through the school of hard knocks learning what works and what does not relative to their game style. They know how to win with their game style.

When we work with a player, our vision of the finished product anticipates that player reaching age 18. What happens in between is only a stepping stone to the finished product. We are not concerned with results at 12s, 14s or 16s. We want them to be able to perform their best when they are 18. At that point,they will be a successful professional or a top level D-1 college player.

So what is your developmental plan? Be patient. Remember a marathon is 26.2 miles! Best of luck.
Do you have a question for Andy or Harold? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.


Anonymous said...

Great advice, too often young players do not focus on the technical aspects at an early age because they are afraid of losing. Its hard to change, take one step back to take two forward.