11 year old lacking motivation?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by austintennis2005, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. austintennis2005

    austintennis2005 Semi-Pro

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    coaches, any ideas?

    i have an 11 year old girl that i am coaching...has a lot of things going for her--very nice topspin on both sides and serve, very fast, very tall for her age...

    she just doesnt want to give good effort except about 40% of the time... of course i try to urge/plead/beg her to try hard on every ball but she just doesnt have the mental focus that i would like to see. at least if she tried hard 75% of the time it would be workable...

    any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
     
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  2. asusundevils1971

    asusundevils1971 Rookie

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    How many days/hours on court is she doing?. School will be ending soon and maybe the extra hours during the day will give her some extra effort during the lessons. Try and change up the lessons and ask her what she would like to do or work on. She is 11 and the attention span of kids that age are very limited also. Try and make it fun for her for that hour she is with you.
     
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  3. austintennis2005

    austintennis2005 Semi-Pro

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    thanks..right now she is doing two hours a day but even when she was doing 1 hour it was still a struggle to keep her focused and trying hard...good advice tho..thanks.
     
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  4. asusundevils1971

    asusundevils1971 Rookie

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    How many days of the week is she taking these two hour lessons?. Is there any juniors at the club that she would like to hit or play against?. You can watch her play and give her some advice about constructing points in the second hour of the lesson. I know it was better to play matches then take lessons when I was younger lol. You can't do nothing wrong with asking her without her parents around. Then talk with the parents and see what they think of you changing up her time with you.
     
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  5. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I am not a coach but I would be concerned about pushing an 11 year old too hard.

    Would it make sense to do some low intensity training when she seems less than motivated? If she doesn't feel like running, maybe work on technique and stroking patterns, or relaxed grips and hands during the stroke, or hitting topspin serves from outside the court fence, or touch shots like topspin lobs or drop shots. Anything less intense might give her time to relax and then maybe you can kick up the pace next.

    It takes all types, they said Connors would practice uber intensely for small amounts of time but McEnroe hated practice. That's one of the reason's Mc played so much doubles - it was his practice time.
     
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  6. jakeytennis

    jakeytennis Rookie

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    push her buttons to motivate her.
    tell her that her competition is working harder.

    more importantly, make it fun, so she will want to work harder!
     
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  7. asusundevils1971

    asusundevils1971 Rookie

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    He isn't looking to push her. He is looking to get the best out of the time he has with her. That is why he asked for some help to motivate her while he is with her. He said she was an 11 year old that only usually puts in 44% of effort during the lessons. As a coach you are doing what you can do to help these juniors achieve whatever level you can take them to. The first and foremost as a coach is teaching and put enjoyment into the game at all levels.
     
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  8. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    I assume you give the parents frequent 'report cards' about her progress and mention concerns you have about her.

    How serious you should be about these 'report cards' depends in my opinion on the expectations her parents have of you coaching her and how much you need this account.
     
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  9. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    I suppose I am the exception about thinking learning a sport should be fun. I hate it when people talk about "school should be fun". Yes there are fun moments but school is hard work and sport should be hard work as well, and so is playing piano, martial arts and plenty of other things.

    Telling children to learn things so they can have fun is a disastrous strategy in my opinion.

    But I know I am rowing against the popular stream here.
     
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  10. lightthestorm

    lightthestorm Rookie

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    Most successful coaches in my area do this with younger kids.

    Look it's 2 hour lessons for I'm assuming 2-3 times a week (I take 1 hour lessons 3 times a week, attend a clinic on Saturday w/out tournament, hit with some ball machines or friends rest of the times).

    Don't do tennis all 100% of the time. Give them frequent water breaks. Incorporate real life into this. Set a goal with her that she can work towards long term. Mix it up from time to time. Try to make it something that's tailored to her style.

    If none of this works, tennis might not be right. Do you know if she plays basketball?
     
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  11. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    I would suggest if she is not putting in the effort you would expect consistently that you take a two pronged approach.

    Firstly, I would agree your expectations together, sort of like a coach pupil contract. This "document" needs to cover the expectations from both sides - that is what you expect of her each session, but also (and perhaps more importantly) what she expects from you. Give her some time to think about this, as I doubt she will have even considered what she actually wants from her coach. This will start to give her some ownership and give you some bargaining chips to play with if you feel her effort is dropping. You could include using her PRE (perceived rate of execration) to monitor how much effort she feels she is making each session and so on...

    Secondly, I would start to give her some ownership over the sessions. Be a little more subtle than just asking what she want's to do though, as that very rarely works well except with the most dedicated athletes! Help her define areas she would like to improve and then allow her, with your guidance, to design some of the drills and practices to develop those areas. Using open questioning techniques (e.g socratic questioning) you can really push her into thinking about why she wants to do certain things and how she could solve any problems. Given some ownership of the task at hand you should see her effort levels increase - as long as you have agreed what levels are expected in stage one above.

    Hope that all makes sense, it's quite a high level concept (especially stage 2, which can go very wrong if your not confident in your ability as a coach to steer your pupil with great questioning to where they need to go), but it is an incredibly powerful technique for learning.

    Cheers
     
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  12. austintennis2005

    austintennis2005 Semi-Pro

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    yes, this is exactly right.. and Ash i appreciate your insights as well...

    i feel like its my job as a coach to get the most out of a junior with potential and to figure out ways to motivate and encourage... i guess i just need to go back to worrying about things i can control and not worrying about things that are beyond my control
     
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  13. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    I think such a 'contract' is great idea but with the parents not with the student. The parents pay for the lessons and she is a minor.

    Wow it seems you and I live in a complete different reality, giving an 11 year old ownership over the sessions and asking her what to do. :rolleyes:

    If the coach needs help from the student on how do design drills then in my opinion the coach should change jobs.

    If a kid has bad motivation make her sweat more, no sweat no gain!
     
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  14. Costagirl

    Costagirl Banned

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    Correct...enjoyment is where we are soo lacking in the USA. I am a coach and an 11 yr old student is a toughie. One week they love it the next they love something else. The parents have them in oh so many activities these days...but at some point to play real tennis - it requires dedication to the sport. At this age - patience is key and injecting fun is even more key to keep them at least interested in tennis. Small increments of improvement will help remind them they excel at tennis and it just might be a worthy interesting sport after all. Good Luck - I feel ya on this one!
     
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  15. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    id just ask her whats up. maybe she doesnt like tennis that much, maybe shed rather just rally around than to compete, maybe you bore her.
     
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  16. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    I think you maybe missed the point a little! By giving the girl some ownership of her programme and training, you will start to gain an understanding of her motivations and therefore her likely reasons for lacking in effort at some points. By keeping her engaged in what she is doing - by giving her some control, she is more likely to impart greater effort.

    The fact that she is eleven is neither here nor there, this is a technique that can work at even younger ages - but as I said it requires a great deal of skill from the coach to pull off effectively otherwise lessons can just descend into nothing. The coach has to use effective and intelligent questionning techniques to guide the pupil - the same with designing drills! I ask my students regularly to design drills that will help them practice a certain technique or tactic - by asking them to consider the situation you increase the level of learning as they have to actually consider the implications of what they are doing and what the situation is/needs to be to illicit a certain response. It's a very powerful thing for the coach to actually leverage control to the pupil - but it isn't something most coaches are prepared to do as they don't like not being in "control".

    By your post I should also give up coaching...or maybe there is more than one way to get to the end point :eek:)
     
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  17. klu375

    klu375 Semi-Pro

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    Does she play any tournaments and how does she do in them? Make her play tournaments - the whole tournament structure acts as a great motivator.
     
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  18. TCF

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    Austin....Our group of coaches and parents have a ton of experience at this age. All of the posters are well meaning, but frankly you are facing huge obstacles.

    The fact is with girls age 11 is not really that 'young'. The dynamic is that she will have her tail kicked by 8-9-10 year olds who live for the game. There are girls who by age 8-9 are simply amazing and destroy all the more casual 11 year olds. Thats just the cold hard facts and many girls 11-12 run from that 'humiliation'. She may be seeing these little ones performing in practice, at tournaments, at the local park. Her defense mechanism is lack of full effort.

    We have had many a girl reach that age 11-12 and they simply change. Many these days are starting their cycles at that age. We have a girl who just turned 12 and quit tennis.

    The pressures are immense. The majority of her friends will not think it is cool to sweat, a ton of social pressures. The majority of girls at that age start wanting to hang out with their girls, forget adults, do their thing.

    Add in the fact that junior tennis is isolating in many ways, not cool at school, a lot of hard work in the hot sun....and its easy to see the deck is stacked against you.

    In my experience when they reach age 11-12 there are 2 kinds of tennis girls....those REALLY into it, they just love it, the dresses, the attention when they do well, maybe a Sharapova or Serena really clicks with them. With the rest though it is like pulling teeth.

    So follow all the nice advice given here and best of luck, but in the end do not take it personally, she is in the majority once they hit that age.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
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  19. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    maybe take her to a pro tournament? even a challenger level or D1 scene? Seeing up close the athleticism and hard work they put in on the court and compete and the joy they get out by winning a point, game, and match can be quite different experience from just watching from TV. Something like this could stay in kids' mind for a long time and show direction and give motivation.
     
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  20. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    One wonders where the parents are in all of this?

    In my mind there is nothing wrong for parents to tell their kids to take at least one sport seriously and that means sweat, lots of it.
     
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  21. 10sLifer

    10sLifer New User

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    Well I have a couple recommendations. More directed towards the parent or guardian but maybe you could hint. ;)

    One would be to take the player to some pro tennis. Nothing pumps a kid up more than seeing some pros hit the crap out of the ball like superheros.

    Also college matches can have the same effect. The possibility of making the college experience more diverse never hurts.

    Also try to get the family or a family member involved in tennis. Kids follow their parents' lead much of the time. It's great for a mom or dad to take them out and hit. Even if only once a month. After all the family that plays together, stays together.

    Lastly, although some people are against goal setting I think it can be a very positive thing. You set goals for your tennis and then you try to reach them. You don't work hard you don't reach them. Very simple. If kids are honest with me and say they only want to play for exercise and recreation I tend to go easier on them. But don't tell me you wanna go pro and play 3 times a week for an hour.

    Hope this helps!
     
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  22. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    If there is anything worse than just letting the kids mess around it is giving them totally unrealistic expectations.


    I seem to be the ugly duckling here:

    What is wrong with telling your kid: "you have to learn at school, you have to play one sport and you have to play one instrument and all these activities are not made for fun (although they can be at times) but they are a necessary part of your upbringing, and all these things are non-negotiable."?

    One would hope there are coaches and teachers with the right attitude who can help with all this.
     
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  23. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I'm surprised that no one mentioned effort and reward. Her lack of interest is very much due to lack of equal reward.

    Create or seek out a reward system that matches her effort. Tournament money, vacation, traveling, etc. make it important and an actual gain, and you'll see a difference.
     
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  24. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    There are many coaches and teachers with the right attitude who can help with all this...only they don't necessarily do it in the way you have suggested above!
     
    #24
  25. ttwarrior1

    ttwarrior1 Professional

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    hopefully she is getting at least 2 days of rest a week. Overtraining is for real. Get with the new modified school of thought.

    Teach her some new things . Drop shots, spin 2nd serves.
     
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  26. TCF

    TCF Hall of Fame

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    Every coach and parent does this....but give us details. Have you been around a lot of 11-12 girls and seen the dynamic? The social media available, peer pressure, early puberty, melo drama, and on and on and on? Seen the dynamic of the majority of soccer girls and softball girls and tennis girls who reach that age and joke around and socialize at mid field or court? Imagine paying a coach $75/hour for that, along with other tennis expenses.

    I would LOVE to wave a magic wand and succeed in demanding a tennis girl at age 11-12 do this or that or the other. We have pretty much tried everything. But today's girls as they hit or approach puberty are amazing forces of nature.

    But give us specifics.....what would you do when the girl's that age kid and joke and have low energy for tennis and have their mind's focused on some drama at school? Ground them, yell at them, forced laps....rewards.....punishments? Have you had success with that approach?

    I am interested in your reply to see if I can apply your ideas to the realities of today's 11-12 year old girls. We all want to keep them away from drugs, etc. But please elaborate on your experiences motivating 11-12 year old girls to specifically work hard at tennis.
     
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  27. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    I doubt it.
     
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  28. allenkau

    allenkau Rookie

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    Rewards? For an 11yr old... What about the feeling you get for hitting a great shot. For chasing down that ball you didn't think you could get... For stringing together enough of points to win a game.. win a set... win a match...

    That should be the ultimate reward. Something you can't buy with money.

    sorry if I am being harsh here.
     
    #28
  29. TomT

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    An 11 year old lacking motivation? OMG, let's call 60 Minutes. :)
     
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  30. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Summer break will do fine, when said student will feel refreshed a bit.
     
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  31. csmason1

    csmason1 New User

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    ^^^This.

    A skill worth learning is rarely "fun" as we commonly understand the term, as it usually requires patience, perseverance, and attention to detail that many young people have in short supply. It's our job as coaches to inject enjoyable activities into lessons that also include skill-building. Sometimes, though, you'll run across kids who, for whatever reason(s), are difficult to motivate; it may be something as simple as laziness ingrained over years of inactivity. Remember that it's a lot easier to sit around and text/watch TV/play video games than it is to learn a difficult sport like tennis. Some people will always gravitate toward the easy path.
     
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  32. csmason1

    csmason1 New User

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    As a parent/coach of three daughters, and one who is around a lot of girls this age, I can safely say...YOU ARE CORRECT, SIR!
     
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  33. dak95_00

    dak95_00 Professional

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    So csmason1 and newpball......

    I just want to get this straight as I have three daughters.

    The quote I should use is......

    "Ours is not the reason why. Ours is but to do and die!"

    Get on that hamster wheel and run! Life isn't about fun! It's about doing your job to the best of your ability until you die! Don't worry about enjoyment, accolades, rewards, notice, etc.; doing the job should be reward enough!

    Am I close?
    (I'm really interested in your opinion and not trying to be offensive. Please elaborate for all of us.)
     
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  34. asusundevils1971

    asusundevils1971 Rookie

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    I hope everything works out for you Austin..
     
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  35. csmason1

    csmason1 New User

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    Classic debate tactic. Reframe the argument to seem absurd and then attack that absurdity. AKA the "straw man" argument.

    No one here said anything about "do or die" or a "hamster wheel". Please don't insult our intelligence. What I said is that a skill worth learning is rarely "fun" as we generally understand the term. Re-read my post if you're having trouble w/ your reading comprehension.

    To use an analogy, I understand "fun" for kids as going to the local swimming pool and splashing around for a while, jumping into the water or going down the water slide. Meanwhile, learning the skill of freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke & backstroke for use in competitive swim meet isn't necessarily "fun" in the same way. More rewarding in the long term? Probably. But more fun for a kid? Unlikely.
     
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  36. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    I totally agree with that!

    Exactly!

    The issue is setting the right expectation for your children. If we tell our kids to do something because it is fun while we know it is going to take sweat and tears we are setting them up for failure. But the opposite is also true, if we tell our kids to do tennis and if they work hard they can be like those players they see on TV that is also setting them up for failure (unless of course they are the 1 in a million super talented).

    What constitutes a good education: for me it is academics, master at least one sport, dancing/martial arts and something artistic e.g. music/drawing and good social skills. To master these things you need to teach children discipline, without discipline there is no gain.
     
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  37. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    A) A great way to make sure your kids do not learn how to become autonomous is to not let them much freedom regarding how they will conduct their lives. The above would only make sense until the kid in question is a teenager when identity construction will become important.

    B) The tone of the message is way too authoritative for a liberal society like ours. We're not in the 50's anymore where the daddy would come home and everyone would obey his every word. Today, your kid is not likely going to perceive your hard, non-negotiable stance as a sign that you care for him and that you know what's good for him. He's likelier to feel like it's the opposite.

    C) Use A and B. When you try to express an idea, you should bother about what people read into it. If your kid won't see in such a comment a good intention and if he's not likely to abide by it, then choose an other way of achieving your goal.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
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  38. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    Remember that ease is perceived. Some people would kill everyone if they had to stay on a chair for more than an hour. To them, watching a 3 hours movie is the real pain.

    What's laziness? If I followed your post properly, you defined laziness as the habit of choosing which you find easier. I have a problem with that because you can't tell what's easy and what's not... only those who do the things can tell you. In essence, you're projecting here YOUR vision of what constitutes an effort and what doesn't, of what's easy and what's not.

    By listening to comments like "school is hard, but necessary" and "do your homework before you can have fun and play with your friends", what do your kids ingrain? The vision you and others projected. They learn that school is hard, demanding and dull.

    Again, not a very efficient way to proceed.
     
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  39. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    Arms race are interesting phenoms. Each side tries to deter the other by imposing an ever greater threat to their opponent. The thing sorts of feed unto itself and the expectation that each party has of a conflict will likely become reality because they're both preparing for war. Anything that is perceived as an aggression has the potential of fostering aggressiveness as a response. Very curious dynamic to chose when you try to teach something to a child, isn't it?

    Of course, as I hinted in an other comment, it might have worked in a different epoch because the demands of a parent or of a coach would have been perceived differently, but it's likely to mess up really bad if you try this now.
     
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  40. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Telling kids to do homework first is teaching them discipline, and academics should be hard and demanding, if it is not then put them in an after school program.

    It seems we simply have to agree to disagree on this.
     
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  41. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    You are not being harsh. You're just misguided. Telling someone else what you just said is like someone else telling you how great cricket is. Are you going to go out tomorrow and pick it up?
     
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  42. josofo

    josofo Semi-Pro

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    maybe she is more of a games person and her competitiveness will push her to play harder. so have her play sets with people.


    or maybe she just isn't a fighter. not that big a deal.
     
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  43. Muppet

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    I'm not a coach, so add some salt. From what you've said, she seems talented. If she's not being challenged, I could understand how she could lose motivation. You could ask her if she'd like to learn some skills that 13-15 yo players are learning. If she's struggling, try something else. Feeling challenged is key in staying motivated in anything we humans do. Give her more opportunities to take on challenges to her game.
     
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  44. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Get a cute 13 year old guy to start taking lessons too...
     
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  45. allenkau

    allenkau Rookie

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    Go back and read the original post. The girl is not a beginner. She already has "nice" strokes. Maybe tennis isn't giving her satisfaction. She may also be perfectly happy with where she is at. If so, just leave her alone.

    Asking me to play cricket is different. I have never played and don't have "nice" cricket technique yet.
     
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  46. boramiNYC

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    Very true. I believe challenging and fun are very closely related. but not all kinds of challenges are fun to everyone. good teachers and coaches know how to push that button for each students to challenge and motivate them.
     
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  47. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    Exactly.

    You can't force a kid to like something. It sounds like this girl is indifferent to tennis. As a parent I would have her try a number of sports to see if she has more of a passion for something else.
     
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  48. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    You still don't get it. Her not being a beginner, having nice strokes and the love and drive for the game may not have anything to do with each other. There's no relevance, especially when it comes to kids who are still developing into individuals.

    It's a hit or miss when it comes to kids truly into what the parents want them to do.
     
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  49. allenkau

    allenkau Rookie

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    I do get it... I am saying that the kid is happy where she is with tennis. She might want to try something else. She might want to go play with her friends. I am just saying we shouldn't create artificial rewards for children that age to get them to play tennis.
     
    #49
  50. tommyfr

    tommyfr Rookie

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    I would take two approaches.

    First, find out what tennis is in her life, how it compares with other special interests she might have (or had in the past), riding, soccer, piano, some youth group...and compared with other past times activities, malling, tv, reading books, fashion....

    Second, based on the notion that "People are not lazy, they just have impotent goals", and in case tennis has a realistic potential to be a solid special interest in her life (based on above review, maybe with help of a graded questionnaire) then work with goal-setting in relation to tennis. And she must be part of this process.....
     
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