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-   -   How Do You Know If Your Child Has "It"? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=439815)

Tcbtennis 09-12-2012 07:08 AM

How Do You Know If Your Child Has "It"?
 
In another thread in this section a few of the posters who are coaches describe players who have "it". What is "it" and how do you know if your child has "it"? Is it something that you see in a child from the time they start playing or can "it" be developed. If you have "it" does a child always have "it" even if they have long layoffs from injury or burnout, etc?

From the time my son started playing I've had strangers (parents and coaches) come up to compliment me on his playing ability. Even when he loses strangers compliment him and tell him that he was the better player. They tell me that they love the way he moves, how he fights for every point and how much pace he can generate for his size. TIs that "it"? Or am I a deluded parent? I love watching him play and sometimes think it would great for him to play professionally but at the same time I know how exceedingly difficult it is and we are heading towards the college route.

I would love to hear the opinions of those of you who have experience. Thanks.

TCF 09-12-2012 07:37 AM

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jgriff 09-12-2012 09:07 AM

yes this should be an interesting thread. as for my little guy @ 8, he's technically solid/clean from both sides and he's the kid that will run through a fence to get the ball. i have to sometimes make him hit 2 bounces on wide balls because he's about to do a header on the court. i'm convinced hiis work ethic and drive is not the norm for 8 year old. my sample of of his peers are small, but i haven't seen any kids doing push ups or running or working with resistance bands on their own, but i'm sure there are many out there. it must have skipped a generation since i never had this motivatiion when i played juco tennis. once he's competing then we'll see if he's got "it". i'm optimistic but wouldn't be disappointed. just glad we get to spend time on the court 4-5 days a week at this age.

coaching32yrs 09-12-2012 09:10 AM

The "it" for me is the ball striking. The other ingredients are all necessary- the will to fight through exhaustion, the willingness to run down every ball, working hard in practice, great footwork, etc. But I need to see great clean consistent deep ball striking involving great hand eye coordination. Because of these attributes the ball at times jump off the racquet. Once a kid has that I look for the other stuff. Believe it or not the other stuff can be worked on and improved, but the ball striking has to be there. Maybe a kid like Kozlov is an exception, not sure. Haven't seen him play in a while. When I did see him 2 years ago the ball striking was not A+, maybe A- to A. But the other stuff- never really seen anything quite like it- off the charts.

TennisEko 09-12-2012 10:11 AM

Just ask tcf he/she knows who has the it

TCF 09-12-2012 10:22 AM

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Mike Y 09-12-2012 10:25 AM

I don't really follow junior tennis but along with the ball-striking, I think the kid also has to be an exceptional athlete. Defense is starting to really rule the pro ranks. The kid has to show that he can also excel in other sports. If he has the skills for tennis only, then he/she is probably not going to make those "wow" defensive plays or "impossible" shots from awkward positions that only an exceptional athlete can make. If the kid is not a high-level player in at least one other sport, they will likely not make it.

TCF 09-12-2012 10:25 AM

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TCF 09-12-2012 10:33 AM

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jgriff 09-12-2012 10:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCF (Post 6895122)
Your little guy sounds awesome jgriff!

thanks man. it just hilarious to watch him doing push-ups yesterday on our beat up public courts. i've told him that we will practice if he wants to and the homework's done. i'm pretty sure in the last couple of years i've asked him to play just a handful of times. if he could play every day, he would. another thing that's helped him is chess. he's on his school's chess team and that is awesome for head to head comp and concentration. competed in state regional and nationals. so we'll see. the little dude is a good kid who absolutely loves this game.

TCF 09-12-2012 10:58 AM

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Tcbtennis 09-12-2012 01:39 PM

Thanks for your answers. Do you think it's possible that that special something that separate the good players from the great players comes together later in their young career? What I mean is that you have a player who has all the tools but the thing that holds them back is their mental. Do all the great ones have that mental strength from day 1 or can they have all the athleticism but achieve the mental strength when they're older. I have another child who has received the same training, same coaches as my son, is bigger, stronger and quick but is so far behind my son in terms of tennis IQ and mental strength. It can be very frustrating to see your child that you know has the tools but it is so inconsistent. When it's good it's awesome, but when it's bad it's horrid.

SoCal10s 09-12-2012 02:00 PM

in SoCal.. you go to a sanctioned open jr. tournament,60 out of 100 families think that their kid(s) has ""IT"" .. I've been around tennis quite a long time.. my criteria for the ""IT"" is simple.. you'll see the way your kid sees the ball.. 1 of the very few kids I've seen has ""IIT"" .. I said it on these boards a few years ago.. and that kid is Christian Harrison .. I can tell that he sees everything .. his eyes are better than Jack Sock(another one).. after that ,it's just about working you butt off to make things happen ... DB doesn't know how to see everything,like those guys.. .. I haven't seen Koslov play so I can't say.. but here's the thing.. if your kid is young,it can be taught ... it's not a ''GOD-giving talent""

BirdieLane 09-12-2012 02:37 PM

Great question that I'm sure we all wonder. If anyone of us actually could accurately predict that child has 'IT', I think IMG would would pay us handsomely!

Here's my thoughts:

First, what level of 'IT' are we talking about? A state champ? top D1? ATP top 100?

At age 7 or 8, even a perfect definition of 'IT' really can't mean anything more than a strong sectional player - way too many variables ahead. I recently tried to see where one of Macci's recent 'sure things' was at and it looked like she's playing golf?? And what about that kid that was on cover usa today and went to france?? (silva I think)

As you hit 10 you can maybe get excited to graduate into the 12-14 'IT' group - of which a very small number will be say top 50ish D1 players.

So now, if we're talking ATP top 100?!? Not only does the kid have to have IT, but a hundred other things need to fall into place, much of which you may have little control over. That includes coaching, mental and emotional stability, toughness/injuries, finances, patience/persistence.

As to what IT is, I definitely would not start with ball striking. I'd start with heart, persistence, determination, and movement/athleticism. I see hundreds of local and sectional kids with great ball striking but missing basic determination/mentality/atheltism to do anything with it.

Running through the proverbial fence/wall as reference above is certainly a prerequiste and dragging them OFF the court (unquenchable passion) is also a very good sign in my opinion.

At the end of the day, a really good athlete with incredible mental fortitude and persistence and passion is who I'd put some chips on. Next I'd look for anticipation and decision making/court sense. Then hands and techinque and ballstriking are the next level items I'd say.

Just my 2 cents...

TCF 09-12-2012 03:00 PM

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Tennishacker 09-12-2012 03:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BirdieLane (Post 6895711)
At the end of the day, a really good athlete with incredible mental fortitude and persistence and passion is who I'd put some chips on. Next I'd look for anticipation and decision making/court sense. Then hands and techinque and ballstriking are the next level items I'd say.

Just my 2 cents...

You have it back wards. Kid has to have the ball striking first, it's something that they either have it or not.

coaching32yrs 09-12-2012 04:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tennishacker (Post 6895800)
You have it back wards. Kid has to have the ball striking first, it's something that they either have it or not.

I totally agree. There has to be a very high level of ball striking early on. If a kid doesn't have that by age 11 or 12 they will not be a top D1 player. I have not seen it any other way. The mental toughness and court sense sometimes come later.

jcc309 09-12-2012 04:34 PM

I think IT has to be the dedication to put your heart and soul with it. I can see the argument both ways and a player needs both great natural ball striking and determination. But I believe that determination and dedication and heart cannot be taught. Either you work hard or you do not. A person who works hard will learn ball striking skills. They may not be the best ball striker but their dedication will push them past people who are "better" tennis players because they refuse to give up or be beaten. I just do not believe that can be taught.

Tennishacker 09-12-2012 06:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jcc309 (Post 6895912)
I think IT has to be the dedication to put your heart and soul with it. I can see the argument both ways and a player needs both great natural ball striking and determination. But I believe that determination and dedication and heart cannot be taught. Either you work hard or you do not. A person who works hard will learn ball striking skills. They may not be the best ball striker but their dedication will push them past people who are "better" tennis players because they refuse to give up or be beaten. I just do not believe that can be taught.

Your characterization is correct once a player reaches a certain level.

Once a player reaches say top 10-15 in the world, then what your posted, is what separates the best from the rest.

BirdieLane 09-13-2012 05:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tennishacker (Post 6895800)
You have it back wards. Kid has to have the ball striking first, it's something that they either have it or not.

You mean you 'think' I have it backwards. We disagree and I don't think IMG is asking either of us anyway. Like I said, it's my opinion and others have their thoughts, which I enjoy reading and contemplating.

In my observations, SOOO many parents and coaches get all excited when the 6 or 7 year old is nailing the ball in the center of the racket and its zipping over. I've seen it for years. But it turns out that very few of these kids have the insane work ethic and movement and mental fortitude that this game requires.

On the flip side, when you see the 6 or 7 yr old with great movement and 'you can't believe he got to that ball' and shows freakish determination and passion for the game...funny how good their ball striking gets after hitting on the backboard for 5 hours a day, every day.


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