A Crazy Tennis Mom Gives Advice on Dealing with Losses

Discussion in 'Junior League & Tournament Talk' started by fleabitten, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. fleabitten

    fleabitten Semi-Pro

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    With junior tennis starting up in full force, this is a timely bit of advice from a self-proclaimed "crazy tennis mom".
    Dealing with losses and motivating your tennis kid.

    Any other tennis parents here who can add some words of wisdom to what she wrote?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2012
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  2. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Hey man do you own the tennisopolis site?

    Interesting article..the entitlement part is dead on.
     
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  3. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    Sorry, did not get any 'meat' off that bone after reading that piece. Tennis is what it is, only one kid in each age group every weekend is going to go home totally "happy".

    In team sports a team will have a regular season where games do not result in trophies. Wins and loses are not brutally evident in their importance. But tennis is unique in many ways, every time a kid plays it is in an event that results in an ultimate trophy winner....and a bunch of kids who 'failed'.

    I don't know what this author wants to say and can say. Obviously every parent of the 99 out of 100 kids who do not win says the same thing....nice try, go practice more....hey at least you played well in the first round and took a set off a higher ranked kid this time. Not much else to say.

    But that does not change anything about the brutal realities of tennis....

    1. some kids are elite, they have a rare combination of factors such as talent and hard work that make them top ranked and they will beat all the other kids no matter how hard the lesser talents work. The talented kids work just as hard.

    2. most kids who start tennis in the 8's-10's will quit at some point....many times because of the realities # 1 and 3.

    3. every weekend almost every kid goes home a 'loser' in terms of winning the tournament.

    So to me this article was just common sense fluff that all tennis parents already know. Try to focus on whatever you can to keep a kid playing tennis as long as possible because most kids who show up at a tournament go home without the trophy.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
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  4. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    The above is definitely true, I quit juniors at 14 for soccer because I just couldn't handle practicing 20 hours a week to win one match on the weekend. Soccer was a better return ratio on practice. I really wish I hadn't quit now, but kids don't see that when they are out there working and losing.
     
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  5. Misterbill

    Misterbill Semi-Pro

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    I think regular losers start to win more often when they start to learn stuff from their losses.

    Instead of parents motivating, or cheerleading, or "esteeming", parents who think they might be able to do something positive should make each loss a learning experience......then flush it. Can't be thinking about the last loss while playing the next match.
     
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  6. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    Yup....junior tennis is brutal. Only one winner, no regular season and all events result in an ultimate winner, call your own lines and deal with cheaters, no teammates to take the burden when you have an off day, crazy amount of practice needed to even compete with the freaks.

    Imagine playing one on one basketball when you know every tournament you will have to go through a LeBron or Kobe to be the 'winner'.

    We must be nuts to let our kids play tennis!
     
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  7. treeman10

    treeman10 Semi-Pro

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    ----------------------
     
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  8. MarTennis

    MarTennis Rookie

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    A warrant for the 10 and under format.

    Exactly, which is why 10 and under format with round robin play provides an improved return ratio on budding players practice.
     
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  9. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    To be clear, I wish I hadn't quit so that I could play a higher level of rec tennis now. I was never going to go anywhere with tennis. I as at best a mediocre junior who never grew beyond 5' 8" The return on me was exactly what it should be, a rec player.
     
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  10. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Tennis requires much less genetic raw material (height) or raw strength like basketball, so let us be happy that physically unendowed geeky kids have a sport they can compete against each other in - called tennis.
     
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  11. onehandbh

    onehandbh Hall of Fame

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    While the overall genetically gifted pool of talent may be lower than some
    of the other sports, it's been changing and getting more competitive.
    Plus the players work much harder on their fitness than 30 years ago.
    Many more are using PEDs, too. There was even a 15 year old on the WTA
    that got busted for steroids.

    I wouldn't be surprised if there were parents giving their kids growth hormones
    to give them a physical edge and grow taller. It's already done (legally) and
    prescribed for some kids that have growth problems so it makes sense that a
    parent would do this to give their kid an edge. Plus there is no drug testing
    until you get in the ATP, so during juniors is the time to do it, when it won't
    be detected. I've met guys that aren't even athletes (or play any sports) take
    HGH.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
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  12. li0scc0

    li0scc0 Hall of Fame

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    But it also requires supreme footwork and hand-eye coordination. Many top basketball players have atrocious footwork and hand-eye coordination, as evidenced by their poor foul shot shooting (think Shaq, Wilt Chamberlain, etc.) . Tennis doesn't require you to be 6'4, but it does require an elite combination of genetic traits to be an elite. A 5'10 guy who is of average speed and average hand-eye coordination might make varsity as a junior and 4.5 as an adult with hard work, but not the tour.
     
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  13. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    Lots of myths surround HGH. The guys you know would be taking over the counter 'supplements' that are precursors and worthless. They have no true effect.

    True HGH is super expensive, requires large doses over years and years. When given to kids with already normal levels naturally, the side effects are epic....swollen hands and feet, severe and constant joint pain, nausea, and on and on. The side effects are 100% and totally detrimental to tennis. The level of HGH must be rigorously controlled in kids, even a small amount more than what would be normal for a kid at various ages is a big problem. Kids who truly have low amounts and get legitimate therapy are monitored rigorously.

    Any wealthy parent who somehow gets a doctor to prescribe real HGH and gives it to a child with normal levels would have the exact opposite effect than what they desired.

    An adult can take much lower levels of real HGH without the side effects and doctors are split if there are any real benefits.

    But anyone who thinks a normal kid could be given HGH at ages 9-12 and magically sprout 4 inches and be healthy and good for tennis is sorely misguided. It would destroy a healthy child.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2012
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  14. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    This is definitely true
     
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  15. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    This is true of HGH, even in adults there is the possibility of some pretty nasty side effects (distended abdomen anyone?). There are other substances out there that can be abused with a definite positive effect for tennis. Some of them are relatively untraceable. I have no idea whether kids are actually using them, but I do know they exist.

    Disclaimer, I am not a doctor, I am a guy who took a bunch of pharmacology classes on the MIT free online course school.
     
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  16. CoachDad

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    Exactly. Some confuse HGH with anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids have relatively fast and noticeable 'positive' effects, in anyone. (positive regarding performance, but very negative long term of course). A person taking steroids will get stronger and have body changes quickly. HGH is a long term therapy that can have no positive effects in someone with normal levels already.

    People get jealous sometimes. I hear parents say Sharapova's dad stuffed her full of HGH at a young age. Well....the guy was broke and driving a cab so he could not afford it, the side effects would have ruined her and not helped her, and she happens to have a grandfather who is 6'5" so she just happened to grow quite tall!

    Not everyone who wins the genetic lottery is cheating.
     
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  17. li0scc0

    li0scc0 Hall of Fame

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    Agree 100%.
    I was an athletic trainer for a long time, and dealt with a lot of athletes who took androgenic steroids, anabolic steroids, insulin, hGH, and other equally interesting performance enhancers (to use that ubiquitous term loosely).
    Sharapova shows none of the signs of an hGH user or abuser. hGH use and abuse is very evident. Internal organ growth (bodybuilders and their hGH gut). Acromegaly (thickening and lengthening of the bones) which is seen in prominent jaws, lengthened and pointed elbows (think of Barry Bonds and his head that doubled in size from his early days in the league to his latter years). Sharapova shows NONE of this. She is tall, yes, but lithe and lovely. She hardly has a cro-magnon look.
     
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  18. LABtennis

    LABtennis New User

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    Some of what you write is inaccurate. There is a medical specialty that deals with "wellness". In this specialty, doctors use hormones (including HGH, testosterone, thyroid replacement) for adults who want to hold off the natural aging process. It is common to find these medical practices in major cities where vanity runs high and there is a lot of disposable income (i.e. cities in California, New York, South Florida). So it is very possible that onehandbh does know guys who are taking HGH. Whether it works is another story. I doubt that these doctors take insurance.

    Unfortunately there are plenty of doctors who are willing to prescribe HGH to kids who are slightly off the growth curves. They do not have to have abnormally low levels of growth hormones to get it. Just an overly concerned or desperate parent who thinks Johnny is lagging behind his peers. I know someone who took their child to the endocrinologist even though there is a family history of late puberty. This child is on HGH and receives injections everyday. It is working in that this child has grown several inches in a matter of months. He will not have to be on it for years and years, just a couple of years. He does not have swollen hands or feet, does not have any nausea, but does have joint pain that is common for a athletic child growing through a growth spurt.
     
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  19. fleabitten

    fleabitten Semi-Pro

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    No kidding. Maybe I should talk my kid OUT of playing this game I love. Actually, I hope that he can just enjoy the game and let the wins and losses happen as they may. So easy to say from this vantage point, but so hard for a kid to see the big picture. If he keeps on playing for the love of hitting the ball, he will be an amazing player by the time he is an adult regardless of this weeks losses (and victories).
     
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  20. fleabitten

    fleabitten Semi-Pro

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    @Coach Dad,
    Damn, that is a lot of doom and gloom. :) You definitely have more experience in the world of junior tennis than I. I'm just getting started on this journey with my son and I found the article very good. I think the author makes a good point about every kid being different and each one has their own ways to deal with wins and losses. At the end of the day, a tennis kid will win about half of the time, just like a soccer kid will. He might not take home the trophy, but I hope to keep it focused on learning the game and learning to deal with wins and losses.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2012
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  21. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    First, good luck on your journey with your son. Make sure it is a fun one.
    Everything else is irrelevant.

    Now, on to your post. I think percentage wise, the soccer team would have about 50% chance of winning, right two teams....
    Tennis, your chances of winning a final are not usually 50%.

    The difference is the kid on the soccer team gets to practice with his team, plays the game, then has lunch with his team...... Hanging out with a bunch of boys what could be bad. Tennis is just quite different as an individual sport.
    Unfortunately, a lot of kids don't really fit the individual sport, but the parents sorta of push a round key in a square hole.
     
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  22. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    Not doom and gloom, reality. A tennis kid may win half the matches but in my experience most get bummed when they do not win the trophy. The tournament is most kid's focus, not individual matches. Every tournament results in most kids leaving after a loss....totally different than soccer. In soccer each regular season game a team can leave a winner and go home. In tennis you win first round but usually are a loser the very next day.

    It is what it is....not for everyone. Many kids quit because other sports have better social and wins and loses dynamics. The reality is this dynamic causes most kids who play the 10s to be gone from competitive tennis by the 16s.

    I love junior tennis but the realities are as I stated. That article says what anyone with common sense knows. If your kid plays tennis focus on other things such as goals and life lessons....because every weekend most kids will not go home the winner.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
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  23. seminoleG

    seminoleG Semi-Pro

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    Correction my daughter plays Travel Soccer and it is as much or more competitive than Junior Tennis. They play a regular schedule but those games are "practice" for the many tournaments they enter. 1 or 2 times a month they play round robin events where advancement is based on wins and goals. So you have a weekend with many emotional hi's and lows but it is not over so fast. So you could win all your games by 1 goal and not make the next round, as well as win 1 of 3 but via tie breakers advance. Very hard on the girls. When you Play 8v8, or 6v6 every girls knows their Job and its obvious who plays well win or lose. The Goalies usually breakdown after 2 goals and the coach has to lift their spirits.

    We have a Gymnast and Golf player on the team who also talk of the same pressure and stress in Tennis.

    Overall I say my daughter is more depressed after a soccer tournament elimination than a Tennis one. She understands that in Tennis everyone loses except 1 Player, but Soccer the best record does not always win the spoils.
     
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  24. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    The fact is more kids who play the 10s quit by the 16s in tennis. Soccer has a team dynamic, night and day different from tennis.

    Girl's are social creatures by nature, they lose as a team and are more likely to stick with soccer through their teens than tennis.

    The reason your girl is more depressed with soccer is the team dynamic. The 'misery' and 'drama' moves from girl to girl, they talk about it. The 'shared depression' is part of their bond. Its a girl thing....or so the girls in my life have told me!

    You are correct regarding gymnastics, same dynamic as tennis. Golf not so much. In tennis and gymnastics you have the added issue of pain during training. The kids have to push themselves to discomfort while training to get better at tennis and gymnastics. In golf there is not that physical discomfort during training....it is tough mentally though.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
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  25. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    Plus on a soccer field, half of the players will end up winners. Even in a soccer tournament 15 out of the 300 kids may end up winners. That is more than a tennis tournament where it is only one out of the draw.
     
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  26. CoachDad

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    I know so many kids who start soccer at age 6 who still play as older teens. But most of the kids who played tennis at 6-9 are gone by the mid teens.
     
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  27. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think soccer requires much more footwork.

    The analysis has been done already by experts. Tennis is way down in the athletic ability requirement compared to basketball.
     
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  28. CoachDad

    CoachDad Rookie

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    #28
  29. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It need not be because they lost and could not take it. Some people just find tennis to be very boring.
     
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  30. seminoleG

    seminoleG Semi-Pro

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    Or Tennis takes a more concentrated Mental and Physical toll on you daily and you can still Lose, Lose, Lose
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
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  31. CoachDad

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    Agreed. The patience needed to learn tennis the correct way is boring to many kids. It took me from age 18 months to 7 years to get my daughter to the level she is now....with zero tournaments. Not many kids will deal with that.

    Funny thing is that when she practices she draws tons of kids who marvel. Boys playing hoops stop and watch, girls, you name it. They all think its cool what she can do.

    But no way in heck most of them would do what it took her to get skilled at tennis.
     
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  32. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Hockey, football and basketball are above tennis.

    There are also some things which are not captured in the overall score. Table tennis requires way more hand-eye coordination than tennis, yet its overall score is much lower. Less hand-eye coordination will get you kicked out way early in tournaments. Likewise, in volleyball, height plays a disproportionate role, and lung capacity a disproportionate role in aquatics. Rowing, way down in the list, requires huge lung capacity and huge hand muscles - check them out.

    Tennis is the sport of mediocrity. No special skills are required. In that way, it is unique and juniors who play tennis should consider themselves lucky. The original design of tennis was as an afternoon pastime for royal families where no particular skill would help win a match. That is why it is called the ideal sport. It has become distorted due to the switch from wood to graphite, but at its heart, it is a sport for anyone.
     
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  33. CoachDad

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    We will not agree on this at all. No use debating. Those studies are quite impressive and impartial, tennis holds its own with most other sports.

    What a sport was originally designed for is irrelevant. Half the positions in football were originally designed for fat uncoordinated kids....the lineman. These days lineman are freaks, as are top tennis players. Same with hoops, originally the center and power forwards were stiffs who were tall and could play no other sport.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
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  34. Tcbtennis

    Tcbtennis Professional

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    May I ask, what were you and your daughter doing starting at 18 months of age?
     
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  35. CoachDad

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    Ha, I get asked that a lot. We lived in PA at that age. We would hang balloons from the ceiling in various rooms. She would take a little Sponge Bob racquet and attack the balloons trying to hit them up to the ceiling. She started this at 19 months old. She would go from room to room hitting these balloons.

    She would also take plastic balls from her ball pit and smash them around the house. We would go into the basement and she would hit super balls that moved so fast. More of a way to have fun and pass the winter!

    She hit her first foam balls tossed by me at age 2.5. She could hit from the baseline with success by age 3.....either hand feeds or from a tiny ball machine from tennis tutor called a tennis twist. Basically it just lobs the balls out.

    Full size frame on her 5th birthday. Now 7.5....still progressing well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
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  36. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    People who have played golf and tennis often say golf is tougher, though it is way down in the list. The list measures the overall athletic skills needed. You don't need to run in golf, but golf strokes require an accuracy which tennis just does not need. There are players who take 4 attempts to put a ball from 4 feet away. Very few players need 4 attempts to get a ball over the net and inside the lines.

    It is very difficult to jump 3 feet vertically up and strike a volleyball or dunk a basketball. It is very tiring to row a mile.

    Archery would be very very difficult. Most people would never hit the target even in 100 tries.

    Tennis does not require any special skills. That is why it is a lifelong sport, and that is why pushers do very well.
     
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  37. CoachDad

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    I can counter back and forth all day. A golf ball is not moving, 99.9% of people who play basketball at some point in their lives never dunk, I bet anyone could become a good archer if they started young enough, and the difference between an tennis elite junior/pros and the other 99% who play is night and day.....like every sport.

    Basketball? 99% of the players in grade school, high school, small college never dunk. Ever see basketball in small or rich white towns? It ain't all that athletic!

    Bottom line is those studies were by nonbiased sources and rank tennis high in athletic needs to play.

    Tennis is only a sport of a lifetime because people keep playing, not because it is easier. So what if two 60 year olds can play some level of tennis, they barely move. (generalizing, I know some older guys can still motor) 60 year olds could play any sport. They could play slow basketball, slow hockey, slow any sport.

    Is this player dunking?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42AhRxt7ks0

    You could have a league in any sport where people of any age could play each other. The reason they play tennis is because its easy to grab a racquet and one other gent and go hit some balls. They could also go to the play ground and throw balls at baskets if they wanted. Or they could form a team and play basketball and barely move, just like they do in tennis.

    Your point is not sensible. The level in every sport from the top 1% to everyone else is night and day. Go watch much of the weekend softball....ex baseball players, 40 lbs. overweight...barely moving.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
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  38. li0scc0

    li0scc0 Hall of Fame

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    I...
    shot consistently in the mid 70's in golf, breaking par frequently
    played D1 college baseball and was drafted out of high school
    competed in cycling winning state and regional championships and attended top level junior pre-Olympic training camps
    ran a sub 11 second 100 meter dash in high school
    powerlifted holding state records in 2 weight categories.

    yet....
    I am a 4.0 in tennis, maybe 4.5 next year but still....pretty average at best

    Tennis requires a sublime combination of the physical and the mental. I might be able to outrun and outslug people, but who cares if I overrun the ball and shank it off the throat? And who cares if I can crush the ball if the return of serve goes into the net or 2 feet long?

    Tennis is SO much harder than golf. In golf the ball stays put. Learn the proper swing, and anybody can shoot 85 or better. Most could break 80.
    Most tennis players cannot play 5.0.

    So I disagree..in many ways tennis is the ultimate sport, the essence of the mind-body unity.
     
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  39. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    No, you completely agree with me! You don't know it, but you agree with me! Read below with patience.

    I have taken 2 golf lessons (one free). Half the time I hit the ground with the swing, not the ball. I ran in a competition once as a kid, and came last. I cannot touch my toes (well, I say that it is due to genetics because my father can't either, but still ....). I cannot sit crosslegged for more than a few minutes.

    I have two weights I practice with - a 5 lb dumbbell and a 8 ounce ball. My cycling was mediocre when I used to do it. I thought I had above average table tennis skills, but when I joined a group of old guys who play at the civic center, I was better than only one of them. I quit.

    Yet I am a 4.0 tennis player who has won social doubles mementos, won WTT league matches, and hit competitively with ex-D3 women and college scholarship-bound high school senior girls. I have been described as being as smooth as Federer (I am not kidding). Not only that, with age, I am playing better now than ever before.

    You and I are at about the same level.

    Do you see the irony? Would it have been possible in any of the other activities that you mentioned?
     
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  40. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Having competed at the college level in two sports (basketball and track & field) I agree with you. As a good all-around athlete, I was able to take up tennis in my 30s and get to the 4.0 level, but am missing the consistency and mental aspects of the game to go any further. This comes with time, training, and determination. Just athletic talent alone doesn't cut it.

    It's funny, when I play in clinics or hit around, people peg me at 5.0 and ask where I played in college because I have nice strokes and am athletic. But, in match play (league and tournaments) I win about 50% at 4.0 and can't take a set off a 4.5.
     
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  41. tball2day

    tball2day Semi-Pro

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    ......................
     
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  42. li0scc0

    li0scc0 Hall of Fame

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    So so similar. 2 years ago I was playing a 3.5 match at a tournament. On the court next to us was a 5.0 match. Myself and the other 3.5 both played college baseball. The pace of serves and forehands on our court was MUCH higher than the pace on the 5.0 court. And had I played those 5.0's they would have beat me 6-0 6-0 in roughly 30 minutes. Because pretty much I suck.
     
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  43. li0scc0

    li0scc0 Hall of Fame

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    You raise a good point.
    Yet I know some scratch golfers who, even in their prime, likely threw 'like a girl', ran 18 second 100m 'dashes', and were the last picked in kickball.
     
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