Coaching your own kids, advice needed

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by looseleftie, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. looseleftie

    looseleftie Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2009
    Messages:
    140
    Hi all,

    I am in the surprising situation where 2 of my boys (aged 6 and 10yr) wish to play tennis after a few years lay off..

    I have previously tried "mini" or "short court" tennis group lessons with a pro coach some time ago, and whilst I liked what I saw (for the most part), they spent most of their time waiting in lines or for a hit, noticed that the kids got a little bored with it, and errors they made at the beginning of their lessons were being repeated by the end of the lesson, due to working most likely in a group situation where coaches probably struggle for time. The boys didn't want to continue lessons in this group situation.. I came to the conclusion that my kids want to play after speaking to them recently of this, they want to really hit the ball, and are quite competitive, even at their ages.. Regreattably with their outside school sporting ativities, the funds aren't there for private lessons each week, which was how I was taught.. Anyway, theres the brief history ..

    So, now we have been hitting on the road, and with membership to a club beginning soon, thought that knowing my kids want to learn, and want to play every day, was hopeful that I can get them really started in the game..

    Has anyone tried this, what worked for you, and what didn't, obviously it is about THEM and not me, as this should be fun, yet challenging and rewarding as they see their own progress in the game..

    I have a few ideas, bearing in mind that coaching 2 different aged kids are at different stages of motor skill coordination can be tricky. Also being their father may simply not work..

    Love your thoughts on this.
    Cheers guys.
     
    #1
  2. Velvet Ga el

    Velvet Ga el Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2013
    Messages:
    362
    JMO, and Dave Smith posts on this site so maybe you can follow up with him (I believe as user "CoachingMastery"), but I'd get his book of the same name. The stroke progressions are great for kids, Dave has ways to keep it fun, and his success coaching youth tennis players is well documented.

    There are certainly other great books and authors as well, but I'd try Coaching Mastery first (and maybe you can get some Talk Tennis love from Dave if you post follow up questions on here as they arise) and go from there. I turned my unathletic girlfriend into a 4.0 in just under two years following his progressions and teaching method. His doubles courses on Tennis One have been invaluable to my game as well.
     
    #2
  3. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2009
    Messages:
    2,838
    Location:
    At Large
    Let the trained professionals do their job and don't try to do it yourself. Seriously. Group lessons are fine.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
    #3
  4. Sparky

    Sparky Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2013
    Messages:
    573

    I think I see the problem. Really? The boys don't like group lessons? Who pays for the lessons? Really? (Sorry, little bit of old school leaking out) . Tell them to watch the other players hit and listen to what the coach is saying while the are in line. As my dad used to say (yell) "pay attention!" Lol

    I agree with the previous posters. Nothing wrong with group lessons. It's actually good for them. In addition, you should supplement by hitting with them to reinforce what they are learning.

    I still like to use the red ball to slow things down during every warm up to reinforce the basics like the split step on every shot, brushing the ball for top spin, correct footwork on volleys, etc.

    Good luck with their games.
     
    #4
  5. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    First off, I'm grateful in hearing these nice remarks by Velvet, and appreciate knowing the success anyone gains from my information.

    Regarding the OP, there are many ways to approach and train different aged kids. I specialized in developing ways to train different levels (and ages) of players in small group and large group settings.

    Because my "Advanced Foundation" is not 'age dependent, with only subtle adjustments, you can train any group at any time.

    Also working with your own kids can be great and it sometimes simply can't work. Each kid and each parent is different.

    I can't include all the teaching methods that I've used here, because of time and space. Certainly the two best tools are those mentioned by Velvet..."Coaching Mastery" which is my second book and one that focuses on specific training for parents, coaches, and teaching pros. There are more than 75 drills (50 contributed by the great Ken DeHart), as well as all my teaching methods and progressions I've used to teach thousands of highly skilled players.

    If you are a member of TennisOne.com I documented a full year of training my then 8-year old daughter in her actual real-time progression. (I didn't wait until she was already good to film!) This was called, "Training an 8-year old" and it demonstrated the actual drills I used and how these helped develop her into a very solid tennis player by the age of 9.

    Also, my series of "Rounding Out Drills" is highly recommended as these are really fun drills that improve the training of all players into becoming more complete players.

    Good luck with your kids! I hope you find the resources you are looking for and the kids enjoy their time with you! (And you with them!)
     
    #5
  6. arche3

    arche3 Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    Messages:
    5,389
    The best times in your life will include the time you spent coaching your kids. But you need to approach it will a skills based mindset at first and not expect them to win kids tourneys or such nonsense at such a youmg age. When they see their game improve they will naturally grow to love the sport. And then you teach them the fun of competing. I have coached my son from 7 years old and now at 13 he absolutely loves the sport.
    One good advice is to really educate yourself about stroke developement. Make sure they are hitting the proper way. There are tons of resources on the net for this. Research. Have fun with your kids.
    CoachingMastery does have great ideas on his book and site so if your at a lost just follow his progressions. Supplement with additional research.

    Oh one last thing.. I find that negative reinforcement does not work with young kids for tennis. Tell them what they did right. And reinforce positive gains. Ignore negative language and steer developement until you get a positive result then enforce those with words. At such a young age of 7 or 8 years old they hear the negative and it affect their enthusiasm. At a certain age the kids can start hearing negative words but that is dependent on the child.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
    #6
  7. Chace

    Chace Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    546
    I have a 5 year old daughter that shows some interest in tennis. Like most kids her age her attention span is very short. It's difficult to keep her on the court more than 10 minutes. Does your book have any drills/info that are specific to this age group that might make it a little more fun and keep their attention longer?
     
    #7
  8. LakeSnake

    LakeSnake Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    548
    Location:
    Tempe, AZ
    Chace,
    for my daughter, the secret is caterpillars. I roll the ball, she has to get it to roll between her feet. She loves it! Hits a few balls and then gets to play caterpillars as a reward. Plays catch, gets caterpillars as a reward
     
    #8
  9. Chace

    Chace Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    546
    Thanks. I just googled caterpillar. I'll give that a try next time out. She'll probably love it.
     
    #9
  10. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,398
    keep it fun and trending towards best technique.
     
    #10
  11. looseleftie

    looseleftie Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2009
    Messages:
    140
    Cheers guys, for sure make it fun!! and avoid negative comments, as we all know kids respond better with praise..

    I think the advice re how to swing, what it looks and feels like is key for the kids.. They can already hit a ball from half court feeds.. Anyway, love some more thoughts.. I have been remembering how I was taught, it began with drop feeds, to then coach dropping it from the side, to then coach moving to opposite side of court close to net throwing balls to me.. Eventually to full baseline rallies.. Also remember him, pulling me up with technical info from time to time..Always encouraging from memory.. Regretably he died, and at 13, I stopped playing tennis for a few years.. I felt that I learnt a great deal within the 20 months of one on one tuition. I improved a heck of a lot!.. A lot of concepts I still remember today.

    Does that sound like a reasonable "beginning" plan of attack? (I will alter for the age difference between the 2 boys obviously)
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
    #11
  12. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,077
    Location:
    Utah
    Yes, but I also instruct parents to not spend more than 5 minutes with their kid at this age. (Unless they show a propensity to stay focused longer.)

    I advise parents to always try to stop when the kid is having fun. Don't wait until the kid says, "My hand hurts," or, "Can we stop?" If you stop while they are having fun, they will look forward to the next opportunity.

    Also, spending shorter segments of time, but doing these segments more often is a much better way to develop players this young.

    The most important drills I did with young kids are:

    1. Use a PracticeHit device (or similar), to work the right stroke patterns. Spend no more than 1 min on forehands and 1 min on backhands focusing on the set up, prep, footwork, stroke, and holding the finish.

    2. Use a bean bag (or similar) to toss to the child so they catch it on the strings holding a continental grip. Toss to the forehand side using the form associated with the volley, (footwork, turn, set, hold, etc.). This teaches them to track and connect with the racquet without distracting these skills by worrying about where they are going to hit a ball. Toss to the backhand side again using proper backhand form.

    Make a game to teach scoring with this drill. Each catch, they get a "point" (15 love, etc.) they will learn how to score in tennis within five minutes. You can also teach/play a tiebreaker the same way.

    3. Toss and Block Drills. (All versions are in my book)

    The progressions are all spelled out and the technique I recommend with key position points, the "why" as well as the "how" defined, and many of the variations you can employ.
     
    #12
  13. Chace

    Chace Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    546
    Thanks for the detailed response.
     
    #13
  14. Cobra Tennis

    Cobra Tennis Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2004
    Messages:
    844
    Some psychologist said the best thing you can ever tell a kid playing sports is "I love to watch you play" or "I love the way you ________ when you play"


    it works wonders
     
    #14
  15. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    8,609
    Sounds as though you're leaning in the right direction. You're working with two significantly different ages with a six and a ten year old, so be ready to deal with them in their own capacities. Dave's advice is right on and I can absolutely recommend his book, Coaching Mastery.

    My nephew is almost ten and he has enjoyed a couple of summers in a decent program (twice a week), but he's not especially dedicated to the sport - at least not yet. When I've been out on the court with him (along with my sister and my dad), I can see the progress he's made, but it's funny - he insists on playing with regulation balls. I have a stash of both orange/yellow "quick start" balls and some "green dots", but he has already done a lot of lessons with the regular ones, so he doesn't want to use that kid stuff... HA!

    Just offering that you might have a good time with the younger of your two boys if he's dealing with a ball that dwells more in his realm. Maybe not. Eventually they'll grow out of these, but I think there's a lower intimidation factor for smaller kids when working with a less lively ball. Easier to get used to putting the strings on them, right?

    I do some teaching and coaching and one of the most productive things I've tried to reinforce with parents of these kids is to remember to let their kids know that they're happy to see them playing... period. As long as their approval isn't based in their kids winning or losing, etc., the kids are typically more set up for a better experience. You're coaching your own kids and it sounds like you already have this figured out, but it's very not good when this isn't the case. If one or both of these little dudes of yours gets into heavier development and competition down the road, be ready to hand off the coaching responsibilities. As for now, have a blast!
     
    #15
  16. PittsburghDad

    PittsburghDad Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    Messages:
    137
    Its an adventure. :) Our personal.blueprint was to grab onto something she was interested in and do it a ton. The advantage you will have over other coaches is 1) You have the time. I dont see any reason not to play 1-2 hours a day, 5 days a week. Its a huge task to keep that fun, but its manageable. 2) You will know their game so intimately after a hundred thousand strokes, you will see and fix things like nobody else can.
    Our journey so far is to play hard very often, tons of drills, tons of hitting. People thought I was crazy teaching her pronation, spinning paint rollers, doing Spanish x`s at 5 years old. But if you are positive and enthusiastic, so will they. The poster earlier in the thread that said to focus on positive comments is spot on.
    At 7, my girl is holding her own with decent 12_14 year old boys. And technique is brilliant. We are lucky enough to have gotten noticed by the area top coaches who were anxious to coach her. Keeps coaching costs non_existent. And she's gotten to meet and hang with a WTA player because of a shared coach. But YOU have to be the driving force. Until they play full time, any coach can only guide.
    Forget types of balls, forget age groups, use your instinct. I`d caution against groups until they are good enough and motion is ingrained enough to play way up. Keep the technique pure, keep the fun huge. But not the hit and giggle type of fun. Thats for the kids that will be holding water bottles. :)
     
    #16
  17. TCF

    TCF Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,908
    Good luck Pittsburgh. We are down in SE FL. so we see some of the best juniors from around the world.

    Over the weekend I once again got an eye opener. A girl tearing up a very solid tournament. I am used to seeing Russian 9 year olds pop into a tournament and destroy, but this one took the cake.

    The girl was 7, turns 8 in a few months. Tall, strong, fierce. Family has a private full time coach that lives with them who has coached top 20 WTA players. They work from 8-11 am, then online school, back on court from 3-6. In addition to her huge coaching and training advantage, the girl also will likely have great size and showed amazing power AND touch.

    Kind of a sobering dose of reality of where most of our kids fit into the overall tennis landscape.
     
    #17
  18. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,673
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I wish people didn't need such massive financial resources in order to compete in tennis at the highest levels. I can't imagine the potential talent that goes untapped simply due to people not having enough money invest in the sport.
     
    #18
  19. PittsburghDad

    PittsburghDad Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    Messages:
    137
    Yeah, they are out there. Every journey is different. Time well tell. The good thing I`ve had a very properly credentialed Academy coach from Florida, pretty hot at me for not accepting his offer of paying for all her travels, etc. I.just had to stop working on court with her. His paying shot was, "She's as good at this age as I've ever seen. She can destroy every one in the under 12`s with in a year or two and then be on her way to Florida. Which is what she needs. Now she may never know. She'll be a really good college player and that's it. "
    I had to laugh. I'm cool with that. But for now she has a giant smile, I'd thrilled to play and killing it. Whatever it goes, it goes. Waaaay too early. Just staying focused on technique and fun.
     
    #19
  20. PittsburghDad

    PittsburghDad Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    Messages:
    137
    You need $ no doubt. But I'm not convinced you need as much as some people say. I think that with the advent of the internet and easy access to information, on the horizon we will see US kids popping out of previously closed avenues. What really counts in the beginning, time, attention to detail, proper technique, footwork, doesn't cost much. After that it's like any sport. The best kids get noticed, compted and guided.
     
    #20
  21. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    8,609
    Good for you!!!

    ...and what a knucklehead, right? Maybe academy coach dude should have offered to buy you lunch and ask you a few questions about your coaching methods. You sound like you're doing a lot more right in this case than getting it wrong.
     
    #21
  22. TCF

    TCF Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,908
    Oh yeah, you will hear it all, from coaches and academies. The academies are great marketers, they sell the dream of 'discounted' fees. But in truth, everyone gets a discount. Bottom line, unless your kid is one of the 1-2-3 kids going there TOTALLY free, they do not believe in their chances.

    College tennis is a very real goal for a girl as scholarship opportunities are more plentiful. Every other girl down here is on the "pro track" when you go to these G12s and talk to dad though!!
     
    #22
  23. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    Messages:
    2,986
    Best post ever on the subject, IMO. I've been coaching my son since age 7, now 11, mainly because I have more time than money, and I like to spend that time with him. I'm not a great player, but as arche3 advises, I've become a student of the game and stress technique over wins.

    Now, I'm lucky in the sense that my son has always been mature for his age, is very coachable, and trusts me (so far!). I know plenty of his peers parents who can't get their kid to take a word of coaching from them.

    I'll also echo arche3's advice on keeping it positive. Don't get caught up in the "going pro" or "college scholarship" BS. Too much can and will happen by the time they get there. Don't take that chance with your relationship. I take the Phil Jackson approach to coaching. The work is done in practice, then sit back and enjoy the match.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
    #23
  24. TCF

    TCF Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,908
    We are lucky BMC and Arche as I have also been able to coach my own kid successfully. We are the minority though. In most cases it ends up blowing up into a sea of negativity. I would guestimate from always talking to lots and lots of parents at tournaments, that about 20% who try coaching their own kids stick with it. The rest hand it off by about age 10-11 down here.
     
    #24
  25. Pro_Tour_630

    Pro_Tour_630 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Messages:
    5,154
    Location:
    Connecticut
    TCF, my 8 year old only wants to hit with me. Can not really coach him but he is doing everything ( stroke wise ) right on his own. He watches TC and we have a mirror in the basement where he hits against the mirror and mimics all the pros. He wizzed by colored balls in less than few months, no U10 colored balls tournaments, no U12 tournaments , NO green ball. He says all is BS. I think he should have been your son.:) He rallies from the base line even when I hit all out he returns everything. I use USPTA balls that have been used once so they are not new but they are not soft nor flat.. Kid has a one track mind and that is to beat his older brother who is now 11 and starting to give this 5.0 old geezer a little trouble on the court. My 8 year old is elite, with a very advanced older brother, who is very focused and determined. Only thing is left is genes, he may not be the tallest but he is smart and is a scrapper. Sad thing I do not want tennis for him, I prefer him doing something else, he loves to sing and is very smart for his age. But he does not want to come off the court and would prefer to play four hours everyday. I am afraid of burnout since we had two elite homeschool players in our academy pull the plug at age 11 and 13. They quit and hate tennis. It is really awful what the parents did to these two brothers.
     
    #25
  26. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2011
    Messages:
    12,896
    Location:
    In the future
    Ice Cream cures all and everything kids dish out
     
    #26
  27. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,398
    Sounds almost like I wrote this above, as it was my start as well. Now with my 3rd child playing well in the 16's and the first 2 having finished full rides at D1. It's a great ride and a super way to get to really know and get close with your kids that will extend well past their college careers,....so like they said....keep it fun and positive most of the time..., but there is always a time to be stern as well imo.
     
    #27
  28. looseleftie

    looseleftie Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2009
    Messages:
    140
    Fantastic responses here guys, I have loved reading thus far..

    I have no hidden agendas here, other than one, and that is for the kids to love the game, and want to continue with it..

    Group lessons bored my youngest, and my middle boy wants to really hit the ball from the baseline, not lining up for hits. So it's up to me to devise a weekly hit for them, where they see their improvement, whilst making it fun.. THats my biggest challenge! Giving them hopefully good basic instruction, whilst creating a fun and stimulating leaning enviroment.. Lots of positive comments, and may look at Nostradameus' advice of ice cream at the end..

    I lost my kids to tennis early on, so it's kinda like a second chance here, and I want to get it right this time..If it means that I end up coaching them for a 20 min mini lesson, and have a fun hit for 20 min at the end, then so be it..

    Arch3, I think u are spot on in regards to teaching correct stroke technique from the beginning..

    I will be taking them down to the courts tomorrow for the first time, so I will post a brief summary of what went well, and perhaps get some advice from hopefully some of the fathers here who have coached their own kids on this site.
     
    #28
  29. TCF

    TCF Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,908
    I hear you Protour. He sounds like he thinks the way I think!

    My kid is the same way. The other day she hit with a college guy from 5:30-7 pm. Then 2 girl tennis buddies showed up and they stayed on court until 10 pm.

    I made sure to plan the next day so we had other things to do and 'no time' for tennis so she got some rest. As long as the tennis obsession is theirs I guess all we can do is make them take rest days and insist they keep their grades up.
     
    #29
  30. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Messages:
    2,228
    It's about mind games and making it fun. I'm an uncle so I've gotten them interested in various things, even reading. Got one kid into ping pong and tennis. Parent says noticed a difference after I left.

    I'm not an expert, but just make it fun and short. Don't lecture. Let them figure it out, or design drills. Give them simple one sentence advice. Don't force them to play otherwise they will come to hate it. Of course you want them to play as much as possible, but they are still young enough that they can cross train and play other sports. For example, throwing will help w serve. Soccer, bball will help with speed and agility. Etc. Even if your older one wants to play 3 hrs a day, I would limit him so he doesn't burn out for his own good.
     
    #30
  31. TCF

    TCF Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,908
    I don't get this advice. Kids who love basketball play every spare hour, in the summer they can be on the playground for 10 hours a day. Kids who love soccer all around the world will play every spare hour then dribble the ball on their foot up until bedtime. Some grow out of it, others are gym rats their entire lives. Many become great at basketball and soccer.

    Why do we need to limit a kid who decided all on his own that he lives for tennis? Like I said, you certainly work in rest days, but to tell him not to play tennis a ton? Makes zero sense to me. He will never burn out since burn out only comes from parents forcing a sport on a kid. He may indeed change his focus as he ages, but so do many kids in all activities. Thats totally different then burning out, its a normal change of interests. Or he may stick with it and become a great player.

    I have been around kids tennis for 20 years now. I know many, many, many who lived and breathed tennis from age 5 and went on to become top juniors and/or get nice scholarships. None of them ever burned out because they were the driving force. Others hit the teen years and decided they wanted to hang out with friends at the mall instead of tennis, but they did not burn out.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
    #31
  32. njboy

    njboy Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2006
    Messages:
    293
    What is your tennis level?
     
    #32
  33. PittsburghDad

    PittsburghDad Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    Messages:
    137
    And...there it is. Burnout is just a word. And people often say it because its what you are supposed to say. There as many different situations and appropriate work levels as there are kids and parents and coaches and days of the week. Because my daughter and I have gone for 3 hours and its been awesome. and sometimes sixty minutes is a wrap. You can give a kid as much as they want and as much as they can take. The problem lies in when people either ignore the kids desires, or dont take the proper steps to keep training fresh, or just decide that the kids wishes dont matter. And yes, obviously that can and does happen as well. But its so much more personal, more complicated then "you'll give them burnout."
    On a related note, how come nobody ever says things like, "better keep that kid from reading all day." Youll burn em out. Kids are in school thirty five to forty hours a week I hope we dont burn them out on learning.
     
    #33
  34. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    Messages:
    2,986
    I hear you guys and agree - IF the desire comes from the kid. I was a basketball nut as a kid like TCF's example and played every chance I could - organized league, pick up games, shooting in the driveway until it was too dark and then turning on my parents car headlights and draining the battery, before school, after school, etc. Even got to play a bit in college because of the skills I acquired as a kid.

    The bigger danger I see with too much of one sport, especially a repetitive motion sport like tennis, is injury. If you're aware of this and work in proper warm up, technique, fitness and REST, should be all good.

    Again... IF the desire comes primarily from the kid.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2014
    #34
  35. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,398
    I'm was good enough to play both of the kids pretty tough in singles when they were on their teams (could still beat my daughter) and better than both in doubles. Undefeated with my son except one Men's Open final and went about 20-2 with my daughter at mixed AA, the highest ALTA level where college players are required to play. She and I played spot 1 or 2 for our teams. I may be better now, but not playing much doubles due to coaching schedule. How about you? What is your level?
     
    #35
  36. PittsburghDad

    PittsburghDad Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    Messages:
    137
    Absolutely agree with everything you said. The only thing I would add is that I believe it is entirely possible to help to create that desire at a very young age. Mine was 4 when she decided she wanted to try. She wanted to try alot of things. Did I feel that tennis was a better idea than baseball. For a girl, absolutely. I found a court near the house that had an iceball stand. It became just a part of the routine. Eating iceballs and hitting. Should a kid be dragged to the court. Absolutely not. But I think we could agree that maybe helping to create that desire is a huge function for the parents of the under 10 crowd. Probably more important than anything else. Its not as if we can just say "well, lets roll the dice." (And Im not saying you were saying that either.) Sometimes creating desire is going to a pro match and making a big deal about it. Or making sure you hit the playground after a training. Im brutally sneaky about creating desire. I've filled picnic baskets with tiaras and dolls and certificates for rides on shoulders, and just let her rip at the basket. Hit it, pick a prize.
    Does all this have an effect on whether or not she has the desire to pursue it in 4-6 years. No idea. But at the very least its gotten me to a point where she actually finds it fun to get her swing just right and hit 300-500 balls a day. And still be shadow swinging in the kitchen afterwards and still want to watch "her videos" at the end of the day. (You tube slo-mos of pros.) Thats good enough for now.
    We have to help them have the desire. The greatest gift is to be exceptionally good at something you truly love.
     
    #36
  37. TCF

    TCF Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,908
    Totally agree BMC, injury prevention is the key whether they play 2 hours a week or 25 hours a week. Obsessed kids have a risk of overuse and injury no matter what it is. A basketball kid jumping and pounding on concrete hour after hour, or a tennis kid hitting ball after ball or a kid obsessed with piano suffering carpal tunnel or whatever overuse injury pianists can get!

    My hunch is almost all those cases of burnout are actually kids forced to play tennis who eventually rebel as opposed to kids obsessed on their own with tennis.
     
    #37
  38. njboy

    njboy Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2006
    Messages:
    293
    I just wonder what is the minimum level required to coach kids.
    Thank you for your detail answer.
     
    #38
  39. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,398
    20+ yrs ago when I started helping him i was 3.5 :)
     
    #39
  40. BigGuy

    BigGuy New User

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2013
    Messages:
    37
    This thread has been inspirational.

    I coach my own son, 10 years old. At tournaments as most of you know, the first question anyone asks is "where does he train? who is his coach?" When I tell them it's me, they give me a funny look. People who know me a bit better often say that "Of course you know that soon you won't be able to coach him anymore." They say this for two reasons: they think he will need more advanced skills than I can provide myself, and they think it will put too much strain on our relationship. The first reason is crap because he can still get lessons with experts as needed--most of coaching is not technique, so I can continue to do that part.

    But the second reason might prove true. I do worry that as he enters his difficult teens, this might be hard to sustain without constant arguments. I am a high school teacher so I know teen-agers and I am well-versed in their utter ridiculousness.

    Anyway, I have seen so many pros give the advice "Don't try to be your kids' coach" that I have just assumed that soon I should stop trying to be his coach. I don't want to be hard-headed and stubborn in the face of so many experts' advice. But hearing you guys on here have experienced varying levels of success at it, maybe I shouldn't be so quick to step back.

    I started coaching him mostly because I can't afford that much full-time coaching. I figured he would get so much more quality hitting and attention with me than he would with semi-private lessons, etc. But an odd thing happened at some point--I began to realize what a tight bond my son and I have formed over tennis. I really enjoy spending time with him on the court. So even if I were to get a big windfall and could suddenly afford a private coach, I would think twice about it at this point.
     
    #40
  41. teachestennis

    teachestennis Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2007
    Messages:
    323
    Location:
    Ojai, CA
    Ditto to Arch3. One thing I would mention is that we teach the first rule of coaching is never tell a student what to do. When MTM taught me this, this was an eyeopener....what if what I told them did not give them the desired results, who deep down will they blame. I didn't learn MTM until my kids were raised conventionally, two very fine athletes, but they hated form based mechanical coaching and when I switched to the natural play by feel style both of them said "why didn't you teach this all along, you're supposed to be smart, Dad." Luckily they still like to play the modern way now that I taught them but they were too old to switch over at the time. I notice a lot of kids, if their parents don't give them the correct data, will discover such (it doesn't feel right). It's so easy to give contradictory data in tennis, even on the same stroke, which I believe is the plague of USA tennis instruction given coaches all want to think "I have the secret." The secret is nature, the laws of physics, and us respecting the ability of our children to learn however fast or slow the correct technique in alignment with the desired results. I never use negative reinforcement, my job is to allow them to discover what feels right and to point out what is the goal at this particular time. I don't encourage low trajectory or flatter balls at all with beginners, I'm looking for feel and control and ball rotation and I cut the gradient until I get such before I move to next progression.

    I just emailed Dave Smith earlier today we recommend his books to all our school coaches who inquire because he has a lot of great info on progressions. I hope you got that email Dave, I just switched to Outlook and it stayed stuck in there a few hours in outbox before it finally disappeared. I used your personal email Dave, not coaching mastery.
     
    #41
  42. teachestennis

    teachestennis Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2007
    Messages:
    323
    Location:
    Ojai, CA
    I can tell you that parents can coach kids even into the pros. It wasn't just Richard and Oracene Williams. Vince Spadea was good enough to have attended Macci's (5263 also took his there) and took them to various coaches though they were started by Wegner as children (have the quote from Vince Sr) and then coached in high school by him again. Senior coached him til age 26. They key is just to be knowledgeable with the correct data and not alienate the child with contradictory data which will quickly raise a teen's rebellious capacity if they have such. There are lots of examples, even Schrichaphan by his brother and father and he reached #10 in world. A parent must delicately walk the fine line of not being the authority. Lansdorp can get away with it and be the outside drill sergeant (Tracy Austin ate it up and even Pete Fischer told me Lansdorp made Sampras work harder than he would have) but the parent has to also give the child truth, not only in evaluation, but in technique. My daughter would have likely been a fine player but at age 14 when I tried to switch her it was too late and she would have had to give up her burgeoning music and academic career (black girl who graduated 3.78 in Forensic Psyschology and is now finishing up law school) because I knew I the opportunity cost was too high. I had to be honest with both my children. I started them wrong and there was too much muscle memory to overcome given they were now moving rapidly in other arenas.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2014
    #42
  43. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    Messages:
    2,986
    Yes, you nailed it. My son started a bit later than your daughter, and when he was 6 and 7 he would never ask to play, but a few times a week I would say "let's go hit some balls", or ask "wanna come to the courts with us?" (my wife and I play). He was always "Sure!". At around 9 and 10 he was hooked. He started asking when we were going to play again or come home from school and ask if we could play. Taking him the the US Open each year didn't hurt either! ;-) Whatever level he achieves, he'll be a solid player and have the game for the rest of his life.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2014
    #43
  44. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    Messages:
    2,986
    Awesome! Keep on keepin' on!
     
    #44
  45. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,398
    Yes, it requires some work to know what you need to know, along with keeping the relationship on keel, but I would say if you can navigate it, you may have a relationship with your kid that few ever have. Also don't be afraid to get some coaching for both of you where you can learn enough to use when coaching him. I love it when parents learn enough to drill with their kids on the reps they need. That's how I met Oscar and MTM.
     
    #45
  46. teachestennis

    teachestennis Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2007
    Messages:
    323
    Location:
    Ojai, CA
    My son and I will soon be on court when I return to Illinois. He is a football cornerback now but tennis will always be a way for us to get exercise together and he can whack the ball pretty well for a part time (proper technique, ha ha). Nick Bollettieri is an all time coach Hall of Famer and was probably never better than 3.5 player. Playing ability has nothing to do with coaching ability except it means you don't have to hire a hitting partner.

    Nadal just came back to beat Stepanek on ESPN 3, Incredible will to win after falling behind and pulling it out. Wow!
     
    #46
  47. looseleftie

    looseleftie Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2009
    Messages:
    140
    It's been about 3 weeks now coaching/hitting with my kids, and have had ups and downs.. I think both my kids and myself have learned a bit along the way..The improvement in their games have been pleasantly surprising. My patience has been tested, and at times I have failed miserably, but always sort it out with kids, overall I'm actually improving this aspect, which is critical!!

    I have found myself, and the kids also, getting either cranky, bit down amd frustrated at times.. I worked out that I cannot hit with 2 up one end and me down other.. Just isn't working for anyone.. So I give 15min per kid for "lesson" , then have rallies with kids rotating every 5 min or so.. Keeps it interesting, and I think I have found a good balance, where the rally part is very little commenting on strokes, just get out and hit the ball, with only encouraging words thrown in.. Today best lesson yet with kids, showed my 10yr old the SW forehand grip and introduced him to topspin, and focused on serve fundamentals...Younger one footwork and following through! Fantastic to see the improvement, kids are happy that they know they have improved since only 3 weeks ago.

    The parent teacher relationship and child one is a challenge, I think I might have found a balance.. Still early days, and the kids still keep asking to go to the club, so I hopefully am doing something right?!? :)..

    Any thoughts by other parents in this situation, are most welcome..

    Footnote: me coaching them is not based on the ridiculous notion of them becoming superstars, but soley down to financial restrictions and them not liking group lessons a great deal...
     
    #47
  48. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    2,544
    Location:
    Arizona
    I think it's cool that you and your kids will always have this activity to remember. So many parents really never do much with their kids.

    Tennis is a good way to get exercise, and now that they know how to play, that can keep them healthy and give them a fun way to meet people.
     
    #48
  49. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    10,398
    Yes, and when that day comes for him to leave the gridiron, I expect he will love having the skills to get back out and compete in tennis later in life. :)
     
    #49
  50. looseleftie

    looseleftie Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2009
    Messages:
    140
    I now have all 3 of my boys wanting to have a hit, my biggest problem now is that the 2 eldest wanted to have a "real" game, omg!! they are extremely competitive with one another and even had a set last night, fortunately it was 4-4 when we got the sms from the wife that dinner is ready, thank god! It was like watching Connors and McEnroe all over :)

    5263, yes u are right, it really is a fantastic opportunity to really develop and enhance the father/child relationship..
     
    #50

Share This Page