How do you motivate a talented 6.5 yr old girl?

Discussion in 'Junior League & Tournament Talk' started by NetNinja68, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. NetNinja68

    NetNinja68 Rookie

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    I am new to TT but have been an avid reader of this forum for some time now. My daughter will be 7 years old in 2 months and is a very talented little athlete. She is ambidextrious but plays lefty and has recieved praise about her advanced ability from numerous coaches and spectators since she was 5. With that said, it is a constant challenge to motivate her to work hard on the court consistently. I've found it extremely difficult to find any girl near her age in the Nashville area to challenge her and as you know tennis can be a lonely sport for a kid. I know I need to make it fun for her but I can not praise her for lack luster effort as she will never reach her true potential. Can anyone offer up advice on some techniques to help motivate her during practice?? I'm pretty frustrated at this point...
     
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  2. willshot

    willshot Semi-Pro

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    i went thru the same exact thing. So what i did was threw her in a group clinic once a week so she can mingle and interact with other kids her age regardless of their skill level. This seems to help make things fun on the court. But i still try to work with her 1x1 when ever we can to improve her foundation.
     
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  3. seminoleG

    seminoleG Semi-Pro

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    My daughter is VERY Competitive so motivation came from that. Is your Daughter competitive? If so Motivation will come as she see's others progressing.

    If she's not competitive but Talented getting her into Group's and seeing her peers achieve will provide motivation eventually.

    In either case be carefull the motivation isn't soley becasue she wants to please you, a very, very, very small bit of Pleasing my Parents is OK (IMHO).
     
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  4. Bash and Crash

    Bash and Crash Semi-Pro

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    Agreed, all kids are different and the their light bulb turns on at different times. In the end the kids have to find their own motivation. I suggest to some parents to only take their kids to the courts when they ask you to and then go and have great time. Do not force the issue, and some kids are just not that competitive yet at that age, or if ever, but usually they get interested when they see others getting good and having fun. TCF should have good input on this. This may become a long thread,
     
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  5. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

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    Good posts so far. It is what it is, running around on a tennis court in the sun is not the # 1 joy of every 6 year old girl. Add in no other girls to giggle with, and we all know what happens.

    Try to find her trigger. I have seen some little girls who fall in love with the glamour. Show them the beautiful outfits of Sharapova and tell them how she practiced hard to get there and bam, it works. Others it is competition, make the practice about her personal bests. How many cones can you hit out of 20 tries, last time you got 7.

    My girl wants to be on TV. She saw a trophy presentation at age 3 and was captivated. She constantly wants to know when and how she can get there. I tell her that they all practiced hard as kids. To use Bash's analogy, I would say her light bulb came on about a year ago when she just turned 6, now she works like a demon in practice. Covered and sweat from head to toe and looking forward to rallying later that night. Sleeps with her racquet at the foot of her bed. It was not like that at age 5.

    Like some have said, try to get some group lessons for the social aspects. Look for her triggers.

    But in the end all of us dads must realize one thing....the light has to come on and they have to take ownership of wanting to work hard at tennis. Maybe at age 5, maybe at age 10. If they don't eventually grow to want to put in the work, they will be passed by by the girls who do. The love of the game has to be there eventually. There are not many Agassis who dislike the game but still reach the top.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
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  6. Bash and Crash

    Bash and Crash Semi-Pro

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    We also need to remember that that light bulb will flicker at some points in the journey, may go out and come back. I work with a 9yr old that is highly ranked in 10's and climbing the 12's and she has lately lost a little of the intensity at practice. They are kids and their attention and desire will ebb and flow, I've seen so many talented kids who just want to have fun and not compete, just how they are, but in % terms that is small %.
     
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  7. D1 Parent

    D1 Parent New User

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    I mean no offense by my input but if you are having a hard time motivating the child than it may be too early to really worry about that. Motivation is tough to teach and or even explain to someone that young. Let the kid have fun and see if SHE even wants to play.
     
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  8. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

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    Great point and as true as can be.
     
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  9. tacoben

    tacoben Semi-Pro

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    Agreed with all the suggestions above. Just avoid coaching her yourself...trust me on that.
     
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  10. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

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    I agree in many cases but there can be exceptions. My girl and I are both smart mouths who think toots are funny, she only listens to me and will jump through fire if I told her it was safe, due to the trust we have. And its not just tennis, same with music lessons, soccer, you name it. She shuts out anyone else that tries to teach her things. Of course this could change some day soon and I may turn into a big old dummy to her!

    But overall, you are correct, many times it ends in a mess when parents coach their kids in tennis.
     
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  11. NetNinja68

    NetNinja68 Rookie

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    Thanks for all your comments! I actually co-train her as she has a coach she works with 1X a week. I wish I was a proficient enough player to add more value. What I can impart is what it takes to be great in athletics as I have quite a bit of experience in that. As a kid in sports I was extremely driven with parents that actually discouraged me for training so much so I may be pressing too much...I like the clinic idea and she has play in a few and I hope to enroll her in a few more over the next couple months. Some of the best advice I've ever heard is; You can push her to love the sport, she must fall in love with the sport herself to be great.
     
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  12. NetNinja68

    NetNinja68 Rookie

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    Sorry, what I meant to say is; You can't make her fall in love with the sport, she must fall in love with it herself to be great!
     
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  13. NetNinja68

    NetNinja68 Rookie

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    So one last thing and I'll shut up. She played the 8's co-ed at 5-6yrs and was the best in the state. The lack of competition made her bored so we tried the 10's and although way under sized for the comp, she competed rather well. Her coach wants her to play the 10's at 7 and feels she will be very competitive but I don't know...Initially she was excited to wield a 25" racquet and hit on the big courts but she quickly became less excited. My goal is to keep it fun, employ games and get her playing with other girls and cross my fingers....
     
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  14. Bash and Crash

    Bash and Crash Semi-Pro

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    Be careful, as TCF and myself and others discussed in other posts, the 10's and and 12's don't really mean much in the grand scheme of things, great to have results but pushing too hard early can lead to problems later. Early success can lead to failure later, whereas failure(learning) early can lead success later. Way too many parents want to see early returns. Some weeds look good and grow fast and die early, beautiful plants require nurturing, fertilizer, etc., and may take years before they reach their true beauty.
     
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  15. seminoleG

    seminoleG Semi-Pro

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    Funny my daughter kept asking when we were going to play. So I got some shoes and constructed some drills and she loves it. We go out on Saturday's, and it's a day with daddy vs the academy and she really loves it. I do also!

    Her flicker moment was in Fla State Dbls playing the #1 boy in mixed Dbls and returning his serve and earning some points against him. Her smile and confidence was a thing to see.

    I told Bobby Curtis and he quoted it for an interview on USTA Florida. So she is more motivated than ever and i had nothing to do with it!
     
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  16. NetNinja68

    NetNinja68 Rookie

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    I'm with ya. She started on a regulation balls on a regulation court but was pushed to QS by her first coach and literally had to totally change her game for the 36' court.
     
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  17. ga tennis

    ga tennis Hall of Fame

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    This post is so perfect.Thanks!!!!
     
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  18. SStrikerR

    SStrikerR Hall of Fame

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    Also realize that if she ends up not being interested in tennis, don't force her to keep playing. Hopefully yes, she turns out to love the game and wants to play, but maybe she won't want to. Keep that in mind
     
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  19. CoachingMastery

    CoachingMastery Professional

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    A couple thoughts and concepts for the OP.

    First of all, you can teach solid "Advanced Foundation" stroke elements in small chunks to any age.

    However, one thing that I've learned in my 35 years teaching is to end each lesson BEFORE the child is ready to quit.

    That is, end when the kid is just about at the point where you think they are having the most fun, doing the best they can.

    Most parents and pros alike try to get the most out of the kid to the point that the kid starts whining or complaining. TOO LATE TO STOP! At this point, the kid only remembers the part about tennis they DIDN'T like!

    By stopping early, they usually can't wait to go out again.

    On the court, reward good strokes...not good shots.

    Create games where the goal is a good stroke.

    Among the elements I offer in my articles on TennisOne.com on training an 8-year old:

    1. Use the continental grip and have the child catch a bean bag on their strings tossed to them from about ten feet away. Each catch is a tennis point. (15 love for them if they catch it.) You can temper the tosses to make it easier or harder.

    The thing I love about this game is that they are not focused on hitting a ball to a target, they are focused on catching an object on their strings...this encourages keeping the right grip, using the right form and training the eyes to follow the ball to the racquet rather than looking to see where they will hit it.

    Also, this drill teaches them how to keep score in ten minutes of the drill. Play a set with them. Do the backhand side for a game then the forehand side. Then an alternation game. Do a tie breaker...(This is the FASTEST way to teach them how to play a tiebreaker!)

    Get out of having your child hit down the middle. Drop feed so they hit sharp angle top spin shots, same with volleys. Don't feed where they are hitting to targets deep in the court, start on the side of the court near the net and have them hit sharp angle volleys to the opposite alley. Believe it or not, they are hitting almost as far as if they were hitting deep to a corner...but they don't FEEL like they have to hit it hard! Here is a clip of her after three months of playing...using a full size racquet doing the angle topspin and down the line drill.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCMnpCeGyNA&feature=player_profilepage

    Here is a clip of my daughter learning to serve on Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=384xpMoEp_0

    And I recommend to train her with a two-handed forehand and backhand. (As the OP said she was pretty ambidexterous.) This will develop her unit turn, utilize both arms, hands and both halves of her brain better. Here is a clip of my 8-year old hitting topspin forehand after five months of very casual work on her game. (About twice a week.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRRzZlrb0s8&feature=player_detailpage

    There is tons more to learn. However, there are some good comments here and you can check out the many other places to learn about training your kids.

    Good luck to both of you!~
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
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  20. klu375

    klu375 Semi-Pro

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    I do not know how high you are aiming with her tennis but you still have plenty of time. Contrary to popular belief of this board you can start tennis at 9, 10, even 11 and still achieve a lot. So if your athletic 6.5 yo is not entusiastic about her tennis (it seems she is playing to please you) offer to sign her up for a team sport (soccer, basketball), preferably at a decent club and not rec run by parents. If she gives at least some effort you can keep one private per week to maintain technique.You can still continue trying to interest her in tennis, e.g. keep taking her to professional tournaments, (occasionally!) watch pro matches on tv with her , etc. At some point she may decide to make tennis her primary sport. You can laugh but I am sharing my personal experience and strategy that actually worked.
     
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  21. egilgrim

    egilgrim New User

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    How about boys? My brother has just turned ten and been playing tennis since he was eight. Right now he practices 2 hours a week plus the time I manage to get him with to come with me during weekends and such. The problem I have is that he is rarely any motivated to do anything on the court without me constantly pushing and asking him to come with me. To me he only seems interested in playing computer games and watching TV, and not in the huge possibility he has to have success in tennis since he started so early. Is there anything in particular I could do to inspire and motivate a boy this age? A lot of the tips written here are surely useful, but if there is anything in this particular case that would be useful I would really appreciate it. By the way, how should I go about giving him feedbacks on his technique? Often he is willing to accept feedback the first time i tell him, but the second and third time I try to remind him he gets grumpy and whiny.
     
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  22. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Not to be too negative, but it sounds like your brother lost the battle to technology. I see it all the time with my son's friends - too much TV and video games and they quit everything else. We avoided this by never bringing it into our house - we have no video games of any kind, and extremely limited TV.

    Only advice I would give (I grew up with 5 older brothers), is don't pressure him like a parent would, but use your older bro' status to try and entice him. Make him a deal - I'll play a video game with you if you come out with me to the courts. Try not to be down on him with corrections, but show him your success with what you've learned. Being a younger brother can be good and bad - good in the sense of running with the big boys and getting better at things due to better competition, or feeling like your never going to be good enough and giving up. I was constantly wanting to play sports with my older brothers and was challenged. Try and bring him in your world.
     
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  23. egilgrim

    egilgrim New User

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    Okay, thank you very much for the tips - will try to do this the next time around. I still have hopes for him though, at ten I was also very into video games, but at thirteen I discovered tennis and shortly after I quit almost all video games. Luckily my parents had forced me to do other sports before that, something that made the transition a bit easier.
     
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  24. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    What about a video game on tennis?
    Virtua Tennis 4, Top Spin 4.
     
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