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GATennisMom
07-21-2009, 07:19 AM
What states or areas have 8 and under (full court) USTA tournaments? I am in GA and all 8 and under are QuickStart (mini tennis format ) for USTA. I have a son who just turned 6 and his coaches want him to play in some tournaments to gain more experience and his only option is 10 and under except for Little Mo tournament that is once a year here that has a 8 and under. Thanks for any help!

mar10ns
07-21-2009, 08:53 AM
I assume your son is an above average striker of the ball at 6, and he seems to have access to professional coaching; that said, I am a big advocate of Quickstart. I think it teaches and breeds court coverage ability in those who seriously accept the Quickstart or "mini-tennis" challenge and methodology. Moreover, any preternaturally gift child should be encouraged to dominate the format as an introductory step into what is only going to be endless competitive trials in junior tennis, college tennis, and open tennis. Fed did it. Henin dit it. Countless Belgian, French, South American and Eastern European players employs the developmental opportunity. What we know is that mini-tennis for kids has been largely dismissed by teaching pros in the US for the better part of forever, and we have a poorer collective level of tennis skill as a nation to show for it.

mar10ns
07-21-2009, 08:54 AM
California has some 8 and under tournaments. However, I am about to inquire into the shift to Quickstart.

TennisCoachFLA
07-21-2009, 12:09 PM
I assume your son is an above average striker of the ball at 6, and he seems to have access to professional coaching; that said, I am a big advocate of Quickstart. I think it teaches and breeds court coverage ability in those who seriously accept the Quickstart or "mini-tennis" challenge and methodology. Moreover, any preternaturally gift child should be encouraged to dominate the format as an introductory step into what is only going to be endless competitive trials in junior tennis, college tennis, and open tennis. Fed did it. Henin dit it. Countless Belgian, French, South American and Eastern European players employs the developmental opportunity. What we know is that mini-tennis for kids has been largely dismissed by teaching pros in the US for the better part of forever, and we have a poorer collective level of tennis skill as a nation to show for it.

Well we can also make the point that Nadal didn't play mini tennis. Nor Sampras. Nor Graf. Nor Agassi. Nor Seles. Nor Capriati. Nor Roddick. Nor Andy Murray. Nor Connors. Nor Chang. Nor the Williams sisters. Nor Djokovic. Nor Sharapova. And on and on and on.

In fact most of them started bashing away as toddlers developing power long before control or court coverage. Agassi blasted away on multiple ball machines for years....with no regard for the ball going in or out. Some of the others I mentioned got racquets as tiny kids and hit against walls, etc. before going out onto a full size court.

So the overwhelming historical evidence does not show that mini tennis in a requirement or even an enhancement to producing great tennis players. In fact there does not seem to be any formula for making a great or even just very good player.

You mention better collective tennis skilled nations than America. Based on the pros in the top 100 or 200? Okay, how many of those pros actually played mini tennis? How many did not? Those are the factual numbers you would need to make your case. What other factors lead to skilled tennis nations....perhaps less other sports to pull talented kids like we have in America? Maybe other factors are at work that have zero to do with mini tennis.

Perhaps mini tennis leads to mediocre, soft hitting pushers and club players with the few exceptions of the pros you mentioned??? Or perhaps not. Maybe they succeeded in spite of mini tennis and not because of it. I don't know and you don't know.

But to say mini tennis is the cause of great or good players is not supported at all by any evidence.

atatu
07-21-2009, 12:19 PM
But to say mini tennis is the cause of great players is not supported at all by any evidence.

Did he say that ? Because I don't see it in his post...

TennisCoachFLA
07-21-2009, 12:29 PM
Did he say that ? Because I don't see it in his post...

"Fed did it. Henin did it".

His post implies that these two all time greats were the result of mini tennis.

I should have said "those great players", meaning the two he mentioned, to make the point more clear.

GeoffB
07-21-2009, 12:48 PM
What we know is that mini-tennis for kids has been largely dismissed by teaching pros in the US for the better part of forever, and we have a poorer collective level of tennis skill as a nation to show for it.

I definitely think it's too early to attribute the decline of American tennis skills to the absence of mini tennis. There could be any number of reasons, or even no reason other than random fluctuations (a series of poor rolls doesn't mean the dice are loaded, after all).

That said, I'm actually with you on the benefits of QuickStart. I just think we have to be careful not to oversell it. My 4 yo absolutely loves it. We got a mini-net for our garage, and we've been playing for about 15-30 minutes most evenings for almost a year. He's rejected the big soft foam balls (he can tell they are "baby" balls), but he likes the ultra-low compression balls because they look like real tennis balls. The lower net means he can hit flatter shots, and because I find them easier to control on a micro level, I can get the ball in his sweet spot, which means we can "rally" (I try to get the ball from wherever he hits it into his strike zone). He also seems to be gravitating to a one handed backhand (I don't instruct him on strokes at all, I just let him do whatever comes naturally... if he's still interested when he gets a bit older, I'll let a coach deal with that. with me, it's just play).

I also remember playing tennis as a kid, and really wanting to serve and volley, but it was very difficult to cover the court. One handed backhands were a losing proposition, and moonballing was so effective that there wasn't a whole lot of point to rushing the net.

QuickStart is just an experiment. I think it's a good start, but really, at a very young age, playing ping-pong, whiffle ball, soccer, even just throw and catch help. In all, I suspect that doing *something* to build hand-eye, motor coordination, and footwork count for a lot more than whether you're doing quickstart or not... so in this sense, I'd just judge it by how much fun the kids seem to have, and whether the're more likely to stick with it.

GATennisMom
07-21-2009, 01:53 PM
Wow Thanks everyone for all the advice - we are new to the junior tennis scene. Here is a little background...My son started with mini tennis at 3.5 with foam balls and then eventually compression balls on a little bit bigger mini court- it was before USTA had introduced quickstart so it was just against other kids at the academy. Then at about age 4 they moved him to compression balls on a regular court- then at age 4.5 he moved to hitting regular tennis balls on a regular court and that is where he has been the last year and a half. I dont know if that is the right progression for a kid , we just had a son that loved tennis from early on and parents that know very little. He has a professional coach and does drills at an academy and last winter got moved up to a group with 9 to 12 year olds witht the majority who play tournaments. My biggest concerns is that if he plays in the 10 and under it could end up being a bad experience. He has started playing some matches against 10's at the club that are around 30 to 60 in GA and he gets either 2 games a set or once in while he gets 3 on some, but that is the extent of his matchplay experience. He has good deep ground strokes (lots of topspin)and gets his serve in but his serve lacks power. We dont have Novice Tournaments here in GA that i am aware of we just have level 1 to 5 (1 and 2 are sanctioned) so he will eventually do level 5 (the lowest) 10 and under which is still really good competition as there is good tennis talent here in GA. I looked on USTA site and Tennesee and Alabama looked like some of there tournaments were 8 and under but don't know if that is quickstart or regular. For him to gain some tournament experience we are thinking it would be better to drive couple hours then have him get discouraged up front. We know he will lose alot at the beginning and so far he has taken the losing against the other kids pretty well because they have him playing non ranked players and he has beaten couple of them. There is just a big difference in age between 6 and 10 so i was hoping to understand how others transition young kids into tournaments at young ages. Or do you send him back down to compete at Quickstart - it has been so long i am not sure i could get him to want to do this. I feel my son is at the age where he is caught in between - since they changed 8 and under to Quickstart in GA.

If i said something that is incorrect - its just because i dont know. Thanks Again!

ClarkC
07-21-2009, 03:18 PM
I see few tournaments in Virginia with 8 and under, and many of them get one entrant and try to talk the kid into playing in the 10 and under division, else they refund his parents' money.

It sounds like your son is already getting a great tennis experience. It should give him confidence that it is so hard to find players his age who can compete with him. I disagree with his coaches that it is really important to get tournament match experience at age 6.

Try to picture this: Someday he is 16, getting close to competing for a college tennis scholarship, and you are all kicking yourselves, saying, "If only he had started getting tournament experience at age 6 instead of age 8!"

Doesn't sound like a very likely scenario, does it?

himynameisNIKE
07-21-2009, 03:27 PM
georgia is a great place to learn to play tennis, it is also where i began...

if i remember correctly(i moved four years ago) some georgia tournaments have 8 and under divisions

TnsMan2
07-21-2009, 07:21 PM
I noticed in the "Inside Tennis Magazine" they have and advertisement for the Spanish teaching system and right on the front of the Spanish video its titled "Hand Fed Balls" so thats close to mini tennis and quick start to me and the Spanish know what their doing , And if they say "'hand fed""then thats the golden way!!!

But overall quickstart is a waist of time

GATennisMom
07-22-2009, 06:28 AM
Great point! That is why were sceptical about putting him in a 10 and under tournament and thought if we could find 2 - 8 and under that he could play in over the next 6 or 9 months - he really likes playing matches and its hard to find kids to play close to age. Thanks for your advice!!!

TennisCoachFLA
07-22-2009, 10:22 AM
Some great points being made. I can go with the program for 3-4-5 year olds. Sure, lets make it so they succeed early and can actually rally back and forth.

But 6-7 is pushing it. Kids that age do great on regular courts.

And the USTA doing it for 8s and 10s is simply a waste of time. Any 7-10 year old I have ever seen would be bored to tears by mini tennis.

TnsMan2
07-22-2009, 10:49 AM
Some great points being made. I can go with the program for 3-4-5 year olds. Sure, lets make it so they succeed early and can actually rally back and forth.

But 6-7 is pushing it. Kids that age do great on regular courts.

And the USTA doing it for 8s and 10s is simply a waste of time. Any 7-10 year old I have ever seen would be bored to tears by mini tennis.

Whats up with these videos by Spanish coaches and the "hand fed approach" wasnt that Brad guy laughed at for hand feeding ,it seems hes one up on the Spanish . Gabe

Jimmyt
07-23-2009, 12:39 AM
i agree with tenniscoachfla, my 8 yr old just started playing 10 and unders in the last 6 months and is enjoying it the tournaments, i have used quickstart at the club for the younger players 4 - 5 yrs old, but my son and the kids his age that can hit the ball want to play on the regular size court... btw tcf where do you teach, i'm in central florida, maybe we can get some of our 8 - 10 yr olds players to practice together sometime.... thanks and i like your comments on the board ..very insightful...jim

pro10s
07-23-2009, 01:37 AM
Guys you need to understand a few things...

1) quickstart actually allows players to learn faster and learn more
2) development of a tennis player takes over 10 years ... why are you in so much of a rush to play on an adult sized court
3) no country that has started Quickstart format player development has stopped doing it... it is used by all the GSlam nations plus over 100 more countries...
4) using it as a player development tool is a fairly new concept so the results of this programme will be seen in 10 years time .. not now.. and to argue that this is not the way todays pros learned is crazy arguement.. the real question is which players in 10 years wll be at the top wh did no use this approach...
5) there is a big diffrence between playing the game and hitting the ball.. QS allows players to "do" someting to the ball not just win the collision.. to say my kid can hit on this court is no a valid reason for them to be there... if they an tactically execute a plan and problem solve then your arguement is valid... QS allows players to develop faster technically and tactically
6) the list goes on...
The fact is QS is the wrong name for the programme .. it is a 5 year systematic player development programme.. you just dont realise yet...

Dont knock it till you really understand it.. you will change your mind.. I did ...
25 years in Performance Junior Development at High Performance Level..

TennisCoachFLA
07-23-2009, 07:33 AM
i agree with tenniscoachfla, my 8 yr old just started playing 10 and unders in the last 6 months and is enjoying it the tournaments, i have used quickstart at the club for the younger players 4 - 5 yrs old, but my son and the kids his age that can hit the ball want to play on the regular size court... btw tcf where do you teach, i'm in central florida, maybe we can get some of our 8 - 10 yr olds players to practice together sometime.... thanks and i like your comments on the board ..very insightful...jim

We are down in Parkland. We are in PA for the summer. We plan on heading back to FL. in October.

TennisCoachFLA
07-23-2009, 07:59 AM
Guys you need to understand a few things...

1) quickstart actually allows players to learn faster and learn more
2) development of a tennis player takes over 10 years ... why are you in so much of a rush to play on an adult sized court
3) no country that has started Quickstart format player development has stopped doing it... it is used by all the GSlam nations plus over 100 more countries...
4) using it as a player development tool is a fairly new concept so the results of this programme will be seen in 10 years time .. not now.. and to argue that this is not the way todays pros learned is crazy arguement.. the real question is which players in 10 years wll be at the top wh did no use this approach...
5) there is a big diffrence between playing the game and hitting the ball.. QS allows players to "do" someting to the ball not just win the collision.. to say my kid can hit on this court is no a valid reason for them to be there... if they an tactically execute a plan and problem solve then your arguement is valid... QS allows players to develop faster technically and tactically
6) the list goes on...
The fact is QS is the wrong name for the programme .. it is a 5 year systematic player development programme.. you just dont realise yet...

Dont knock it till you really understand it.. you will change your mind.. I did ...
25 years in Performance Junior Development at High Performance Level..

Most tennis coaches start 3-4 year olds with softer balls and only playing a small part of the court. Thats been done forever.

Any "tactical" advantage of mini tennis is most likely irrelevant as kids can learn that very easily at 8-9-10-12-14....it is an ongoing process. No advantage is gained by doing that earlier.

This is what I think works better....the way Agassi and the Williams sisters and Roddick most likely learned. (In fact, we know Andre larned this way, it is in his dad's interviews) It is the way I am teaching my own kid.

1. Learn power and racquet speed and proper low to high wrap around first. Use low compression balls, ball machines, let the little ones blast away. Ignore where the balls go. In a few months they are hitting beautiful low balls with topspin from baseline to baseline. Rallying and strategy is irrelevant....proper strokes with top racquet speed is more important.

2. Once they have great power and racquet speed from both sides, introduce targets. Cones at various positions, etc. Let them naturally learn to hit those same pro looking shots at cones all over the court. Let them learn hard shots vs soft lobs with cones closer to the net. The control developes easily.

3. Introduce regular balls at an age appropriate for each kids ability.

4. Next introduce concepts while they hit of moving the opponent and constructing a point properly. This is a 5-10 year ongoing process.

I think developing great strokes and natural power and racquet speed at the earliest possible age is 1000000 times more important than having 3-8 year olds worrying about strategy and rallying with the tiny kid across the net....or whether the ball hits the net or goes out of bounds.

We have 4-5-6 year olds who hit low rockets or lobs from one baseline and can hit within 2 feet of a target placed anywhere on the opposite court. They can catch up and return short balls with ease. They can get from corner to corner and hit backhands and forehands. Tennis courts are not that big....5-6 year olds have the legs to cover it very well when properly trained on how to efficiently move.

They will learn strategy as they age....and will have brilliant, powerful, non moonballing shots to execute that strategy with.

Most ladies at any tennis club can rally back and forth all day long and have wonderful strategy. But they never developed the racquet speed or power and never will. I want my kids looking like mini Nadals rather than tennis club ladies.

Now in 10 years how do we determine if Mini Tennis works? Ask each Grand Slam champ if they played it, or every top 100 pro, or every pro and D-1 player? Seems to me it will be hard to prove mini tennis does any good unless someone interviews a ton of great players.

amarone
07-31-2009, 02:30 PM
My biggest concerns is that if he plays in the 10 and under it could end up being a bad experience. He has started playing some matches against 10's at the club that are around 30 to 60 in GA and he gets either 2 games a set or once in while he gets 3 on some If he can get 2 - 3 games against players ranked 30 - 60 in GA, he will do fine at level 5. Level 5 is not labelled "novice", but ranked players are not allowed to enter.
(1 and 2 are sanctioned)I think you have the wrong idea here - levels 1 - 5 are all sanctioned - it simply menas that they are official USTA tournaments.

Even before Quickstart there were very few 8U tournaments. Most kids who are ready to play at that age had to play in 10U anyway.

You do not say where in GA you are, but if near Atlanta there are plenty of level 5s. I suggest that you try one - the worst case is that I am wrong and he gets beaten badly - but one tournament is not going to hurt him.

Feel free to email me if you want to continue the discussion.

GATennisMom
08-02-2009, 04:17 PM
Thanks Amarone for your comments - your right about sanctioned - i used the wrong word as I am new to the jr tournaments . I may have been wrong on the kids that he has been playing at his academy - i took another parents word on it and when looking them up they are 50 to 100 in 10's. There are many higher but not kids he has played. We are going to put him in a level 5 this fall and see how it goes. We would like to have him get some tournament experience before little Mo next May where they have 8 and under. We went to watch and believe he will do fine in that as the age gap will be much less. Thanks Again!

tennisputz
08-04-2009, 11:31 AM
Coaches at an academy recommended a child who just turned 6 to play tournaments? I hope they didn't recommend playing regulation tournaments against 10 year olds? The tennis in the Atlanta area is pretty good. Georgia stopped 8 and under tournaments last year, all pros in the state know this. So I assume they meant mini tennis against 8 year olds, this is probably Ok. Things you should keep in mind. Make sure your child really enjoys the game. Do whatever is necessary to have fun so that he keeps playing. While learning proper technique is tedious for a kid this young, try to find someone who can teach this to your son without turning him off from the game. If he can learn proper technique the first time, he will not have to shake bad habits and relearn and he'll be way ahead of the other kids. If he has the desire, have him play a lot of games so that he is used to scoring and competition. If he progresses, the earliest I would start him in regulation tennis tournaments would be at 7 to 8 years old at the level 5 tourneys. Remember he will be playing against kids that are almost 11. There is no rush in putting him in tourneys and even if you wait a couple of years, that's OK. Although I wouldn't wait any longer than that if he continues playing regularly.

jonaron
08-08-2009, 04:59 PM
I teach quickstart and also hit with the young kids with regular balls. I will say that, regardless of any other pros and cons of QS, kids learn much better mechanics using the slower balls. I have been coaching a 9 year old who looks like a 13 year old and is quite coordinated and skillful, and yet he learns much better when we switch to the low-compression balls. My opinion, tho I am no world-class coach with proven results, is that the more time they have to work on and groove in good mechanics the better. The increase in footwork and speed and early racquet prep are all gonna happen when developmentally appropriate and there seems to be no need to push too hard. i can't imagine why a 6 year old needs to be playing tournaments. And again, even tho the kids CAN play with adult balls, it doesn't mean its better for them.

TennisCoachFLA
08-09-2009, 06:53 AM
I teach quickstart and also hit with the young kids with regular balls. I will say that, regardless of any other pros and cons of QS, kids learn much better mechanics using the slower balls. I have been coaching a 9 year old who looks like a 13 year old and is quite coordinated and skillful, and yet he learns much better when we switch to the low-compression balls. My opinion, tho I am no world-class coach with proven results, is that the more time they have to work on and groove in good mechanics the better. The increase in footwork and speed and early racquet prep are all gonna happen when developmentally appropriate and there seems to be no need to push too hard. i can't imagine why a 6 year old needs to be playing tournaments. And again, even tho the kids CAN play with adult balls, it doesn't mean its better for them.

Honestly.....by age 9 I don't know any kids who are still using slow balls, or want to or need to. Our kids start with low compressions at 3-4-5, but after a year are way past them.

Don't get caught up in "footwork and mechanics and early racquet preparation", those are three of the biggest myths in tennis instruction.

Once kids learn the basic stroke patterns, high to low and wrapping the follow through around, let them be. Their footwork will develop quite naturally, just like it does in soccer or basketball.. They will adjust their strokes to their body type. They will take large steps when chasing a ball....then proper choppy steps to set up before hitting. Kids are natural athletes if we let them be.

Early racquet preparation is nonsense. You will create the robotic looking players at most tennis clubs. Kids instinctively learn very quickly when they need to get the racquet back depending on how far they have to run to the ball and how hard they want to hit the ball and where they want the ball to go.

The funniest/dumbest thing I see is a tennis player running after a ball across the court with their racquet back the whole way!! Why not just hang a parachute on them to slow them down more. Let the kids get to the ball then they will develop a fast yet effective backswing...that varies depending on the situation.

99% of tennis coaches vastly over coach both footwork and strokes. Tennis players should look like individual athletes, not robots. Teach them the proper grip and the proper follow through, then let them adjust that as they need to.

You are putting limitations on kids and generalizing. There are a good number of kids who would go nuts using slow balls after age 6. Google Mia Lines or Sonya Kenin or Maya Pitts and many other kids who at 5-6 were playing with regular balls and looking amazing.

And I don't think they are just more coordinated than other kids....I think their coaches did not limit them with over instructing and making them play with low compression balls for year after year.

Kids are developing their mental and physical circuitry (research myelin) very fast from age 5-9. You stick a kid with slow balls until age 10 they will NEVER catch up to other kids. The crucial years to develop the mental and physical speed needed to react to real balls at an elite tennis level will be long gone. They may look like good tennis players mechanically, but will never compete at the next level.

jonaron
08-10-2009, 06:33 PM
TennisCoachFla, I agree with what you are saying about natural development. I am not talking about drilling footwork, racquet prep etc. In some ways your arguments are arguments that I would make for the use of slow balls- the natural movement and mechanics develops better when it is done slowly and not when kids are rushing to hit a ball that bounces 8 ft in the air. Most kids who look great when being fed regular balls look HORROBLE playing matches or rallying with them. A coach can hitthe ball into their strike zone and make them look good, but they do not do this for themselves.
As for neural development, i teach movement and athletics and injury management based on understanding very clearly how the nervous system works. If you teach jerky (by encouraging too fast a game at first) people learn jerky, it becomes myelenated as you say. If you teach smooth (with slower movement) they learn smooth. Speed comes over time. Reaction time can be improved for a long time, not just 5-9. All music teachers know that a student needs to learn a piece slowly and accurately, lestthey build jerkiness and mistakes into it when they speed it up. Speed comes over time-mostly from a kids own motivation and spirit,not from anything we do to them- and in the meantime as it develops we should do whatever we can to encourage natural smooth movement. For some that is reg balls, for some it is slow. The way i see it, the brain and nervous system is the most remarkable of machines in that, the more possibility and option it gets the more it expands and grows. Perhaps drilling with regulation balls and rallying with slow balls is an option. I hate the argumentthat everything should be uniform- the brain learns more when flexed. Changing rackets, balls, surfaces, etc all provide more feedback and greater neural expansion.....
I think we agree a lot, even though i still think there is a great place for slow balls for teaching.

TennisCoachFLA
08-11-2009, 07:37 AM
TennisCoachFla, I agree with what you are saying about natural development. I am not talking about drilling footwork, racquet prep etc. In some ways your arguments are arguments that I would make for the use of slow balls- the natural movement and mechanics develops better when it is done slowly and not when kids are rushing to hit a ball that bounces 8 ft in the air. Most kids who look great when being fed regular balls look HORROBLE playing matches or rallying with them. A coach can hitthe ball into their strike zone and make them look good, but they do not do this for themselves.
As for neural development, i teach movement and athletics and injury management based on understanding very clearly how the nervous system works. If you teach jerky (by encouraging too fast a game at first) people learn jerky, it becomes myelenated as you say. If you teach smooth (with slower movement) they learn smooth. Speed comes over time. Reaction time can be improved for a long time, not just 5-9. All music teachers know that a student needs to learn a piece slowly and accurately, lestthey build jerkiness and mistakes into it when they speed it up. Speed comes over time-mostly from a kids own motivation and spirit,not from anything we do to them- and in the meantime as it develops we should do whatever we can to encourage natural smooth movement. For some that is reg balls, for some it is slow. The way i see it, the brain and nervous system is the most remarkable of machines in that, the more possibility and option it gets the more it expands and grows. Perhaps drilling with regulation balls and rallying with slow balls is an option. I hate the argumentthat everything should be uniform- the brain learns more when flexed. Changing rackets, balls, surfaces, etc all provide more feedback and greater neural expansion.....
I think we agree a lot, even though i still think there is a great place for slow balls for teaching.


Jon, very well thought out response. I have seen many kids trained each way.....some the way you describe, the others the way I prefer.

Your way being developing actual match abilities early using slow balls, etc. Mine being ignoring early match ability and instead using drills to develop strokes, racquet speed, etc....ie the way Agassi was raised.

In my experience, kids allowed to graduate to regular balls at a young age have better top end racquet speed and better power when they get older. The slow ball for a longer time kids never seem to catch them, although their strokes look darn pretty!

Do the fast ball kids rally and play matches at age 7 like mini tennis kids....nope. But by age 10-11, they easily catch up to the match ability of slow ball kids yet have way more power and actual weapons.

Now, in regards to "jerky strokes". Our kids graduate from slow balls to fast balls at different paces. None move on until they can hit the regular balls with proper strokes. But none of them have any use for slow balls after age 7-8.

I guess I just have never seen a 9 year old who needs slow balls. Especially a 9 year old who has been playing for a few years. Our 9 year olds would go bonkers using low compression balls.

I agree with your last point. Here is a fun drill we do with our kids. We lay out 10 racquets, some 23", some 25", some full size. All makes and models. The kids hit 5 balls with each, then race and switch. It is amazing how focused they become on the ball and the strokes and adjusting.

We have one 4 year old girl who is scary, she can go from a 23" to a 25" to a 27" and hit all with power, top spin, and perfect strokes...backhands and forehands from the baseline and regulation court serves with pace. She adjusts to each different racquet on the fly with no coaching, pretty cool stuff!

TnsMan2
08-11-2009, 09:44 AM
TennisCoachFla, I agree with what you are saying about natural development. I am not talking about drilling footwork, racquet prep etc. In some ways your arguments are arguments that I would make for the use of slow balls- the natural movement and mechanics develops better when it is done slowly and not when kids are rushing to hit a ball that bounces 8 ft in the air. Most kids who look great when being fed regular balls look HORROBLE playing matches or rallying with them. A coach can hitthe ball into their strike zone and make them look good, but they do not do this for themselves.
As for neural development, i teach movement and athletics and injury management based on understanding very clearly how the nervous system works. If you teach jerky (by encouraging too fast a game at first) people learn jerky, it becomes myelenated as you say. If you teach smooth (with slower movement) they learn smooth. Speed comes over time. Reaction time can be improved for a long time, not just 5-9. All music teachers know that a student needs to learn a piece slowly and accurately, lestthey build jerkiness and mistakes into it when they speed it up. Speed comes over time-mostly from a kids own motivation and spirit,not from anything we do to them- and in the meantime as it develops we should do whatever we can to encourage natural smooth movement. For some that is reg balls, for some it is slow. The way i see it, the brain and nervous system is the most remarkable of machines in that, the more possibility and option it gets the more it expands and grows. Perhaps drilling with regulation balls and rallying with slow balls is an option. I hate the argumentthat everything should be uniform- the brain learns more when flexed. Changing rackets, balls, surfaces, etc all provide more feedback and greater neural expansion.....
I think we agree a lot, even though i still think there is a great place for slow balls for teaching.

The Spanish have put out a video on how to ""Hand feed balls"" to help the process of developement which seems to them and myself the better way to bring along the process.

You should look into it most coaches in the USA are behind on this style of training , good luck!!

jonaron
08-16-2009, 09:03 AM
A video on the "Spanish Hand Feeding"
http://www.tennisresources.com/index.cfm?area=video_detail&vidid=3601&rv=1

TnsMan2
08-16-2009, 04:59 PM
A video on the "Spanish Hand Feeding"
http://www.tennisresources.com/index.cfm?area=video_detail&vidid=3601&rv=1

Thanx for putting this up this could help bring many coaches up to speed here in the USA , we have used this system for over 8 years it very affective .

TennisCoachFLA
08-16-2009, 05:40 PM
A video on the "Spanish Hand Feeding"
http://www.tennisresources.com/index.cfm?area=video_detail&vidid=3601&rv=1

Nice video. I have been to Naples and seen the drills. That is becoming a nice program over there after just a few years of operation in the States.

tenniscrazed
08-17-2009, 07:01 PM
^^^^ What is so ironic is that we've been doing drop feeds for 7 years now. Juice it up by doing figure 8's. Good to know I've been doing the right things.

jonaron
08-17-2009, 07:51 PM
I did some of this today with my 5-7 year old group and they loved it. Lots of focus and they felt really good about how they were progressing. Also fun for me :-) I lined them up on the serve line, 4 at a time and got a good workout keeping a nice pace of feeding between them all.

TennisCoachFLA
08-17-2009, 08:10 PM
I did some of this today with my 5-7 year old group and they loved it. Lots of focus and they felt really good about how they were progressing. Also fun for me :-) I lined them up on the serve line, 4 at a time and got a good workout keeping a nice pace of feeding between them all.

Its nice because you can taylor your tosses to the different levels of the kids.

I mix ball machines to drill in the strokes....then use the hand feeds to teach movement and how the legs do the work as the upper body stays consistent.

I like the way Emilio explains it using the car's shock absorber analogy. It is amazing to watch how steady Federer keeps his head even when going full speed after balls.