Laid back or aggressive coaching for under 10 yr kids?

Discussion in 'Junior League & Tournament Talk' started by nightfire700, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. nightfire700

    nightfire700 Rookie

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    So I have a 9 yr old learning tennis for 2 yrs now - first 1.5 yrs was pretty much for fun but last few months he has become serious about it and infact even ended up as runner-up in his first inter-academy under 10 tournament last week. The problem (or confusion) I have is that his coach is fairly laid back and believes in taking it slow and steady without undue pressure. My son does 4 days a week training with two 1-hr group sessions and two 2-hr dedicated sessions with matches. I liked that approach too but during the tournament last week the kids who won the under 10 and under 12 were from another academy and they performed at a totally different level and I could see that their coach was very aggressive. The kids had very well defined strokes unlike my son who has good placement but pretty loose strokes. His coach has never been aggressively focused on refining the technique or fixing foot-work errors. While it seems going aggressive might be a better approach, I am confused as my son started roller skating at the age of 4.5 yrs and had a similar laid back coach. Later around the age of 7 we moved him to another coach for advanced training but the coach was aggressive and within 3 months my son lost interest and left the sport to move to tennis.

    So I wanted to understand what people generally follow with young kids? Go all out and work aggressively or just allow the kid to take things at their own pace?
     
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  2. jigglypuff

    jigglypuff Rookie

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    There's no right answer. But more often than not, coaches that have this approach are more interested in keeping the money rolling in than rock the boat by trying to carve out an elite player.
     
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  3. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Every kid will be different, but as kids get towards 10,11,12, the "fun" is in being good. They know by this age that it's no fun to lose will put in work to get better. I don't know what expectations, goals, etc you have for your son or how good he wants to get, but my advice is to pick up the pace without making it a "job".

    I recently had my 10YO in a program that was too laid back. A clinic consisted of some feeding and then match play while the pro texted on his phone every 5 seconds. The kids had fun goofing off, but there was no intensity or improvement going on. So I found a coach that he and I really like and is intense and is working to make him better. The result? In the last 4 months he has improved in almost every facet of the game, is winning more in match play, and wants to play more and more.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
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  4. Bash and Crash

    Bash and Crash Semi-Pro

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    Yep, the kids may think it's FUN, until they realize they've been passed up by other kids, then no FUN and usually give it up.
     
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  5. strike1

    strike1 New User

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    Isn't the issue not whether the coach is aggressive or laid back, but whether the coach is actively and regularly working to improve your son's strokes? I don't think there is anything more important than learning the proper form and strokes early, but a coach can do that in lots of ways. It is too hard to try to correct all of that at a later age.
     
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  6. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    The coach must fix his technique and footwork - that is why you are paying him.
    He doesn't have to be aggressive in order to do this and your kid doesn't have to practice or play constantly at this age. You can find a coach who can keep the game fun and teach proper form.
     
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  7. MeggieTennisGal

    MeggieTennisGal New User

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    Nightfire700, my advice, worth what you paid for it, is to let him have fun and be laid back. Let the kid lead. He's very young -- his life should be about play. The most important thing is that he associates tennis with having fun; that is what will make him want to keep him up as he goes forward and perhaps has some tough times with tennis. Look at the kids in the Australian Open Juniors. I had never heard the name Thanasi Kokkinakis before this tournament, yet he just beat the #2 seed, Gianluigi Quinzi, who has been well-known on the junior circuits for some time. Quinzi appears to have given up much of his childhood to tennis. Perhaps Kokkinakis had a more child-friendly time of it, yet it doesn't seem to have hurt him as a player in the long run. Perhaps he'll have fewer injuries because he wasn't drilled so much as a youngster. In any case, best wishes for your son's future. I hope he does well AND has fun.
     
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  8. nightfire700

    nightfire700 Rookie

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    Thanks for all the inputs. I guess I will just allow him to have fun and learn alongside rather than get him in the hands of a aggressive coach and cut his tennis story also short like it happened for skating :). As I said I was fairly comfortable with the laid back approach of the coach till I saw the other coach and his players and started wondering if aggressive coaching is better. Will continue as is and see how it goes. Thanks again for the helpful inputs.
     
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  9. TCF

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  10. nightfire700

    nightfire700 Rookie

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    Yes, I agree and no denying that the super human training has to kick in if one wants to reach the top. All I am trying to figure is when should that kick in. Should it be early and forced on the kid with the risk that the kid loses interest in no time or should it be taken up gradually as the kid keeps asking for more with the risk that he will never ask for more and be happy in his comfort zone.
     
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  11. TCF

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  12. ga tennis

    ga tennis Hall of Fame

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    AMEN!!!!!!!!
     
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  13. ga tennis

    ga tennis Hall of Fame

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    I like the ask for more route. My daughter just turned 11 and she has just started asking for more,but still not enough in my eyes. Its such a long ride im just gonna let what happens happen. If its meant to be it will be. Our whole problem is the enviornment. NONE of her friends in our small town play tennis just daddy and the college girls.
     
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  14. Postpre

    Postpre Rookie

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    Sloane Stephens started playing when she was 9, and will soon be a top 10 player. An abundance of evidence (Russian sports system) suggests that kids should not specialize at a young age. There's only so much improvement a young kid can make when they are 6 to 12 years of age. Who cares if they are practicing 10 to 15 hours a week at this age. Save th harder training until the 13 to 15 range.
     
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  15. barringer97

    barringer97 Rookie

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    She also said that she didn't love it, and really only played it because she was good at it.

    Then, she loved it (after traveling, etc.).
     
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  16. TCF

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  17. Number1Coach

    Number1Coach Banned

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    I started my son early on aggressive training weights , running stairs , footwork ect. about 7 yrs old , I maid conditions he could understand at that age , if he wanted to play tennis and be on the court he had to train off court or he couldn't play tennis on court .
    The longer you wait to build a discipline regiment the worse it is , we work out with a couple ex Orange Bowl Champions 12's who at the age of 16 and 17 decided to raise their training levels and after about 2 weeks of one of them training with us he threw in the towel the other didn't try .

    I would share with him your concerns and thoughts and then challenge him to raising his level and slowly ad and aggressive workout system then ad and aggressive coach , most kid are not in condition to deal with all the demands of and aggressive coach therefore give up , therefore get him physically ready 1st .
     
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  18. Postpre

    Postpre Rookie

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    I think the best approach is to put a child in a position to succeed when they decide to reach their full potential in tennis. This requires more than just refining technique and hitting endless balls as a youngster (there is indeed a law of diminishing returns as their strength is not what it will be, and their technique cannot be perfected quite yet due to this). One needs a strategy from day 1 to build a better athlete, because today more than ever, you need to be an exceptional athlete to be a money making pro. Introducing kids to different sports, light plyo's, multilateral movement, balance, and agility, are ways to ensure that optimum athletic ability is achieved when they begin more intensive training (their nervous system is "plastic" at a young age). But, even here, there are no guarantees. Who would have predicted from the Nadal/Gasquet YouTube Video (Competing at 13 years age) that Nadal would end up as a freak athlete. There certainly wasn't a ton of indication from the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzKuv4j67aw

    For Nadal, it's quite evident that puberty transformed his body and athleticism. But, "puberty" is not created equal for all boys. This is where genetics comes into play. Some boys are literally transformed into different looking creatures throughout puberty, while other boys do not gain quite the same physical advantages.

    Here's a snippet from an interesting article about specialization vs all-around sport engagement:

    The third study, conducted by Carlson (18), analyzed the training background and development patterns of elite Swedish tennis players who were very successful in international competition. The subjects were divided into a study group that consisted of elite adult tennis players and a control group that was matched by age, gender, and junior rankings. The most relevant findings are shown in the summary of research on page 35. Both groups of players were equal in skills up to the age group of 12 to 14; the difference in skills between the two groups occurred after this age. Additional findings in the control group were that skill development was fast during early adolescence and these players participated in an atmosphere of high demand for success. Interestingly, the control group players specialized at age 11, whereas the study group did not begin to specialize until the age of 14. In fact, the study group participated in a wide variety of sporting activities during early adolescence, whereas the control group performed specialized, professional-like training. Although the control group demonstrated significantly greater performances as juniors, the study group demonstrated their highest levels of performance as senior athletes. The work of Carlson (18) supports the importance of a multilateral training approach that is marked by all-around sport engagement and less professional-type training during early childhood and adolescence.

    http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/multilateral-development-versus-specialization
     
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  19. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    ^
    At a young age, basketball, soccer, throwing and catching balls, ping pong, etc. are as good or better training for a tennis player than playing tennis.

    But, you must instill good fundamentals in strokes and footwork at a young age.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
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  20. nightfire700

    nightfire700 Rookie

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    I think there are so many variables (known and unknown) at play in making a world class athlete that as parents we can just hope and hang in there and keep backing our kids.

    Great advise. I think the idea is to keep improving as an athlete by mixing variety of sports and activities that the kid likes and gradually move them into more regimented training. My only confusion has been how gradual is gradual. He already gave up one sport at 7yrs (he was really good in that, beating much older kids all the time) because of the added pressure and a new aggressive coach.


    Totally agree. My son loves sports and I never had to push him for that. His love for roller skating at 4.5 yrs age was spontaneous (he saw some kids training and forced me to get him in) and I just supported him but at 7 yrs when he started competing he gave up because of the added pressure and a very aggressive coach. Picked up tennis, but spends a lot of time playing soccer, cricket, running and occasional roller skates for fun. So net net he is doing more than 2 hrs of sports every day and most of it is fun play with friends with 6 hrs across 4 days for tennis.
     
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