The Emperor Has No Clothes (reblogged from 10sBalls.com)

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by tennis5, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Hall of Fame

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    Just a quick note about participation, I don't think you have to have top American players in order to increase participation amongst the kids. American soccer is a good example.

    When I was a kid, the NASL had folded and the US national team was made up of mostly college players, so kids like me had no one to look up to. But by the mid-90's, soccer was one of the most popular youth sports in the country in terms of participation, the US had hosted the World Cup, and the MLS was being formed. And now, the MLS is still going strong and there are several national team players who play in top leagues in Europe.

    The key was getting loads of kids playing and at the same time getting local pro/semi-pro games that they could watch in person.

    Maybe tennis needs the same. Maybe there needs to be more open days where kids with no experience can go to local facilities and get a taste for the game. And at the same time, you could set up more minor professional tournaments and college matches with free tickets for kids so they can go watch good players in person.

    I got to watch Jim Courier (before he got to the top) play in a local tournament in my home town when I was a kid, but that tournament doesn't exist anymore. My home town also has a decent college team that has hosted the NCAA championships, but are they pushing to get kids watching their normal league matches?
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2013
  2. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Only using a narrow American specialist sport-centric idea of "athleticism" could you look at tennis players and say they're not elite athletes compared to baseball or football players. Both of those sports are dominated by super niche roles in which the guys have so little to focus on being good at it's practically easy compared to tennis to be good at them.

    There is no baseball or American football player who is as good an all-round athlete as any of the top 20 tennis players regardless of how many reps of 350lbs they can bench or cars they can leg press.

    Not recognising the difference shows how niche your friend's knowledge of athleticism is.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2013
  3. MarTennis

    MarTennis Rookie

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    Something about Williams Sisters...

    ...playing that inspires girls in a way that Sharapova has not. At least in terms of high caliber junior girls in America. I consider Maria to be an American.
     
  4. barringer97

    barringer97 Rookie

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    Soccer is a great example. I saw the NorCal web demo and they actually compared it to soccer. I asked and mentioned that we (USA) suck in soccer.

    No response.
     
  5. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Hall of Fame

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    You're about 20 years out of date. The US is actually pretty good at soccer now. It's not up there with the big powers like Brazil, Spain, and Germany, but it's definitely in the top 20 in terms of consistent results over the last decade.
     
  6. barringer97

    barringer97 Rookie

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    Top 20 isn't pretty good.
     
  7. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Do you have any idea why?
     
  8. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Huh? The coach was evaluating his strength, speed, quickness, and coordination etc. He wasn't particulary awesome. That's the point. We don't get world class athletes going into tennis from the US. The problem is that the Allen Iverson's of the world don't play tennis in HS.

    AI for those who don't know was a top quarterback in HS as well. But we don't even get guys a level below that going into tennis. For example Wes Welker choose football..

    On the international level MANY of the tennis players are world class athletes. Nadal's uncle played soccer at a high level. Monfils athleticism is well known, etc. In the US these guys would play baseball, football, or basketball. Heck some of them might play hockey. There is a lot of competition for top athletes in the major sports. Tennis doesn't get a lot of them.

    Tennis has shifted - its the domain of the elite athlete now. You can't win without excellent athleticism. In the old days it was possible to be a ball striker and still win. But there is a lot more emphasis on footspeed now..

    It's unfair to ASSUME that Blake has world class footspeed because of his racial heritage. He does not..
     
  9. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    I agree. You do not have to. But history shows that it helps - especially in the more individual oriented sport of tennis. While this is what makes it so nice as a recreational sport when you are older - it works against it badly in it's youth. Tiger Woods help drove golf play for a while in the US..for example.

    Obviously you can try to broaden tennis base by pushing it in undeveloped areas - and I think the USTA does try that. But its pretty tough. Kids dream of playing in the NFL, NBA, and MLB.
     
  10. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Hall of Fame

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    Top 20 out of 200 countries isn't pretty good? Qualifying for the last 6 World Cups in a row (something only 7 other teams have done) isn't pretty good? Being currently ranked above France (World Cup winner in 1998 and European champions in 2000) isn't pretty good? Finishing top of the group (ahead of England) in the last World Cup isn't pretty good?

    If that's not pretty good, it's at least decent. Either way, it definitely doesn't suck.
     
  11. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    I hate to point this out to your friend but you'd have to come up with a pretty specific test to come up with the result that any basketball player had better functional coordination than a top tennis player.

    Think about it seriously for a second. On throws and catches an object the size of, well, a basketball using their hands and which never moves more than 60mph. The other used a device to strike an object the size of, well... a tennis ball, using at least five distinct different motions (serve, FH, BH, FHV, BHV) at speeds of up to 135mph. The difference in hand-eye coordination skills required in tennis and basketball is like the difference between riding a bike and walking.

    Comparing tennis to football the disparity is even greater for the majority of players on the field. Most require the coordination of a darts player. Actually, that's not entirely fair. Darts players need more coordination, to throw a dart without spilling their beer. :lol:

    Where people choose to use their skills is generally not dictated by their skillset - far from it. Great athletes don't chose basketball over tennis because it's in some way more skilled - which it is not - , there are a myriad of possible reasons including they enjoy basketball, they hate tennis, their friends play basketball, their school has a good team, they think there's a career path there etc.

    But they go into those other sports primarily for cultural reasons - they're hugely American-centric sports which are rammed down the throat of every kid from the day they can watch TV. They aren't the result of some single country genetic pool with abilities somehow especially suited to those sports.

    For an example of the cultural impact of a country's ability at a sport go take a look at rugby union. In the US it's growing in popularity quickly and their national team is littered with players who've come over from American Football - amazing athletes. Yet their ability level is about that of an average club rugby team from New Zealand - a country with about 2% of the population of the US. A match up between the national teams would have the equivalent result of a 100 point winning margin in basketball (or close). Are these antipodeans some master race of genetically ideal people for playing rugby? Of course not - they just have decades of cultural involvement in rugby, and a depth of knowledge and learning that can't be matched by any amount of athleticism.

    For sure. Court and racquet changes have all-but made top level tennis unachievable except to truly outstanding athletes.
    Where did you come up with this sub-topic?
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2013
  12. MarTennis

    MarTennis Rookie

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    Some thoughts on why.

    The sisters, ironic as it may sound, seem to have more "every girl" attributes than Maria. Maria is a fierce competitor but looks ready made. Most girls are far from ready made, at least appearance wise. No matter how much the sisters win, to children and lay people it looks like it is against all odds. I guess some of these girls strongly identify with the against all odds meme. It is serving our junior girls well. The pipeline is incredibly strong.
     
  13. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Interesting, thanks for sharing.

    Reason I asked is because I think Maria's career path is pretty inspiring as well, but perhaps more for parents than for the player.

    Parents who had nothing taking their savings to buy a ticket to the US for Maria and dad and $700, the hardship and help they got from IMG.

    All flying in the face of those who claim that you have to be rich to raise a champion.
     
  14. barringer97

    barringer97 Rookie

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    My point is as a country, we are better in tennis then we are in soccer, but the Usta wants us more like soccer. Doesn't make sense. And, btw, we are 22 in FIFA rankings.
     
  15. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Imo this is such an important post and exposes the myth about how the Jrs
    experience should go for a great player. DY dominated the jrs and has really
    struggled in pros, but some players seemed more on the avg side, but did well
    in Pros.
    If someone really seems to have the stuff, bypassing most of the Jr crap is
    likely a good way to proceed if you have good ways to train for pro game.
    Thanks Mar and TCF
     
  16. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    good post I'm sharing with my 14yr old.
    glad he is wanting to play and compete more, but
    trying to get him to better understand the importance
    of drilling to the point of unconscious execution. Not what
    they want to hear at 14.
    thanks again
     
  17. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    you and TCF say a ton of good stuff, but
    I can't agree here. Imo we have plenty of athlete's
    playing tennis and just need to do a much better job of
    training them!
    A big part of why basketball and football have so many execllent
    athletes is largely because they train and groom them to be that way.
    With few exceptions, great players are quite often a surprise to many involved
    in their training unless it was grit or determination that was the key noticed of them!
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2013
  18. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    It doesn't matter - coordination can be improved - if not the player will drop out of tennis. What can't be improved very much is raw athleticism.

    Looking at the pros you can certainly make the case that soccer players aren't using the same athletic skills tennis players are. How much 'hand eye' coordination did Nadal's uncle have?

    Nadal didn't come from a long legacy of racquet sport players - he was just a good athlete. The key to be a world class tennis player is having good athleticism - as well as good hand eye coordination. In the states those guys are playing football, baseball, hockey and basketball.

    If you want more successful tennis players - you need to get more athletes in the sport.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2013
  19. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Ergo, they play sports other than tennis because tennis requires more coordination than they have at that point in time and they're not willing to go through the long process to improve it.

    You miss the point - I wasn't talking about background as-in family genetic predispositions, rather local or regional brains-trust in encouraging and teaching a sport well. America does not have that for tennis to the same level they do for other sports.

    See comment just above. Additionally, most guys who play football, baseball basketball or hockey would not have been good at tennis regardless of their choice - like most people aren't good at football, baseball basketball or hockey either. Moreso, had the great football, baseball basketball or hockey players decided to play tennis instead it's unlikely many would have had the skillset required to be great at tennis. This is especially true for football players and baseball players whose average skillset is childsplay compared to most tennis players. A more accurate comparison in coordination would be to compare a baseball player with a tennis ballboy. Outside of pitchers, keepers and a few other specialist roles they're average all-rounders at best - something which would never get you anywhere in competitive tennis.

    More appropriately: you need more people per se playing the sport and also committing to the huge efforts required to succeed at it.

    There's a reason why there are 10,000 American football, basketball and baseball players raking in millions of dollars but only 2 or 3 tennis players doing the same and it's got everything to do with how comparatively easy they are to be successful at, NOT how they necessarily attract the best athletes.
     
  20. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    They play other sports because tennis is less attractive. Hate to break the news to you but the other major sports are not filled with uncoordinated athletes. Many of them have the skills to become world class tennis players - they just never developed them. Both cultural reasons and financial ones play a part.

    Case in Point: The Williams sisters. Their father decided that the athleticism level in women's tennis was very low. So he felt he could train his girls to dominate women's tennis by way of his superior genetics. This ruffled alot of feathers but he was correct. Even with sub-optimal form the Williams sisters dominate all the big tournaments.


    Tennis taught fairly well. Coaches are readily available - and you can learn tennis at any age. As far as encouraged - I think it is encouraged. But you have to be realistic here - its not that popular a sport because of cultural reasons. Basically you want to pin the issue on the USTA. But the real problem is tennis is just not popular - especially with younger players.

    It's not any different then say Squash. We don't have alot of world class squash players coming out of America. That's because the best athletes we have aren't playing squash.

    Absolute pure BS. The Williams sisters are an amazing obvious and direct counter example. Not only did it happen as their dad sad it would - he was EXTREMELY CLEAR about why. He had no worries the sisters couldn't develop enough 'coordination' because almost any world class athlete will.

    You just totally made up this 'fact' that guys like Allen Iverson or Wes Welker or whoever wouldn't be good tennis players. They absolutely would have been - because they are great athletes.

    Coach Bolleteri said the #1 thing he looks for in a tennis prospect is QUICK FEET. Get more players with quick feet playing tennis - and your country with have better tennis players.
     
  21. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    I never said other sports are full of uncoordinated athletes, I said they are dominated by athletes whose coordination on display would not be sufficient for them to be great tennis players. Arguing they would be, based on how good they are at their own sport which requires far less coordination than tennis (on-average) is muppet level logic.

    We were talking about skill level, not the opportunity or lack-of, to play tennis.

    So you take the one example of a pair of sisters who were obviously talented and use it as forming an opinion despite it ignoring the 100,000 others who thought the same and who - as it turned out - fell short of the aptitude or inherent skillset needed to be good at tennis. The Williams sisters are the exception to the norm. As the saying goes: the exception proves the rule.

    How do you know this? The broader body of evidence actually indicates otherwise.

    I don't pin it on the USTA, I pin far more of it on the lack of dedication amongst the players themselves. Tennis is a sport where lack of dedication cannot be overcome by forced coaching. It also requires a volume of technical instruction which is so much greater than basketball, baseball or American football to be almost incomparable - coupled with the fact you can't make a great tennis player out of the sort of formulaic, rote learning that basketball and American football thrive on - which is another reason the coaching/mentoring situation in tennis is so hard to compare with comparatively lower skilled and generally team sports. Teaching tennis to a high level entails a really fine-tuned balance of personalised attention and repetition which would be wasted on most basketball and American football players/positions plus a level of personal dedication beyond most people whether they are athletes or not. Many basketball, baseball and American football players get to where they are more on talent and despite a lack of hard work. In tennis that just doesn't fly for one minute once you start at the senior level.

    The task of coaching and nurturing a great tennis player compared to a great *American sports* player is tenfold harder even if tennis had a fair bite at the available talent pool - which they don't.

    Squash is another rugby-like scenario where a handful of countries have played and dominated it for decades - there simply isn't the brains trust present in America for them to make string in-roads yet. But (like rugby again) they're a hell of a lot better than they were a decade ago and will be moreso in another decade. The whole best athletes aren't playing it narrative is basically horseshit here too. Most people who have the physical attributes to be great at basketball wouldn't get far in squash regardless of their skill level. American football or baseball aren't even worth mentioning in terms of in the squash discussion.

    They may well have been - but not because of your utterly flawed reasoning. For all we know Welker could have been useless at tennis because he couldn't concentrate for the duration required in tennis. He may not have had the ball tracking ability (a 35mph moving football compared to a tennis ball could be a ludicrous non-comparison), or the quick thinking decision making essential for tennis.

    I have friends who pride themselves on being great at various sports and fancy themselves as being OK tennis players. When we play however they look to me to have the tennis aptitude of a drunk horse. And these are people who compete in multi-faceted events like the decathlon or play competitive touch rugby - one of the highest foot-speed, direction changing sports there is.

    Well, I generally don't put much stock in Bollitieri's thoughts on tennis. It's likely he likes quick feet so much because he's so utterly sick to death of being sent physically big and strong, super coordinated kids who fancy themselves as tennis talents but are lazy as hell - reducing their chance of success in tennis to almost zero.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2013
  22. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Hall of Fame

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    Current rankings are based on recent points added. The US team went through a long period with few matches while countries in other regions played several, which is why they went up and the US dropped down. (That's also why Columbia is currently ranked above the Netherlands, Italy, and Brazil despite being a weaker team.) The World Cup qualifiers played over the last couple of weeks will push up the US ranking.

    My point is that, over the last 10 or 12 years, the US has performed well and has consistently produced solid players. And more importantly, they have increased youth participation while also developing a professional league that gives talented young players motivation to stick with soccer rather than switching to other sports. So, it's farely reasonable to expect US soccer to continue improving. Can the same be said about US tennis?

    In 1990, US soccer had a national team made up almost entirely of college and semi-pro players. Now, they have 9 players in the English Premier League, 2 in Germany's top division, 1 in Spain's top division, and 1 in Italy's top division, plus all the guys playing in the MLS or other leagues.

    In the same time, US tennis went from Mac (in his twighlight), Chang, Courier, Agassi, and Sampras in 1990 to Querrey, Isner, and Fish now. We're more likely to win the 2014 World Cup than any of the slams in 2014.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  23. GuyClinch

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    LMAO - and you base this on what? You don't have a SHRED of evidence proving this. You just made up this 'fact.' What's more laughable is that even if you assume that MOST pro athletes 'lack the coordination' to become tennis players - its fair to assume that a good percentage of them could still have the sufficient coordination to play tennis. Thus not having these players is hurting tennis. "muppet level logic" - your argument lacks logic entirely - with its basis being wholly unrealistic made up 'assumptions'.

    Wow.. more made up facts? 100,000? Why didn't you for ten million. When you are making up facts why stop? This is what Andy Roddick said about Drew Brees when he was a kid..
    “I remember the most annoying thing was that Drew played about twice a week,” Roddick said. “I was hard-core; I was playing every day, every weekend. I could never beat the guy.”
    There is a guy who probably could have been a pro tennis player if he stuck with it. But he didn't bother. It wasn't some 'lack of coordination.' Football was more attractive to the guy.

    How do I know? Because I played basketball and soccer in HS - and now I play tennis. Guess which sport has the superior instruction in the States? Tennis..

    Forced coaching? Huh? You can't force anyone to participate in sports in the US. I'd agree that most athletes aren't dedicated to tennis. That's because the other sports pay off more. I'd bet Drew Brees name is more recognizable then Andy Roddick..

    Oh right. So Nadal's coaching by a former Soccer player - that's not going to work is it eh? You need special coaching? No what you need is good athletes playing tennis. That's the critical factor. As for 'formulaic' coaching not working maybe or maybe not - that's just more made up statistics. Who knows - and who cares - we do know that good athletes dominate tennis nowadays. It stands to reason that if you want to be good at tennis as country you will get more good athletes involved in the sport.


    Tennis is a skill sport. We get it. It's like golf - you need lots of practice and even if you practice a lot - but unfortunately now if you are not a good athlete you won't make it in the end. Even if you are a top 300 tennis player you don't make much money. So recruitment is tough. This does not mean recruitment is not tennis problem. It's the #1 problem for tennis. Getting guys like Drew Brees to continue playing is the real issue - your fantasies about non-tennis players lacking enough coordination notwithstanding.

    Tennis just doesn't pay out like other sports. You make good money if you are top ten. But if you are floating around 200 - 400 you don't make a whole lot of money. You can do much better in the other major sports. So if you look at it these kids are making rational decisions. I suppose your arguments might have some traction with people who don't know any better. Its fun to blame everything on 'laziness' but Americans are no more or less lazy then other countries. And having been to Europe and the Eastern Bloc - I lean towards less.
     
  24. TCF

    TCF Hall of Fame

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    I have coached baseball, tennis, basketball through the years. We just do not have lots of great athletes playing tennis, especially on the boys side. That offends some folks and they always blow back against that notion. Tennis parents and coaches and tennis boys will get very, very angry at you for saying this. But its the truth.

    We may have some solid athletes who dabble in tennis as little kids. But the vast majority move on to other sports along the way. We are left with a few athletes, but mostly shorter boys, or boys a step slow, or boys not quite as coordinated as the star point guard on the basketball team.

    The multiple reasons for this have already been stated. But to deny this basic fact or somehow think that if every great basketball guard, football skill position kid, baseball shortstop had played tennis instead, would not greatly increase our odds of producing another great American player, is being in denial.

    Guyclinch, I agree with you on most points. Speaking just on tennis kids though, American kids are different. Lazy may be the wrong word, impatient may be better. But Russian and Spanish kids will stand there and repeat the same drill over and over until they perfect it with no complaints. Day after day they will hit the same sitter to the same corner if the coach demands it. Most American kids just won't....or their parents will complain that they are paying and the kids are bored. American kids and parents in general are less patient and want more instant results than those I have seen from other cultures. They are more into quick trophies and win early even with lesser technique. In tennis development, thats not good.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  25. barringer97

    barringer97 Rookie

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    But to put things into perspective, Isner is the 21st ranked player in the world. No Americans would be at that level in soccer. I'm guessing if you had a World Draft of soccer, no Americans would be selected in the top 100.

    The USTA talks about the participation of juniors in soccer as an example of how successful soccer is. My point is that high levels of participation does not mean success at higher levels of the sport.

    We all grew up playing AYSO as a kid, that never equated to success though.
     
  26. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    This is true. You want to get good athletes playing your sport - not just rich suburban kids who like to eat oranges. Truth is most of the good soccer players give it up by HS. In much of the states it competes directly with football.

    But without participation its really hard to have retention.
     
  27. gplracer

    gplracer Professional

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    Part of the problem here in the US is the fact that most of the kids who can afford playing tennis do not have to get a scholarship or turn pro. Their parents provide them with a great lifestyle base on their income. They are the only ones who can afford all of the lessons and tournaments. In other countries kids see tennis as a way out of their situation. Granted this is not always true but in many cases it is. The William sisters are a great example. Their talent made them standouts. They also wanted tennis to be a means to have a different life. They fought for it. Most kids who lose at tournament go home to video games and a $200,000+ house. Succeeding at the pro level is not as important to them. Combine this with other factors like the best athletes going to other sports and the problem becomes more clear. I know we have friends who kids play baseball, football, and basketball who must think we are crazy for the amount of money we spend on tennis. Those parents just would not consider tennis as a sport for their kids.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  28. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Go and re-read what I was replying to. You missed the mark.

    My reply was directly in response to your earlier, ludicrous claim regarding Blake that "The coach was evaluating his strength, speed, quickness, and coordination. He wasn't particularly awesome. etc."

    THAT is how the whole line of debate started. I don't need to possess any scientific proof that tennis requires more coordination than playing basketball, baseball or, especially, American football - it is so patently obvious it is the case its not funny. The fact you said what you did means either this trainer knows very little about functional coordination between sports or, that you just fabricated it all to make a point.

    Similarly, my claim that most pro athletes lack the coordination to become great tennis players needs is obvious to anyone who's played tennis to a moderately high level alongside other sports. The fact that we don't see other sportspeople excelling in tennis seems anecdotal evidence that tennis is beyond their abilities if, at some point in time, they had a choice between pursuing tennis and another sport(s).

    It is absolutely not "fair to assume that a good percentage of them could still have the sufficient coordination to play tennis" (I meant top level tennis). From my own experience at tennis I have played dozens of people who compete at quite a high-level (some even full-time) in other sports and I've yet to encounter one who was remotely close to being competent. And some of these people have played tennis regularly their entire life even after committing to another sport.

    The fact that you cannot provide a single example of it having happened adds even more weight to the notion that its folly. You may as well be claiming that if Lebron James or Wes Welker would have been amazing golf players if they'd chosen golf. That would be ludicrous to claim but not half as ludicrous as claiming they would have been great tennis players. They likely would both have lacked the aptitude and individual sportsman x-factor to excel at tennis.

    W. T. F? It is not "hurting tennis", it's doing nothing.

    Do you realise that out of every long-term tennis player who has got the ballpark physical attributes needed to succeed probably only 1 in 10,000 makes it? But you think some American football player whose demonstrated skillset is catching or throwing a ball a couple of dozen times a game offers enough proof that they would have been great at tennis? Seriously, you are in dreamworld if you think that equation works out because you say so with no real world examples.

    Roddick also lost to Serena Williams the only time they played too. You're using strawman argument, not even very well, to make a non-point. How great a kid is has only a mild correlation to their chance of success at pro level tennis. Go ask any coach how many great talents he's thought he/she had over the years and then ask how many made it in tennis. Even the Bollitieri academy hit-rate is probably worse than 1 in a 1000.

    The 1 in 100,000 Williams comparison was to highlight the silly implication you made that one example shows a trend or is proof of anything other than an anomaly. It may well be one in 1 million.
    Basketball clearly has a higher level of instruction in the states. The results show that and the fact it is almost an industry in-itself. Coupled with the sort of analytics they conduct from an early level it shows the sort of detail and methodology they have fine-tuned the whole coaching system to.
    Learn to read. Forced coaching is where you have to constantly encourage/shout someone to get them to do what the coach thinks they need. Tennis players don't come about that way, only people who have the personal drive to work hard despite that sort of guide succeed in tennis. (don't bring up Agassi as a counter- his book frames his career extremely conveniently to make it appear he never wanted to play).

    So far as athletes giving up on tennis because others pay off more: thanks Captain Obvious. An equally big factor in the process is the level of work and rarity of skillset required to make it in tennis is a huge component of it. The fact so few people are in tennis is partially down to how hard it is to find success compared to most sports - especially team sports which also have the added bonus of the social element and generally more support from their school too.

    Drew Bres vs Roddick means nothing in terms of this discussion.
    Again, the exceptions prove the rule. There are plenty of examples of great tennis players who have been coached to greatness by people with no or little tennis background - Agassi, Nadal, Bartoli, the Williams sisters. They don't make for a relevant example of how to nurture great tennis players en masse. All of their coaches had a keen eye and figured out what worked for them, and were clearly very passionate and lucky to have kids who were also. At a macro level you cannot facilitate or encourage 100,000 parents to attempt the same - as with playing tennis the skillset needed to coach or learn to coach is also quite rare - it would be a crapshoot akin to finding a needle in a haystack.

    So far as athletes being the critical factor - I agree. If you can show me a reliable way to identify future great athletes at the age of 10 - knowing within reason their future height, aptitude, hand-eye coordination, inherent VoMax etc - you are well on your way to being the richest person on earth.
    You say you get it but I'm not sure you get the extent of it. The amount of skill required to play tennis at a high level is not just beyond that of the average person, it's also beyond that of most top level professional sportsmen in other sports - especially sports like American football where most participants require a very low skill level by comparison. The requirements for those positions in American football are other things - like brute force, an ability to understand and implement playbook instructions and do it without question.

    Tennis is near the top of the skill level chart and you vastly overestimate the potential athletes like Welker, Brees would have had for tennis. As I said, even from my own anecdotal experiences, being incredibly good at other disciplines like decathlon or touch rugby - both of which have huge crossover points in required skillsets - has barely a passing indication of someone's likely tennis ability. You make out like Welker or Brees would have been great tennis players but they may have turned out completely useless - nothing in how they perform shows anything more than a broad indication they have an aptitude for sport. But not all sports, especially one which is such a polar opposite like tennis.

    (Additionally, Welkers is the height of David Ferrer who is a one in a hundred thousand anomaly alongside a couple of other short players from all the masses of short guys who've failed at tennis).

    Which is an pretty much irrelevant to 10 year olds, when the seeds are sown.

    Seriously? Kids making rational decisions huh?

    You have the equation backwards - kids are steered into "American" sports because they're generally easy and fun at the school level. Plus, the chance of getting somewhere is greater. Additionally, these sports allow athletes of a far broader types of skillsets to have a chance, UNLIKE tennis.
    People who don't know any better? You are displaying an astonishing lack of worldly knowledge with this comment. Children in developed nations are more self-entitled and lead cushier lives than others, and America is probably the biggest flag waver of this theme.

    If you needed any indication of the laziness of children in developed nations go take a look at childhood obesity figures. America is near top of the list - obesity rates have tripled in the last 30 years. 33% of American children are overweight and 17% are obese. Still want to claim American kids are as dedicated as other places?
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2013
  29. coaching32yrs

    coaching32yrs Semi-Pro

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    You need to get past all this negative stuff and play for the love of the game. Don't worry about the USTA or the bad line calling juniors. They are just part of the landscape. The background noise. There actually are kids that play with incredible grace and sportsmanship. In our area the top adult players play in the "club league". Many ex college players, current D1 players and a few former ATP players- including one who made the rnd of 16 at 2 slams. What does it say about the USTA when in a tennis hotbed there is nothing higher than a 4.5 league and the top players play a club circuit?
     
  30. Lovely_Bone

    Lovely_Bone Rookie

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    I agree that so much talent goes untapped in our country with regards to tennis. It's a "country club sport". I'm not even a great player, 4.0 or a low 4.5, so average, and I've spent a fortune on lessons to take me this far! Most lessons cost 50+ dollars an hour, and most people just won't pay that. Hell, it's a big treat for me to have a lesson.

    If you look at the other sports in the US that are big, all of them have easy access. Basketball for example, the US is miles ahead of just about everybody in basketball. Anybody can go play basketball! There are courts in just about every neighborhood, and cheap leagues with good coaches for players to develop their skills. My cities NBA team offers a one week camp in the summer for kids and teens to practice and play with the NBA players. This week long camp costs 400 dollars... 400. A comparable camp for kids to be playing with pro tennis players, not even big names, would be an astronomical price tag.

    I don't know how all the new programs being implemented are going to work out, but I don't think they are necessary. Tennis needs to be more affordable if the US wants to be more competitive. It needs to be something that anybody can play, no matter how little they have in the way of money.

    Don't even get me started on the promotion of tennis in the US either...
     
  31. TCF

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    I agree, we have decided to not do anymore USTA tournaments. They are simply not beneficial in S.FL. and the kids that win mostly are the cheaters and/or bullies. We have put together a good group of kids and adults. They have intense practice matches, play great tennis, and the lines and score are called FAIRLY. It makes for much better tennis when a kid can hit a great shot on the line and be rewarded with the point rather than have the points taken from them.

    Playing USTA tournaments down here hinders kids development and are a waste of time and money.
     
  32. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Good initiative, and if you desire you can always organize an open tournament with volunteer umpires. This is a free country and the USTA does not own tennis.
     
  33. TCF

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    Great idea. Our group is growing. We had a challenge match Friday between an 8 year old and 9 year old. These same kids at USTAs spend 2 hours having to defend every call, chasing an official, having amazing shots called out, being miserable.

    But their challenge match was beautiful to watch. No pushing, no worrying about going for their shots because they would be called out if anywhere near the lines, no 'are you sure' after every other point. They had more fun and pushed their tennis skills further in that challenge match than they would in any USTA.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2013
  34. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    Tennis has a big disadvantage when compared to basketball, baseball and football - it is prohibitively expensive for many families to develop a pro level player.

    Elite football and basketball players aren't spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on coaching or attending an academy. Tennis requires a much higher level of investment for a sport with a much lower chance of becoming a pro, let alone one with a lucrative salary.
     
  35. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    This is a great idea. I don't know why we don't see this more often?
     
  36. coaching32yrs

    coaching32yrs Semi-Pro

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    One of my players is getting recruited by many top schools, despite playing few USTA tournaments and having a low Tennis Recruiting rating. The college coaches saw him at the Dononvan showcase where he played great. Once they see you play, they don't care about your ranking.
     
  37. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    True - most tennis players' parents forked out tens of thousands of dollars or more for one-on-one coaching. Individual coaching to that extent and cost is non-existent in sports like basketball, baseball and American football - especially because the bulk of the formative years are spent under the wing of school coaches with years of experience and a support network built around the training/team.

    I really don't think that the "how much money could we earn if we went pro" enters the minds of kids nearly as much as people think or, if it does, it's not the driving factor in which sport they choose. It's so much down to parental guidance and opportunities available at school etc that it's obvious why *American* sports popularity across the board is somewhat self-perpetuating.
     
  38. spaceman_spiff

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    Well, the US team's current ranking is 22 and is bound to go up next month given the recent wins in World Cup qualifying and current Gold Cup success (in the semi-finals now).

    Also, America's top two goalkeepers (Friedel and Howard) would definitely get chosen in the first 100 of a hypothetical draft. Landon Donovan would probably fit in the top 100 as well. Jozy Altidore might just squeeze in there too given that he's scored 51 goals in 93 games over the last two seasons for his club team in Holland.

    US Soccer is successful because the team consistently wins games. The team wins games because it has good players. It has good players because it finally has a decent selection of athletes sticking with the game (rather than switching to other sports) and good coaches to help them develop.
     
  39. DavaiMarat

    DavaiMarat Professional

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    The truth is that despite the fact I believe there is the talent in America (if we canada can develop successful juniors certainly the states can) the popularity of Tennis in America is dwindling. I'm not talking about people watching tennis but people trying to make it on the competitive stage. The road is too long, too tough with little chance of success. Nick said it right, the most the majority of his students can hope for is a full ride to a Div I or Div II School. If those are the aspirations of one of the top academies in the nation, no wonder the best americans aren't up to par.

    Pat McEnroe is right on a few levels. Tennis is no fun as a junior, unless you're winning all the time. Too much pressure, too much failure, no comradery and little upside. USTA has relook the way it approaches developing juniors. Kids of yester year aren't the kids of today. They are fragile in both ego and confidence. Who wouldn't quit after they lose 1st round 4-5 times in a tournament. Who wants to travel 30miles to go home after your first match much to your parents disappointment. I've played hockey and soccer competitively. There's a reason kids gravitate to the team sports.

    Pat's right, kids aren't willing to sacrifice in america. With the system we set up I don't blame them.
     
  40. TCF

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    Pat Mac and the USTA are wrong about the only thing that matters....he and it can not and have never and will never 'develop' a top player. Its simply impossible to hand pick who the next top player will be from a group of kids.

    The USTA high performance and Pat Mac are a total waste of money. Always have been, always will be.

    The USTA could stop wasting millions and millions year after year on the nonsense and simply make the tournaments more enjoyable. Pay for refs for every match, make junior tennis like every other sport kids play....adult supervision on every court, every match. So the best players win, not just the most aggressive or the cheaters. Start a program where local college PE majors get course credit in exchange for working matches. Find senior citizens with decent eyesight to ref matches.

    Allow coaching after every 3 games for 2 minutes in the 12-14s. Let a kid go get a high five from dad or yack it up with his older bro. Release some pressure. Stop isolating these kids at such young ages. Make junior tennis more like all the other sports where coaching is allowed.

    I guarantee if they did this the sport would grow. Word of mouth, siblings....a sport more like the other kid's sports is the way to go. So many kids quit tennis because of the nightmare that tournaments have become, or they try tennis and can not believe how different it is from every other sport because of no supervision...and the isolation at such young ages.

    Its not working so change it and try something different. As kids get older the ones that stick with tennis can be weaned off the coaching in the 16s.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  41. coaching32yrs

    coaching32yrs Semi-Pro

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    Good ideas. Also the tournaments need to be sorted by ability, not age. That is what they do in Europe. The top 16 year olds should be playing against 25 and 30 year old ex D1 players. That is how you get kids to stop playing the moonball defensive style that wins in the juniors but does not translate to the upper levels. I know for a fact that the top adults in their 30's and 40's would love to test themselves against the juniors. But there is no good forum for them doing so.
     
  42. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Yes, I think one of the smartest things promising juniors can do is play with adults which are a bit above their level. They have to take a lot of humility pills but I think it will help them increase their play. Sampras usd to do this a lot.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  43. TCF

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    Agree 100% coach.
     
  44. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    The coordination demands are just as high or higher for baseball. So right there that's 100's of players that aren't going into tennis.

    Your logic is faulty.

    #1) You assume that everyone who is coordinated plays the sport that optimally uses his coordination. Usain Bolt might be quite coordinated - but he choose sprinting. Lots of kids do that with other sports. Because a player chooses football instead of baseball - that doesn't mean he wasn't coordinated enough to succeed. And vice versa..

    Danny Ainge for example was a the only athlete in history to be first team baseball, football, and basketball - and could have turned pro in any of the sports. Good athletes have the motor control that enable them to play all sports - especially if they start young. Its not a stretch to imagine that Danny Ainge would have been a good tennis player had he played tennis.


    #2) You assume that people do not make rational decisions when it comes to choosing against tennis. Drew Brees COULD have played tennis - its just not as attractive for a kid from a football area as tennis. Not everyone wants to play tennis. You seem to think this couldn't have happened - when in fact it happens all the time. You are in denial. They do want to play tennis because they CANNOT - they just don't want to play tennis.

    And your little insults aren't going to persuade anyone otherwise. Your argument has no merit. It's based on bogus assumptions that 'prove' that we get all the talent we have in tennis in the states. That couldn't be further from the truth. Its a country club sport. Its not coincidental that Johnny Mac's parents were both Doctors. It's expensive to play - and takes a lot of training. But at the highest level you need to be a good athlete to succeed. We just don't get those good athletes in the sport.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
  45. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    I do not assume that.

    At a macro level that actually IS what is implies. Every athlete in the world as anecdotal evidence of this being the case yet the counter argument, that of athletes in sport A being great in sport B which they chose not to pursue, are barely a handful per million.

    Again, it is a case of the exception proves the rule. In a century of sport there's one guy who is a good example (notwithstanting he only played high school football so let's not bend the truth into BS too much to frame a story conveniently). Anomalies don't make a census.

    I agree - but only to a point. Some sports require insane amounts of technical coaching and fine-tuning which some people have the aptitude for - tennis players for example - but which could still be beyond the abilities of the most accomplished football player. In fact, using soccer as a comparison, I play tennis with guys who are hard-core soccer players who can do things with the ball I can only imagine. They have played tennis weekly since school but their skill level is lower than some kids who've been playing for only a few years.

    The parallel lines you try to paint between sportspeople having the ability to play all sports generally well is very blurry indeed. The fact that there are so few multi-disciplined sportspeople even at a moderate level (pro level is constrained usually by sheer lack of time) compared to the overall body of people who play sport at the same level says a lot about how incompatible skills generally are between significantly different sports.

    I can see a tennis player being good at squash as there's an obvious amount of crossover. By the time you get down the scale to tennis and basketball the crossover is very small in the skills department.

    I do not assume that.

    Unless he has said why he chose another sport over tennis you are just guessing.
    Correct, not everyone wants to. And one of the biggest de-motivators for anything, especially for growing youngsters is what? Yep, that's right - a lack of aptitude for that activity. The most common way to decide against doing something is discovering you can't (or wont) be any good at it. Often a person can be discouraged before they've really put any effort into improving. This is exactly why I said "anecdotal evidence"... the lack of people choosing tennis compared to American football, basketball and baseball has many reasons but one of them is definitely that they couldn't play tennis quickly enough to a level which encouraged them further BECAUSE TENNIS IS MUCH HARDER TO BE GOOD ENOUGH AT TO SEE THE POINT IN PURSUING IT THAN THOSE OTHER SPORTS. I struggle to see how you continue to fail to see that blatantly obvious aspect of the equation.
    No, I am not. I never said they don't play tennis because they cannot, I said there are a myriad of reasons with one of the reasons being how much more difficult it is to achieve early, encouraging success in tennis because of the generally higher skill level required to play it well: a level which is beyond that of most people.

    They aren't intended to. I'm just countering the muppet level failure to comprehend developmental trends in some desperate grasping at straws attempt to make out as if the best athletes are in basketball, baseball or American footballs.

    It has tons of merit and is not based on any assumption about the amount of talent in the states. Your comment doesn't even make sense.

    America probably doesn't get the best athletes possible into tennis - but nor does any country. The concept itself is actually impossible to measure. What America clearly sucks as in recent times is finding people within the athletic scope that suits tennis and are also dedicated enough for such a difficult sport like tennis plus have available to them an umbrella of knowledge by way of suitable coaches. It is a multi-pronged equation which cannot be lumped in one corner except by morons who are more concerned about pointing the finger usually to protect their own turf.

    Pat McEnroe may not have the best coaching staff or systems in place but that sure as hell isn't a good reason why there hasn't been another Agassi, Sampras or S/V Williams come through independently as was common through the 80s.

    Note: learn how to use the quote function properly so it's obvious which post/poster you're replying to.
     
  46. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I was helping out at a junior open last weekend and not one case of cheating. Perfect behavior from parents. In fact, the juniors were not calling balls long which were clearly long to us spectators. They were too generous. Some were even applauding good shots by others, and in two cases that I saw, the loser's parents asked for the details of the winner so they could practice together in the future.
     
  47. TCF

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    Same experience I had when we went north to play a tournament. Had a great time. During the matches the families sat together and talked while the kids played. I sat in a lawn chair during one match next to the mom of my girl's opponent. We encouraged both kids, offered them drinks, and let them have fun. Not one bit of cheating the entire tournament.

    Like I said, SE. FL. seems to be the other extreme, and maybe an anomaly....likely due to a convergence of entitled Palm Beachers, lots of Russian kids here for one purpose of winning at tennis, and so many academy kids getting loads of pressure from parents to see some results of all the money they are spending.

    But it is also undeniable that the depth of talent is way, way, way superior in SE. FL. Every field and age group is loaded. Other sections are more top heavy with a few talented kids, while down here the depth is impressive. If you can win a tournament playing fairly, overcoming all the bad calls, you are an epic talent for your age.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2013
  48. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    ^^^ I noticed a number of kids from Mexico in the tourney.

    Looks like FL is where the big stakes are. I am pretty sure not one of the kids who played here goes to an academy full time. If you spent that much money, then you will be very concerned about ROI.
     
  49. TCF

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    We went to a tournament in SE. FL. and the mother of the opponent said she goes to Maccis. $400/hour and they can afford only one hour per week of privates which she splits with her brother. So they spend about $21000/year just on that one half hour per week per kid's lesson. Also attend the academy plus equipment costs.....just imagine the total yearly expenses.

    The tension of the mother and daughter was very high and the girl argued every point. Probably half the tournament field was under that same pressure.
     
  50. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    50 K a year?
     

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