Choosing a coach for kids: experience or rapport?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by BMC9670, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    I'm starting my soon-to-be 8 year old son on weekly lessons in order to refine his technique. I've gotten him pretty far over the past 2 years, but I'm not a formally trained player and I feel he's at the age/ability to benefit from formal training.

    I'm torn between two pros at our club. One has been teaching for 30 years and is well respected and while he's a nice guy, he can be a little intimidating. The other is a young woman just out of D1 college tennis. She's outgoing, fun, and teaches the kids groups at the club. They are both excellent players and seem to be good teachers, but with different styles.

    Do you think it is better to choose a coach based on teaching experience or their rapport with kids?
     
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  2. coaches are leaches. they don nothing.
    nonetheless, i'm sure i'm fighting an uphill battle in trying to convince people that coaches are useless. in such a case, i would advise as follows:

    1. Determine what your son wants to do, i.e., does he want to get into good college on scholarship, or is the goal to play professionally. Be as specific as possible about the goals.

    2. Look at the success rate of the coaches with respect to advice No.1.


    in general, coaches are, at best, simply companions for players. players bring the talent, the work ethic, etc., coaches simply serve as council. if your kid's got the talent, a coach will add very little value. if your kid doesn't have the talent, a coach will add no value.
     
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  3. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

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    The kid is 8. Go with the young woman. Either should be more than able to teach him the fundamentals. The key at that age is to make him want to keep coming back every week. You can switch to the other coach when he is older (13-14) if he wants to get serious about tennis.
     
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  4. Rambler124

    Rambler124 Rookie

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    Jaded much?:confused:
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Motivation and FUN is crucial.
    Not pressing too hard and avoiding injuries too ( from too much practice).
    Pick the one thinking long term. Pick the one with the time an inclination. Introduce yourself and your soon to them. Take them out to dinner (serparately) and see how the cookies crumble.
     
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  6. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

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    I feel sorry for whatever bad personal experience you have personally had with bad instructors/coaches. Care to explain to me why coaches are useless? You are very far off.

    Perhaps you should stick to making babies--because you're not making the other.

    -SF
     
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  7. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    I bet a lot of your kid's enthusiasm stems from the quality time he spends with Dad. Honestly, it probably doesn't make much of a difference who is the coach/teacher as long as Dad still keeps hitting with Jr. and helps to implement what the chosen coach shows him. I would suggest you be there during the lessons to get a feel for what he has to practice in-between lessons.
     
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  8. Rambler124

    Rambler124 Rookie

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    Winning argument right here folks.
     
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  9. Rambler124

    Rambler124 Rookie

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    Couldn't agree with this more. The most successful kids I have seen typically have a parent who is pretty involved with them. They don't just drop them off for lessons and go about their business but watch and also spend time with them on the court as well.
     
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  10. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    KenC and Rambler124: Yes, we have a great time playing tennis together - I keep it simple, light, and also work in general fitness and movement - running, jumping, shuffling, catching, throwing, etc.

    I plan to keep on with him but I have to have shoulder surgery in a few weeks and I'll be out for a few months. Also, I feel he's good enough to where he needs technique help, and I can't provide it.

    Also, at his age, we do a max of 3X a week for 1-1/12 hours each time.
     
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  11. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Isn't that like saying school teachers are babysitters?
     
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  12. yes, but not from tennis.


    coaches are useless for the following reasons:
    1. They fail to provide a causal link between an action and a reaction. All they do is provide correlative evidence for why a shot/stroke turns out to be the way it does. For example, roger federer points to the east when he hits a kick serve out wide. Tomorrow, every tom dick and harry is pointing east. It becomes the new technology factor. Roger federer keeps his head still when he hits a shot; tomorrow, every coach is insisting that kids keep their head still without proving that keeping one's head still is even deliberate, and second, whether that has any direct impact on the stroke.

    2. coaches do not invent techniques, they simply teach what some PLAYER has invented. players innovate, coaches do not. so, what are they teaching? it's not rocket science or nuclear physics or...financial econometrics.

    3. they have no proven track record. nick bollittieriirjalkjsf, the all-mighty, prestigious academy has a success rate of less than 3% (according to bollitierri himself). Would you trust a consultant with thousands of dollars knowing he/she has a 3% success rate? I wouldn't...because that wouldn't make sense.

    Yes. School teachers ARE baby sitters. you don't need a teacher to teach you.
     
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  13. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

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    You are over generalizing. Yes. There are bad instructors. However, that doesn't mean that we are all bad.
    Get a very high level player to teach someone how to play tennis and see the results. Being a good or great player doesn't make them a good teacher.

    Not everyone is going to be a pro-player. Why should there not be any instructors just because not everybody has what it takes to be a one?

    Oh, and have you, yourself taken lessons?

    -SF
     
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  14. bigfoot910

    bigfoot910 Rookie

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    Wow, you really are bitter... Coming from a family of teachers, I can assure you they are not just baby sitters. The society we live in may USE them as baby sitters, but many are highly educated and just trying to give information to whatever percentage (however small) of kids that actually want to do something with their lives.

    I do realize this number is shrinking...
     
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  15. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Empower the kid on this and let him choose after a lesson or 2 with each (since you can't decide, bet he can) What he likes is more important at this stage assuming both coaches are acceptable.

    He may like being a big boy and training with the tough ole coach!
     
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  16. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    OK... so thanks MakeSenseNotBabies for your Good Will Hunting approach, but I believe a good coach can teach my son technique better than I can. I'll continue to play with him, hit with him, and work with him on general fitness and agility.

    Thanks to those who gave valuable input to the original question.
     
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  17. mike53

    mike53 Professional

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    Good move. I have two primary requirements when I select an instructor/coach for any of my kids:

    1) Must be as close to their age as possible
    2) Must be the same sex

    In your case, I would go for the youngest for now, but I would be looking to get your son hooked up with a twenty something male teacher asap.
     
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  18. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Hahaha, it sounds like the guy hasn't ever coached. For an hour lesson the coach is suppose to turn someone into Rodger Federer over night. Of course, the player usually doesn't practice what he learned nor cares too.

    Or it sounds like he had a coach but failed himself. Or it could have been the coach.

    If coaches are useless then why do so many pros have them????? Why would Roddick seek a coach? :)
     
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  19. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    If coaches are babysitters, then who is the "baby" in the equation? Maybe that is what the parents want. A babysitter that teaches tennis. Thank you that will be $40. :)

    I think this guy is looking to be stroked. Look at his signature, doesn't it say "make sense, not babies?" LOL

    Edit: Ahh, I see Rambler beat me to it. :) At least we are thinking along the same lines.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2009
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  20. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    You are not making any sense.
     
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  21. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I'm glad someone got that, lol.
     
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  22. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think he was just trying to provoke reactions here LOL
     
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  23. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Looks like he succeeded... at the expense of my original question. Frustrating.
     
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  24. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    My advice to you is choose the coach that will help your kid reach their goals.

    A good coach does show tough love. If a coach is tough but is dooing so for a good purpose and reason, then he is not doing it just to be tough or be intimidating.

    If you think your kid won't be able to handle some tough love, then go with the newer coach. Just remember coaching is a skill and an art. It takes much more knowledge than being able to swing at a ball well, to be a good coach.

    Experience in coaching goes a long way.
     
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  25. Matt H.

    Matt H. Professional

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    go with the chick.

    if she's fresh out of college tennis, then she might have a better understanding of actual tactics and strategies being used in today's game.
     
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  26. tennis005

    tennis005 Professional

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    The young women should be able to teach your kid all the basics while still having fun. Having fun is important at his age. The more experienced coach would be better for him when he gets a little older.
     
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  27. tennis005

    tennis005 Professional

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    I disagree, there are some older pros that can easily whoop college and highschool players in a match. I know, I'm one of those younger players:(
     
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  28. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Personally I would choose experience over youth any day of the week, but then again I'm not 8 years old.
     
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  29. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    I was hoping someone would say what you say. I wanted to but thought I would be too aggressive since I already posted.

    As you know, it takes a lot more to be a coach than being a D1 player with the latest skills, tactics, and strategies they have performed.

    The key with coaching is their ability to TRANSFER that knowledge to the student. There are a lot of intelligent tennis players out there that can't coach worth a darn but they play great tennis. They do not understand or have forgotten the building blocks necessary to develop a player. They may not even remember or understand how they developed.

    They other issue is explaining things. If a coach does not have a good aresnal of analogies, metaphors, examples, illustrations and ways to explain something, knowledge transfer is diminished.

    There are a lot of good college players that can't coach. There are a lot of good business people that aren't good mentors.

    To say "go with the chick because they know all the latest and greatest" may also not be true. A good coach stays up on the things he needs to know to help a player be competitive and reach their goals.

    And finally, many "coaches" do better in group lessons vs. private lessons.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2009
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  30. papa

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    Unless this child is an exception, keeping him even interested more than 30 minutes at a time is going to be difficult - 8 is very young and unless the sport is made to be fun he's going to loose interest quickly.

    My kids were good athletes and there sport (which was not tennis) paid for a great deal of their college expenses. We didn't think it at the time but looking back, I think we pushed in just trying to accomadate the schedule. Unfortunately, unlike what some might think, I think these kids missed parts of growing up and being around their friends - there wasn't time for that and I regret it.

    The bottom line is that if I had it to do over again I would not have allowed them to participate at such a high level to the expense of "normal" activities like the scouts, school teams, and the like - to me, it wasn't worth the price we paid as a family and what these kids missed. I like to tell people that my kids never got in trouble because they didn't have the time, they were too busy.
     
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  31. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    You have a point there. I took two lessons from a current D2 woman and she hit the ball much harder, with much more topspin, and with much more quickness than any of the 4 experienced pros in my club, one of whom was on the tour many years ago. It made me realize just how difficult the modern game is. I also noticed that the club pro usually slices back with a 1 handed BH when faced with a good amount of topspin from a junior student, while the junior students when playing each other counter topspin such balls back with a 2 hander, which is what the female D2 was doing. Since the juniors will face each other in a real match, they should be training for that. Even Federer practices with a lefty junior before playing Nadal.
     
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  32. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    YIKES! The advices here are all over the board.

    Personally, I would not listen to any advice coming from people without any kids.

    I would recommend the girl as well. The most important thing at this stage is to grow the love of the game for your child. Technique and everything else will come naturally if you get your child to love the game.

    Talking about the relevance of tactics and strategy when you are talking about 8 year old is pretty nuts. You are just looking to build some good basic foundations.
     
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  33. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    So, I guess yours trumps it all? lol

    It depends on the kid and their goals. Parents included since the kid is very young.

    Also, your last sentence is the most mythical and misleading saying in tennis.

    I dont think so also. Again, it depends on how far the kid has come. Teaching basic strategy/tactics can be as simple as when to recognize to come to net. Believe it or not, there are those kids at 8 years old that can handle that and kick yours and my butt in tennis. :)
     
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  34. maverick66

    maverick66 Hall of Fame

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    I think this is the biggest thing. If you want your kid to go out and have a fun little hit around and pick up as he goes go with young girl. I am guessing here but I would bet she wants to make it a fun happy experience for the kid.

    When I was 6 my parents started me with an older coach from Poland. He was as scary as they came and was very strict out there. I had a love/hate relationship with him because sometimes I wanted to just goof off and he wouldnt let me. He drilled a work ethic into me that I dont think I would have without him. Still almost 20 years later I respect him more than any other coach I have worked with and thats a good list of coaches.

    So to me I would go to the experienced no nonsense coach. In the long run I think they put a better influence on the kid. I have seen coaches who just wanna fun and play games with the kids and I dont think it prepares the kid to move on to a higher level. It might sell more lessons but preparing for what is a very rough sport it does not.
     
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  35. ahhh you must be the guy everyone's talking about. apparently, there's a guy who goes around the world with a certain presumptive air about himself, assuming that everything he says will be taken at face value and immediately applied. he doesn't care to offer a substantive retort, only a statement. he's the most powerful and credible man in the world.

    nice to meet you.
     
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  36. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Lol, only a statement? Well, let's see, you are a new user and you made a statement about Coaches. Your signature talks about "making sense" in which your first post didn't make any sense at all.

    Maybe you are the one with a presumptive air about himself. :)
     
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  37. What does my coaching or not coaching, or having been coached or not, have anything to do with my response?


    look up correlation.

    can you prove that andy roddick would be unsuccessful without a coach?
    what about roger federer? I don't know if he has a coach now, but i remember he didn't for a long time. what coaches offer, at most, is a theoretical feedback, most of which is based on other theories and assumptions.


    I am not saying a coach can't teach; i'm saying a coach is not necessary to be taught.

    i took lessons, but only diagnostic ones. however, i took them only to see if what i suspected was right. and i speculated what was wrong with my strokes by being highly vigiliant of myself. it's very simple to observe yourself closely, and come up with a plan to change things. tennis isn't hard. your only limits are your intellect and talent.
     
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  38. so, a new user knows less stuff than users with 10,000 posts??? maybe users with 10,000 should not be posting as much.
     
    #38
  39. i am bitter, i guess! can't deny that. lots of stress.
    but, having been through college, i have yet to meet a teacher/professor that did more than act as an administrator.

    i didn't say anything about how educated or smart teachers are, just how valuable they are beyond administrators. the kids who actually want to do somethign with their lives are probably the ones with a good head on their shoulder to begin with. in which case, they have the capacity to learn on their own.
     
    #39
  40. junbumkim

    junbumkim Professional

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    It's a tough call.

    Are you also worried that he might be too "old school" ? Some of the elders can be pretty stubborn and not very flexible. (so can young people....NO offense to anybody out there)

    If you are worried about rapport, then you should think how the old coach is as a person. As long as he is sincere, respectful, and decent to your kid, the rapport will probably develop. It will just take a little longer.

    I remember my teachers who could be really intimidating but I grew to like them a lot as I did realize that they wanted best for me and treated me with respect.

    You can give it a few tries with the old coach and if your kid is really intimidated, then you could switch to the young coach.
     
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  41. junbumkim

    junbumkim Professional

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    Did you used to post under the name of "Deuce" by any chance?

    I am glad to see how things that you have learned have turned you into a cynic.

    It's ok to be a cynic, but you got to be a cynic with some intelligence...
     
    #41
  42. kingdaddy41788

    kingdaddy41788 Hall of Fame

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    Rapport is much more important. That being said, a good coach is able to adapt his approach to each player in order to develop a better rapport... And there's a lot more to coaching than just experience and rapport. Perhaps try lessons with each coach and then decide...
     
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  43. MayDay

    MayDay Semi-Pro

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    My kid's only 1 year old, so this is really good discussion thread in advance.

    My 2 cents:

    When I was 7, I was learning violen with a super strict teacher with great reputation. I hate to play violen. (I'm just not very good at it.)

    When I was 13, I was learning taekwondo with a super strict grand master. I love taekwondo. (I'm quite good at kicking and sparring.)

    I think it really doesn't matter which instructor you choose, it's up to your son's interest level. Interest level mostly depends on if it's fun. Fun level mostly depends how well he does, which depends on his talent. People excel at things they do well (or better than other people) and thus think it's fun...

    ...most of the time.

    Of course, there are also people that are sadistic self punishing fools with no tennis skills but still love it - myself included. :) I'm really looking foward to hitting some tennis balls with my son once he's a little older - that's something I think it will be really fun.
     
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  44. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    It kills me to hear that people advocate self-learning in any rigorous sport. Besides the fact that it is dangerous, how can one possibly expect to develop good form when they can't actually see themselves hitting the ball? How many untrained tennis players are really aware of where their feet are, are their shoulders level, are the knees bent, what grip to use in what situation, and so on while they are trying to hit a ball back? This is what a coach sees. Coaches create better form that enables players to advance faster.

    I see it all the time on public courts. There are the hackers and pushers who never had a lesson in their life who talk big and then blame their bad shots on the racquet, wind, noise, etc. Then there are the players who obviously had some proper instruction that play good tennis and draw small crowds to watch and appreciate. They never seem as frustrated as the hackers do, and seem to really enjoy their time on court.

    I was fortunate enough to have a great coach while I was a kid and then later in HS I played on my team, which also had a great coach. Now, 25 years later, I still love this sport and continue to go get lessons to help me hone my game and be as efficient as possible on the court. And for some reason the local hackers and pushers will not play against me...
     
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  45. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    1 of mine started golf at 4, she's now 8.

    my take on this -

    1) at about 8, kids can really tell who is a better teacher, who is not. Aside from spending time with Dad, kid gets to enjoy the game by seeing RESULTS.

    2) at this age, a teacher's communication skills is crucial! he may not need to have the perfect technical knowledge, but absolutely needs to have an open channel with the child.... I think this is the key in your selecting the coach. But my own guess, without seeing your 2 options, would lean towards the older one, who prolly has more know-how in opening up the communication 2-way channel. A young girl just out of college may have the most pretty strokes, but I doubt she knows as much in teaching.

    3) depending on the Child, some at this age can communicate very well with a coach, a parent, or both..... you need to ask yourself - when you taught him, does he enjoy getting info from you? does he give you feedbacks? Mine asks me questions and gave feedbacks like she's never had with any other so-called PGA certified coaches, and her swing is improving leaps and bounds.

    I don't know how technically savvy you are, but if you are pashionate about tennis, there is enough info on FYB and this board to home-grow a child to very advanced levels without seeking outside face-to-face help.

    on the other hand, even if say 5 years from now, he has a game slightly underpar than would be otherwise with an external coach..... the time you get to spend with him, and the knowledge both of you gain in communicating with each other, is priceless and worth so much more than the extra 5mph on his serve.
     
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  46. Rambler124

    Rambler124 Rookie

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    Take this with a grain of salt in my opinion. Tactics and technique are somewhat integrated in my opinion to some level. Something as basic as teaching the child to hit higher over the net when a bit off balance or pushed wide to give you more time to recover is a great example of teaching both technique and tactics and its not too advanced for an 8 year old
     
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  47. Rambler124

    Rambler124 Rookie

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    So your experience dictates how everyone should learn I assume? I'm not buying your argument not only in tennis but in any function. Bottom line is that people learn through different manners and methods. Its pretty hard to argue in some ways that coaches don't do anything like you stated in original post. Take a guy like Monfils. Struggled until his newest coach Rasheed came on board and now the guy has broken into the elite of tennis.

    Stating that Federer did not have a coach either is a HUGE reach. I'm not 100% certain on this but I would imagine throughout his entire playing life he has had a coach. Could we presume under your argument that he would be #1 in the world without any coaching throughout his life time? If he just went out and played without any instruction?
     
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  48. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    So, I've talked to both coaches and was amazed at how much they are on the same page (maybe not a coincidence since one hired the other).

    I'm going with the young woman for several reasons, least of which is my original worry - I think they both would be fine with rapport and teaching after talking with them more. Scheduling was a factor and the fact that she was brought in specifically to work with juniors because of her education and interest in teaching said something to me.

    So I'll see how it goes for 4 months or so. By that time I'll be back in the game and decide the next step.

    Thanks for all the input. Despite the obvious sideshow in the thread, I got a lot of good, albeit varied advice.
     
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  49. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    I agree with this. Though most of the focus is on strokes, movement, and fundamentals at this age - they pick up an enormous amount of strategy naturally.

    I've noticed this a lot when I play mini (service line) games with him. I'll work him on a few points, moving him around and then hitting the winner. Then, I'll hit back to the middle for a few points and he starts moving me around and hitting angles! No instruction, just seeing and doing. So then we play a set and I say "try and get me moving like in mini", and sure enough, he starts to work the point. The coolest part about it is watching him be patient until he gets the right shot (loves a big cross court forehand) and not just whack away.
     
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  50. no i didn't post under "Deuce."
    as far as iintelligence, i'm just average, on a good day. so i guess i'm just like you.
     
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