Schedule a training visit to the prestigious Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD by clicking on the banner above

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Coaches Q and A: What are the Pros and Cons of Starting College in January?

I spent the day at the College Showdown at Michigan State, which I'll be writing more about for the Tennis Recruiting Network next week, making our installment of Coaches Q and A from Andy Brandi and Harold Solomon of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida an appropriate one. Former University of Florida women's coach Andy Brandi is uniquely qualified to address this question, naming seven adjustments that college tennis requires.

Q. Should I start my college career in the Fall or in the Spring?

A. One of the most difficult things I dealt with as a college coach was a player coming into our program in January. Of course we welcomed the addition to our team and the strengthening of our line up. What concerned us was all the things that had to go right for the situation to pay off for us and the player.

There were a lot of adjustments a player has to get through with flying colors:

1. Living away from home and having to deal with a roommate and all the things that were taken care of by their parents, like laundry, meals and money. Also having to deal with balancing their school, athletics and social life.

2. Team chemistry is a big if. Remember that the other players have been together since August. They know each other. They have bonded as a team. How are they going to respond to this new player? Will it create tension or problems?

3. Dealing with a new coach. They have to adjust to new ideas and philosophies. Will they embrace this new system? Will they be coachable? Will they be open to new coaching ideas?

4. Having to adjust to a daily routine. Having to go to class and then go to practice, then to fitness and then studying. They may have been taking online courses. Now they have to go to class! They have responsibilities, they have to stay on pace. It is a grind and it wears you out!

5. Adjusting to a new environment. They must familiarize themselves with a new town, the campus and all the landmarks. In a short period of time, they have to know how to get around.

6. The grind of college tennis. It is a long, hectic season. With all the travel, they must juggle studies, getting papers done and even taking tests on the road. Getting home on Sunday at midnight and being at an 8:00 am class ready to take a test.

7. Playing as part of a team. Being responsible to players and coaches. Dealing with the new pressures. Playing to new rules--for example, in men’s tennis, playing net cords.

All in all, before we brought someone in at midyear we evaluated whether the person could successfully make all these adjustments. When they arrived, we helped them along for the first few weeks until we felt they had gotten into the swing of things.

If you are considering going at midyear, be ready to conquer all these obstacles. 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...

I would like to know what the "Pros" are (if any, in your opinion).

Colette Lewis said...

If the player is ready, emotionally and physically, to move out of junior tennis, starting college tennis early (or after a fall season playing Pro Circuits) can be a refreshing change. The discipline, team spirit and opportunities to learn from new coaches and trainers often motivate players to rededicate themselves to their goals.