Playing Up

Discussion in 'Junior League & Tournament Talk' started by fitmom, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. fitmom

    fitmom New User

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    http://parentingaces.com/2012/02/09/playing-up/

    i would love to hear others' thoughts and experiences regarding playing up in the juniors. this has been an issue my son has struggled with since he's on the smaller side, physically, and has a mid-summer birthday.
     
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  2. seminoleG

    seminoleG Semi-Pro

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    Overall playing up in general has become a sticky issue. An example: Soccer - My daughter when she was 7 (has an Aug birthday) played up 2 years and it took an act of GOD and a conversation with the FYSA Regional Director (with Video) to approve her. This year since her B-Day is end of Aug and the cutoff is Aug 1, she was only playing up 1 year when you use GRADE vice age. This year she is "technically" playing up, but once again she IS playing with her GRADE.

    Problem none of this took her PHYSICAL ability or GRADE into account and that is the problem. Age based placement in athletics has been a US staple and is hurting kids overall. Skill based placement (Gender neutral) is where we should be in todays society. Everybody has the next Sharapova, Federer, Lindross, Beckham etc..... We know that is not true BUT the next .......is out there. So do you develop a system for the next big thing (everyone can play up) or do you selectively decide who plays up (hit or miss).

    Either way the kid that is left competing below his/her SKILL.
    Unintended consequences are two fold:
    1- the kid does not continue to improve
    2- Mentally these kids having early success have issues dealing with failure that will eventually come.

    Success around the 50-60% rate IMHO is a good guide, if a kid is winning (baseball batting above .600, Football dominating ~60% of game, Tennis winning more than ~60%) consistently considering physical attributes a move to the next higher bracket should be considered.

    Tennis has (from my very LIMITED experience) another issue, kids playing up not physically able to compete end up staying WAY BACK. We have several girls that because they were playing up way early never get into the Court. It is very obvious and other coaches have seen this and agreed.

    So Skill based placement incorporated with Physical abilities of that kid should determine what Group to play in.
     
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  3. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    My 9YO son tried to play up into the 12s, not because he is really good or for rankings, etc, but because the 10U changes. The problem we had was he is tall for his age (almost 5'1") so people thought he was 12, but his movement and coordination weren't on par with 12U tournament players. So for now, he is not playing tournaments at all, just club ladders and clinics. If they don't come up with a 10U that fits, he can play 12U when he's 11.

    On the mental side, I think a player needs to be challenged, but also needs winds and losses. That might mean some age group and some playing up. Also, playing up all the time let's them "off the hook" as they are not "supposed" to win. Playing as a seed vs playing as the underdog are two different experiences.
     
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  4. matchplay

    matchplay Rookie

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    If he is winning locally (district) in his age gruop, play him up at that level (sectional)and have him compete in the big (district) events in his own age group.
    he can see what the next level (sectional) demands and can also try to hold his high seed when playing the big events (district)
    best of both worlds
    as he grows older, bigger & stronger, continue that process through to the national level as well.
     
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  5. Rina

    Rina Rookie

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    Have the same issue here, small for his age, skinny and playing up in 14s. We did it only a few times, I recommend starting with L5s at first if playing up. But mix it up with some at age tournies that he can really have a chance to win. Losing is a habit so if he is always playing up and losing, then I would say stop playing up and go with tournaments he can win and feel good about his tennis.
     
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  6. gplracer

    gplracer Professional

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    I have a 5' nine year old playing up in the 12s as well. It is hard to move as well as a 12 year old especially when one has grown so fast. Time will tell for mine. For now he has won a few lower tournaments and not done as well in sectional tournaments. I guess that is to be expected.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
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  7. ATP100

    ATP100 Professional

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    If your child is mentally strong enough, playing up is a great idea. But, very very few are.
     
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  8. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    This was a great article. Thanks for posting it.
     
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  9. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    If you a "freak" of nature, that rare talent, then yes play up.

    For the rest of the mortals:

    The USTA with all the changes and modifications to draw sizes, forces a lot of juniors to play up.
    I think that is a shame for many reasons.

    First, tennis development is a bunch of little steps, and I don't think they should be skipped.

    It is much harder to be expected to win, to have a number on your back, to be one of the seeds and go out and prove it and win.

    It is much easier to just show up, and if you win, great, and if you lose, no big deal.

    Tennis is a mental game, and you are skipping the whole step of having pressure on you.

    Second, for the littler kids, it is hard to hang onto good technique in a match.
    You can end up resorting to sloppy play,
    and being the little kid trying to beat the older, BIGGER, kid puts you in a defensive position where you rarely get to be aggressive.

    Also, Rina had a great point about losing, if you play up and are not successful, that can become your mind set.

    I know the 8's , 9's and 10's are in a difficult spot.
    But, I would think it would be better for the long term development to organize your own matches
    with other kids of the same age and PLAYING ABILITY.

    It is tough.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
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  10. fitmom

    fitmom New User

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    Tennis5, i totally agree with you. but, the way the USTA ranking and points system works, it's tough NOT to play up and still have the opportunity to compete in the bigger tourneys as you age up. i'm not sure what the correct answer is here. all i know is that, given my son's goal to play the zoo, he's got to start playing and accumulating ranking points in the 18s now so he is in a position to have the opportunity to reach his goal. i don't like it but it's what we're stuck with for now.
     
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  11. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    I am not disagreeing with you...

    My post was saying that with the new changes in draws, you have to play up...
    but a couple of negatives came along with it.

    Usually, kids play up their second year, it would seem difficult if he just turned 16 to already play up in the 18's.
     
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  12. LMK5

    LMK5 New User

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    I've learned it's all about the mental constitution of the child. My 11yo daughter had won 2 10U satellites last summer. We then decided to move her into open level competition where she had less success. Then there was a 10U open tourney that she thought would be too easy after she looked at the entrant list, so we allowed her to go into the 12U event. Mistake. She drew the #7 seed in the first round and got beat up.

    I saw this as a turning point because it seems that since then her confidence is down and she's losing to kids she should be beating. For some kids, playing up makes them tougher. For others who were somehow unaware that lots of players are better, it can result in the wind coming out of their sails.

    My view is to set them up for success and be very, very sure that they are mentally strong enough to deal with the inevitable wakeup call that playing up can be.
     
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  13. fitmom

    fitmom New User

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    what i'm gleaning from this discussion is that there are so many factors involved - size, mental toughness, etc. - in deciding whether or not your child should play up. i think the decision gets easier as they move through the age groups - depending on their birthday (and, of course, what their goals are), playing up becomes almost a necessity for the 16s and 18s if the child wants to have a chance at playing in some of the bigger (i.e. higher level) tourneys. unless you have unlimited financial resources and can chase points all over the place to get your child where he/she wants or needs to be. . . fodder for another article! :)
     
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  14. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    There are limited tournaments...

    So, my question is how are you chasing points if your junior plays in a national level 3.

    For those that live in the north, it means a flight to Florida to play the regional.

    Not sure how that is chasing points as there are no tournaments in the NE section,, except for the occasional once a year in New Haven, Ct.
     
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  15. Soianka

    Soianka Hall of Fame

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    I agree with this.

    I think it is fine to play up when you are 14-15 or older playing in the older divisions. But I would warn against putting an 8-12 year old in the older divisions unless that kid is truly dominating his or her age group and cannot find good enough competition locally in his or her own age group.

    Do whatever you can do build your daughter's confidence back up. It's so important.
     
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  16. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Designing a system for 1 in a million type of scenario seems terribly mis-guided to me...
     
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  17. fitmom

    fitmom New User

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    i guess i'm being provincial and looking only at where i live - we have multiple tournaments close by pretty much every week of the year - sorry! :oops:
     
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  18. watergirl

    watergirl New User

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    I let me child play up from 10's to 12's when he was nine (this was way before the orange/green ball stuff - which I think he would have done better at than the 10's). He had just turned 9 was doing horrible in the 10's. He begged for me to let him play just one 12's. I agreed with the agreement that when he got beat he would have to go back to the 10's. After making the quarters he says to me,"See I told you this was better for me. The 10's are full of moon ballers and that is not how I play."

    We now play 16's 1/2 the time and 18's the other 1/2 because nothing really matters but the 18's. Again I thought he would get beat pretty badly in the 18's but he has won and lost a lot of 3 setters.

    The other thing about playing up is it takes a lot of pressure off the kids because they are not suppose to win the match. For my child, he seems to play all out and I don't know --more freely--because he is playing up.
     
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  19. gplracer

    gplracer Professional

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    Nice post!
     
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  20. seminoleG

    seminoleG Semi-Pro

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    Not to hurt OUR feelings but overall I've seen in three years of Junior Tennis "maybe" 3 truly gifted athletes. Let's not confuse playing up with superior talent. Playing up is a mechanism to get better competition than their peer group can provide.

    In the US it seems the average kid in this peer group is just not that physically, or technically sound..
     
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  21. Keysmickey

    Keysmickey Rookie

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    My daughter competed from 12's to 18's and I saw "0" truly gifted players. Danielle Collins, Gabby Andrews, Caroline Price, Lauren Davis, Kyle McPhillips, Krista Hardabeck, Taylor Townsend and on and on. Good? Yes. Great? Maybe. Hard workers? Certainly. Gifted? No.

    Gifted doesn't come around everyday and will not be a product. Parents, coaches and the usta need to get a grip on reality.
     
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  22. Soianka

    Soianka Hall of Fame

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    Who do you consider truly gifted?
     
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