Developing Young Talented Tennis Players – Information for Parents and Guardians
By Allistair McCaw (www.themccawmethod.com)
Allistair McCaw is an internationally recognized leader in the field of athletic performance enhancement. A fitness expert with over 17 years experience, Allistair has trained a host of world champion athletes including Grand Slam Tennis champions, PGA Golfers and Olympians. Allistair’s expertise in movement & agility training has seen both the world number 1 player’s in Tennis and Squash seek his guidance.
EVERY PARENT OF A TALENTED KID SHOULD READ THIS: The reality is, 70% of all kids quit organized sports by the age of 13, and the number one reason they cite is that it is not fun anymore. Personally, having been around the sports world for over 30 years now, growing up as a kid, competing professionally for 10 years, and now coaching, I have seen this first hand. There can be a few reasons why kids drop out early:
1. Over zealous parents
Parents are fueled by their talented kid to spend all their time and money on pursuing the kids sports career. They feel the more, the better, when in fact it’s that continual push that can at most times send their kid over the edge. They also seem to panic when other kids the same age as theirs might be winning or doing better, so they make changes in coaches (-also known as ‘coach hopping’) and add on more tournaments.
2. Too much competition at a young age
Burn out and over playing can occur at a very early age. Kid’s that compete too much and too early are in the 70% category of quitting a sport sooner than later. Too much competition at a young age also means that they are not busy doing the things they should be doing more of, like athletic skill and technical development.
3. It’s not fun anymore
The kid doesn’t enjoy playing anymore due to the loss of fun. They are always practicing or playing matches. Also, the pressure and more attention to simply ‘winning’ applied by coach an/or parent. The fun is simply drained out of it because of ‘win at all cost’ coaches and over-pressuring parents. Kids also start to see their friends having more fun having more balance in their lives, playing other sports and going to friends houses, fun activities etc. Always remember what the number 1 reason was why kids started to play a particular sport – because it’s FUN.
4. Too high expectations
When a kid is extremely talented at a young age or showing great potential, a lot of parents will be constantly told how brilliant or great their kid is. This is the mistake of society. Kids are put on pedestals way before they have earned it or should have.Ridiculous as it may sound, but here in the United States, I have heard parents of kids under the age of 12 years talking to University and college coaches about getting their kid to go there!
A massive weight of expectation is placed on these kids shoulders the moment they win a tiny insignificant tournament or competition!
And while I’m on that subject, parents pulling their kids out of school before 14, what are you thinking? Give your kids Balance and Education for as long as possible! It’s understandable that sometimes arrangements in time scheduling need to be made, but pulling a kid from the classroom permanently at these ages is more harm than good. Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve had parents of immensely talented kids who they’ve pulled out of school, bring their kid to me, and what I mostly find is a kid who plays a sport pretty well, but hardly has any friends, balance in life or social skills! I fear for the kid if they ‘don’t make it’ in Tennis because it’s all they know.
The most important thing as a parent or coach, is too always make sure the kid is having FUN.
I would recommend that both the parent and coach, provide the balance to this equation.
Parents, your role is simple: Just be there to lend unconditional love and support. Also, remember to let the coach, coach.
Have some integrity and patience, stop the coach hopping and thinking the grass is always greener when another kid does well.
Most of all – Let you kid decide if they still find it fun. It should be their choice.
Coaches, make sure the vital stages of athlete/player development are adhered too. Don’t get caught up in the demands or pressures of the kid playing tournaments every weekend.
Remember: Develop the Athlete before the player. But most important of all, help develop their enjoyment for the game as well as life skills.
Stay the course. Enjoy the journey.